Insurance Agent’s Guide to Handling Objections
One of the most talked about parts of the sales process is the art and science of handling objections. Agents will go to great lengths to find the latest script to turn a stubborn lead into an agreeable client – like they were spells from Merlin’s magical spell-book or something.
Chances are, after finishing our last post on presenting and selling Medicare Supplements, or its predecessor on how to sell Final Expense, you’re now wondering, “but what if the lead doesn’t sign up?” Well, the truth is, the majority of leads you interact with won’t buy from you – at least not on the first meeting. Some research says as many as 80% of leads don’t close on the first call.
This is where a good CRM and a sense of discipline and follow through come in useful, by enabling agents to keep in touch with leads over time in case their mind, health or budget changes. The more you follow up, the more objections you’ll encounter from leads, so you’ve got to be prepared to overcome them.
In our book, we presented objections at the end of each presentation chapter, but here we combined them into one blog post so you can see all the similarities between how Final Expense and Medicare Supplement agents handle the same types of objections.
Note: You might see some scripts here for handling objections that were included in our previous blog post on Initially Contacting Leads; but this list is more comprehensive, with more examples of objections and rebuttals that happen throughout the entire sales process, not just in the initial contact.
What’s in this guide
I am hoping by the end of reading this blog, you will know how to tackle any common objection that comes up in the senior insurance sales niche. Before you’re battle-ready, you’ll have to cover these areas:
- What an objection is
- When objections happen in the sales cycle
- The best way to prevent objections from coming up
- The 4 types of objections to expect
- 11 different objections that come up
We will also list 30 objection rebuttal scripts from the collaborators in our book to give agents a comprehensive look at how other agents handle these concerns from senior clients.
What is an Objection?
A sales objection is a hesitation or concern that a prospect has about buying the solution you propose. In a sense, objections are inevitable because if leads didn’t have any hesitations about buying, they would have bought already!
Objections can also be likened to subconscious stalls that consumers have toward salesmen that have been engrained into the consumers’ psyche over time. “Consumers would rather buy than be sold,” in the words of one of our collaborators, Bob Vineyard, so if you come off as too salesy, you can bet the prospect will object to your attempts. Handling objections shouldn’t be about pressuring prospects into buying, but rather, about alleviating their concerns to help them solve a problem.
When Do Objections Usually Happen?
Objections can come up at any time, heck, even after the sale! It’s your job as the agent to understand how to help overcome those concerns in the eyes of the prospect. Although objections can pop up whenever, you will usually find that prospects tend to object as a kneejerk reaction to moving into the next phase in the sales cycle. That means you’ll usually hear objections happen at two main parts of the sales cycle: when you initially contact leads and when you attempt to close them.
How to Handle Objections Early On
How you should approach an objection depends on when the objection surfaced. If the objection comes up right away during prospecting, most agents would say that you shouldn’t try to overcome such early objections because you could better utilize your time looking for warmer prospects that exhibit two qualities, according to sales training expert Sid Walker:
- Chemistry: the prospect has a natural propensity toward you whether it comes from your tone, tempo, fashion, mannerisms or common interests.
- Timing: the prospect might have just watched a Final Expense commercial, read a direct mailer, been called by a telemarketer, had a death in the family, or, for some other reason, decided it’s the right time to look at their options.
If a prospect exhibits those two qualities, then they’re a solid lead. Trying to combat an uninterested lead during the prospecting phase can yield less fruit than simply continuing to prospect for someone that better exhibits the above two qualities.
But if the objection pops up after you’ve spent your hard-earned time (prospecting) or money (buying leads) to get in front of a prospect, you should definitely try to overcome the objection, alleviate the prospect’s concerns, and continue guiding them through the sales process.
In fact, many agents will hold on to their leads to re-knock or call back later, hoping there will be a change that might make the prospect reconsider. According to some studies, salesmen that excel at nurturing leads and overcoming objections generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower costs.
How to Prevent Objections from Happening
That’s the question you should be asking yourself. Sales pros have a habit of looking at all the possible objections that could possibly come up after a presentation, and trying to build those into their presentation so they can avoid the objections from coming up in the first place.
So, when you’re going through your leads and finding some common objections popping up, take a minute and ask yourself if there’s an opportunity to fortify your presentation to address these common concerns you’re often hearing.
Another thing to ask yourself is whether you’re building trust and value in the solution within your presentation. It doesn’t matter if the prospect needs your product (timing), but if they don’t like you (chemistry), then they won’t buy.
