I am who I am and we are all who we are. I have read that by the time we are 3 years old we are hardwired; the final product is complete. For the most part, production is over by the time you show up to Kindergarten.
For me, my group insurance “kindergarten” was MassMutual. So if I use a similar analogy, by the time I was in year three of my insurance life, I was hardwired. I have to admit, my actions, my engagement, my love for this business really has not changed much since that time.
As I was wrapping up 2015, one client and one prospect made comments to me about actions that I felt are the norm. At least based on my hardwiring, they are the norm.
Also see: “9 types of clients to cut loose in 2016.”
The first situation was a client who has multi locations in the Northeast. Sage Benefit Advisers was initially engaged in 2014. Over the past 18 months we have been focused on core benefit design, implementation and strategy. For 2016, we began to focus in on the voluntary benefits.
During our discovery meeting, I mentioned that I would be the one who went out to the location to meet with the management team and the employees. This is not something that we can do for all clients, but for our key customers it is something that we will always do. My client’s response was, “After 15 years working with benefit brokers, you are the first one who has offered to go to our locations. That is very noble of you.”
My reply to them (and to you the reader): “It’s not noble, it’s my business.” It is our business.
Show your value
One of the things that I learned early on at MassMutual was personally delivering claim checks or dividend checks. The old school reps and agents thrived on delivering the check. Why? It shows the value; it reminds the customer that they bought you, not just the company. Most of all, it reminds them that when they did purchase the insurance (a promise to pay when a tragedy happens) it was worth every payment. Furthermore, it reminds them that you kept your promise, you were noble.
Three days before year end I received a call from an employer asking if we could meet. A local P&C agent referred them to Sage Benefit Advisers. How nice would life be if employers called us on a frequent basis for appointments?
I took the drive up to their office not knowing what the issue or conversation would be. Interestingly, they have been with the same agent for more than 12 years. When the engagement began, the agent was very responsive and engaged. As time has gone by and as this employer has not grown, the agent has become a “two-timer.” That is how I define those agents who show up 60 days prior to renewal and one bonus day.
Let me be very clear, this is a small employer. The conversation that I had with the CFO and controller was 100% strategic. Their comment after the 90-minute meeting: “Thank you for taking time out of your day and meeting with us on short notice.”
What? Isn’t that why we are in this business? My investment as a consultant is my time and sharing of my intellectual capital. At the end of the day, the week, the month, the year, if I bring on a new client or two because I am engaged or noble or doing what I know (thanks to how I was wired) I am doing my job.
As 2016 begins, let me ask you this question. If you cannot take the time out of your day to visit your clients, or their locations, or drive to visit a small prospect, why do you stay in this business? If you haven’t taken time to change with the industry, all while keeping the hardwiring intact, maybe it is time to change or time to move on. This is really a great business. You need to love it (I do) or leave it.
I hope you have a great 2016!
Reach Daboul, partner, Sage Benefit Advisers, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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