How to Build Trust and Make Sales

man in business suit holding umbrella over woman in suit. Build trust.

Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach recently posted on LinkedIn about how to build trust: 

“My definition of selling is two-fold.

The First part is that you intellectually engage the person you’re selling to with a future desirable result, something that would be an improvement or achievement in their life. And it’s not what you want for them—it’s what they want for themselves. 

The second part is that you then enable them to emotionally commit to that goal and then to courageously take action to move forward and achieve the goal. And if you do both of those things, one of them intellectual, the other emotional, you’ve got yourself a sale.”

In the financial industry, this couldn’t be more true. Yet time and again we miss out on closing sales because we omit one or both of these components. If you’re struggling to close, it’s time to consider a change in strategy.

PEA Mentorship Helps You Build Trust

Every level of the PEA Mentorship program was designed with connection in mind. We believe that connecting advisors to each other can make huge ripples in the financial space. And when you connect with each other, you learn how to connect more authentically with clients, too. This mentorship program can help you move away from gimmicks and “sleazy sales tactics,” and learn how to support your claims on their merits. 

As an advisor, your role is to build trust and communication with your clients over their lifetime—which means starting your relationship on the right foot. People today are being sold products every second of the day–it’s inescapable, especially on social media. While there are products that can and will actually change their lives for the better, convincing them through gimmicks isn’t going to win them over. 

When we talk about gimmicks, in part we’re talking about over-promising or even misrepresenting financial products. We see this happen often in the whole life insurance space, because many advisors are afraid that life insurance itself won’t sell. So, they tend to add more exciting language, to make it more appealing to the public. While some of this information may not be completely wrong, it’s wise not to be promising “magic solutions,” either. 

Advocate with Honesty

However, when you advocate for products honestly—through testimony and mathematical proofs, clients can see that. There are tremendous benefits to whole life insurance, just as it is—such as certainty, liquidity, and growth. Yet it can be disingenuous to promise tax-free wealth or “paying yourself interest.” You may understand all the intricacies of these statements, however, your client may only take what you say at face value and run with it. And when things don’t work out precisely how they imagine, you might find yourself in hot water.

One of the best things we can do for our clients and our industry is to advocate for whole life insurance honestly, and without relying on “gimmicks” to make the product more attractive. There are many reasons why whole life works—the policy loans and tax structure strengthen that, if you’re willing to understand why. Yet oversimplifying complex concepts in your marketing may be sending the wrong message. 

Combining the Emotional and Intellectual 

As Dan Sullivan said, you have to combine intellectual understanding with the emotional desire for progress. An integral part of this method is learning to listen and put your clients first so that they can envision a better future and feel ready to take action. 

Why You Can’t Just Look at Pure Economics

While it’s important to avoid the gimmicks, to uphold the industry’s integrity, pure economics don’t always hold the solution.

If you’re numbers-oriented, the math can be an easy hill to die on, because there’s no arguing with proper calculations. From a pure numbers standpoint, one asset may just be the better option for the client. However, you cannot separate the human emotion from your role as the advisor. A product may be better on paper, yet you are going to run into clients who just cannot make decisions on pure economics alone. (Like people who just want to pay their mortgage down.) With these clients, you’ll likely find that the more you push to be right, the faster you’ll lose them.

A classic example is the 401k discussion. When you look at the future tax liability, management fees, and penalties, a 401k doesn’t stand up to cash value life insurance. Yet how often does it go over well when you tell a client to stop funneling money into a 401k in favor of insurance? 

If they have an employer match, it likely doesn’t go well for you. Especially when every major financial news source preaches the benefits of a 401k.

Rather than dying on that hill, you can live in the house of both/and. If your client believes in the power of the 401k, they’re might be more comfortable contributing up to the match, and funneling the difference into life insurance. In this scenario, you are validating what they believe to be effective, establishing trust, and getting them to take the first step toward a policy. That first step is critical—without it, they cannot witness how a whole life policy will really work for them.

Listen Up!

When all is said and done, you are going to have the next 30-100 years with your client. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it’s probably better that you take your time too. You may be the expert, yet it’s okay to impart your knowledge slowly, over a lifetime. If you cannot connect with them, and set realistic expectations, you may not get the chance to grow with them. 

Take the time to hear your clients first and get to know who they are. You’ll have a more rewarding relationship, and you’ll be of more help to them. Clients tell us what they want all the time. The advisor who can hear what they’re really saying will win the day. When a client asks for a particular product, there’s often an underlying reason. They want certainty, or they want liquidity. They want more cash flow, or more control. 

By listening first, and giving clients the space to be the hero of the story, you can get to the truth sooner. You’ll find you establish a better emotional connection too. 

Building Lifelong Trust With Clients

If you want a community of successful advisors to learn and grow with, as well as coursework built from a hivemind of successful agents, we’d love to welcome you into the PEA Mentorship program. There are three levels of membership, each designed to help you thrive. 

If you aren’t sure where you fit in, we encourage you to connect with Janet Sims, our PEM Caregiver. She has 30 years of experiences in the life insurance industry, and is lending her knowledge to help our community grow and thrive. You can reach out to here at

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