We look forward to the Van Mueller newsletter every month. It's chock-full of sound bites, sales tips, and eye-opening statistics. Here are our favorite parts of the May 2021 edition. We're sharing the full introduction, and 2 of the 7 monthly sales ideas. If you like what you read, we encourage you to click here and become a subscriber.
Reprinted with the author's permission.
No time to read? Watch our video overview:
May 2021 – 7 Ideas and Views Newsletter by Van Mueller
I have just finished my third week of traveling to give speeches. It has been interesting and amazing. Last week I had the wonderful opportunity of speaking with Tom Hegna and George MacAllister. They were wonderful. What I am discovering are several things. First, agent and advisors are thirsty for information to assist them in helping their prospects and clients. They also hunger to be together in person. They learn as much sharing ideas with others as they do from the speakers. I have always said the great strength of meetings like the Million Dollar Round Table and the Top of the Table meeting and Naifa and FMO and Company annual conventions is not the speakers, it is the ability of the attendees to be around each other for 3, 4 or 5 days. I am seeing this everywhere. I will be speaking in Pittsburgh, Door County, Nashville, Schaumberg, IL, Indianapolis, Orlando and Phoenix again the next 30 days and the attendance is to capacity at every location. Why am I sharing this information with you? The people who attend the meetings that I was allowed to participate in person, left the meetings reinvigorated and inspired to do what they do. They felt a sense of excitement and were reenergized to do what they do for a living. They had new ideas, new questions and new answers. All of that did not come from the speakers. Much came from sharing an audience with other people like themselves. I would recommend attending a live meeting as soon as you feel comfortable. You will be wonderfully surprised at how renewed you will feel when you leave that meeting. Why do you want to do this as soon as possible?
There is increasing volatility in all markets. Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, commodities, digital currencies, etc. are seeing ever increasing amounts of volatility. That volatility is creating more UNCERTAINTY for our customers. We must all remember that we can replace that uncertainty in our customers lives not just with products and strategies, but with encouragement. We can listen to understand and sometimes help our customers to understand the challenges and opportunities they face. It is such a important time for all of us in this industry to be at our best. We can help our customers succeed when many other entities like government and Wall Street and the banks are contributing to our customers’ financial failures.
We must all remember that we can replace that uncertainty in our customers lives not just with products and strategies, but with encouragement.
Please don’t ever forget who you are and what you do! You do not sell life insurance, long term care insurance or investments. If that’s what you think you do, you are not doing your job. We Inspire People To Take Action!
Americans do not truly understand the challenges they are about to face. Not only can we help them face these challenges, we can help turn them into opportunities.
I would also like to share with you a realization I just arrived at recently. You would think as much as I talk about asking questions that I would have realized this sooner, but I didn’t. I believe many of you are sabotaging your own sales without realizing or even understanding why.
Let me explain: If you are telling people anything in sales, I feel it is a mistake. If you tell someone something and it is mathematically and scientifically correct; if GOD comes down from the heavens and verifies that what you are saying is correct, half of the people in our country would still not believe you. Our country has become so polarized that even science and math are discarded as inaccurate if the person hearing the information believes it to be incorrect. Therefore, in most scenarios you are eliminating half your prospects when you are telling people something. You will never know what one thing you said that caused your prospect to not want to go further with you. Many times, you have to walk away from situations where you were the perfect advisor for them, you had the appropriate product and they still didn’t proceed with you as their agent. It only needs to be one small thing they disagreed with and they will eliminate you as their agent. When you tell people things in our polarized society, you are probably eliminating half your prospects.
When you tell people things in our polarized society, you are probably eliminating half your prospects.
However, when you ask questions of your prospects and clients, they offer THEIR opinions. By the way, don’t get too personal, too early. If you ask for only their opinions, they will always be willing to offer that information. So, don’t ask them directly if they lost any money or if they like insurance or annuities or how much money do you have. You haven’t earned the right to be personal yet. However, do ask for their opinions. They will tell you everything. Here’s a secret; their opinions will most likely reveal their personal information. The difference is they will be giving it, instead of you asking for it. Let’s get back to ONLY asking questions. You will eliminate no one. The only ones they will be able to argue with will be with their own opinions. That is highly unlikely.
Questions work because they are non-adversarial. They allow the customer to reason out for themselves why what they are currently doing might not be appropriate for their ultimate goals. The only one who can ever really change your customers’ mind is your customer. The questions help them go through a process of discovery that many times will inspire them to change their mind to a strategy that will achieve their ultimate goal. Questions, questions, questions. That is the secret sauce. If you catch yourself telling a customer something, you’re probably making a mistake, aren’t you?
