Industry veteran Vinnie Daboul says he wants you to be uncomfortable. Why? In order to stand out in a competitive market of brokers, you have to be disruptive and change your game. The vice president of national accounts at Employee Family Protection, Inc. told a group at the Workplace Benefits Renaissance in Atlantic City, N.J., on Tuesday that consultative selling is the transformation that will set brokers apart in this way.

He said the first step to becoming a consultant is viewing yourself as one, right next to your client's banker, certified public accountant and lawyer. If you feel like you deserve that spot, your client will believe it. While that means moving to a fee-based billing system in many cases, it could open up a world of different projects with complex and varied new clients.

“You have to commit, be very disruptive and then people see you and are attracted to you,” Daboul said at the event. “Become uncomfortable, plan daily and network.”

He also gave the following set of changes that brokers can use as a step-by-step guide to becoming more consultative:

·Collaboration is important between not only your team, but also with your clients.

·Organizational — “Think about how often 10 years ago a CFO was involved in benefits decisions, it was HR,” now it’s the entire organization that’s involved in making decisions. And brokers need to embrace that.

·Say no. “Not every client is good for us and we’re not good for every client. You know who the good consultants are — I’ve done this in the past — is I tell [a prospect who calls] that I know their firm is good. Yes, I want the business. But if someone really is good, say so,” he said, adding that the industry has to stop cannibalizing each other. In the end, you might get a call in a few years from that prospect you turned down because they gained trust in you based on your correct assessment and honesty.

·Be strategic and plan everything with your client. And make the plan for three to five years out.  You can still re-evaluate each year, but plan farther out.

·“Think about what makes you unique,” he said, saying that having three reasons in your head is a good start. “It’s a challenge, but you have to have it.”

·“Use the law of attraction, you want people to be attracted to you,” so think about what’s “sexy,” he said to some audience chuckles.

·“We have to be transparent to partners and teams” and with that comes trust.

Daboul warned that moving to consultancy-minded actions and a fee-based system may strike a chord of fear in some brokers, but if you can anticipate that reaction, you can better navigate around it and move on to success.

A case for becoming a consultative, fee-based broker

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