Highlights from ICCFA DEAD Talks 2024

Last week, hundreds of funeral service professionals from all over (as far away as Guatemala!) traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada for the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA) DEAD Talks 2024 sales conference at the Park MGM. Homesteaders Life Company was a proud Black Diamond sponsor for the 2024 event, held January 16-18.

ICCFA is the only international trade association representing all segments of the cemetery, funeral service, cremation and memorialization profession. Each year, they host an annual conference featuring speakers in a variety of sales-related topics like marketing, strategy and even AI in business as well as provide ample networking opportunities.

For many visitors, “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” but that is certainly not the case with this year’s ICCFA DEAD Talks! Over the course of three days, attendees were provided with a wealth of useful information from nearly 20 industry experts to take back to their firms and put into practice. I attended as a first-timer, alongside other seasoned Homesteaders employees, some of whom had the opportunity to speak in the short, punchy sessions, akin to the well-known TED Talks format.

The event kicked off on Tuesday afternoon with a fantastic panel of funeral service professionals who spoke about maximizing the full talent of sales teams through effective coaching tactics. They shared their experiences and expertise in a lively and insightful conversation that I found interesting. Panelists included well-known leaders in the funeral space – Erin Creger, Envision Strategic Partners; Daniel Kientzel, Service Corporate International; Gary O’Sullivan, The Gary O’Sullivan Company; and Néctar Ramirez with Forest Lawn Memorial Parks & Mortuaries. Following the panel, we were invited to a welcome reception where we had the opportunity to meet and network over hors d'oeuvres and drinks.

Throughout the event, the energy was palpable, with John and Lori Bolton providing entertaining banter as moderators, along with an actual DJ (DJ Grimm!) spinning tunes spanning several decades to cover all generations in attendance.

Wednesday morning started bright and early with keynote speaker, Tiffanie Kellog. Tiffanie, who is low-key famous for her collection of crazy socks, was entertaining and energetic enough to keep attendees well engaged during the two-and-a-half hour opening session. She provided enough tips and strategies on obtaining referrals to fill several pages of notes.

A term that was mentioned in several sessions at this year’s ICCFA DEAD Talks, and will likely live on repeat in many attendees’ brains, is “Who do you know who…?”. I guarantee anyone who attended would be able to elaborate on that if asked! Essentially, the phrase serves as a prompt to source referrals, and really proved the importance of engaging connections to increase appointments, and ultimately, reach your sales goals.

Wednesday afternoon is when the quick, less-than-30-minute sessions began. Homesteaders own Vice President – Marketing Communications Danielle Burmeister, spoke on the five Ps of marketing in preneed. Danielle breezed through an impressive amount of information while driving her message home that by understanding these five metrics in your marketing efforts, you’ll see a vast difference in your sales growth potential.

Greg Norris, Homesteaders Regional Director – Western Region, and Brent Thomas, Assistant Director – Field Training & Development, both spoke on Thursday, which was jam-packed with sessions on topics ranging from appointment setting and sales conversion to embracing an owner mindset.

Greg Norris was first on stage that morning and spoke about the importance of maintaining discipline in appointment setting. He shared his personal methods of successfully structuring a work week to allow adequate time for appointment setting and meeting with families, while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Brent Thomas presented on the importance of referrals to close sales faster and more efficiently. Utilizing new research data from our seventh edition of Preneed Motivators, he provided insightful statistics from actual policy owners surveyed, proving the value of personal referrals from trusted family and friends to someone considering advance funeral plans.

Other interesting sessions included several on AI (Artificial Intelligence) and the benefits and potential dangers of this evolving technology as a tool for businesses, as well as a section on recruitment and retention of the best talent in the profession. One of the most entertaining and memorable speakers was likely the custom video introduction created by Noble Sines with Domani Preneed that included Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Superman. Despite those characters, it was still shockingly relevant to his session topic!

Because of Homesteaders support of ICCFA DEAD Talks, we were able to leave behind a handout with more information for each attendee, including a link to download the latest Preneed Motivators report as well as additional resources. Homesteaders is proud to support events offering networking and continuing education like ICCFA DEAD Talks, as well as our own continuing education classes and our Successful Sales Strategies classes.

Did you attend this year’s ICCFA DEAD Talks? We encourage you to connect with us on LinkedIn and share your thoughts and takeaways.


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