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MDRT members share their ideas for prospecting, working with clients and building your practice.

How can polar opposites make a successful partnership work?
It’s not easy, but through years of hard work, trial and error, disagreements and victories, we have figured out the keys to mastering a mutually beneficial partnership inside and outside the office.

Communication is key. Within the office, we conduct weekly meetings with the entire team and individual members, along with more in-depth quarterly, semi-annual and annual planning sessions.

Trust and understanding. Allow your partner and team to focus on their strong suits, let the little stuff go and always be moving forward.

Predictable client experience. To achieve perfection, you must have a repeatable process, constantly improve it, and orchestrate it the same for each client, advisor and team member.

— Benjamin Harding, CLU, CFP, 13-year member, and his wife Kimberly A. Harding, CLU, 12-year member, both from Woburn, Massachusetts.


For the last seven years, we have invited our top 150 clients to client appreciation events. The evening is not about business. The event starts with a champagne reception. I spend a few minutes welcoming everyone, saying how much we enjoy having them as clients and how they make our jobs worthwhile. And then it’s just onto the fun. We have entertainment, we have had a magic show, we’ve had opera singers.

We put on a good buffet, and clients have plenty of opportunities to mingle with each other and spend time socially with the staff. This is very beneficial as it means they know who they are speaking to when they call the office; it’s no longer a faceless voice. When you have clients sitting together who don’t know each other, the one common thread is us. There is nothing better for building client loyalty than two clients talking about what we do for them and how good we are.

— Chris Leach, Dip PFS, Cardiff, Wales, 39-year member


A major traumatic illness has many effects: increased stress and anxiety, massive medical bills, employment issues and possible home alterations. Disability income will pay, but it won’t be enough. Life insurance will be enough, but it won’t pay. Critical illness insurance protects the gap. It buys clients time, freedom and money. Learn the language of critical illness insurance.

— Godfrey Phillips, FChFP, J.P., Caringbah, New South Wales, Australia, 33-year member


Think of costs and solutions like a scale. On one side are the costs, and on the other are the benefits. When we show solutions, we are asking the client to weigh the proposition. Are the costs heavier than the benefits? If so, they will not act.

So what do we do? We start talking about the benefits of life insurance, annuities, long-term care or whatever products we are trying to sell. We tell them stories to motivate them to spend the money. But this puts us in an adversarial position. We are arguing with the prospect as we try to show them the benefits are worth the cost.

I would like to suggest a paradigm shift. Let’s not focus on the cost/benefit dynamic. Instead, let’s look at the problem.

There is another scale — the cost/problem relationship. If the problem hurts enough, if the problem causes enough concern or fear, the cost will not matter. Instead of being adversarial, become their friend, their confidant. Find out where the problem hurts the most. Ask questions.

As the pain of the problem increases, the cost of the solution decreases. If the pain is great enough, there is no cost that will stop them from solving the problem. Help them understand all of the ways they have to eliminate the pain without you. It will soon become obvious they have no pain remedy.

So what do we do? Don’t start talking about your solution. It could cost you the sale. My rule is to never talk about my solutions until I have totally eliminated theirs. If you do this correctly, eventually they will ask you, “Do you have a solution for my problem?” This is when you start talking about how your solution will eliminate the pain. But don’t do this until they ask or until they admit their solutions will not work. We must become pain merchants. Be known by the problems you solve, not the solutions you sell. People will come to you with their pain and you will be able to help them eliminate it.

— Guy E. Baker, MSFS, CFP Irvine, California, 2010 MDRT President, 47-year member


I had a prospect ask me, “How do I know an insurance company would pay my claim?” Here is my response: “Well, almost all of us drive cars with airbags in them. When was the last time you tested it? You see, our product, the life insurance product, is like an airbag. If you want to know if it works, you could try it out, or you learn from someone else’s experience.

The more important question is, “‘Would you drive a car without an airbag, or without a seat belt or without the regular safety features?’ Probably not, and that is exactly what our product is. Our product is a security measure that is required for people every day.”

— Sanjay Tolani, FLMI, MBA Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 15-year member


Every child has the unlimited potential to be a great money master. If our children are taught early how to earn, save, invest and share wisely, just like how they learn to ride a bicycle, they can master this skill. Every day our children are bombarded by wrong messages about money and success. If we don’t help our clients teach their young children about this important topic, someone else will, and they may not like the outcome.

Helping clients take charge of teaching their children money management and financial responsibility is one of the greatest gifts we can give them. So let’s educate our clients, protect our children and create the world of money masters together.

— Jae S. Lee, Torrance, California, 7-year member


When your client is signing their application form, quickly take a photo of them. Have it printed and attach it to their policy. Include this note: “Today, September 15, 2017, I have made an important decision to take care of the future of my spouse and kids. I trust that my agent, and their company, will fulfill their promise.”

In this way, you set your policy contract apart from all other contracts, because it has a deeper visual reminder of what life insurance is all about. By printing the photo and including that note, the day your client signs the forms becomes more than just a business transaction —it becomes a life event. And when your client does not want to pay anymore, just show them a copy of the photo and say: “Remember, you promised!”

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This particular picture pays a million dollars, because one day that photo will transform into a check. It reminds the client of their love for their family, and it reminds you, the agent, to do your best for your clients.

