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 March 2021 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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March 2021 – 7 Ideas and Views Newsletter by Van Mueller
The recent winter storm disaster in Texas is a black swan event.
Investopedia defines a black swan event as “an unpredictable event that is beyond what is normally expected of a situation and has potentially severe consequences. Black swan events are characterized by their extreme rarity, severe impact, and the widespread insistence they were obvious in hindsight.” The dot-com bubble in 2001 and the housing crash in 2008 are textbook examples of black swan events.
Here, because of climate change, Texas experienced freezing temperatures and snow as far south as Houston. Texas had not seen weather like that for over 100 years. The power grid was overwhelmed by all the intense heating needs, and it failed. Water mains broke and pipes burst from the cold. Millions were left without electricity, heat or access to safe drinking water. People died. The storm caused more damage than Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and will be the largest insurance claim ever in the history of Texas. It will take a long time for Texas to recover, and will require massive updates to its utilities infrastructure. At the same time, Texas is still dealing with all the other issues that the second-most populated state has to deal with.
The storm caused more damage than Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and will be the largest insurance claim ever in the history of Texas.
Where will Texas get the money to do all this? Texas currently does not have a state income tax. Is it possible Texans will be paying state income tax in the future? Is it possible that Texas will not be able to provide benefits that it has promised? Could it be both?
I am talking to you about black swan events because I still do not think that I have done a good enough job of explaining exactly what we do as insurance and financial service professionals. Our primary focus is not making people rich, our primary focus is preventing them from ever being poor. Our obligation is to help our customers protect against the effects of black swan events like the winter storm in Texas – events that neither they or we can foresee or predict.
And there are potentially many black swans ahead: More people over age 65 than any time in the history of the world! Lifespans of over 120 years! Unheard of amounts of debt! Wars fought with computers rather than bombs and ammunition! More pandemics! Climate change that we cannot yet comprehend! Entirely new ways to earn a living! Younger Americans with dramatically different goals and priorities than their parents and grandparents! These are only a few of the paradigm shifts our country and our world will deal with in the coming decades.
These are only a few of the paradigm shifts our country and our world will deal with in the coming decades.
Our competitive advantage as insurance and financial professionals is that we can provide certainty in uncertain times. Certainty is exactly what our prospects and clients want and need right now. Study after study shows that Americans are more concerned with preventing loss than they are about missing out on potential gains. For example, after over a decade of the bull market, Americans are still keeping trillions of dollars in money markets, savings accounts, CD’s, short-term bond funds and checking accounts, essentially earning nothing. People are more focused on trying to make sure they and their family never end up poor than they are on trying to get “rich.”
So why do we continue to try to “sell” cash value life insurance and annuities as investments? That kind of a presentation faces competition from stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, gold, bitcoin, etc. We will lose many of those comparisons because cash value life insurance and annuities are not investments.
Why do we continue to try to “sell” cash value life insurance and annuities as investments? That kind of a presentation faces competition from stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, gold, bitcoin, etc.
Instead, we offer guaranteed income that cannot be outlived. In a world where people are living longer and longer, we are the only people who can provide this astonishingly important benefit. We are the only industry that can provide mortality credits. Those mortality credits allow us to provide much greater income streams than any other safe money investment. We also provide leverage: using pennies to buy dollars. That leverage can be used to offset future inflation, which is better described as the lost purchasing power of our money. Cash value life insurance is also one dollar doing the work of many different dollars. In a world where discretionary money is decreasing dramatically, it will be more important than ever to have dollars that are flexible and versatile; dollars that are more effective and more efficient.
Let me explain what I mean when I say, “one dollar doing the work of many dollars.” What if my dollar took care of you no matter how long you lived? What if my dollar took care of your family, business or charity if you died too soon? What if my dollar was self-completing if you became disabled and had a waiver of premium on your contract? What if you had a critical illness such as a heart attack, stroke or cancer and you could access the values in this strategy to transition your life without it being destroyed? What if you could use the values to retrain, so you wouldn’t have to return to the work that caused your stress and health problems? What if the death benefit would replenish what you used so your family or business, or charity would still get the full value you accumulated? What if you could have the same opportunity with long term care? What if you could be cared for at home instead of the dreaded nursing home, and then use the death benefit to replenish all the money used while you were alive so that the person who cared for you will have the money to be cared for? What if we provided all of that coverage, but if you never needed these benefits, you still haven’t wasted any money on premiums. Finally, when you retire, what if you could use the value in this strategy to provide an income tax free supplement to your retirement that you can’t outlive. Isn’t that amazing?
