Have you ever seen, around Thanksgiving, a TV commercial for the local car dealer that says, "Come in for a test drive and receive a free 30-pound turkey. No purchase necessary"?

There’s a reason they make those crazy offers. It works, and it happens all the time.

In the insurance world, I encourage advisers to follow suit — within their state’s legal limits. To stay within rebating laws, you can't give anything of substantial value. Some states have no limit, some don’t allow anything, but most have a range of $5 to $25.

Here’s an example of a meeting that a client adviser partner and I had with the CFO and HR director of a 400-employee group early one September. We presented our Enhanced Benefits enrollment strategy and the HR director said, "I love it. This is fantastic but you're too late. The effective date is October 1, so we're going to have to wait until next year."

The adviser and I knew this might come up. We had an “urgency promotion” already pre-printed and ready to go. We said, “That's a shame we missed it … we have this promotion going on right now that if we are able to conduct a counselor-guided enrollment before October First, we're able to give every single employee a gift card for X amount of dollars to a local retailer.”

As the money guy, the CFO perked up. He took out a calculator and added up that we were willing to make an investment of $XX times 400 employees, adding up to several thousand dollars. He was all for it.

The CFO asked if the company could take credit for it. Our answer? “Of course.” We used it as a giveaway to make the employer look good in a time where, coincidently, they weren't able to financially provide any bonuses for the year. We don't have any vested interest in taking credit. We want the employer to shine. That's the whole point of these enrollments, to make the employer look amazing in front of the employees.

Thousands of times over the years, that urgency example has been able to move a group that would otherwise delay for months or years to go forward with a sense that the clock was ticking. The car dealership knows that you could probably use a turkey around Thanksgiving and, statistically, the likelihood of you buying a new car is a lot higher when you take it for a spin around the block and replace the smell of turkey with that intoxicating new car scent.

The most vital thing when putting this into practice is to reiterate to employers and employees that there is zero enrollment necessary. None. Their employees don't have to participate in a single benefit plan. It's simply all about education. I always say, “education is mandatory, while participation is voluntary.”

We simply insist the employer and management team support our efforts to meet one-on-one with every employee to ensure they’re properly educated about the offerings. We find that employers are very supportive because they know they’re getting the credit and being made to look like the hero for not only bringing in new benefits, but moreover, for providing the opportunity for each employee to receive something tangible and useful, just for becoming educated about their benefits program.

Do your research to ensure you’re in compliance in your state. Check the guidelines from your state insurance department website. I can't stress enough, it can never be based on signing up.

I assure you, every sales professional has a laundry list of accounts that are in “maybe-land.”

· “Maybe we’ll move forward.”
· “Sounds great. Let’s circle back next month.”
· “Call me next year.”

“Maybe-land” will eat your lunch if you let it. Create strategic urgency and avoid being lost and stranded there forever.

Eric Silverman

Eric Silverman

Silverman is principal and owner of the Silverman Benefits Group and recipient of EBA’s 2017 Voluntary Adviser of the Year award.