In a survey of benefit brokers conducted by The Standard at the July National Association of Health Underwriters conference, 50% said they are selling more voluntary benefits than in previous years. As the number of employers considering these benefits in 2015 increases, it begs the question: How prepared are you to sell these products and meet client needs?

Adding a voluntary lineup to your book of business is more than just jumping on the benefits bandwagon. It’s a way to be innovative, allowing you to stay up to date on what’s happening in the marketplace.

But effectively selling voluntary products takes more thought than just adding them to your mix. There are some subtle tweaks you might have to make to your overall operation to effectively sell.

Analyze your carrier(s)

Many carriers are getting into the voluntary game, but your go-to carriers might not be the best fit for clients interested in voluntary offerings. Do your homework before you settle on a product. Best practices include:

  • Consider the product mix. What products are offered on a group and/or voluntary basis? Perhaps you can offer a menu of benefits to your clients. In turn, this helps them customize their offering to meet diverse employee needs.
  • Determine who they best serve and make sure it aligns with your clientele. What group sizes and industries do they best work with? Do they offer services to help answer employer and employee questions? Will they assist with the enrollment process?
  • Investigate claims administration. What is their reputation for payment timeliness, appropriateness of claim determinations and — most important — compassion for employees?

Utilize carrier tools

Carriers are increasing the services and support they provide you, and many offer services to meet desired participation levels, including high (heaped) first-year commissions.

One of the primary services they provide is through enrollment technology and/or partnerships with enrollment technology providers. This includes a comprehensive way to provide education and plan elections, while offering a simplified way to update beneficiary and life event designations.

In addition, this enrollment technology offers both list and summary billing, and it can quickly capture and reconcile employee status changes. Efficient billing translates into more accurate premium deductions and remittance.

Adjust your strategy

Previously, the key to benefit selling was about providing a cost-effective option to clients. A new sales entry point is to provide choice.

Voluntary products allow for employers to provide optimum benefits that attract and retain top talent, outside the scope of what could have been offered previously. In addition, that choice trickles down to the employees, as it allows them to make their own decisions. Voluntary benefits aren’t dictated to employees; they are able to make the right decisions for themselves and their families.

Preparing yourself and your business for this new venture is a smart sales strategy. Consider it a retention lever to not only keeping your clients but also keeping them happy.

Storie is the product development marketing director for Standard Insurance Company. He is responsible for expanding the company’s voluntary benefit offerings and developing a new line of worksite products (critical illness, accident and hospital indemnity).

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