Whether you’re connecting with clients face-to-face (F2F) or over the phone (OTP), ways to build trust include:
- Wearing nice attire (F2F)
- Wearing a lanyard ID and carrying a copy of your license (F2F)
- Speaking slowly and calmly (OTP)
- Taking them through a background Power Point screen share (OTP)
- Educating the prospect on plan differences (Final Expense)
- Educating the prospect on plan similarities (Medicare Supplement)
There’s really only way to build value, and that’s what we addressed in the qualifying and presenting articles – finding out the one reason why they:
- Requested more information (lead)
- Agreed to get a quote (OTP)
- Agreed to meet with you (F2F)
For more ways to isolate that one reason, please reread our previously linked articles that go into more in depth and provide more collaborator script examples.
Basically, if you don’t have a problem to solve and a reason why they need your solution, then there’s no value, and no matter how much they like you or talk with you (some will talk all day), they won’t be buying – so find that one reason and build value and trust to prevent objections from happening at all.
30 Rebuttals to the 4 Main Types of Objections
In our book, we went over 4 common types of objections that agents often encounter when selling Final Expense and Medicare Supplements. Those objections are based on:
- Dealing with Confusion
- Building Value
- Increasing Trust
- Finding an Appropriate Budget
Of course, this isn’t a definitive list of objections, nor is this the only way to classify objections. We just thought that this simplistic explanation accounted for most of the objections new agents will encounter when selling life and health insurance to seniors.
1. Dealing with Confusion
When you’re dealing with an older demographic, confusion is a very common occurrence you’ll come across when calling or knocking for appointments. The best way to approach prospects who are confused about the reason you’re calling them, is to patiently reaffirm the reason for your call, remind them of their answer to any security questions you may have (if you use telemarketing leads) and gently steer them back into the qualifying and presenting phases of your sales process.
Here is how some agents overcome these types of objections:
a. “I don’t remember the call/letter.”
Mike Shure (FE): “We’ve been asked to market these new state-approved plans for Final Expense in your state because Medicare only provides $255, but only to a surviving spouse or child under the age of 18. This is free information so you can make an educated decision about whether you can afford to burden your family with your passing.”
Denise Rangel (FE): If they are trying to hang up, I assure them that this is not a telemarketing call, that I am only calling them because they requested some information and I need to get that requested information to them.
Nathan Robinson (FE): I give them the name of the telemarketer who gave me their information and what was said. If they still say no, I then apologize to them, and then I ask them if they have the money saved to pay for at least a $7,000 burial ceremony. If they refuse to talk about the issue, I send them my business card and a card in the mail.
Jason McKenzie (MS): I politely apologize for the confusion, read their name and their address, and inform them that the call might have been a week or two ago. Most of the time, that refreshes their memory. If it doesn't, I go right into why I am calling.
Matt Mungia (FE): I like to hit on the favorite hobby or password they provided to the telemarketer.
Chris Fonner (MS): “That’s fine. You are on Medicare, right? (Or) You are turning 65 soon and will be applying for Medicare, right?”
b. “I have never heard of this/your company.”
Justin Bilyj (MS): “You haven’t heard of COMPANY? That’s ok, they’ve been in business since (YEAR). They are a great company to deal with, they have great customer service, and I think if you give them a chance like many of my other clients have, you will find that they will be no different than your current company except your monthly payment will be lower. I have your address as…”
Justin Bilyj (MS): “I am not with any one insurance company. There are over 25 companies offering the same exact plan you have now, same benefits, same doctors, only they charge a different price. My job is to help my clients find the best plan their health will allow them to qualify for, so they don’t overpay for the same plan and customer service they can get elsewhere. Now, are you on a Plan F?”
2. Building Value
Objections based on value can be tricky to overcome. If there’s no value, there’s no reason to move forward. Like we mentioned earlier, getting to the reason why the lead requested more info in the first place is the best route to prevent objections. Unfortunately, inertia (or natural reluctance to change) is a hard thing to overcome.
When it comes to overcoming objections based on value, usually the best approach is to appeal to either more benefits for the same price, or the same benefits for a lower price.
Agents usually get this objection upfront when initially contacting the lead, for both Final Expense and Medicare Supplements. But usually Medicare Supplement agents get this objection more at the end of the presentation than a Final Expense agent would, because the perceived value of the savings might not translate to enough of a benefit to change plans. With Final Expense, you’re more likely to encounter a budget objection than a value objection at the end of the presentation.
To overcome this objection, it’s the agent’s job to pique the prospect’s curiosity about price and benefits, and to translate the savings into something the prospect values or finds tangible. Look below at how some agents deal with this objection.
a. “I want to think about it.” “I’m fine with what I have.” “I’m not interested.” “I already have it.”
Tom Massey (MS): “How high will your Medicare Supplement premium have to get before you'll change? What will you do when you want to change, but your health won't allow you to qualify to make a change?”
