For the winning edge in a local insurance market, advisors must differentiate themselves from the competition. When I first set out to open my own practice, I chose two distinctions that give me a unique selling proposition: I limit my pool of prospective clients and the type of products I offer — identifying a niche target market.
This narrow focus and direction of efforts accelerated my success and uncovered a client base with unlimited growth potential. Advisors who hope to expand their practices’ reach in their local communities can adapt and implement my steps for their own success.
Identify a niche specialty product. Focus on one or two key products to establish and identify a unique offering, rather than offering advice on multiple products, investments and financial services. I, for example, focus on disability insurance policies designed for physicians and medical students.
While the number of products I offer is more limited than those offered by most advisors in my area, I’m more informed about disability insurance than the average local agent. Specialization gives you a competitive edge and makes you an expert on whom your clients can rely.
Focus on key client demographics. Identify a single profession or industry to build a referral pipeline and further understand the unique needs and concerns of this group of clients. This method offers a streamlined way to build your client base and hone your specialization. For disability insurance especially, high-income professionals easily see value in income protection products and can readily afford to solve the problem.
It’s relatively easy to reach your identified group of professionals at their workplace, especially if they all work in the same location, such as a hospital or office building. A few ways in which you can do this is to include advertisements in office elevators and features in internal company newsletters or local papers. These methods are an excellent precursor to lunch-and-learn presentations or one-on-one meetings.
Reap rewards: industry growth and referrals. Once you’ve established a client base in a target industry, you’ve tapped into potential for unlimited growth as clients’ wealth increases year over year. It is best to get in on the ground floor with professionals while they’re economic growers. Just as some life insurance sales strategies focus on young families who have the potential to become high-net-worth clients, start reaching out to clients when they’re at the early stages of their careers.
For example, I approach physicians while they’re in medical school or completing residency programs. Professionals in other industries can be onboarded as they complete other degrees and programs, such as law school, MBA programs and others. These are the future brain surgeons, lawyers, department heads and CEOs. If you can build a relationship with them while they’re at the beginning of their careers, you won’t have future issues getting past administrative obstacles such as busy schedules and receptionists.
As clients move up in their industries and potentially start their own businesses, the amount of coverage they need will change, too. Some policies, such as key disability insurance products, offer future income options or a guaranteed right to be able to buy more coverage as income increases. A good client management system can build alerts for these deadlines and options into your communications to streamline processes.
Clients with high income potential generate their own new business for an advisor over time, as more products are needed to match rising salaries as time goes on. They also serve as strong referrals to high-earning colleagues with similar financial needs. As you become recognized as an advisor within the local community, you’ll be contacted by referrals at every level — from the junior to senior level. You’ll be able to speak directly to these new clients’ key concerns, because they’re similar to those of their colleagues and within your specialization.
Develop a personal passion and connection to core products. As with any career, the real secret to success is a deep passion and personal connection to the work you do. If you’re inspired to help improve your clients’ lives with the products you offer, you’ll be motivated each day to reach your goals and objectives. My personal passion and family history led me to disability insurance.
As a child, my family experienced the risks associated with permanent disability firsthand. My father — an insurance advisor himself — was unable to return to work after he suffered a heart attack and subsequent health complications in his late 30s. Because I personally felt the financial effects we warn clients against, I’m able to help clients understand how their lifestyles will shift if they’re unable to support their families as a result of lost income.
High-income individuals realize what it would mean for their families to lose that income, as it provides peace of mind and stability. Clients sometimes don’t want to know all the intricate details surrounding products, but they do want to make sure they’re covered against the “what ifs.” Help them understand that products protect families from divorce, bankruptcy and foreclosure in the event of an income loss due to disability.