The first half of 2014 has nearly drawn to a close, and many of us are looking forward to vacation time. And who can blame us given the unprecedented events that have occurred and the tumultuous changes in the marketplace? While you relax and read this article while sipping your favorite beverage, you might find some of the commentary here to be rather thought provoking.

Over the next several years, we may all have to work a little harder to achieve our goals, but for those who are surgically focused on growing their business, this is a great time to attract new clients. The Chinese word for crisis is comprised of two characters — one meaning danger and the other meaning opportunity. What do you see in the tea leaves of the marketplace? I sincerely hope you see opportunity, and I want to help you make this your best sales year yet.

The Affordable Care Act considerations are wreaking havoc on some of your clients’ benefits decisions and your own business operations, there are compensation pressures due to issues like transparency and commission reductions, and clients are asking you to reduce their health care expenses. All these market forces are putting more pressure on you to bring greater value to your clients at a lower cost. We all need to do more with less, but doing it intelligently enables the smart advisers to excel no matter what the external factors are. Let’s talk about how to manage sales activities and resources to increase sales revenues despite the market conditions.

Step back from your day-to-day activities and evaluate your client’s total business issues from a sales management perspective. Think about their business more like a management consultant. Think about their business in a more holistic and strategic manner. Ask yourself how much you really know about their business, aside from their health care plan or group-life program. Focus on specific products and program design later. First, focus on developing what their needs are.

What is going on with their business? What are the critical issues confronting them today? What strategies are they employing to maintain their market share and to grow their revenue streams? What role does human capital management play in achieving their corporate goals? What do they expect their benefits program to accomplish for them? When you can answer these questions, you will be better equipped to develop a relevant, comprehensive benefits program that is responsive to their current needs. If you need help with this, contact us and we can discuss it further. Many of your colleagues do.

Yes, get back to basics and utilize a consultative sales management approach. Why? Consider this. Most of today’s sales managers have less than five years of leadership experience. Most of them learned to sell during an expansionary economy. As sales managers, most have never before faced market conditions filled with all the changes brought about by health care reform. Think about your own practice in this context. Who manages your sales operation? And what is their level of expertise in managing sales activities? This is not the time to leave sales management decisions to chance. It may be your role, or it may be a member of your management team. Regardless, in order to survive, and even thrive, you must adapt.

Kwicien is managing partner at Daymark Advisors. Reach him at daymarkadvisors.com.

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