The benefits industry is moving through change again. Old relationships and ways of doing business are realigning because of the still murky health care reform law. Business owners don't like change, but they hate uncertainty even more. We have both.
Like it or not, uncertainty with health care is prodding agency owners and producers to move to something certain, tried and true, and something that is the next best profitable product next to the good old days of selling health plans. That something is voluntary benefits.
Voluntary benefits offer a range of opportunities for employers to provide value to their employees without adding cost to the bottom line. Take another look at your product mix. Does that product mix offer clients and prospects the optimal mix of product and revenue per sale to keep your agency humming? What products perform well in the marketplace?
Can you move away from selling weak revenue products? What is preventing you from encouraging your sales force to go after the profitable lines that are out there? Chances are voluntary benefits are the one growth area you should focus your sales force on, given the uncertainty of health benefits.
There is a good reason why some online enrollers still offer free online enrollment to your groups in return for a shot at selling the group voluntary benefits. They know they will score a nice commission revenue flow that keeps on giving. Get rid of these arrangements and start taking the entire voluntary commish yourself. Maybe you are doing so already, but if not, you are missing out on a nice chunk of change and an ongoing stream of revenue.
Here are three good reasons why a subtle shift in the benefit selling landscape should cause you to think hard about upping your investment in the selling and service of voluntary benefits:
1. Voluntary benefits are still relatively new to many employers despite dedicated sales of these products since the mid-1990s.
2. Renewed bottom line thinking by employers toward benefits and the emerging expense of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act implementation makes employers willing to talk about provision of an array of carve-out benefits that strengthens the bottom line while giving employees a choice to purchase benefits they need at group rates.
3. Voluntary benefits still are growing as an increasingly viable options for employees as more benefits are stripped off the medical plans and moved to employee-pay-all. These are benefits that produce strong revenue streams with a low maintenance down stroke for your staff to hand hold voluntary benefit customers.
Little (and sometimes big) movements in legislation make sellers and buyers crazy. Another way of looking at these movements is that subtle shifts in the sales paradigm can mean big profits.
Do not focus on the overwhelming change facing brokers and employers alike. Instead, the savvy brokerage manager looks at where things are going - the upside that is always present in change - and capitalizes on it. Voluntary benefits in this current legislative environment are your meal ticket. Make sure your producers get the message.
Davidson, CEBS, is founder of Davidson Marketing Group and FutureOffice Network. He is also on the faculty at the Sheldon B. Lubar School of Business at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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