Jeff Cornelius (MS): “I’m sure you’re aware that by law all Medicare Supplement plans are the same and the only difference is premium, correct? So, if we can find another Plan F with a lower rate than you are currently paying, you could have the same sense of protection at a lower rate…”
Robin Penrod (MS): I generally empathize that we are all on fixed incomes and a savings of $xx a month provides extra income for other necessities or a trip to see grandkids. I listen as we are talking and try to find (what their interests are), and then loop it back to that.
Joseph Smith (MS): I ask, “If we were able to find a savings of $30 - $75 per month in costs, would that amount of money help out each month?”
Nathan Robinson (FE): I ask them if I could review (their plan) over the phone or in person if they persist. I also ask them what life insurance company they have a contract with. I explain to them that I'm an independent agent and I have access to almost every Final Expense company. Finally, I ask them if it is ok if I can find them a lower rate.
Jason McKenzie (MS): “I understand that you’re happy with the company, but probably not with the last rate increase you got from them. I also write a lot of said company and like them as well, however, I have a lot of clients that are very unhappy about the last rate increase. So what I have done for them is found another A-rated company with the same Plan F/G and requalified them at a much lower rate.”
Jeff Erb (MS): “You do not wish to possibly lower how much money you are paying for healthcare?”
Ed Murphy (FE): I try to find what kind of life insurance plan they have and give an honest evaluation of it. About 80% have a good policy; the rest, I try to save them money or get them into a whole life plan because many have term policies that will eventually end up lapsing, possibly before they pass away.
Bob Vineyard (MS): I can't really say that I have a snappy comeback. I react to the tone of the words more than anything. If they seem like a jerk, I simply ask, "Would you like me to close your file?"
Frankly, I have no desire to waste my time with those types.
If they seem friendly and open, I will engage them by asking questions, usually along the lines of: "Other than premium, name one thing you DON'T like about your plan."
That usually leads to something like, "No complaints. All my bills are paid. Who wouldn't like to pay less?"
That's a Medigap response.
If they complain about network or OOP, they are an MA person and then I have to see if they are healthy. Most of these folks I just leave alone unless they are healthy and we are in AEP. But once they open the door by saying, "Who wouldn't like to pay less?" I have an opening to toss out a rate and see if I can generate interest.
If they have a plan, I only ask (initially) which plan they have (F, G, etc). At this point, I don't care who the carrier is, what their current rate is, or if they are even healthy. I just want to toss out a rate and see if there is any interest before moving forward or terminating the call.
If they don't have time, more often an excuse than the truth, I ask if tomorrow at this time would be better.
One thing I always do is get or confirm their email and ask if I may send them something by email. An affirmative answer means they are receptive to dialogue.
I am looking for receptive buyers. I don't have the time or desire to try and sell them something by talking them into it. Either they are willing to listen or they aren't. My close ratio is probably lower than other agents’, but my clients stick with me.
b. “I don’t want to switch.” “My plan pays all the bills.”
Joseph Smith (MS): “I am happy your plan pays your bills because federal and state law mandate that your Medicare Supplement policy must pay the expenses it is required to pay. It pays because it is supposed to pay, not because they like you. As long as you stay with the same alphabet letter plan, it will pay exactly the same. Precisely the same.”
c. “I just wanted to get the telemarketer off the line.”
Mike Shure (FE): “I understand it's a boring conversation and nobody wants to talk about their own death, but the reality is you probably qualify for plans that would prevent your kids from a $10,000 burden. If you give me a few minutes, I can tell you how much peace of mind will cost you.”
3. Increasing Trust
Prospects who don’t trust agents won’t want to meet with them or fill out an application. Objections about trust are best overcome early on or during the presentation, because if you hear these concerns at the end, it may be too late. That’s why we talked about some of the ways to build trust throughout the sales process to prevent this objection from happening at the end of your presentation.
When this objection comes at the beginning of the sales process when the agent initially contacts the lead, it usually comes in the form of asking “can’t you just mail me some info?” Agents need to help prospects realize how much info required to put together an actual “quote package,” and how all that info would actually complicate things, and how you can help simplify the process for them – “which is why it takes just 10 minutes to go over the information you requested to see what you qualify for.”
Below are some examples of how agents deal with objections centered around trust, but remember, these objections are best overcome early on or during the presentation; if you get it at the end, you may be too late.
a. “I want to think about it.”
Robin Penrod (MS): I use phrases like: “I get that question all the time, glad you asked, most folks aren't aware of that.” My goal is to make them feel that they are not alone in their fear, and their questions are normal. I tell them how I got into Medicare: “My mother became very ill on Medicare and I had to learn how to navigate the system. Boy, was I surprised to learn we could purchase the same plan from different carriers for less money. Sitting in the hospital, I realized a lot of seniors don't have someone to help that really cares about their health, and I knew I had to help.” This is my true story, so when I share this with them, they can hear it in my voice and that inspires a lot of trust.
b. “I want to speak to…first.”
