Getting the Right Perspective
One of the most difficult things to deal with when you are young is to underst and that you are not immortal. Being healthy and fit with seemingly an endless number of years in front of you, the ideas of death and old age are difficult to contemplate. Accidents are things that happen to others and the idea of growing old is something your parents do.
This difficulty of having a long-term perspective helps to explain the paradox concerning life insurance. Surveys consistently show that individuals underst and and accept the wisdom of buying adequate levels of insurance, whether whole life or term insurance. The problem is that most people are underinsured, especially young families. Closing the gap between need and perspective is the challenge of most insurance salesmen.
The Experienced Salesman
When I was much younger and we had our first child, an article in some magazine spurred me to check out the insurance market. The article convinced me that I needed some coverage, and it touted the benefits of a new concept, universal life. It seemed the prudent thing to do, so I looked up several of the major companies and called for information.
Of course, my inquiries identified me as a hot prospect and I was soon deluged with calls and follow-ups from eager salesmen. This activity resulted in several scheduled meetings to review the various options and offerings of the companies. By and large the process was productive and quickly made me semi-literate about insurance and the various options and costs to protect my young family.
To this day, however, I remember one salesman in particular. This man was, in fact, the quintessential sales professional. It was evident that he loved what he did, believed in his product, and was very practiced in the art of closing the deal. I narrowed my choices down to a universal life policy with him or a larger term insurance policy from a competitor. The monthly commitment was pretty much the same but the agent with the term policy offered more coverage.
After much thought and discussion with my wife, who liked the term insurance agent better, I decided on that policy. When I called the more experienced and polished salesman to let him know our decision, he took the call in a professional way but insisted that I allow him to visit with me one more time. Being young and without having had time to develop a real resistance to professional sales techniques, I agreed to him coming by one more time.
The Closing Pitch
When the salesman stopped by later in the week, he spent some time trying to resell me on the benefits of universal life versus term life insurance. He was persuasive, but I stood my ground. At last, seeing that I was not going to be swayed, he pulled out a single sheet of paper and slid it across to me, asking me to sign it as a favor to him.
He then explained that he liked to keep a file of those who failed to buy insurance from him. Then, when someone died, which, he explained, happens all too frequently, he can go to the widow and escape blame for a lack of coverage, for the sheet of paper explains that I had simply refused to listen to the importance of buying from him.
I signed the paper, although my wife was aghast at the idea. To this day, I remember that as one of the more interesting closing techniques I have ever encountered.