How should benefits advisers go about selling their clients on voluntary benefits?
If your client or prospect already has an existing VB plan in place, you can use the standard ‘let me ensure that you are getting the best products at the best price with the best service strategy,’ and it is certainly easier to supplant a product than to plough virgin territory by creating a need and a process for implementation.
Also, there are well over 500 carriers with traditional VB options like accident, cancer, and hospital indemnity coverage, so the chances are, you have 30-plus carrier options in your local market, making product replacement easy. After all, to replace a VB incumbent, all you really need to do is unearth a strategic advantage for the client. And because the true value of voluntary benefits can be calculated with a simple spreadsheet, you can always uncover one. Always.
But what about a client who doesn’t have a VB plan in place and isn’t interested in pursuing one. How do you sell your client something that they aren’t interested in?
1. Remember that you are a professional adviser
I vividly remember sitting with a VP for a national firm, when he stated that the VB revenue goal for the fiscal year was just shy of $1 million for his office. To which I replied, very doable.
The wince on his face implied his disagreement. “You just need a solid engagement strategy for 8,000 to 12,000 employees,” I responded.
The VP shot back, “You make it sound easy.” I cited a couple of recent cases where my team drove $125 to $160 of annual VB revenue per head. To me, it was simple logic. To the VP, it wasn’t.
His response was “Yeah, but very few of our clients are interested in additional offerings.”
I answered, “What do you do better than anyone else? Why do your clients choose you and stay with your firm?” You know his answers…. we are good/professional/strategic…and yes, a little defensive, as if he knew that he was being painted into a corner.
My last question to him was, so if you are a great benefits adviser, a professional, then why are you asking your client (the manufacturer, the physicians group, the city government) if they see the value of additional products? Do you regularly ask them for benefits advice?
Quote"To stay relevant, you should remain fluid too. That means pushing yourself to avoid stagnation and constantly striving towards greater growth and adaptation."
Remember, your client didn't hire you to 'sell them stuff'.
2. Define and sell your strategy, not the products
Some of the reasons virtual benefits have strategic value for your clients: They soften the risk that’s transferred to their employees with group benefit changes; they give employees a financial incentive to be honest and reduce workers’ comp claims; they transfer some of the risk from self-funding to a carrier, reduce turnover, increase 401(k) participation and decrease loans, are important elements of a defined contribution strategy and shift utilization to a funding mechanism that isn’t rated by case experience.
Like employee engagement, enrollment software or an HSA, specific VB products are just a part of the strategy—one of several boards that help build the house.
3. Paint a picture of what success looks like…
. . . And not just for this year, but for future years Let your clients know what engagement, participation, recruitment and risk all look like over the next 5 years. You do this with the rest of your benefits strategy, right? VB is no different.
4. Act like you do this every day—even if you don’t
There are great resources out there, and even if you fancy yourself an employee engagement and VB specialist, ask for additional perspective. Engage your carrier, enrollment firm and insuretech reps early in the process and before you engage your client. Pitch them the scenario and your strategy. If they can’t offer suggestions, find different reps.
5. Stand back and view the picture as a whole
A product placed without meaning or strategic wherewithal is just a product in a vacuum, there because a couple of employees said that they would have interest when the employer did a survey. Don't be that guy. Look at every detail as part of the whole. When all else fails, determine what good looks like, and then work backward, incrementally solving one challenge at a time.
6. Finally, don’t get discouraged
If you are a student of Mr. Market, you will likely expect him to keep moving the goal-posts, and you know that between technology, the government and the carriers, the market will remain fluid.
To stay relevant, you should remain fluid too. That means pushing yourself to avoid stagnation and constantly striving towards greater growth and adaptation.
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