Pinney Presents: Van Mueller Newsletter for September 2017
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 September 2017 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.

September, 2017 – 7 Ideas and Views Newsletter by Van Mueller

Van Mueller

This month's newsletter gives you tips for a better elevator pitch, including how to make your approach more natural and more timely using current events.

In the past I do not feel like I have done a good enough job of explaining the conversational aspect of these “Elevator Talks”. I want to go into more detail about using the events of the day, current events, to start conversations with anyone, anywhere, anytime that will not seem intrusive or an imposition to the people you are talking with.

Lots of times agents feel that they can’t approach people. Why is that? Because they think people are not interested in life insurance or annuities or mutual funds. They are afraid people won’t want to talk to them because they are sales people.


Americans love to buy things. They despise being sold things. That’s why infomercials work so well. Americans feel they can turn off the television or change the channel or go to a different web site when they are not interested. That’s why so many people who love to drive a new car, hate to buy a new car. They feel it is a very stressful, high pressure sales experience.

Also, there are no Americans who are sitting around thinking about life insurance or annuities or mutual funds or long term care or disability insurance or critical illness insurance, etc. If they are you should actually be suspicious. The above products are way down on the list of things that Americans give consideration to or even think about.

That is why so many agents have so much trouble getting in front of enough prospects to build a successful career. Our industry has done such a horrendous job of training them it is disheartening. At the same time, the agents spend so little time learning their craft it is appalling.

Agents tell me all the time that if they can get in front of someone they can usually (sell) them. They should actually be helping them to buy and yes, there is a difference.

Agents tell me all the time that if they can get in front of someone they can usually (sell) them. They should actually be helping them to buy and yes, there is a difference.

I ask them how many appointments they have every week. Almost every time they say two or three. I ask them if they had eight or ten or fifteen appointments in a week what would happen to their careers. They say that this career would become everything they ever dreamed of. I ask them why they don’t have more appointments. They share that they don’t have good enough products. Their premium is too high or their cash value is too low, or they say no one wants to buy life insurance or annuities. Or they don’t have anything to talk to prospects about.

There are an astonishing amount of topics to have discussions with prospects and clients about that will lead to planning opportunities in almost every circumstance. Let me show you why most agents and advisors struggle before I explain why it will be both easy and expeditious to transform your career.

Agents get nervous when I talk to them about making these transformations. I understand their trepidation. I struggled for sixteen years. We were afraid that if we tried anything that was new we wouldn’t even make the lousy income we were currently making. We didn’t want to take a chance of getting worse.

We would try something new a few times and when it didn’t work very well, because we weren’t very skilled, would revert back to what we were doing previously.

To try and overcome this with agents and advisors I ask them if they have any hobbies. They always say yes. They range from golf and tennis and other sports to exercise like yoga and cycling or running to sewing, coaching, cooking and fishing; the list is endless. I always ask them about their hobby. If they are golfers, as an example, I ask them; what’s the best part of their game. Are they proficient from the tee or are they better in the fairway? Is their short game the best part of their game? Are they good putters? How far can they hit their eight irons?

They answer instinctively. They don’t have to think about their answers. The conversation flows because they are sharing information about themselves and they are sharing information about what they love to do. There is no stuttering or stammering; it is conversational. You are having a conversation.

I then ask if they are better at golf than when they started. They make a joke and say they are not sure. When pressed, however, they declare they are definitely better than when they started. I ask them this very important question: How did you get better? They say, “That’s easy”. They PRACTICED.

I ask them this very important question: How did you get better? They say, “That’s easy”. They PRACTICED.

I then ask them this very important question. Almost every time I ask this question they are surprised or stunned, but they always discern a very important fact.

Here’s the question. Do you realize most agents and advisors practice their hobbies substantially more than they practice their profession?

I have agents come to me all the time and tell me they have listened to my CDs ten times. I say thank you. I ask, have you tried any of the questions or ideas yet? They say no. I am still studying. That is the biggest misnomer in our industry. Agents are told they need to study relentlessly. They need to have tremendous product knowledge to build the confidence they need to have successful careers. That is partially true. What is dramatically more important is to practice your conversation and presentation skills. You want to use questions to inspire people to take action. You want to use conversation and questions to help prospects and clients use their own common sense to reason out how to protect their families and businesses. How they can lower future income taxes, replace lost benefits. Use inflation beneficially rather than be hurt by it. Prevent volatility from harming you and then actually using volatility to their advantage. And most importantly how to deal with the increased longevity that most Americans are not prepared for.

The way to impress prospects and clients and show them you are interested in them is by asking important and relevant questions. It is not by talking about yourself and your products and your company.

One more point before we talk about these conversation skills. You can learn how to do this. These are learned skills. You don’t have to be intelligent, charming, good looking, young or old, black, white or Hispanic or a man or a woman. You can be thin or overweight. You can be brand new to the business or a thirty year veteran. You can even be shy. Here is what I am trying to say; there are no excuses. There are no reasons we can’t all be successful if we make decisions to practice our profession and learn these skills.

Advocating, advising and counseling are sciences. They are learned. Being a great insurance and financial professional is not about having a great personality. It is much more about a desire to serve. Great salespeople look for ways to inspire people to take action. They understand that the secret to happiness is about “Giving” and not about “Getting”.

If you make a decision to learn important conversation techniques that involve asking and not telling you will see dramatic results in less than 30 days.

If you make a decision to learn important conversation techniques that involve asking and not telling you will see dramatic results in less than 30 days.

Please prove that you are way smarter than I was. I didn’t apply these techniques for 16 years. I had to get fired and pushed into a corner before I was willing to try methods that instinctively I knew were correct and have helped me build a successful life and career. It is not just me. All the successful people in our industry or any industry for that matter, use conversation skills and questioning to show their interest in other people rather than themselves.

You are not a mile away from the success you desire. You are an inch away. Learning these skills will help you to quickly travel that inch.

Here is how I continually use current events to build awesome conversations that transition into discussions and then, yes, appointments that my prospects and clients are anxious to have.

Let’s talk about Hurricane Harvey.

It is on all media continually with flooding covering an area equal to the size of my state of Wisconsin. 200,000 to 300,000 homes completely destroyed. Businesses devastated. Hundreds of billions of dollars will be necessary to even begin to repair all the damage and from what we are hearing, some of the damage will never be restored.

You can have the discussion we are about to have when other hurricanes occur. When other natural disasters like tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, fires and snowstorms occur you can start a conversation.

When reports about Social Security, Medicare, health care, taxes, longevity, retirement, student loan debt, credit card debt, auto loan debt as just a few examples are in the news you can start to have the conversation we are about to have with anyone. For this example we will use Hurricane Harvey. This is easy to learn. The conversation is usually less than fifteen minutes and most times will result in at minimum an appointment.

This is easy to learn. The conversation is usually less than fifteen minutes and most times will result in at minimum an appointment.

I can do this in a bar or at a baseball game, at dinner, at my dry cleaners, sitting on an airplane and yes with existing prospects and clients.

Remember it is not a “pitch”. It is a genuine conversation where you are genuinely asking for opinions of the people you are talking to. Don’t lose sight of that. You are illustrating your genuine interest in theirs, not your own opinion. Your goal is to illicit their feelings; it is not to share yours. It is to help them discover what they want to do about issues like protection, taxes, retirement, investment and income protection. It is not an opportunity for you to share your opinions. This will never work if you only use it as a preparation for you to talk.

Let’s go through the process as if I am talking to a prospect. Commiserate with that person about the hurricane. Ask what they think about what is happening. Not often, but once in a while a prospect will tell you they don’t care or they haven’t really followed it. They are providing you with tremendous information about themselves. A person like that might be a very difficult prospect or have no interest at all. In that scenario I would almost stop and ask if they had any interest in planning for reduced taxes or retirement or better protection. You will almost immediately discern the answer and not waste a lot of time on someone who would not have been interested anyway.

Most of the time however, they will say something like, “That is so terrible” or “Isn’t that sad” or “That is so unbelievable”.

Really have a discussion with them. Ask them what they would do or how they would feel if something like that happened to them. They will always be happy to share their opinion. Let them talk a little.

Ask them what they would do or how they would feel if something like that happened to them. They will always be happy to share their opinion.

Now, you can steer the conversation in multiple directions by asking questions. If you are asking about protection you could ask something like, “Have you ever even thought about your ability to handle something like Hurricane Harvey if it happened to you?” “Would your insurance replace everything?” “Would you have to use retirement assets to replenish current living requirements?”

Have you ever asked yourself what if this happened to me, what would I do? I’m sorry, I know I am starting to act like an insurance person, but I just want to be sure someone has asked you all of the things you should be considering before a catastrophe happens to you. I promise, there is no cost or obligation and I am only going to ask you questions that will help you clarify whether you are prepared for an occurrence like Hurricane Harvey. It will take less than 45 minutes and I know you will feel like the time was well spent when you leave. Would 7:00 p.m. Thursday be convenient?

A different and I believe even more powerful direction to take would involve asking about taxes.

Again, have a conversation about the devastation that was caused. Have a little back and forth about the enormous and increasing costs to deal with all of these disasters. Let them talk. Ask them questions that allow for them to give their opinions. Then, use a little transitional sentence like, “Where are they going to get the money to pay for all of these disasters and won’t that reduce or even eliminate other services that the government provides?” “Even worse, might they need to get even more revenue from current taxpayers?”

Hurricane Harvey will be more expensive to American taxpayers than Katrina was. Because this is what I do for a living, I am asking everyone that might be impacted by what’s happening if they have done anything to protect themselves.

Most times they reply, “What are you talking about? How would this affect me?” I say, “That is exactly why I try to ask these questions of everyone, especially my current clients.” I also want to ask prospective clients and yes even people who have no need for me currently because that is our job, to make sure that the American people are aware of the serious problems being created for all Americans by these catastrophes.

I ask, “Do you realize that America is becoming tremendously separated by those who have saved and invested and those who have not. Did you know that after one of the longest bull markets in history, 90 percent of Americans have less than $110,000 in assets. Ten percent have more than $110,000. When the government needs more money in the future for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, The Affordable Care Act, Homeland Security, Defense, Interest on the Debt, Infrastructure and now all these disasters, will they get the money from the 90 percent who don’t have any money or the 10 percent who do? Please laugh with me. Is there someone at the Internal Revenue Service that you are so madly in love with that you want to give them a whole bunch of your money. Is that why you have all your money in 401K’s, IRA’s, 403B’s and 457 plans? Do you have someone at the Internal Revenue Service that you want to give a whole lot of money to? Won’t they come after you to finance all the previously listed items? Are you okay with giving up control of so much money? Or, would it be better if you could control how much taxes you will pay in the future?

Then ask this. I say to prospects and clients that you will probably laugh or make a joke when I ask the next question, but I want you to give it serious consideration. “Do you think the government is stupid?” They will laugh or make a joke. Then ask them to really answer the question. They will grudgingly say no. Agree with them. Then ask, “Do you think the government is aware that my industry still has products that you can use to pay your taxes now when they are historically low and then never be taxed again, ever? How much longer do you think the government will allow us to keep those policies? It won’t be long will it? Especially if the government needs as much money as we believe in the future? Won’t the only people allowed to keep those kinds of products be the ones that already have them? Do you want to be in control or do you want to be controlled?”

“If there was no cost or obligation wouldn’t you want to know if you were in as much control as possible. Can’t you find me 45 minutes in the next week or two so I could ask you some questions to help clarify how to proceed?”

If you make a decision to learn important conversation techniques that involve asking and not telling you will see dramatic results in less than 30 days.

These were just some small examples of conversation starters. Use your own common sense to create some questions that both prospects and clients feel compelled to answer. You will increase your appointments dramatically and quickly.

You must practice. This cannot sound like a “pitch”. There must be real empathy for their opinions.

If you don’t have them, please get my CDs. They will help you to quickly and efficiently develop these questions. Please go to and let me help you to increase your appointments and achieve the career of your dreams.


We're passing on two of the newsletter's monthly sales ideas - every issue of the newsletter contains 7 ideas, plus one idea for the Canadian market. Subscribe to get them all.

Idea #3: Ed Slott's Best Argument for Life Insurance

This is a powerful article written by one of the most important people in our industry. He lists five reasons besides the death benefit to share with our clients as to why cash value life insurance is the most important asset they could own during this challenging and uniquely dangerous time for our money.

Ed feels IRA’s and 401K’s are bad assets. He declares that life insurance is a good asset. He believes life insurance is an investment and not an expense. He shares that life insurance provides lifetime benefits. He persuades you to understand that life insurance provides control that you do not have with other assets. He is especially careful to be sure that we all understand how the leverage aspect of life insurance is vital to wealth creation.

This is a Certified Public Accountant who does not sell products, who has been vetted by Public Television and has created his Master Elite Advisor Program to help agents and advisors provide beneficial advice about all qualified money.

Not only should you read this article, but you should watch him on public television when he is available and then you should buy and practice everything he sells so you can provide great advice for your prospects and clients. I believe Ed Slott and Tom Hegna are the two most important people in our industry currently.

Practice this information.

Title: Your 5 Best Arguments for Life Insurance (Besides Death Benefit) (Think Advisor, August 18, 2017)

Idea #4: I Love Modified Endowment Contracts (MECS)

I will make this simple: In cases where it is not feasible to pay annual premiums, but it is feasible to reposition low earning not used assets, a MEC is the best choice available.

In fact, I believe this is the greatest time ever to sell Modified Endowment Contracts because of the very low earnings on so-called safe money investments.

Agents are taught not to sell MECs because of the income tax in a MEC. A Modified Endowment Contract is essentially an annuity while you are alive and is taxed last in, first out (LIFO) and it is insurance when you die. There is no income tax liability on the death benefit.

Because the interest rates are so low currently, a MEC becomes a spectacular way to leverage money while still maintaining very low income tax liability.

Let’s say after four years your $300,000 single premium has a cash value of $304,000. If you wanted to temporarily use $204,000 of the cash value to take advantage of an investment opportunity you would create a taxable event of $4,000. That is the gain on the original $300,000 investment. In a 25 percent tax bracket that would require you to pay $1,000 of taxes to use that money. That is not a large cost to take advantage of a wonderful opportunity. The death benefit on that single premium could be $500,000 to $700,000 depending on your age and health. That is the miracle of leverage.

That is the financial miracle of MECs.

Title: The Two Faces of a MEC: Tax Blunder or Thing of Beauty? (Broker World Magazine, July 2017: pages 10-16)

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Did any of these ideas resonate with you? Have you used any of them in talks with clients? Tell us in the comments!