— Sherry Lee Ong, Manila, Philippines, 6-year member


I remind my clients what airlines announce at the beginning of a flight: In the event of an emergency, an oxygen mask will drop in front of you. You must place the oxygen mask on yourself first and breathe, before you can help others around you. Similarly, both critical illness insurance and life insurance are financial oxygen that protect us. The only question generally is how much financial oxygen we need to protect ourselves, our families and our business.

I also use an airplane analogy when addressing the need for a plan review. If prospects tell me they set up a plan years ago and do not need to review it, my question to them is, “How accurate do you think a pilot has to be to get to his or her destination? If they don’t review and make adjustments regularly, they can end up in a different area code.”

— Alphonso B. Franco, RHU, RCIS Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, 23-year member


We segregated our clients and prospects into three categories, and created a calendar to connect with them based on the engagement level required or desired for each category. Engagement opportunities include:

  • WhatsApp broadcast list
  • Facebook posts
  • Sending a gift of their interest (books, fruits, chocolates, movie tickets)
  • Writing a knowledge byte (behavioral aspects of investors, general tips, investment view)
  • Doing webinars and seminars (saving taxes, estate planning, etc.)
  • What is the best investment
  • Podcasts
  • Sending a quarterly portfolio
  • Sending birthday and anniversary wishes
  • Personal meetings
  • Taking them to dinner
  • Portfolio reviews
We decided there should be a minimum of six and a maximum of 18 touch points in a year. At least one to three should be face to face. This year we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of our firm, which will give us one more opportunity to interact with our clients.

— Neeraj Chauhan, CFP, BCom, New Delhi, India, 13-year memberr


At my second MDRT meeting, I heard a speaker state: “Work hard, but never get fired from your No. 1 job. If you have a family, they are your first responsibility. You have to work to provide for them, but they also need your time and energy. If they fire you, why are you working so hard in the first place?”

We all spend more time working and in the office than at home, so when we’re home, our families deserve all our attention and energy. If you come home every night and ignore your family, eventually they will fire you — just like when you don’t give enough attention to clients

Bring home the energy — give them the same fire you carry at work, which made you successful enough to qualify for MDRT.

— William J. Rossi, CFP, ChFC,Gainesville, Florida, 14-year member


At the beginning of every first meeting, I ask potential clients, “How did you get to where you are today? Please tell me the story behind your success.” Everyone has a story. Most people never get a chance to tell it. Give your prospective clients an opportunity to brag about what they have overcome and how they achieved success.

You will discover a great deal about their character and the type of person they are. The insights you get at this time will help you relate to the client forever.

You can then segue into your fact-finding process with someone who is at ease with you and who probably already feels some connection to you.

— Matthew Charles Collins, Mona Vale, New South Wales, Australia, 14-year member


I can’t stand the saying, “Don’t take it personally; it’s just business.” Everything we do for our clients is personal. We’re helping them plan and protect their dreams and goals for their family. That’s as personal as you can get.

A few years ago, we decided to devote almost our entire newsletter to what’s going on in our personal lives. Many newsletters consist of product information, stock market or economic updates, or just investment tips. And that’s so boring.

Sharing pictures in our newsletter, and in our office, of what’s going on in our lives made a huge difference in our relationships with our clients. Now the first thing a client asks when they walk in the room is how my daughter’s birthday was or when our assistant is going to run her next marathon.

This can lead to other planning opportunities. For example, in one of our newsletters, the very first item was our assistant celebrating her father’s 96th birthday. Talk about a great example for longevity planning! So once you find a common interest with a client, use those to strengthen your relationship.

— Matthew T. Hoesly, CFP, ChFC Norfolk, Virginia, 9-year member


My wife, Carol, did something for me early in my career that put so much of my life in perspective. I came home from work one day to find she had hung a map of the world above our bed. “This is the dream,” she said. We had prayed and asked God to enlarge our territory. She put the map there to remind us of it.

We had red pins to mark all the places we had traveled to, and blue pins for places we wanted to see. I looked at that map every morning when I woke up, and every night before I went to bed.

Fast forward: A couple of years ago, our grandchildren gave us a new map for Christmas. Same box of red pins to mark where we’ve been. Same box of blue pins to mark where we hope to go. We ran out of red pins, and didn’t need the blue pins.

Carol taught me how to focus on what mattered. The work — even being good at it — was not the goal. It was a way to get to the goal. I went to work excited about my future, and excited about helping other people focus on theirs.

— Sol Hicks, Acworth, Georgia, 30-year member

When first meeting with a client, I want to connect with them and build trust within the first 10 minutes. So, from the moment I walk into the room, I will proactively find something genuine to compliment them about. Note that it has to be genuine. It’s the little things that count most.

— Gregory Fok, CFP,
Singapore, 11-year member

Proactively change people’s lives through social media. We use Facebook to see what our clients are up to and to ensure we are ready to help. Two of our clients unfortunately suffered broken bones, and posted about it online. I was able to send them each private messages saying we had already arranged their income protection claim forms, well before they even had time to think about me or my office. Clients are impressed by this level of proactive service.

— Peter Jason Byrne
Cooparoo, Queensland, Australia, 9-year member

Spend as much time as possible talking to clients and less time doing non-value-added things. To mitigate the time I was losing driving across the Emerald Isle, I purchased a mobile office. I have a driver who drives me to my meetings so I can talk to clients on the way. He also processes the case from the previous meeting while I’m in my next appointment, and our office headquarters has a summary report with our clients before I have even left their car park.

— Richard Pearse Collins
Dublin, Ireland, 4-year member

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