Time is of the essence

Will this year see more of you creating a specific protection development plan for your business or for your own personal sales?

January was a busy month for protection but this spike in activity differs from intermediary business, which tends to be more consistent throughout the year.

A protection development plan will help you set realistic goals to grow your business and this is the year when you need to decide whether you are going to substantially change your model to fit in with planned changes for the retail distribution review.

A plan can be as complex or as simple as you like and gives structure to how you want to work and where you need to focus your effort. Asking a few simple questions could help:

  • Are you going to proactively sell protection to existing and new customers or are you going to be reactive?
  • Have you looked at your 2011 sales and identified what type of customer you sell protection to?
  • What percentage of your mortgage customers also buy protection?
  • Do you typically sell simple-term products or a higher proportion of living benefits?
  • Are you selling products just on price or are you creating more value by recommending products based on features?
  • Are you identifying customer trends you can exploit?

This is data you can review easily but there are other factors having an impact on success.

Do you have the sales skills and time to write protection business? Do you want to spend time keying and administering protection cases and liaising with providers or is that time better spent in new business activity? Could you outsource these activities?

If you are going to be more proactive in promoting protection you need to send a strong message to consumers that they may not be able to get this product as cheaply again and it needs to be completed by a specific date.

Your best sales aids could be the EU commissioners in Brussels and the UK taxman, who are making protection products potentially more expensive at the end of the year and to reduce premiums. I am referring here to gender equalisation and tax changes to term and critical-illness cover.

Time spent identifying gaps in existing clients’ protection cover, together with a strong marketing message for new customers, will reap dividends now and avoid the fire sale that will almost certainly occur towards the end of this year.

Consumers’ protection needs have not changed but the desire to get a good deal makes sense in this economic climate and savings could be substantial over the life of a policy.

Neil McCarthy is sales and marketing director at Direct Life & Pension Services