The most successful benefit advisers are taking a number of approaches to reinvent themselves and to accelerate their revenue growth, bring in more new client relationships and more revenue per client. The rapidly growing firms have become much more consultative in their approach to client engagement. They are very strategic in their discussions with their clients and even with their prospects.

Addressing an employer’s major business concerns that are impacting human capital management is paramount. This connects the adviser with the business owner, CFO, or controller — not just with HR or benefits personnel. Engaging the C Suite in a strategic dialogue about what the organization is trying to accomplish with its benefits program over the next three to five years is a winning approach, especially when it gets documented in a written plan. The process engages multiple members of the executive team, helps them to develop a roadmap to guide all their major benefits decisions and expenditures and simultaneously builds consensus amongst their executive team members. Ultimately, it makes for a much clearer picture of what the adviser and the client are trying to accomplish together.

You might be asking yourself: What’s in it for the adviser? These prudent advisers move up-market more easily, meaning they are successfully gaining clients in the 50-500 employee market sector. More accounts and larger size cases translates to more sales revenues. But in addition, these growth-oriented practices sell more products per client, they generate more revenue per client, and their client retention levels improve. More clients with more revenue retained longer means greater profitability. That should be a primary focal point of your all your business development activities. And many of these advisers are charging consulting fees in addition to earning commissions.

A new value proposition

Smart advisers are reinventing their value proposition. It’s not about being the access point to products and services. It’s about becoming a client’s trusted adviser and being valued for expertise, advice and counsel right alongside a client’s accountant, attorney and banker. So you need to re-examine what your value proposition is in light of what is really important to your existing clients and the clients you want to have two to three years from now.

Smart advisers are offering additional products and services to their clients, and behaving more like a human capital consultant. By uncovering additional business issues and employee needs, these advisers are intelligently integrating voluntary benefits, executive benefits, financial planning services for the key executives, retirement plan services, human resource consulting, payroll and a variety of other HR-related services. Having five to nine different offerings in place with a client will result in substantially more sales revenue per client and five-year client retention levels above 92%. That’s good for you and your clients.

These innovative advisers are also leveraging technology in a variety of ways. Yes, they invariably deploy an agency management system of some sort to improve their operational efficiencies and marketing capabilities. But, they also are experimenting with new benefits communication and enrollment technologies. In some cases, new software solutions like avatar technologies or decision-support tools are being applied to improve employee engagement. This in turn results in employees making more informed decisions about their own personal financial needs and the purchase of more voluntary benefits.

Employees also better understand their benefits and have a greater appreciation for their employer-paid benefits based on the results of employee attitude surveys. Many are also using data-mining tools to address specific employee populations with medical conditions to positively impact health care costs and to deliver better health outcomes.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to change your approach to continue to remain relevant to your clients. Others have already started to do this and their improved sales results are impressive. You can also do this. 

Kwicien is managing partner at Baltimore-based consulting and advisory services firm Daymark Advisors. Reach him at jkwicien@daymarkadvisors.com.

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