We look forward to the Van Mueller newsletter every month. It's chock-full of sound bites, sales tips, and eye-opening statistics. Here are our favorite parts of the July 2020 edition. We're sharing the full introduction, and 2 of the 7 monthly sales ideas. If you like what you read, we encourage you to click here and become a subscriber.
Reprinted with the author's permission.
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July 2020 – 7 Ideas and Views Newsletter by Van Mueller
I love watching television. One of my favorite programs is “America’s Got Talent”. I usually watch it one episode at a time, however this season my experience was different. I am busier than I have ever been in my career. I am still running appointments. I am doing this in person, on the telephone and some appointments using “Zoom”. I am still doing agent seminars by telephone and by “Zoom” and several other social media methodologies. Sometimes I do several per day in addition to calling and prospecting my customers and prospective customers. Many days I am exhausted at the end of the day.
That’s why I love to watch television; it is a release for me. It helps me to relax. Anyway, I had not had a chance to watch America’s Got Talent because I had been so busy, so I taped all five of this year’s episodes. Last Sunday I watched them all in one sitting. It was an extremely emotional afternoon for me. Not only did I cry multiple times. On many occasions I was sobbing so hard. I was not crying because I was sad or disappointed, I was crying because I was being shown triumphant journeys. Not only did I cry, I applauded. I cheered. It was a spectacular afternoon. I was rejuvenated. I was restored.
What happens on that show reminds me of what happens to so many of us. The participants on America’s Got Talent are told they are too old or too young. They are too fat, or they are too skinny. If they were black or women or gay or different, they were not given a chance to showcase their talent. Or like me they believed it when someone told them they weren’t good enough, so they didn’t even try. They never received training, or they were trained incorrectly. So many people with enormous talent were never given a chance to be recognized until they appeared on America’s Got Talent. Then to watch them shine and display confidence they didn’t realize they had and win over an audience and judges whose initial feeling is skepticism is magical. Seeing them overcome all the negativity and all the doubt and bring the audience and judges to their feet brings such joy that it is almost indescribable.
I Believe Insurance and Financial Professionals Have Talent! We are told we don’t have the right background. We aren’t educated enough. We don’t look the part, or we aren’t well spoken or dressed properly. We don’t have our customer’s best interests as our goals. We receive terrible training or worse yet, we receive no training. We are taught about products, interest rates, cash values and premiums. We are not taught to ask if our customers want what those benefits and features can do. We are not taught to ask if our customers want lower taxes or restoration of lost benefits. Are they concerned about inflation and do they understand how dangerous inflation is? We are not taught to ask if all this volatility with their investments, their retirements and even their lives is causing a lower standard of living. What if you could prevent being harmed by volatility and maybe even take advantage of volatility wouldn’t that be an amazing benefit for your life? Finally, what if you live too long? What if you outlive your money and/or your income? What kind of life would you have?
We are not taught to ask if our customers want what those benefits and features can do. We are not taught to ask if our customers want lower taxes or restoration of lost benefits.
The media and the government and Wall Street and the banks would have American’s believe that insurance and financial professionals are the enemy. The only thing we care about are commissions or fees while they refuse to recognize the ENORMOUS amount of revenue they take from the American people. Our commissions are nothing compared to the taxes government takes at every level of government. Our fees are nothing compared to the fees that Wall Street takes whether they make you any money or don’t make you any money.
Insurance and financial professionals are scrutinized by our customers, media, management, our industry and our government. No one is more examined and judged. We have to answer for our recommendations forever. Not just by compliance, but most importantly by our customers and their outcomes.
I am here to tell you, America’s Insurance and Financial Professionals Have Talent! Because our establishment promises are not and will not be kept, your contribution to the American Dream becomes vital. That is what has always been wonderful about being an American. We still have control over most of our outcomes if we just make a decision to develop a plan and then work that plan.
The same is true for insurance and financial professionals. It doesn’t matter how old you are or what sex you are or what color you are or any other societal defining category you fit in. This is the greatest time ever to be in our industry. If you help Americans and take the time to understand their concerns, you will be welcomed with open arms by the American people.
You must make the decision immediately to correctly learn how to be a successful insurance and financial professional. Please stop giving your opinion. The only opinion that matters is that of the customer. The only way to discover the customer’s opinion is to ask questions. Please don’t assume your customers are stupid. They are not! They are overwhelmed, afraid, uncertain, busy, and yes exhausted. They are finding it difficult to create the energy to plan and prepare and protect themselves from the oncoming crises which I will discuss a little latter. You create that energy by asking questions that offer the OPPORTUNITY for success rather than failure and a future filled with certainty rather than an uncertain future.
The only opinion that matters is that of the customer. The only way to discover the customer’s opinion is to ask questions. Please don’t assume your customers are stupid. They are not!
