You may not think that the first quarter is traditionally your strongest time for prospecting, but I’ve found that it can be the perfect time. At the beginning of the year, employers who recently had their renewal will have it fresh in their mind. And let’s be honest: Most of those employers probably didn’t have the greatest renewal experience. This is a great opportunity to capitalize on to help you start 2017 strong.

In speaking with hundreds of employers, I’ve found that most brokers still use the same renewal approach they’ve been using for decades. What does that look like?

1) The broker brings in a plan design proposal in spreadsheet form, with tons of data crammed into each page.

2) While the broker gives their presentation and recommendations, everyone in the room is busy trying to make sense of the spreadsheets.

3) If the employer requests a change to one of the plan design options, the broker must create a new spreadsheet and schedule another meeting to discuss — this process is often drawn out over several tedious meetings.

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4) At the end of the day, the employer may not even be confident they chose the best plan for their budget and employees.

Given all the changes to the health insurance industry, as well as the massive leaps in technology, it’s shocking that most brokers are using the exact same approach as they did 20 years ago. Most of all because I’ve found that employers dislike this renewal approach, and many even dread their annual renewal meeting each year.

Get in the door by bringing out that pain
So how do you take advantage of this scenario? While the pain of their recent renewal is fresh in the prospect’s mind, take the opportunity to show them a superior renewal approach. Ask probing questions to find out how their recent renewal experience was, what their broker delivered, their satisfaction level when it was done, etc. Have the prospect relive their frustrating or confusing experience, and then present an alternative.

Of course, a key to this is not using that same process described above for your own renewal meetings. If you are still relying on spreadsheets, it’s not too late to make a change. Find a way to make your renewal approach more visual and dynamic. Employers should be able to easily see plans compared side-by-side and make decisions based on budget impact. You may want to consider an approach that allows you to make changes in real-time, to prevent multiple drawn-out meetings. Review the technology solutions available to enhance your renewal process.

Once you have a first meeting scheduled (and assuming you present a superior alternative as described above), an in-person or virtual demonstration is the best way to win the business. Reiterate what the prospect shared with you about their renewal experience, and then contrast those pains with what you offer. Give a live demonstration of a sample renewal experience, to paint the picture in the prospect’s mind and get them excited about the possibility of working with you.

I’ve found that brokers who use this prospecting strategy at the beginning of the year tend to have a lot of success, often closing business in fewer meetings and increasing their close rate.

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Andy Nunemaker

Andy Nunemaker

Nunemaker is the CEO of Dynamis Software Corporation, a provider of sales software in the healthcare insurance industry.