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Why TV Commercials Are No Competition For Advisors

I was at a prospect’s home, and he showed me a box of ads for the product I was there to sell. I am not kidding — he showed me a cardboard box filled with ads he had received in the mail. I began going through my presentation. He kept stopping me and saying, “I know that. I got that.” 

Before I go any further into the story, here’s some background on me. I’m a broker in one of the most crowded markets in the insurance industry: Medicare-related health insurance.

Carriers realize they can sell their products directly to consumers. As a result, as brokers and agents, we are not just competing with one another; we are also competing directly with the carriers we represent. This has changed how we see our business and how we operate. But there are times when we faced competition from TV ads but won the sale.

Back to the story about my prospect and the box of ads. After my prospect showed me the box, I asked why I was there. He said he needed someone to sort through the items in the box and answer questions he wrote on each mailing. “Sure,” I said. It turned out that he had multiple ads from nine carriers and I represented eight of them, so I answered every question during the meeting. In the end, I came to the same conclusion he did about the best plan for him. 

But he said he still called the numbers on the ads and couldn’t understand the answers he was given. So he asked if I could sell the product to him with the caveat that he would call me if he had further questions. “Of course,” I told him, “that’s what I’m there for.”

Here is another story about a client visit that happened only three months ago. I was at a client’s house, reviewing a plan for the next year, when a friend joined us. The phone kept ringing during the meeting. The friend kept answering the phone, saying “No” and hanging up. This happened frequently.

After we finished, I asked him what was going on. My client said they receive more than 30 calls a day from robocallers and telemarketers who are trying to get them to change their Medicare plans. This is illegal — in Ohio, you cannot make unsolicited calls about Medicare products.

My client had a friend at her home to take the calls because she could not get them to stop calling. I asked if I could take a couple of those calls and she said yes. I took two of them and demonstrated what to say and do. Then the friend sitting there asked me if I could arrange an appointment with him because it sounded as though I knew what I was doing. He and his wife are now happy clients as well.

Using The Media To Your Advantage

You can use the media to your advantage, as well. For example, I have my own YouTube channel to which I direct tech-savvy clients and agents who are not in this business to help them understand Medicare and get their questions answered.

If I’m talking with tech-savvy clients, I make sure they know how to access my channels before they see me. This helps them know which questions they need to ask or think about before our visit.

I recently walked into a client’s home, turned to my left and saw myself projected on a 50-inch TV screen. When I asked what was happening, I was told that they were watching my videos, writing down questions, and preparing for our appointment. That was a new experience for me! 

What got me was they were also writing down questions from commercials. When we got to their two pages of written questions, all I had to do was find out what they wanted and answer their questions directly in relation to their needs. 

Their radar was up for “salesman-speak;” so, I answered direct questions with direct answers. The TV ads did their job in selling the products and narrowing down the options. I just had to reduce the number of options on the list from 10 to two and let them make a selection. These clients were quite quick to sign on. They told me that my videos helped bring up questions they had from the commercials, which is my goal in creating the videos.

My message is simple: Don’t pack it in because you’re not on TV. Clients know they can get products by mail, web or phone, but they still appreciate and respect someone who takes the time and trouble to help them personally. Serving clients is just as rewarding today as it ever was!

Elie Harriett is a NAIFA member and co-owns Classic Insurance & Financial Services Co., specializing in Medicare-related insurance. Elie may be reached at [email protected] .

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