If you’ve read any of my articles, you know I’m a proponent of expanding the agency value proposition. But in talking to agencies, we see the same challenge again and again — not knowing how to get started.

It’s very common for agencies to accumulate resources outside the scope of insurance. However, knowing how to transition from just having those resources to using them effectively is an obstacle that holds many benefit professionals back. Here are my recommendations for getting started with this process.

Taking inventory

First, make a list of all your resources (you might call them value-added services) by doing the following:

  • Write down all the insurance and non-insurance resources you have in your agency or have access to use via third parties.
  • Review the list to see where you have natural categories that these resources fit into. It’s likely you’ll find things falling into groups like benefits, worksite benefits, employee communication, wellness, compliance and HR.
  • File your assets under the appropriate category headings so you can see them in one place.

Now, scrutinize your categories one-by-one, asking these questions of yourself:

  • How would it look if each category was packaged separately and made into a standalone offering?
  • Could each service hold up as an independent offering that would help clients better manage their employee investment?
  • Are there additional resources necessary to obtain to make the service more valuable?
  • Is further knowledge necessary in those areas to really be able to consult with clients around each topic?

Determine the additional needs that would make each of these services really effective and include them in an adjacent wish list to accomplish in the future.
Asking for feedback

Next, take these ideas to your clients. Pick out your top five to 10 clients and have a conversation. You might start with a phone call and follow up with a letter.

Here are some ideas for framing the conversation:

  • We’re seeing clients needing more and more help with some common issues closely related to benefits, and they’re turning to us for resources. We’re committed to helping our clients create an attractive business where employees want to come to work, so we’ve found ourselves helping beyond the boundaries of benefits. Things we’re seeing that are top-of-mind with our clients are: [give a description of your categories here…]
  • While we’ve been helping clients with these challenges to some degree, we’re looking to formalize some resources in these areas.
  • My questions for you are:
    • Are these areas where you could use help from a professional like me?
    • Would you find value in receiving additional help in these areas?
    • Would you be willing to pay a fee for targeted resources and consulting in these areas?

This conversation will likely take on a life of its own. Most often, business owners love to talk about business development and will likely be flattered that you are seeking out their opinion in shaping the future of your business.
Gather the feedback from your clients, and compare it with your categories and resources. Do you feel comfortable about the categories you’ve assembled? Confident about what you’re offering? Capable of delivering these new services?

When you get this all in order, then you can treat these new services the same as you do your insurance products. Stay current on your education surrounding each one so you can effectively counsel and help your clients create an attractive business where employees want to come to work.

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