In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was a king condemned by the gods in the afterlife to pushing a huge boulder to the top of a steep hill, only to have it slip from his grasp each time and roll back to the bottom, a frustrating and unproductive task to be repeated over and over.

When I first started selling voluntary benefits, I didn't know any better than to lead with the benefits themselves. Like the mythical Sisyphus, I would push that boulder up the hill just to see it roll right back down. No sale, over and over again. Incredibly frustrating and highly unproductive.


Pushing product

The biggest mistake brokers make in attempting to cross-sell voluntary benefits is pushing product. Voluntary benefits is not a product sale. It's no wonder that most brokers give up on cross-selling voluntary after several failed attempts.

Because the client already is offering medical and the usual ancillary benefits like group term life and LTD, talking product with core benefits makes sense. Core benefits are a known quantity; you're just discussing either plan design or price.

But voluntary benefits are another matter. The client almost always is unfamiliar with the true value proposition of voluntary benefits, both for their employees and, especially, for themselves. To make the sale, you've got to tune the employer in to everyone's favorite radio station: WII-FM ... "What's In It For Me?"


Cross-selling secret

The value proposition of voluntary benefits for the employer is entirely different than for employees. For employees, the value is in the financial protection the benefits provide.

For employers, the value of voluntary benefits is in the valuable solutions they can provide to pressing HR problems - with no impact on the employer's budget.

The secret to cross-selling voluntary benefits is to use voluntary to solve a problem for the client.


Irresistible offer

If you want to sell more workplace voluntary benefits, integrate these products and their value proposition into your overall product offering. Don't pitch products. And don't tag voluntary benefits onto the tail end of the sales presentation like an afterthought.

Consider leading your presentation with one or more of voluntary benefits' compelling value props that can prove irresistible to HR.

Sometimes the benefits themselves can provide a solution, such as filling gaps in the benefit plan, softening the blow of a benefit takeaway, or making a high-deductible plan more appealing to employees.

One of the least-understood aspects about voluntary benefits, however, is the value to the client of the ancillary services that are available at no charge as part of the voluntary enrollment process.

These associated services include moving the client from paper applications to electronic enrollment during open enrollment, one-to-one benefit counseling to educate employees on their benefits, personalized "hidden paycheck" benefit statements, and dependent eligibility audits, among others.


A consultative sale

Cross-selling VB the right way is about consultative selling, since you have to discover the client's pain points and needs in order to know what problem you can solve with the voluntary.

If you want to become more consultative with clients, cross-selling voluntary the right way is a great short cut into consultative selling. If you already use consultative selling, you'll just have an easier time making the voluntary sale.

When you use voluntary benefits to solve a client's problem, closing the voluntary sale is usually as easy as pushing a boulder downhill.

Reach Griswold of Bottom Line Solutions at (615) 656-5974 or

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