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How to reinvent yourself as a human capital consultant

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Now is the time to focus strategically on your business and be prepared to reinvent yourself one more time. You need to be proactive and take action, maybe even some risks if you want to go beyond being a typical benefits adviser.

I am reminded of a sales meeting I ran a number of years ago. It was attended by about 50 agents and five sales managers. I asked them all to stand up and to look under their chairs. I had taped dollar bills under each seat in advance of the meeting. Much to their surprise, they each found a dollar. Based on the buzz in the meeting room you would have thought that they had won the lottery. All this excitement caused by one dollar. I asked them to be seated, and I then asked them what we had just learned. The moral of the story is, if you are going to make a buck you need to get up off your seat and make something positive happen.

But perhaps some of you see things somewhat differently. In the grand equation of life, is your glass half empty or half full? Or is your glass cracked? It really depends upon your perception, doesn’t it? Things never appear to be as good as they seem, nor are they as bad as they appear.

So let’s focus on what you need to do to achieve success in 2020. Clearly you will need to increase your existing customer contact to maintain the relationships you already have established. Likewise, you will need to increase your business development efforts to grow your practice at an accelerated rate. But repeating the same old message and expecting a different client reaction will just not cut it. So what about your marketing positioning? What is your value proposition? Does it resonate with clients and prospects alike? If you can’t articulate it clearly in two or three sentences, value conscious prospects and clients certainly are not going to take the time to figure it out. They will simply move on to some other firm whose messaging resonates with them. Is your marketing message consistent across all your promotional materials? Are you reinforcing that same message in brochures, website, proposals and other media? Or is it a confusing mix of dated platitudes that were relevant two decades ago?

What exactly is your competitive advantage? And please, don’t tell me that it’s that your firm gives good service. Just think about that for a moment. Everyone says that; and few ever deliver. As a consumer do you ever believe those claims? Answer honestly. And quite frankly every client expects great service, so that’s definitely not a differentiator. That is simply meeting the client’s expectations.

You need to focus on your clients’ needs and become much more consultative in your approach. You have to deliver greater value and position yourself to become your client’s human capital consultant. What did I just say? Human capital consultant. You need to go beyond being perceived as a product vendor. You cannot afford to define your value as the point of access to benefits product information and services. You need to transcend your client’s expectations. But that’s no small task is it?

Reconsider your business model and the solutions you can provide to your clients. Employee benefits. Voluntary benefits. Executive benefits. Retirement planning services. HR consulting services. Lifestyle benefits. And a myriad of other offerings. Those are all potential solutions. But it all starts with your client’s critical needs. If you can help to solve two or three of their most pressing human capital needs, you will have made yourself invaluable.

Ensuring the alignment of human resource initiatives and corporate business strategy has never been more important. The traditional “functional” approach to benefits planning must adapt to one that is more strategic and longer term. A benefits strategic plan will allow for a more proactive, holistic and analytical approach for managing the benefits program and improving overall results.

And now is the perfect time of year to initiate such discussions with your clients and prospects as well. It is a powerful planning process that will enable you to guide all the major benefits decisions facing your clients. A benefits strategic plan articulates how the benefits program will continue to support the attainment of the overall business plan and corporate objectives. It will explain how the benefits component fits into the total compensation plan and provides rewards and incentives to employees to achieve the corporation’s goals. By using a strategic planning process as a tool you will establish greater credibility and elevate your interaction with your various client constituencies to that of a “trusted adviser”.

In no time, you will be wondering why you didn’t start using this approach years ago. Becoming a human capital consultant may just be the next phase of your evolving career.

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