The CEO offered adviser Tim Olson the opportunity to quote his 80-life company. Tim responded that he gets paid on a consulting basis but would be happy to do a “market evaluation” for him outside of a consulting engagement, adding that it would require a $1,500 fee to start the market evaluation. Tim then asked the CEO some consultative questions about compliance and HR and spent a few minutes describing the discovery process and range of services included in a consulting engagement. Saying, “We need this,” the CEO had his checkbook out in minutes.

Nelson Griswold

Tim Olson refuses to quote for free, instead giving prospects a choice of paying him as their benefits consultant or paying the $1,500 fee, which is credited to any consulting agreement. You can begin to understand why Tim, Managing Partner of The Olson Group in Omaha, was named Employee Benefit Adviser’s 2015 Benefit Adviser of the Year.

Tim describes charging to quote as, “…a change in dynamic. You’re now a consultant; you’re no longer just a vendor trying to get paid a commission.” But it’s important to understand why Tim is able to charge a fee for quoting.

Consultative vs. transactional

The Olson Group can charge a fee for quoting because Tim and his team use a consultative sales approach and quoting is such a small part of their value proposition.

Several years ago, Tim recognized that surviving healthcare reform would require delivering more value to the client than merely working up a spreadsheet and managing the renewal. Only producers who can sell consultatively would be able to deliver the value that he wanted The Olson Group to provide.

Investing in consultative sales training for his team, Tim committed to moving his firm from transactional to consultative selling. While Tim will tell you that the transition remains a work in progress, you can see the results in his firm’s growing a remarkable 55% over the past two years.
Tim understands that effectively moving your sales team to a consultative approach requires a structured and systematized selling process. But the benefits of putting this process in place go far beyond the hyper-growth rate The Olson Group has experienced.

Imagine . . .

. . . Differentiating your firm in the course of a simple conversation with a prospect—because compared with most your competitors, it’s a very different and much better conversation.

. . . Getting more appointments with better prospects from larger employers.

. . . Achieving a higher close rate and a shorter sales cycle.

. . . Hiring top producers, because you can offer them a proven selling track.

. . . Managing your pipeline with certainty, because you know where prospects actually are in the sales process.

For over 50 years, employee benefits was a transactional industry. Post healthcare reform, however, your firm cannot grow—or even remain relevant—with a transactional sales team. The future belongs to those benefits firms whose producers have been trained to work within a highly structured, systematized consultative selling process.
Tim Olson and The Olson Group are in the vanguard. Is your firm ready to join them?

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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,