Dan Thompson of Gulfshore Insurance in Naples, Fla., sat in stunned silence, staring at his phone. He had just booked a meeting on a cold call with the HR director of a 13,000-life school district. Thompson and Gulfshore worked small- to mid-market groups … never one this large. So what did he say to get the meeting? Leveraging an innovative data-analytics program, he offered to show the school district millions of dollars in cost savings on its medical and Rx spends.

Thompson is using innovation to level the playing field and compete against national firms. He is in the vanguard of advisers across the country who are using innovation — disruptive, game-changing resources and strategies — to open doors, get appointments and close business.

Also see:30 must-follow benefit pros on Twitter.”

Bloomberg/file photo

From his office in New Orleans, adviser Gerry Call of Demarie & Timmerman used email and cold calls to secure meetings with a 17,000-life employer and two state governments, one with 80,000 employees, the other with more than 200,000 employees. His door-opener was a cost-containment strategy that is saving large self-funded health plans millions of dollars a year with no reduction in benefits.

A better conversation
I’ve written that if you want to beat an entrenched incumbent or a larger firm, you must have a better conversation with the prospect. Innovation is a terrific basis for that better conversation, one that differentiates you from the competition and provides more value to your prospect.

Your biggest competitor is the status quo — the infuriating inertia that keeps the incumbent safe. And you can’t disrupt the status quo with a status quo conversation. Use innovation to challenge the status quo, change the game and motivate your prospect to change the status quo, to fire the incumbent and hire you.

Innovation and reinvention
There is a clear nexus between agency reinvention and industry innovation. The most advanced benefit firms are the most innovative, with both strategies and technology. Strategies such as self-funding, defined contribution, direct primary care, integrated benefits (enhanced [formerly voluntary] benefits and the medical), medical tourism and population health management. Technology such as data analytics, HRIS and benefit administration systems, employee engagement tools, private exchanges, compliance programs, benefit communication tools and telemedicine. And a broad array of cost-containment tools and strategies.

Also see:Advisers on the move.”

Where do you find these innovative solutions? Thompson and Call found their innovative solutions at my conference, ASCEND — The Agency Growth & Leadership Summit, which brings together innovative agency leaders with the most advanced industry innovations.

Following his initial cold call to the large school district, Thompson used his innovative new analytics tool to show the district more than $5 million in specific savings and now is in a battle for the account with the incumbent. Moreover, by using analytics, he has since closed a 22,000-life group, a 1,500-life group and a 1,200-life group.

Brokers are becoming highly competitive advisers using innovative solutions to have better conversations with prospects. Progressive agency leaders use innovation to transform their agency into a next generation benefit firm.

What innovative strategies and solutions are you adopting in your practice?

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Nelson Griswold

Nelson Griswold

Griswold is an agency growth consultant and author of DO or DIE: Reinventing Your Benefits Agency for Post-Reform Success. His Agency Growth Mastermind Network helps agency leaders reform-proof their firm. Reach him at (615) 656-5974,