Here’s a new series of questions I have been working on. Let me know what you think. Mr. & Mrs. Customer, we have been talking about uncertainty, haven’t we? Did you know in many, many studies that human beings loathe uncertainty? Did you know the studies reveal that human beings will do almost anything not to have uncertainty? Would you believe they would even be willing to have an appointment with an insurance and financial professional if it could eliminate uncertainty? Did you know the American people are being called upon at this current moment in time to tolerate uncertainty at the highest level ever seen in our country’s history? If we could reduce or eliminate that uncertainty so you could be more in control rather than being controlled couldn’t you find an hour to visit with me in the next week or two?
Uncertainty causes financial disasters. It also causes emotional, physical, intellectual and even spiritual disasters. Our industry has a much bigger role to play than just protection and retirement benefits.
For everyone reading this newsletter, the time is now. Learn 10 to 20 questions fluently that you can ask people anywhere, anytime to engage them in a conversation about issues they would be really interested in. The list is unlimited. Here are a few:
- Social Security
- Nursing Home or Nursing at Home
- Interest Rates
- Required Minimum Distributions
- Medicare and Healthcare
These are just a few. Learn a few great conversation starters such as: “What if there was a way you could do this or prevent that; would you want to know about it?” If there was a way to stay in complete control of your money until you took your last breath, but instead of giving your money to the government, a nursing home or a hospital, you could keep that money in your family for generations to come, at the very least wouldn’t that be worth 45 minutes of your time if all I did was ask you questions that could help you clarify in your own mind how to do that? Here’s another great conversation starter. What if it never matters again what happened in the government or the economy or the world, because you designed a strategy that would succeed no matter what happened? Wouldn’t that be worth finding out about if there was no cost or obligation and I promised I wouldn’t try to sell you anything?
Learning these questions, PERFECTLY should take you 30 days or less. EVERYONE can do it! You just have to decide that you are finally going to do it the right way.
Here’s the truth. The secret to success in our business is having enough appointments. The more people you get in front of, the more success you will achieve. I am not minimizing education or study. I continue to learn every day after 48 years in the business, yet that knowledge is useless if I don’t have enough people to share it with. Practice builds success in our industry. Practicing questions that inspire prospects and clients to take action is the foundation of a successful career. Don’t let anyone limit you with negative assertions about you. The only opinion about you that matters is yours. Make sure you do positive things to build your career and practice, practice, practice. Professionals never stop practicing. You are the professionals America needs right now. This is an exciting time to be an insurance and financial professional.
The secret to success in our business is having enough appointments. The more people you get in front of, the more success you will achieve.
I have a few more things I wish to discuss before we start the sales ideas.
Based on the information I just started July’s Newsletter with it is imperative that we have a discussion about something every insurance and financial professional finds frustrating on a regular basis. What I am about to share with you is why asking questions works as a superior methodology to telling people things.
First, Americans don’t ever hear what you say. They hear what they want to hear. Can you think of all the times you said to a customer, “I told you that” and they only remember the part they heard? Americans are not good listeners, and yet, we continue to believe that telling people things is the key to success in our business. You will find this fact to be true. They will remember the answer to everything you asked them. They adore sharing their opinion. They love it when someone is interested in their views. Not many people listen so when you ask questions and listen, you stand out. Isn’t it obvious in our country that people wish to hear what they want to hear, not what you say? Why fight it? Ask questions.
Second, people never see what you show them. They only see what they want to see. How do I know this is true? I am an insurance agent. How many times have you had to explain that what you sold them was in the illustration or information or prospectus you left them, and they don’t remember you showing them that information? So now, they heard what they wanted to hear, and they only saw what they wanted to see. This will be a tremendous challenge to agents who maybe, over illustrated life insurance or investment programs. If you ask questions and the idea, plan and solution are the customer's ideas, there is much less consternation in the future.
People never see what you show them. They only see what they want to see. How do I know this is true? I am an insurance agent.
Finally, Americans don’t believe what you tell them. In fact, the more you tell them, the more likely it is that they don’t believe you. Americans believe what they want to believe. So, when you ask questions that help a prospect or customer reason out why a certain idea or strategy might not be appropriate for their situation it becomes probable that they will change their beliefs as they pertain to the appropriateness and benefit of that change. No one likes to be told what to do. Especially grandmas and grandpas, business owners, people with money, bosses, men and women. I hope you are getting my point. Asking questions sets you apart. You become a resource, and advocate and counselor. These characteristics are perceived with much higher value than a salesperson. It should be obvious that people in our country believe what they want to believe regardless of facts. Do you want to be right or do you want to inspire people to take action What is the right answer?
People tease me all the time. I even tease myself. I have been predicting for well over four years that we would have an economic disaster. It’s coming true. Some people still won’t give me credit. They believe COVID-19 caused this economic crisis. I ask, isn’t it more true that COVID19 just uncovered the economic crisis?