Please remember this information. Telling people information probably eliminates half your customers. Why? Customers love to share their opinions with ANYONE, including insurance and financial advisors who are interested enough to ask for those opinions. Please don’t take this information lightly. It Works!! If you could dramatically change your career, for the better, in just 30 days by converting everything to questions, would you do it? Isn’t that the question we all need to answer?
Customers love to share their opinions with ANYONE, including insurance and financial advisors who are interested enough to ask for those opinions. Please don’t take this information lightly.
23. I know many of you may have thought about what happens if your life ends early. But, have you given consideration to what will happen if your life doesn’t end early?
Mr. & Mrs. Customer, do you know in study after study if they ask people what age they will die they will pick an age sooner than if you ask, they how long they will live? Don’t people give a lot more consideration to dying? Isn’t that why so many people outlive their money in retirement? What if we could design a strategy where it was guaranteed that you could never outlive your income? At the very least, even if you didn’t do anything, wouldn’t you want to know about it?
24: What is the easiest and safest way to make retirement money last longer? Wouldn’t it be to reduce or eliminate the income tax on that money?
What if we could show you a way to reduce or eliminate all the income taxes on your IRA, 401(k) 403(b) or 457 plan? Wouldn’t that make the money in those last longer without having to take any investment risks? Wouldn’t that make the money in those account easier for your family members to inherit after you are done using the money? If you knew you could do this without giving up control of the money when would you want to get started?
What if we could show you a way to reduce or eliminate all the income taxes on your IRA, 401(k) 403(b) or 457 plan?
25: How can you turn “forever taxed” money into “never taxed" money?
With all the new taxes being proposed by the current administration would it be more beneficial for you and your family to pay taxes at the currently low tax rates or would it be more beneficial to defer paying taxes until they were higher in the future? Is deferring the income tax liability more beneficial than permanently eliminating the income tax liability? Would a lifetime of taxfree compounding be more beneficial for your family and business than a lifetime of tax deferred compounding? Who do you want to leave a legacy for? The Internal Revenue Service and the government or your family?
26: Are you comfortable going broke slowly?
Do you know many people do not plan for the impact of inflation or loss of purchasing power? Do you realize that even minor inflation can reduce purchasing power over time and thereby reduce your standard of living without you even realizing that it’s happening until it’s too late?
A recent study shared that if you were receiving $2,000 per month in Social Security in the year 2000, even with less than 2 percent inflation, you would need $2,800 per month in 2020 from Social Security to buy the same amount of goods and services. Said another way, you could only buy 71 percent of what you bought in the year 2000 if your income remained at $2,000 per month. What if instead of lost purchasing power hurting your retirement you could design a strategy that would actually be able to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the lost purchasing power? The right question would be, “What if you didn’t have to go broke slowly, would you want to know how to do that?”
The right question would be, “What if you didn’t have to go broke slowly, would you want to know how to do that?”
27: May I please see your after-tax statement?
Most people look at their IRA, 401(k), 403(b) or 457 statement and see a number and believe it is all their money without realizing that there is a mortgage holder on that money. The Internal Revenue Service. I like to look at their current statement with a puzzled look on my face, fuss a little bit with the paper and then ask, “Would there be any way I could get a look at the after tax statement for this account?” They are almost always puzzled and ask me what I am talking about. If they have several funds, I always ask them which one of the funds they have chosen to pay the Internal Revenue Service. I always ask if they have chosen the biggest fund. If they have interest accounts, I ask what percentage they have allocated to the Internal Revenue Service. Please understand, I use it to open a conversation about all the tax implications of the accounts they have chosen to build their financial and retirement futures with. Don’t assume they know the income tax implications of these account. They don’t. It will be a surprise to them. Don’t take this wonderful opportunity for granted.
28: The stretch IRA provisions became law 18 years ago. May I ask why you don’t know about them?
I then say, the reason I am asking is because they just changed the rules again. They reduced the stretch provision from a lifetime opportunity and have now limited it to a 10-year opportunity. It allows non-spouse beneficiaries to take IRA money over a 10-year period rather than all at once, so there is a possibility to reduce the income tax liability on that inherited IRA.
I usually ask grandmas and grandpas; will their children take the money in a lump sum or over a ten-year period. Ninety percent of the time or more, they know the children can’t wait to get their hands on the money so they will take a lump sum even if it means substantially higher taxes. I then ask grandma and grandpa, if I could show you a way to reduce those taxes during their lifetime would that benefit the family? They are ALWAYS interested to find out how to do that.
