Cross-selling life insurance: commit to being a trusted advisor

Guest blog by Gavin Dean, Avolanta

Guest blogs are written by contributors outside of HawkSoft. The author's views are entirely their own and may not reflect the views of HawkSoft.


The concept of selling additional lines of coverage to existing customers seems pretty straightforward. As an agent, you’ve already developed trust and been successful placing one line of coverage. It should be as simple as getting permission to present another line of coverage, right?

However, many agents struggle with that concept within personal and commercial lines, let alone life insurance. We’ll dig into why agents struggle to successfully cross-sell life insurance and offer 5 ways to increase life sales within your book of business.

In this article:


P&C sales are required; life insurance sales are optional

I’m going to start with an uncomfortable proposition: property and casualty sales are more transactional than life insurance sales because the customer has to buy that insurance from someone—you can’t buy a home, drive a car, or operate a business without it. Many producers understand that the purchase is inevitable; it’s just a matter of whether they win or lose to a competitor. Therefore, the mindset tends to evolve towards addressing an immediate need against another known competitor. The customer’s indecision or inaction isn’t an option.

On the other hand, life insurance often isn’t considered mandatory. Therefore, the producer has to make two sales: first to convince the client to buy the product, and second to buy the product from them. This is very different than the P&C sale and I would argue places a higher emphasis on the life insurance agent becoming a true, trusted advisor.

In the P&C world, it’s easy to position homeowners, auto, work comp, or BOP. It’s more complicated, and risky, to dig into the details and assess a need for flood or cyber or EPL coverage because in getting into the details, the first sale may be jeopardized. Life insurance is the same way—there are many options uniquely suited for a particular scenario that aren't easy to ascertain without asking detailed, personal questions.


Today’s customer wants more from agents

Today’s insurance customer is clearly expressing a preference for more conversations, more choices, and more options. You may recall a prior blog post by Philip Charles-Pierre from Semsee. He highlighted that millennials have a much greater desire to develop a relationship with their agents, to receive information about valuable products and services, and to invest time in more periodic reviews of their coverage options.

The agent must be vulnerable enough to have deep, meaningful conversations with customers, invest time to learn about products and solutions, and commit to being a trusted advisor deeply rooted in the financial health of their customers. 


Deliver high-tech and high-touch

We all agree that there are only so many hours in a day. And committing to being a true advisor and digging deep to be vulnerable, have authentic conversations, and uncover opportunities that meet a customer’s needs takes time and effort and patience. It may seem contradictory but an agent’s investment in technology can help develop a deeper relationship with customers. With a younger customer base there’s an opportunity to educate and engage and use technology to deliver content that can be very specific and targeted.

By using solutions that integrate with common agency technology like agency management systems and raters, agents can improve their workflows and free up more time to spend with customers.


Preparation and practice

Businessman on racing blocks at starting lineIt’s quite common for athletes to transition into insurance sales. It’s easy to assume that name recognition and relationships are the driving factor, and that’s certainly relevant, but I believe there’s a deeper reason that many athletes successfully transition from competing in sports to competing in business. 

From a young age, athletes are driven to perform and recognize preparation as the key to performance. Athletes spend hours a day focusing on skills and talents that are tangential to performing in their sport. For a football player, hours in the weight room don’t directly relate to a successful football result, but there’s no doubt that well-conditioned football players avoid injury at a greater rate. 

As an insurance producer you sell extremely complicated legal contracts designed to protect your clients against significant personal loss. Have you read those contracts of your key carriers so that you understand the details? Are you spending hours a week to prepare for questions that customers might ask?

When it comes to practice, athletes spend hours each week honing their skills for the next game. The value of practice is significant in that it creates muscle memory. Muscle memory has you prepared for the unexpected and anything unexpected in the sales process jeopardizes your momentum and the sale. At a minimum, are you doing role-play with other agents to increase your muscle memory? Or have you invested in a sales coach who can ensure you have a game plan for each customer interaction?


5 tips to increase life insurance sales

Here are 5 ways to start or increase your life insurance sales to P&C clients.

5 ways to increase life insurance sales


1. Position yourself as the client relationship manager

If your clients see you as an advisor who is concerned not only with insurance, but their overall financial wellness, they will expect and accept other opportunities for financial protection.

2. Identify cross-sell candidates

Engage your support staff to identify customers who might be a fit for life insurance, using prospect worksheets and interviews. Traditional life events like getting married, buying a home, starting a new job, having a child, etc. are known milestones that open the life insurance conversation. Starting a new business or owning a business can be a conversation starter for business life insurance. Mentions of children and grandchildren can be a conversation starter for individual life insurance.

3. Mention life insurance opportunities in every communication

Bring up opportunities when you contact the client for an annual policy review, mortgage payoff, add a driver to an auto policy, or other life events.

4. Discuss life insurance during relevant P&C sales

For commercial insurance, position buy-sell agreements. For auto insurance with income sensitivity, position term life or final expense insurance. For homeowners insurance, position mortgage protection insurance and include a quote with every renewal.

5. Follow up with new customers

Personally reach out 31 days after a new policy to talk about a life insurance needs analysis or six-month checkups.



Putting it all together

As an agent, you have a unique opportunity to be a trusted advisor for your clients. And for life insurance it goes beyond positioning a required product against a competitor. By investing in the financial health of your customer and adjusting your mindset to focus on having deep and meaningful conversations, using technology as your ally and focusing on preparation and practice, you’ll find significant opportunity to fulfill your mission as a trusted advisor through life insurance.



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Gavin Dean

Author: Gavin Dean

Gavin B. Dean is the Co-founder of Avolanta, the customer engagement platform for the insurance industry. Gavin has significant experience creating digital agent and customer journeys across life, health, personal and commercial lines. In addition to Avolanta, Gavin owns and operates an insurance agency. Gavin has prior industry experience with officer-level roles at Aetna, Unum and Colonial Life. Gavin and his wife live in Columbia, SC with four young children and three rescue dogs.

cross-selling, marketing automation, partner content, life insurance