Nobody likes a downer. None of our clients really want to spend hours on end thinking about doom, death and despair. But as insurance agents it’s our job to make them consider the ramifications of those things and to help protect them from their negative consequences. The topic of death is going to come up, and we’ve got to handle it professionally.

I’ve never been a fan of the “sales techniques” that require you to use death as a hard-selling point. I recall once reading an article that gave the following advice:

Sit your clients (a husband and wife) down next to each other, you across from them. After going through a financial fact-finder to determine their income needs and liabilities, ask the husband “Mr. Client, how long do you want your wife to have to wait before she has to find another husband to pay her bills and be the father to your children?” Do not look at the wife, who will be drilling holes into her husband’s head with her eyes. He will answer “Forever,” and you can help him off of the hook by showing him plans for five and ten years worth of income replacement.

If I’m honest, this strikes me as sexist, confrontational, and unprofessional. This is the hardest of hard sells, an attempt to use a vulnerable topic (death) to emotionally manipulate somebody into a corner where the only out is a purchasing decision. I just can’t bring myself to do it! Here’s what I might say after that fact finder instead:

“Mr. Client, based on our conversation it looks like it takes about $5k a month to run your household. You’ve also got a mortgage and a couple of kids who deserve a good education. You’re healthy, and chances are that you won’t pass away anytime soon. But if you did, we can both see that the consequences would be devastating to your family. Let’s talk about some ways we can eliminate that risk.”

The topic of death still comes up – you’ll never escape it in the context of a life insurance sale – but you’re not pitting a couple “against” one another to get a sale here. You’re also referencing the fact-finder that you and your client have done together, helping to show an understanding of their situation. If your client can see the logic you’ve used to arrive at a policy recommendation, that’s a good thing. If they follow that logic along with you and come to the same conclusion as you, that’s a sale.

I’m not saying that one way is “wrong” or that mine is “right” – but I know that with my personality and sales style I can’t pull off that first approach. Understanding your voice and being comfortable in the way you present your recommendations is important. Try this out and see how it works for you!