Over the past two months, I have been meeting with a prospect about his retirement planning. The sales process consisted of many phone appointments and four face-to-face interviews. This particular gentleman has a fair amount of money, a broker, another financial advisor, an attorney, and (this is my favorite part) he has an engineer-type of personality. I enjoyed working with this person for a number of reasons, but primarily because he was open and honest.

During our first phone conversation, he said he would read everything I showed him in great detail. He was also sure to mention that that the materials were subject to review by his other investment advisors and his attorney. He then said, “If what you propose is better than what my other relationships can offer, then I will do business with you.” What a way to start!

After I hung up the phone, I knew I had my work cut out for me. As I stated before, I met with this man four times, and each time we had an appointment, I knew I needed to be on top of my game. Each time, he reminded me that he was going to talk to his other advisors and get back to me. I can recall points during the sales process where I had to push back and really challenge the prospect to think about what I was offering and what he currently owned.

The major turning point happened when I asked the client to look back at his other investments and consider if he would own them again. We re-examined his ultimate goal – safety, growth and a contractually guaranteed retirement income. I then asked him, “Does your current plan accomplish all of these goals?” Of course his answer was, “No. It doesn’t.” I then asked, “ Do you know a better way to accomplish these goals?” He paused for a moment and then nodded in agreement. A few minutes later, we wrote up two annuity applications.

This sales process was a great learning experience for me. It reminded me to be persistent, professional, and ultimately, to challenge the client to really think about his current financial position. Making a sale is a process and requires working through each meeting to properly address concerns and questions as they arise.

Business Succession Planning: Are You Talking About It?

Many financial advisors make it a goal to work with business owners as a part of their financial practice. However, some advisors are still missing the opportunity to discuss succession planning with their small business owner clients and prospects. Often times, within a family or small business, discussing the worst case scenarios (going out of business, death of key employee, etc.) are swept under the rug because no one wants to confront these uncomfortable issues. All the while, the business owner recognizes the need for a plan but does not act…unless they can get a little nudge from you in the right direction.

Did you know that 70% of small business owners think about succession planning but have not put the necessary plans in place?1 In addition to the importance of succession planning with a small business owner, the personal retirement and portfolio needs of the owner are equally as important. You should be sure to cover all the bases when meeting with the prospect about their needs. These needs can include life insurance and estate planning, as well as retirement income planning.

Think of a business owner’s needs like a railroad: one rail is business succession planning and the other rail is retirement planning. The rails are headed in the same direction, and most business owners are going to pull into the “station” (i.e. retirement) unprepared to pass on or sell their business and enjoy retirement. If you have any small business owners you are working with, give your Business Developer a call to discuss their needs and finalize a workable solution: 800.734.0076.

1. Mitigating Risk and Capitalizing Opportunities,” Market Facts Quarterly, LIMRA 2011.