What if my dollar took care of you no matter how long you lived? What if my dollar took care of your family, business or charity if you died too soon?
When we focus on these benefits, we have no competition. There is nothing else in the world that can provide all the benefits of a cash value life insurance policy.
Let’s continue with number 9 of my 40 questions.
9. Do you want to be rich or do you want to absolutely positively guarantee you will never be poor?
95 percent of women and 90 percent of men say they want the guarantee. If you could ask a question and almost always get the answer you were looking for, wouldn’t you want to ask it more often? Then, when they say they want the guarantee, ask another question: If I could show you a way that even if you completely ran out of money, you would never run out of income, would you be interested in information like that? If there was no cost or obligation, wouldn’t that at least be worth 45 minutes of your time? I promise that I won’t try to sell you anything and when I’m done, I believe you will be so pleased with the information that you will walk me to my car and hold my car door open for me. Would Thursday or Friday of next week be better?
This is one of my favorite questions because it works so well to get me appointments. It works because people are voraciously interested in guaranteed income in retirement. Once you have the appointment, prospects treat you differently. They treat you better. But they will only treat you better if you come around with questions that allow them to use their own common sense to reason out the best course of action for themselves, their family and their business.
Once you have the appointment, prospects treat you differently. They treat you better.
10. If you lost your job for 30 years, would that hurt you and your family? Isn’t that retirement?
I live very close to Northwestern Mutual’s home office in Milwaukee, WI. I always try to make sure I stay in town for their annual convention, because it is a really fun week and I get to visit with my Northwestern Mutual friends from all over the country. A few years ago, I was going to lunch with some of my NML friends. We were in front of the restaurant, and one of the agents said he would pay for lunch if I could get an appointment with a man who was standing on the corner with us. I figured that I had nothing to lose, because one of us was going to buy lunch anyway and it would be a great opportunity to practice. So I took the bet.
I walked over and introduced myself as an insurance agent and said I was having lunch with some visiting agents who were attending the Northwestern Mutual convention. I told the man that I made a bet with them that I could get an appointment with him. I said it would only take 30 seconds and I just wanted to ask him a few questions that I thought he would find interesting, no matter what. I asked if he wanted to hear those questions. I told him it would be fun.
Then I got really serious. I looked him straight in the eye and asked him if he lost his job for 30 years, would it hurt him and his family. He replied, well of course it would. I waited three or four seconds and then asked, “Isn’t that retirement?” I asked: How did he know he wouldn’t outlive his money? How did he know that the biggest beneficiary of his retirement wouldn’t be the Internal Revenue Service instead of him and his family? Where would he get hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for healthcare if he wasn’t working? I promised that I wouldn’t try to sell him anything, and if I could walk him through a process that would help him to reason out the best course of action for him and his family, wouldn’t that be worth 45 minutes of his time? I got the appointment, and I also got the biggest ribeye on the menu for lunch.
I looked him straight in the eye and asked him if he lost his job for 30 years, would it hurt him and his family. He replied, well of course it would. I waited three or four seconds and then asked, “Isn’t that retirement?”
If you practice asking these questions, and you find a way to make the practice fun, you will become very good faster than you could ever imagine. And maybe you’ll get a steak lunch!
11. Do you have enough confidence in your current advisor to get a second opinion?
If they say yes, you ask, would tomorrow or the next day be better to visit with you?
If they say no, you say, so then you probably lost some money during the last downturn or you are worried about higher taxes in retirement including having your Social Security taxed. Have you developed a strategy to make sure you won’t be hurt by those events? What if you could even take advantage of those events for your benefit? What if you never had to lose money again, but you could still be in a position to take advantage of these opportunities when they presented themselves? At the very least, wouldn’t you be interested in finding out about strategies like that, even if you eventually decided to do nothing?
Remember, the goal is to inspire people to give you an appointment. Please notice that I am not talking about policies or cash values or premiums or interest rates. I am asking the prospect whether they would like certain benefits. If they say yes, then they generally don’t care what I put them in as long as it provides the benefits they agreed to. This makes being an agent fun.
Remember, the goal is to inspire people to give you an appointment. This makes being an agent fun.
12. When one parent dies and there is not enough money, do you think it’s fair that the children should end up losing both parents?
This is always a difficult discussion. We must have this discussion with every family that has children under age 18. We see so many families that are destroyed for lack of life insurance when one of the parents die. Should the children be able to grieve with the remaining parent or with a babysitter. If the remaining spouse has to work, cook, clean, do laundry, do yardwork, shovel snow, etc. how much time is left to be a “parent”?
