How to Recruit and Keep Annuity Agents
This article could easily be titled “How to Find and Keep Clients.” The dynamics of successful annuity agent marketing for retail clients are the same dynamics for the successful annuity wholesaler marketing for agents. You want to take your own advice and do what you tell your annuity agents to do.
You have six opportunities for recruiting: cold calling, advertising, direct mail, email, seminars and referrals-the same methods your annuity agents use to find annuity buyers.
Everyone knows that the best and least costly way to get clients is through referrals. Yet in almost 20 years as an agent and being appointed with 25 different companies through at least 8 different annuity wholesalers, I can never remember any insurance company or annuity wholesaler asking me for a referral to another annuity agent! When I got into the business, the first thing I did was ask a buddy which annuity wholesaler to use to process my insurance business. He recommended a wholesaler and his favorite insurance company. These two firms received the bulk of my business during my career as a full-time annuity producer.
At my firm, we have an automated system (run by software) of asking for referrals. Every client gets 3 emails, 3 faxes and 3 letters a year asking for referrals and rewarding them with an item that will help build their business plus a plane ticket for those that provide 12 referrals. Could you do the same with your annuity agents?
Next are annuity seminars. Seminars are a highly efficient way to meet dozens of annuity agents face to face in a short period of time. However, just as retail clients have no interest in an annuity seminar (a mass sales pitch), annuity agents have no interest in hearing about the latest product you want to push. I can’t tell you how many sessions I’ve attended listening to an annuity product pitch followed by the how-great-we-are-and-how-great-our-support-is-and-the-trips speech. Producers have no shortage of annuity products and they won’t come to your product-oriented annuity seminar.
What annuity producers need and want are systems for getting annuity buyers and annuity leads. Show them an inexpensive and effective way to attract qualified new annuity clients and you’ll pack the room and appoint a lot of new annuity agents. Just look at the evidence: one well known wholesaler flies agents in, puts them up for 3 nights in a hotel and then has them attend a full day seminar and the discussion is all about annuity marketing. This firm has attracted top producing annuity agents in droves and has become one of the nation’s leading annuity wholesalers.
A word of caution-every wholesaler advertises “the best senior seminar system” and no agent believes these pervasive claims any longer. In polls of the American public, 75% have reported an extreme fear of public speaking. This fact implies that 75% of your current or prospective annuity agents will never do seminars, so an annuity wholesaler would be wise to develop other effective marketing systems for agents. Advertising, direct mail and email work very well for getting agents attention so long as they are well written and the pitch is not about product. Content that gets agents’ attention:
- Stories about producers that went from low to high production
- Marketing formulas that have been tested and proven (not what should work)
- How to strategically prospect a niche market using a particularly well-suited product (e.g. VEBAs and doctors)
You give away the front end of the formula and the rest gets delivered when the annuity agent contracts with you.
Forget cold calling agents as the best agents are on appointments. If an agent answers the phone during work hours, it’s an agent you don’t want.
Retention Once you have agents, retaining them will not come through the tactics I see employed most frequently:
- Trips: you insult a good agent when you influence his recommendation of products by dangling a trip. What ethical agent would make an annuity recommendation to a prospect in an effort to win a trip? If the trip is for overall production, that’s fine. But this is a weak incentive to larger producers. They can afford to buy their own trip to a destination of their choosing. The same goes for prizes of any type.
- Annuity Leads: most every lead system I’ve seen is about quantity vs. quality. Only an agent whose time is worthless wants to call 200 worthless annuity leads to find the two qualified annuity buyers. If you provide leads for better agents, create a system that is low quantity, high quality Or recommend they use the SeniorLeads(tm) system.
- Sending your monthly “Adalog”: a multi-page printed piece that is one annuity product ad after another; a catalog of ads. Agents don’t value these, as they have no shortage of annuity products–they have a shortage of annuity prospects.
- An Annuity Seminar “system” that is nothing more than instructions to invite a list of seniors to dinner and show them some PowerPoint slides about annuities. Better prospects will reject a product presentation and leave your agent chasing a bunch of “eaters” to do business. (Successful seminars that attract business from wealthier annuity buyers are concept seminars, not about products).
If you want to keep better annuity agents, help them get in front of more qualified annuity prospects or help them increase their closing ratio. A great reward for production would be tuition to an advanced sales training class (Dale Carnegie, Sandler Institute, SPIN Selling). Better agents want to increase their skills and they are focused on self-improvement. You can help them with: