You’re about to sit down with a prospective client and their loved ones to talk about prearranging, and maybe you’re wondering how to effectively approach the subject of preneed. You want to be personable, reassuring and gentle while getting to know them and broaching a tough subject. But keep in mind, the family is there because they are curious about prearranging or maybe even already know they want to move forward. That means your job is to help them learn about the benefits and options so they can make satisfying decisions for their funeral plans.
Want tips for serving these preneed families? We’ll go over the five steps here from the most recent session of our Successful Sales Essentials webinar series, presented by Wanda Sizemore, Homesteaders Director-Field Training and Development.
1. Build Trust.
First things first, establish rapport and build trust in these three areas: trust in you, the funeral home and advance planning. To do this, Sizemore suggests a 10- to 15-minute “warm up” chat with the family to discover key information and help each person feel comfortable talking with you. She shares an outline of topics that you can remember by using the acronym “FORM”:
Family – How many children do they have? Where do the kids live? Often, the child who lives closest will have a hand in funeral arrangements at the time of need.
Occupation – What career did they have? This can provide insights about the options they may want to consider for customizing their advance funeral plans.
Recreation – What do they do in their free time? This can help you get to know their passions and how they would like to be remembered.
Main reason – Why are they here today? They of course answered a call, email or friend’s advice, but what prompted them to meet with you?
2. Share the Advantages of Prearranging.
In this step, Sizemore says, you want to reaffirm a problem or even uncover a problem if one hasn’t been identified yet. You need to help them understand how planning ahead for their funeral is helpful. Before you begin, you should know what research shows about why many people decide to prearrange.
Sizemore suggests asking each individual to consider all the arrangements their loved ones will need to handle after their death. By offering this empathetic perspective, it’s often easier to understand how prearranging will alleviate some of that burden. You can also share that, according to Homesteaders’ policy owner survey, nearly all families who prearrange are “completely” or “very” satisfied with their decision.
3. Get into the Details.
Next, you can move into the obituary and components of a meaningful funeral service. You can ask if they’ve been to a funeral where they felt the person’s life wasn’t well represented, and then ask if they’ve been to a funeral where they felt the person was represented and celebrated appropriately. Here, you can talk about their wishes for private family time, a first viewing, a visitation, a ceremony, final disposition and finally, a gathering or reception at the conclusion of the events.
It would also be helpful to discuss language the family wishes to use to describe the service. Sizemore says she tries to stay away from the formal word “service” and instead prefers to use “ceremony” or “celebration of life;" however, this is up to your client and is open to preference and personalization.
4. Ask About Their Payment Plan.
In this step, the family may be wondering how and when to pay for an advance funeral plan. While the timeline is of course theirs to decide, they should be aware that the benefits of prearranging include removing the emotional and financial burdens from their children or other loved ones in the future.
When families must make all the decisions about funeral arrangements at the time of need, they may face uncertainty and even conflict about what their loved one would have wanted. By prearranging, they get to make the decisions and have the peace of mind that comes with knowing their funeral is paid for and planned, and that their loved ones don’t have to shoulder these burdens on top of their grief.
5. Talk About Next Steps.
A family might wonder what the next steps are once they’ve finalized arrangements. Encourage them to tell their loved ones about their prearrangements so they’re aware plans are already in place. It’s a good idea to stay in touch with client families on an ongoing basis, and you may also ask for referrals if they are satisfied with your service.
If you’d like more tips about talking with preneed families, check out Wanda Sizemore’s blog post, How to Connect with More Preneed Families, and sign up for the next webinar in the Successful Sales Essentials series by selecting the link below.