Finding sales partners in unexpected places

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Working late one evening, my office cleaning guy, Jeff, popped in to tidy up. He had been cleaning my office for nearly a year, but I never see him since he usually does my space last. While he was cleaning, I struck up a conversation with him about how his business operates. I found out that he works alone and has been cleaning all of the offices in my building and the building next door for more than a decade.

Jeff said that cleaning nearly every office within two buildings — his only source of income — kept him very busy. He mentioned he knew every one of his client business owners and many of their staff on a personal level from just being there each night.

I thought, if the owners trust him enough to go into each office with things lying around and expensive equipment everywhere, perhaps they’d be close enough to trust him with a simple introduction.

With nothing to lose, I pitched Jeff on the idea of what I do with enhanced benefits, the incredible value they serve for employers and employees alike, and how they don’t cost an employer anything since they’re traditionally 100% employee funded. I then proceeded to share with Jeff how the most challenging part of my job isn’t getting an employer or employee to see the value in what I do, but moreover, it’s simply getting them to see me as someone other than some cold-calling salesperson off the street.

I explained that if I met his clients through him directly, I could pay him considerably well for a simple introduction. I made it clear that his introduction would greatly shorten my sales cycle, as he’d be eliminating virtually all of my prospecting.

Also see:2017’s top 50 benefit brokerages in the large-group market.”

Jeff mentioned a handful of clients where he’d love to start making warm introductions. Flash forward three months: Jeff introduced me to 19 businesses in two buildings. Of the 19, we were able to meet 17 by randomly stopping in, and of those 17, we were able to secure appointments with 14 of them — nine on the spot. Of the 14 we met with, we were able to secure 12 new accounts and only had one given us a firm “no.” We still have more to follow up with.

Those 14 new group accounts had more than 450 combined lives. While my enrollment team went to work on our new cases, Jeff continued his day job, and over the next month or so, we wrote nearly $300,000 in new business which resulted in more than $40,000 in first year commissions directly to Jeff, not including renewals. I found out that Jeff’s annual cleaning business income was just over $35,000. To say that his new passive revenue stream was life altering would be an understatement.

Did you catch what happened here?
One, Jeff turned out to be a terrific “broker partner” and he never considered himself a broker at all. He’s a great cleaning guy with a very loyal and trusting client base who was smart enough to know that his existing “relationship capital” was enough to dramatically increase his annual income. Little did he know that he’d be increasing his income by more than 110%.

Two, I didn’t need a text book “health broker” to make the introduction — all it took was someone the business owners in the building already knew, liked and trusted.

Are you a status quo health broker who turns a blind eye, daily, to how your clients are meeting enhanced benefits professionals, whether it be a cold-calling carrier rep or a warmly introduced carrier agnostic boutique like myself? I urge you to open your eyes wide, and break out of the health broker status quo that allowed Jeff to so easily walk me in with zero prior benefits experience. I realize my story may be a bit unique, but if my cleaning guy can disrupt the status quo, then who else has relationships with your clients who could do the same thing?

Was Jeff my knight in shining yellow gloves or was I Jeff’s knight in a shining suit? Curious how to expand beyond traditional broker relationships and start maximizing the relationship capital that already exists right beneath your very nose?

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