“How do we have the prospecting conversation off-cycle from the renewal?” was the question Greg Carlton of Peel & Holland in Kentucky posed to the other agency leaders sitting around the table at one of our Agency Growth Mastermind Summits.

Carlton’s question isn’t just a great question; it’s the question if you want to break out of the artificial cycle of prospecting and spreadsheeting that is driven by the carriers’ schedule.

Benefits advisers aren’t constrained by the carriers’ timeline of renewal notices. But brokers focus on the renewal for prospecting because that’s when the medical insurance is bought.
Brokers, by definition, are transactional; they assist the employer in the renewal process, quoting the business and carrying the lowest quotes to the client. Of course there can be some plan design but, with fully insured plans in 2017, not much.

Nelson Griswold

Advisers, on the other hand, although most provide the brokerage services, offer so much more to the client. With additional products and services, advisers can solve multiple HR problems and bring massive value to the client.

The evidence is indisputable that employers are demanding solutions from their adviser far beyond mere spreadsheeting and managing the renewal. (Run don’t walk and grab Zywave’s 2016 Broker Services Survey.)

Speaking frankly, if “spreadsheeting” is still one of the top 10 terms in your business vocabulary, your future is dim. If your prospecting strategy still is to call 60 days before the renewal and ask to quote the business, you are announcing in no uncertain terms that you are just a broker, and likely possess limited capabilities beyond managing the renewal process.

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Move beyond the renewal
To break out of this artificial cycle, your focus must shift from the insurance transaction to a broader strategic approach. You need to reduce your clients’ benefits spend, enhance their benefits plan, and improve their HR and business condition.

Move your value proposition beyond the renewal and, instead, provide strategy around the medical and benefits plan that positions you as a strategic adviser and not a mere vendor. Bring high-value solutions to HR and business problems that elevate you above the broker role.

At the recent ASCEND Summit conference for benefits agency leaders, our client Rudy Garcia of Qandun Insurance Agency in Glendale, Calif., was honored for his work reinventing his agency as a NextGeneration Benefits Firm. Rudy has stopped quoting for free and instead charges a consulting fee to manage and improve the benefits plan while controlling costs. He now offers self-funding options and integrated benefits. Plus, he has added a wide range of non-insurance solutions to his portfolio, including an HR and benefits technology platform, a payroll system that integrates with his HR platform, a proprietary wellness program, consolidated billing, comprehensive compliance services including an ERISA attorney, telemedicine, and a health advocacy service.

Move your agency beyond the transactional status quo. Embrace the role of strategic adviser, adopt new HR and business solutions, and free your prospecting from the carriers’ renewal timetable.

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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,