Personalizing the pitch: finding the individual adviser’s story
Brokers are beginning to come to terms with employers who do not want to discuss healthcare during initial prospect meetings. Instead, they want to hear about how the adviser will save their company hundreds of thousand, possibly even millions, of dollars.
However, with so many brokers in the U.S. using the same sales pitch how does one stand? Andy Neary, healthcare strategist at the Olson Group in Denver, says consultants need to find their own personal story to make themselves more memorable.
“Just like the performance of health plans, the average speaker in our industry is really bad,” Neary says. “This is because brokers do not put the time needed into the actual presentation and spend way too much time on what they are going to talk about instead of creating a story.”
Prior to working in the employee benefits industry, Neary spent two years as a professional baseball player for the Milwaukee Brewers. Neary incorporates his unique experience as an athlete into his presentation to prospective clients by using baseball analogies and catchy taglines employers are guaranteed to remember after he leaves the room.
Following Neary’s template of telling a story, John Sbrocco, principal at Madison, New Jersey, brokerage Questige, utilizes his experience as a former professional poker player to gain prospective clients’ attention.
Sbrocco says he expresses his passion for the game and how his amateur status led him to becoming an underdog among many of the veteran players which he then links to the memorable takeaways he wants his prospective clients to leave with.
“Once I became a benefit adviser, the opponent at my poker table became the insurance carriers, and just like in poker, all I want to do is beat my opponents,” Sbrocco says. “It’s all a matter of using metaphors to make the presentation reflect your personal story or something that’s interesting enough to catch the employer’s attention.”
Also see: “Lessons in selling healthcare to the C-suite”
Not all personal stories are as colorful as playing professional baseball or poker. Jonathan Mentor, benefits account executive at Foa & Son in New York, expresses his humble beginnings to employers prior to becoming an adviser; working as a bartender with very little support from management and his transition into a franchise with stronger employee values.
“When I worked as a bartender, I could not miss any days of work because there was no job security,” Mentor says. “When I started working for Starbucks afterwards, I had support from human resources and I never felt my job security threatened.”
Mentor uses this story in an effort to appear more relatable to the employers and employees -– depending on which group he is speaking to -– by sharing early career struggles.
“Employers want to create a good feeling with their employees, make them feel comfortable and to see the company as magnanimous,” he says. “Depending on the industry of the client that I am consulting, I may tweak the story here and there but the main focus remains my attitude towards my former employers.”
Finding the takeaways
Neary says every broker should leave employers with three takeaways at the end of a prospect meeting. These final thoughts should usually tie in the personal story of the broker in order to stand out from the competition.
For Neary, one of his takeaways is for the employer to quit accepting the healthcare status quo. To drive the message home, he uses a homerun contest in baseball as his analogy.
“The batter’s job is to hit as many homeruns as he can, which means he we wants a pitcher that he knows is going to throw fastballs down the middle of the plate for him to crush,” Neary explains. “This is where I say, ‘Right now, you are allowing your broker to stand on the mound to throw these fastballs to the insurance companies and a homerun contest is breaking out on your health plan.’ ”