Every brokerage sells in the small group market. The reason is simple: That's where most of the group business resides. (See table)

What is the most common answer you get when you place a call on a small group (fewer than 50 employees) and ask the probing question: Who handles your employee benefits? Chances are the answer is something like this: "The owner's wife does the HR." Or something close.

That answer tells us two things. One, this buyer sees HR and benefits as one, because we asked about employee benefits, not HR. And two, it reveals who the decision maker is, or the identity of the gatekeeper to the decision maker.

Rule No. 1: Cull favor with the business owner's wife. She is more of a decision maker than you think.

Rule No. 2: She sees all of this stuff as HR and expects you to talk a line that makes her feel comfortable with you and your understanding of basic human resource needs that she and the company have.

What professional needs does this decision maker have that you can meet that will give you the good will needed to make a sale with her or with the owner of the company? Those needs are based in the genres of HR management. Chances are their knowledge is rudimentary since they probably do so many other things in the business besides HR.


Hello, my name is HR

My friend, I've seen the future of employee benefits brokerage and consulting and its name is human resources. Let's look at the table again. Take these numbers in. Now we see why the polls tell us that small business is where most new jobs are created.

HR management is big today and includes traditional HR, compensation, employment law, employee communication and employee benefits. In a weird twist of fate, the 384,000 federal regulators have been cranking out regulations that are making compliance trickier. What an historic opportunity for you.

I know what you're thinking: I don't want to learn all that stuff. You don't have to; you just need the relationship and to start selling HR services. You'll need to hire a few backroom folks who know this stuff or, better yet, contract with a value-added technology company.

Soon we'll release HRThinker.com. It's an automated HR digital assistant that makes hiring, firing, recordkeeping, compensation administration and other compliance tasks easy without requiring a ton of work from you, their trusted adviser on all things. Your buyer is already there and just waiting for you.


HR hotspots Here are the heavy hot spots where you can help your clients with in HR:

* Hiring and firing: This is a minefield of litigation and fines, and therefore, an opportunity.

* Properly classifying employees as exempt or nonexempt and as employees or independent contractors under the Fair Labor Standards Act: This is an old law, but the single largest source of fines before the DOL in 2011.

* Bullying and sexual harassment: Very understood, and very costly to an employer when someone violates the rules.

* Recordkeeping: ERISA 6039D requires recordkeeping for benefits. Just imagine that there are companion recordkeeping requirements for most areas of human resource management, because there are.

* Social media: This is the current bleeding edge of do's and don'ts and an opportunity to set your client on the right path by boning up on a few rules.

* Job descriptions: No law says you have to have a job description, but if you do have job descriptions they must be compliant with the ADA. Does your client know what that means or how to make job descriptions compliant? You can help here and earn some money for your troubles.

* Employee handbooks: This is the mother of all litigation risk. Companies write them loose as a goose and fail to keep them updated. That spells trouble. There is only one thing that must be placed in a handbook under federal law. Write me if you know the answer.

The list goes on of course, but this gives you a foretaste of where you may have to be selling in a few years.

Davidson, CEBS, is founder of Davidson Marketing Group and futureofficenetwork.com, mysalesrockstar.com, the Medanalyzer suite of health care analytics and FutureOfficeHR. Reach him at craigd@davidsonmarketing.com.

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