Joe Smith (MS): “I am glad you want to involve someone else with the decision. Do you feel it is important to ask your child/friend if you should save money? What do you think they will say if they knew you would save $XX per month for the same exact coverage?”
c. “Mail me something.”
Mike Shure (FE): “The information we have to mail is generic and just describes the 25+ carriers in our network. If you give me a few minutes, we can get you quotes because I know that's what you really need to make a decision, and I'll be happy to send that along with any other information you might need.”
Ron Wiza (FE): “I’m not sure what I would mail you; that's the purpose of me coming to see you. I still need to determine which plans and options you best qualify for. That's my job as a field underwriter. It only takes a few minutes to go over that. Are you a morning or afternoon person? 9 or 11?”
Todd King (MS): “The companies won't allow me to mail out all of the information that you would need. Besides, without knowing a few things about you, I would have to send boxes and boxes of stuff in order to get you ALL of the info you need. It will only take me about 10 minutes with you and then I can get you the specific information you'll need. Is tomorrow at 2 p.m. a good time for you?”
Justin Bilyj (MS): “I can understand that; do you get email?”
Then I wait for them to open it and I tell them, “I work differently than most agents; I do what is called ‘remote desktop sharing,’ which allows you to see everything on my screen. After we go through my license and you see some testimonials, we can take a look at all the companies side by side and you can see for yourself which company offers the best price for the exact same plan you have now.”
If I get this objection at the end of the presentation, I will only agree to send them info if I do what is referred to in the Sandler Sales system as an upfront contract or an agreement. I first try to ascertain whether the objection is a stall by being honest and upfront with the prospect: “Mr. Jones, I appreciate that you want to see everything in black and white, but let me ask you, are you telling me this because you are just blowing smoke and not really interested?”
This forces them to either admit to me they aren’t interested, or they start to sell me on why they are interested. If they sell me good enough, I will mail out a packet, but only after we set another appointment to go over everything on the phone and then if they don’t have any questions, we will take an application to see if they qualify for the lower rate.
d. “I want to deal with a local agent.”
Chris Fonner (MS): “Sir, that is not a problem, but let’s start by making sure you will qualify first. Do you have a computer?”
From there, I try to get them on a webinar.
4. Finding an Appropriate Budget
You’ll notice that budget objections will be different for Final Expense than Medicare Supplements, and that’s because with Final Expense you’re usually selling someone a bill, whereas with Medicare Supplements, you’re usually saving someone money – so there’s not a debate about price in Medicare Supplements like there is with Final Expense. For Medicare Supplements, it’s more about what those savings mean to the senior and being able to translate that into value.
Medicare Supplement agents don’t get budget objections unless they’re presenting to T65 leads or prospects on Medicare Advantage. We’ll leave MA and T65 for a future article; for now, this objection is more relevant to Final Expense agents.
Instead of trying to counter this objection, consider lowering the plan options you’ve shown the prospect to see if that might help change their mind. If a lower priced plan doesn’t work, then ascertain their priorities like some of the agents do below in the examples from our collaborators.
a. “I thought this was free.”
Matt Mungia (FE): “It's not quite free, however, it is VERY affordable. You see, Mr. Jones, the only thing free from the government when you pass away is $255 to your family. And as we already know, Mr. Jones, that's not enough to do anything as far as funerals or cremations. Here's how I can help.”
b. “I can’t afford it.”
Frank Bahr (FE): “Most of my clients are on a fixed income, that is why we start small with something affordable. Your family would definitely appreciate whatever you can do. What is it you need to think about? Usually that means you are concerned about the cost, is that right?”
Brandon Webster (FE): “If I told you could have all your final expenses covered for less than your cable bill, would that make sense? We find the money for things that aren’t necessary, yet forget the things that are extremely important.”
Todd Graves (FE): “Can your loved ones afford to pay for your funeral out of their pockets when you pass? Or would you rather leave a legacy and not the burden of a huge bill by taking care of your final expenses for pennies on the dollar?”
Remember, objections can happen anytime, but usually will happen when initially contacting leads and then when attempting to close them. You also want to remember to always be respectful and patient with senior prospects, because the best way to overcome many of their objections is to take your time and educate them, rather than pushing policies on them that they don’t understand. The rest of your job is finding out their one reason for taking an interest in your solution, and helping them qualify their priorities.
Was there an objection we didn’t cover, and you’re wondering how our network of other agents would respond? Let us know in the comments section and we’ll ask them. For more tips, be sure to check out our book and subscribe to our blog so you’ll know when we update this list in the future.