This IS GOING TO GET VERY BAD. Next month I will go into detail about all the ways. We are only at the middle of the beginning. We have quite a journey ahead of us. Please remember this: Bad news doesn’t sell anything. Protection and certainty and access to opportunity inspire people to take action.
I have always explained to customers that I knew the outcome. I just didn’t know when it would happen. There is much benefit to the understanding that the outcome is certain even if it is impossible to know when it will happen. Think of it this way: Noah built his ark before it started to rain. He didn’t know when the rain would start, he just had certainty that it was coming. The only thing that mattered was that the ark was ready before the rainstorm appeared. We don’t make people rich; we prevent them from being poor. We have competition if we try to make people rich. Stocks, bonds, real estate, bitcoin, gold, silver are all stiff competition. We have no competition when we provide guaranteed income that cannot be outlived. Income based on mortality credits and not just interest rates. And, the guarantee that you will never lose any money while making a safe money return. We are the competition. Remember to sell to your competitive advantage.
The last thing I would like to talk about are the four crises. America has quite an adventure in front of us. Mr. & Mrs. Customer, do you wish to maintain control of what happens in your life or do you wish to cede control of your life to the governments, Federal Reserve, Wall Street and the banks?
Mr. & Mrs. Customer, do you wish to maintain control of what happens in your life or do you wish to cede control of your life to the governments, Federal Reserve, Wall Street and the banks?
Crisis #1: COVID-19 Medical Crisis.
This is serious. Only 5 percent of Americans have tested positive. In order to overcome this virus, it is estimated that 75 to 80 percent of Americans must be exposed. The COVID-19 crisis is destroying hospitals financially, especially rural hospitals. Many hospitals will not survive this crisis. Many Americans are starting to receive their corona virus bills. The New York Times shared that a woman received a bill for $400,000. With credits and adjustments, they knocked it down to $75,000. She explained, “I haven’t worked for months and I have no money. Where will I get $75,000?” Now multiply that one experience by millions of people.
Crisis #2: Economic Crisis.
This has been in the wings for years. COVID-19 uncovered and speeded up the economic disaster. Many companies and many Americans couldn’t pay their bills one month into the crisis. They were already in trouble. I believe 50 percent of the restaurants, bars, movie theaters and a very high percentage of retailers will never reopen. What impact will that have on our customers and their financial and retirement plans?
Crisis #3: Social Crisis.
This crash is long overdue. Taking care of each other as human beings should be the basis for life. I still have much to learn in that regard. For the purpose of this newsletter I am only talking about the added economic stress that this social crisis will cause on so many levels. There is so much we can’t afford right now. However, this is something we must find the money for. Each crisis alone is an enormous challenge. All together they will not only change our country, they will change the world.
Crisis #4: Climate Crisis.
This crisis is larger than the other crises combined. Droughts, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, rising sea and lake levels: This will cause a dramatic economic transformation in our country and our world. We will deal with all of these crises.
However, will we do it fairly or unfairly? What if you could be in control of how much can be taken from you before or after governments start taking what they need?
Let's get started!
Idea #2: Tax Reduction in Retirement Maximizes Social Security Benefits
Do you know the government intends to net $650 billion in tax revenue over the next decade from retirees Social Security? Would your prospects and clients appreciate a heads up from you that there were strategies that could prevent their Social Security from being income taxed? There is no inflation protection on the thresholds to determine if your Social Security is taxable. If their modified adjusted gross income and half their Social Security benefits exceed $25,000 and they are single, their Social Security becomes taxable. If married that number begins at $32,000. Up to 85 percent of Social Security benefits can be income taxed. Don’t you believe your customers would want to learn how to prevent this?
Title: Surprise! Social Security Will Net $650 Billion Over the Next Decade by Taxing Its Beneficiaries
https://www.fool.com/ (The Motley Fool, June 13, 2020)
Title: 50% of seniors don’t keep their Social Security benefits: Here’s why
https://www.foxbusiness.com/ (Fox Business, June 18, 2020)
Idea #6: Do You Believe Taxes Will Be Higher in the Future?
Here are two articles about higher taxes for Americans in the future. One article gives highlights from a discussion at The American College from one of my heroes. Professor Laurence Kotlikoff, professor at Boston University and co-writer of the book about Social Security called, “Get What’s Yours” made it clear that governments will require more revenue and will probably raise rates.
The other article said they might raise rates or reduce deductions to raise revenue. Either way, government at every level will require additional revenue. That Means Higher Taxes!
Title: Swedroe, Kotlikoff Warn Advisors to Prepare for Higher Taxes After Pandemic
https://www.thinkadvisor.com/ (Think Advisor, June 3, 2020)
Title: Higher Taxes For Wealthy A Stark Possibility In Wake Of Virus
https://www.fa-mag.com/ (Financial Advisor, June 15, 2020)
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