Please remember, even when the stretch provision was a lifetime opportunity, more than 90 percent of non-spouse beneficiaries took a lump sum distribution. The question matters more to the person who made the money than it does to the person receiving the money. WOW!
Please remember, even when the stretch provision was a lifetime opportunity, more than 90 percent of non-spouse beneficiaries took a lump sum distribution.
29: In 10 years, 100% of your Social Security will go for healthcare costs. What will you use for food, clothing, and shelter?
Mr. & Mrs. Customer, did you know that healthcare costs are the most underestimated retirement costs? Couples spend $300,000 to $600,000 in retirement just to pay for healthcare costs. Over a 20-year retirement that is $15,000 to $30,000 per year. That doesn’t leave much money for a quality retirement, does it? And if you forgo the healthcare costs what will that do to the quality of life that you will have in retirement?
Healthcare planning is vital to having a successful retirement. Shouldn’t we make sure that we are prepared for the medical costs we will face in retirement? Is it possible to have a great retirement if you don’t have the money to have a healthy retirement? Why would you ever want to find out? Shouldn’t we make sure you always have access to quality health care?
30: If I could show you a way to stay in complete control of your money until you took your last breath, but instead of giving that money to the government, a nursing home or a hospital, you could keep that money in your family for generations to come. At the very least, wouldn’t you want to know how to do that?
I have asked this question over 25,000 times and no one has ever said they wouldn’t want to know. Wouldn’t you want a question like that to inspire prospects and clients to want to explore further information? What if you could prevent the Internal Revenue Service from being the primary beneficiary of what you have worked so hard for? What if you could remedy the income tax challenge rather than hoping your children and grandchildren would do so. Wouldn’t that treat your retirement accounts with the respect they deserve?
Wouldn’t you want a question like that to inspire prospects and clients to want to explore further information?
Don’t underestimate that. People who work their whole lives to build something, appreciate when it is treated respectfully. This is without a doubt, one of my best questions.
I am going to include questions 31 to 36 before I finish. Questions 31 and 32 are really part of the same question. Questions 31 through 36 are really a sales presentation that can be used anywhere, anytime, anyplace. It is really a shortened version of presentations like, LEAP, Circle of Wealth, Bank on Yourself, Power of Zero, Etc. Let’s get started.
31 & 32: Will taxes be higher in the future? Just yes or no. Is it possible the with all the additional revenue the government will require in the future, could taxes be much higher? Do you want to pay those taxes?
Please understand how I use this. When I ask if taxes will be a lot higher in the future, I stop. I look my customer squarely in the face and I say this: “You have other advisors, other insurance agents, attorneys, even accountants and no one, not one of them has ever asked you the question I am about to ask you. Are you ready? Do you want to pay those taxes?” Please everybody. This is an action question. If they say they don’t want to pay the taxes they have already made a decision to buy from you. You just have to show them how you will do it. If they say they don’t care about taxes, which doesn’t happen often, then you have four other questions to ask to inspire action.
Please remember taxes are your competitive advantage and with the current administration’s proposals, taxes will be at the top of the list for a while. Learning great tax questions could dramatically increase your appointments.
Please remember taxes are your competitive advantage and with the current administration’s proposals, taxes will be at the top of the list for a while.
33: Do you think benefits will be lower in the future? Will we have higher deductibles and higher premiums? Will there be more out of pocket expenses? Doesn’t that mean you will have a lower standard of living in the future? Are you okay with that? What if there was an easy way to replace those lost benefits, when would you want to do something, before or after you lose the benefits?
There should be more of a discussion about healthcare costs both before and after retirement. It is predicted by 2030 that it will require all of your Social Security to pay your healthcare costs in retirement. Many people cannot retire until they qualify for Medicare because of the exorbitant cost of health insurance from age 50 to age 65. This is an important planning question.
34: If taxes are higher and benefits are lower, will that be enough to fix everything in our country? Probably not! Doesn’t that mean the government will have to print more money? Isn’t that inflation? How do you offset inflation if you are not working anymore? How can you use inflation to your benefit?
