By Lloyd Lofton
I usually sat in the back of church during Sunday services. My kids would get restless, and we could take them out to the lobby if they got fussy.
One Sunday, the sermon referenced a parishioner who recently passed away. As the basket came down our row, I put in a $20 bill to help with funeral expenses for the family.
As I handed off the basket to the person next to me and watched others put money in the basket and continue to pass it along, it occurred to me - I knew the deceased.
Well, I was aware of him and his family.
One of his kids used to be in a Sunday school class with one of mine. We occasionally said “hi” over doughnuts after church.
I didn’t prospect among my fellow church family because, well, it felt kind of crass. I didn’t want to be viewed as taking advantage of my fellow parishioners or be the pushy salesperson. I viewed church as a hands-off kind of place, a natural place to worship and not to mine for business.
One of the roles I served at church was chairman of the Helping Hands Committee. When there was a need within the body of the church - someone had trouble paying a utility bill, became homeless or needed assistance with funds to move into a shelter or pay for medical bills - those requests came to our committee.
Consequently, I felt involved with my church family, that I was serving the body of the church.
That day when I watched that donation basket being passed down the row, collecting money to help pay for a funeral for a church member who couldn’t afford to bury a loved one, it occurred to me I wasn’t really concerned about my church family.
In fact, what I was really concerned about was myself. How I was viewed, how I could be accepted, what might cause me to be viewed in a negative light. I didn’t want to appear pushy, salesy or intrusive, which is why I didn’t talk about insurance at church.
In that way, I felt I was being professional by not pushing myself or my business on others.
As that basket moved to the next aisle, I begin to think of the problems this family now faced.
They were a single-income family; the wife quit work several years earlier to raise their kids. It wasn’t obvious what their financial situation was, but from the outside they seemed like everyone else, drove a two- or three-year-old car, the kids were in sports, regular kind of stuff.
And that, I realized, was my problem.
They're All Unique
Before that basket came my way, I viewed all my church family as “regular” - just like everyone else, some more affluent than others, but they all were “regular.”
That was not true. They were not “regular.” Each family was unique, each with their own financial and survival concerns that would arise when a loved one died.
Those concerns, those problems that would have to be faced when that loved one died, were predictable, they could be anticipated, and they could be planned for.
The problem was those concerns were not what I was concerned about - my concern was about me.
This experience came back to mind this week when there was a shooting in at the Molson Coors plant in Milwaukee.
The headlines told a story, a familiar story and one all insurance agents must pay attention to.
The headlines told the story of five men who died together when a former coworker opened fire at their workplace.
The headlines told the story of a 2009 University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate among the victims of the shooting at Molson Coors.
The headlines told the story of Kim’s Lakeside Bar, where one of the victims would visit every Wednesday night after work.
Sadly, one headline told the story of “Walking with the Walks – in memory of Dana Walk.” It’s a GoFundMe page set up to help pay for a funeral. As of this writing, it has raised $6,075 out of a $12,000 goal, with 117 donors and shared 2,800 times.
As I read these stories, I wondered whether there was an insurance agent who attended church with any of these families, an agent who conducted themselves “professionally,” who did not push their business on their fellow church family, who made sure they didn’t come across like they were taking advantage of the situation, and who didn’t take advantage of being a church member.
I have trained thousands of agents over the years, and the one thing I constantly tell them is stop selling the product; sell the problem people have!
When Do You Know?
I tell agents who sell health insurance to ask this question: When do you want to know something isn’t covered - when you are sick or injured at the emergency room or at the point of sale?
Five victims of this tragic shooting varied in age from 37 to 57. Some were from single-income families, some were closing in on retirement while others still had kids to raise. Mortgages have to be paid, utility bills will come due next month. Tuition bills, car payments and health insurance premiums will have to be paid.
For those who were a stay-at-home spouse and whose kids are grown, they can’t even file for Social Security until they are age 62, so where will the income come from?
It’s time we stop passing the basket at church and it’s time we start being concerned about the things that are predictable.
Insurance agents can eliminate financial worries during the most emotionally devastating time in a family’s life by having a simple yet critical conversation.
Some agents are concerned about appearing “professional” when they are just petrified of being viewed as pushy.
I wonder whether there was an agent in any of these victims’ churches who was concerned about the problems these families will face instead of how they might look.
Be pushy, stop the madness and prospect where you pay, where you play and where you pray!
Lloyd Lofton is the founder of Power Behind the Sales. He is the author of The Saleshero’s Guide To Handling Objections, voted 1 of the 11 Best New Presentation Books To Read in 2020 by BookAuthority. Lloyd may be contacted at [email protected].
© Entire contents copyright 2020 by InsuranceNewsNet.com Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reprinted without the expressed written consent from InsuranceNewsNet.com.