It is hard for agents to understand this concept, but none of our customers are thinking about dying. They are concerning themselves with the mundane, everyday happenstances of life. Even though they know people die, they never really think it will happen to them. That is why you must ask in a respectful and organized manner for your prospects and clients to consider what would happen if they did die. The questions help our customers to use their own common sense to reason out why they should take action. If they don’t have common sense, then you weren’t going to inspire them anyway. But the good news is that the overwhelming majority of people we come in contact with have wonderful common sense.
It is hard for agents to understand this concept, but none of our customers are thinking about dying.
13. When you turn 65, you begin a race; your money versus your life. Which one do you want to win? Do you want to live longer than your money or do you want your money to live longer than you?
If you retire at age 65 and die at age 70, we probably won’t have any trouble planning your retirement. However, if you retire at age 65 and live to age 95 and run out of money at age 72, what happens then? By the way, isn’t age 72 the new 52 for most Americans? Aren’t 72-year old’s doing what 52-year old’s used to do? If you run out of money at age 72, what will the rest of your retirement look like? Is that the kind of retirement you want?
Again, we make a terrible mistake when we assume our customers have thought about these issues. Many times, they are thinking about them for the very first time. You are the only financial professionals who can start conversations by asking questions. Attorneys, accountants, bankers, and trust officers are very important financial professionals, but outside of a very few exceptions they only answer questions put to them. Most times our customers don’t even know what to ask. You hold a position of trust. Don’t relinquish that trust by selling and telling. Strengthen that trust by asking your customers to consider things no one else even brought to their attention and help them find solutions. It will change your career.
You hold a position of trust. Don’t relinquish that trust by selling and telling.
14. Doesn’t it take 40 years of employment to create 80 years of income? How are you going to do that?
If people are living longer than ever, what is the most effective and efficient way to provide income that you will never out live? Do you have a strategy for that Mr. & Mrs. Customer? With food costs, health care costs, taxes and inflation increasing dramatically, how do you plan to make sure that your income will keep up with these dramatically increasing costs after you retire? And doesn’t living longer make having enough income in retirement even more difficult? What if we could build a strategy to replace lost benefits, reduce or eliminate income taxes on your retirement income and offset the reduced purchasing power that inflation will bring? Wouldn’t that be worth 45 minutes of your time? At the very least you would be made aware of the challenges you will face, and have a chance to decide whether you will let them hurt you and your family or whether you will take advantage of them as opportunities?
We will get started on our Canadian and seven ideas now. Please remember that you are not trying to make sales: You are inspiring people to take action. Understanding that changes your career for the better. It only takes a little practice to turn everything you do into asking questions.
Please remember that you are not trying to make sales: You are inspiring people to take action.
Idea #2: Comparing Indexed Universal Life to Whole Life and 401(K)’s
Again, anytime we find favorable third-party information about the work we do it is beneficial. These are two separate and detailed articles comparing first, indexed universal life to whole life and next, indexed universal life and 401(k)’s. I know agents are always searching for ways to evaluate what products they should provide to customers. These two articles will be helpful.
Title: Indexed Universal Life (IUL) vs. 401(k)
https://finance.yahoo.com/ (Yahoo Finance, February 18, 2021)
Title: Indexed Universal Life vs. Whole Life Insurance
https://finance.yahoo.com/ (Yahoo Finance, February 18, 2021)
Idea #5: Maximize Your Social Security
According to this article, one third of Americans claim Social Security at age 62. Another third claims their benefit before full retirement age. One measuring tool used by Capital One found that their claiming decisions weren’t the best choice and cost American households an average of $68,000. That’s a lot of money! The article also shares information from Professor Laurence Kotlikoff that suboptimal choices cause many families to lose out on over six figures in benefits.
This article gives you access to strategies about how to maximize the Social Security benefit for our customers. Now, instead of guessing, you can show your customers how to calculate the best choice for them and their families. This information is a great way to get referrals, because customers will want to share their newly found information with other people. There are 140 million people retiring between now and 2045. Information like this can build a career.
Finally, if you really wish to increase your knowledge about Social Security, I recommend reading Professor Kotlikoff’s book “Get What’s Yours.” It will change your career!
Title: How to Help Clients Maximize Social Security Benefits
https://www.thinkadvisor.com/ (Think Advisor, February, 21, 2021)
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