I ask if I can give them an example of inflation. Pretend you retire at age 65 on $50,000 per year of income. And let’s assume the inflation rate is 7 percent. Have we ever had 7 percent inflation before? Yes. The inflation rate was never less than 7 percent between 1978 and 1990. We jokingly called this the Jimmy Carter Inflation. Using the accounting rule of 72 if you divide the inflation rate into 72 you can approximate how many years are required before you need twice as much money to live on or your standard of living is reduced by 50 percent, In this case the customer would need $100,000 per year of income at age 75 to equal the purchasing power of their money at age 65. If they lived until age 85, they would need $200,000 or have their standard of living reduced by 50 percent again. Please ask these questions; “What if you could use inflation for your benefit rather than having it hurt you? When would you want to have that information? Before or after inflation becomes a problem?”
Finally, most people truly do not understand inflation. So, call it the stealth tax that no one can evade because whether you make $5,000 per year or $50,000,000 per year the “stealth tax” of inflation will reduce your purchasing power.
Most people truly do not understand inflation. So call it the stealth tax that no one can evade.
35: If there are higher taxes and lower benefits and the government will have to print more money, won't that create more and more volatility in all the markets? If you make a mistake, could you lose some money? If you make five mistakes could you lose everything? How can you position yourself not to be hurt by the bad volatility and how do you take advantage of the good volatility?
When is the best time to invest in the stock market, when its high or its low? The customer will say when its high. I then ask, when will that be exactly? They reply they don’t know. Then ask, would it be great to wait for a crash without losing any money and then be in a position to access your money to take advantage of the opportunity when the government signals it’s okay? What is the signal? When the government says we have to stimulate the economy and print more money. It will be in all the papers and on all media. Then I temporarily borrow money from the life insurance, annuities and even savings accounts and put it in the market. I created a rule that I call the Van Mueller rule of 12-15. You must keep the money invested for 12 months and a day, so it qualifies for long term capital gains tax treatment. You must also pay the loan back before 15 months, so no harm comes to the life insurance or annuity policy. Finally, I ask them what we should do with the gains. They always say, shouldn’t we buy more life insurance and do this again?
36: If you retire at age 65 and die at age 70 will we have any problem planning your retirement? Probably not. However, if you retire at age 65 and live until you’re age 95 and run out of money at age 72, and by the way, Isn’t age 72 the new age 52? Aren’t 72-year old people doing what 52-year old people used to do? What would the rest of your retirement look like if you ran out of money?
Longevity is not only a risk for retirees, it is a risk multiplier. The longer you live, the more you will have to deal with taxes, loss of benefits, inflation, and volatility. These increase from just challenges to extraordinary challenges. What if you outlive your money? What could that be like? What if we could show you ways that even if you completely ran out of money, you would never run out of income? Would that be worth 45 minutes of your time?
Next month we will finish the 40 questions and have several new ones. Let’s get started with this month’s seven ideas and Canadian idea.
Idea #1: More Social Security Information for Women
With so many divorces in our country, it is important for ex-spouses to understand they have certain rights that allow them to possibly qualify for better benefits under certain circumstances. We as financial professionals should know these rules so we can help our clients maximize their retirement benefits using all means possible.
I am also including a really good article describing all the claiming mistakes women make filing for their Social Security. Knowing this information will help our female clients to maximize rather than minimize this very important benefit, Social Security.
Title: 5 Rules for Claiming Social Security Benefits as an Ex-Spouse
https://www.thinkadvisor.com/ (Think Advisor, March 23, 2021)
Title: The Biggest Social Security Claiming Mistakes Women Hurt
https://www.thinkadvisor.com/ (Think Advisor, April 2, 2021)
Idea #5: Being Respectfully Persistent Is Vital to Your Success
There is a writer for Think Advisor. His name is Bryce Sanders. He contributes wonderful articles that help to increase our skills as insurance and financial professionals. I actually created a Google alert for his articles.
Sometimes we don’t inspire people to take action right away. We didn’t do a good enough job asking questions or believe it or not, sometimes the timing just is not right. Sometimes, they really don’t have the money. So, it is imperative to be persistent. Persistent, without being annoying. The author of this article recommends 10 ways that you can stay in the picture until the prospect is ready to do business, without irritating them. Here’s a couple of examples: Whenever something in the news supports the action the customer was interested in; you follow up with that information. Repetition is vital. Studies say customers need to see or hear your name at least 6 times to get on their radar.
There are eight more recommendations. Use those recommendations to become politely persistent and you will see your results increase dramatically.
Title: 10 Ways to Be Politely Persistent
https://www.thinkadvisor.com/ (Think Advisor, April 12, 2021)
Get more sales tips and insights when you subscribe to Van Mueller's monthly newsletter.
This was just a taste of what he publishes each and every month. If you want to read more, click here to become a subscriber.