In today’s complicated market, local agents looking to sell group benefits packages need to set themselves apart from the pack. Here’s what you need to know to achieve benefits sales success.
Even with the rise of individual health insurance policy sales precipitated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the majority of nonelderly Americans still depend on the insurance policies provided by their employers for coverage, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation.
Especially with the employer shared responsibility provision in place (which stipulates that companies with 50 or more full-time employees provide access to healthcare or face penalties), group benefits packages compose the bulk of the healthcare insurance business — and local agents should be ready to leverage that fruitful market as best they can.
Still, group benefits sales can be a tough nut to crack — but there are some things to keep in mind that will help you up your closing game. “Benefits is in a better place now, because it has forced brokers to be much more creative rather than just focusing on the placement of insurance policies,” Marshall & Sterling’s Eric Diamond told PropertyCasualty360.
According to the same PC360 article, consulting and risk management will be crucial to closing group health sales in 2016. With that in mind, here are a few tips to spark your creative strategy as you position yourself for success:
Work With What You Have
In order to kickstart your sales success, look for opportunities among your pre-existing connections. If someone you already have business with in the form of a P&C policy is in the market for group benefits, expanding that relationship is only logical. That way, you’ll have the opportunity to expand into multi-line coverage plans, and their insurance needs will be consolidated under one provider.
When you build out a multi-line strategy, you’re setting yourself up for success in a rapidly consolidating market. “I’m seeing larger insurance agencies structure themselves like a professional services organization — like a law firm, which has lawyers that focus on domestic issues, business, maybe criminal, and other services,” said John Sarich, Vue Software’s VP of strategy.
“When you bring in the employee benefits and P&C sides together, you now have an opportunity to become a one-stop financial store.” Just remember what you have to work with in the group benefits space — there are only four entities to choose from nationwide (Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, United Healthcare and Cigna), some of which are even more limited regionally.
Your clients are looking for a full service, one-stop shop. So along with becoming a multi-line provider, you should also aim to provide the services of a seasoned consultant. It’s not enough to just provide policy quotes and options to client’s employees with no guidance — they’re looking for a personalized benefits program best suited to the group’s needs.
The two biggest areas where you can make major strides are employee communications and HR functions. You can prove your indispensability by ensuring that everyone within the organization understands the benefits they’re entitled to and employers know how to best administer them.
Know Your Demo
Tailor your customers’ group benefits package to the particular needs of their demographic. If you’re working with a fast-growing startup full of millennials, you’ll need to provide a much different service than if you’re working with a well-established small company with a veteran workforce and no plans for major growth.
Accommodations for these different groups may include providing employee materials physically instead of digitally, or private exchanges to give millennials more choice rather than a blanket coverage policy.
Stay Within the Rules
With the new regulatory climate established by the ACA, it’s more important than ever to understand the rules regarding healthcare and benefits — you can’t just enter the market blindly and expect to work things out on your own. “I’ve been doing this for 38 years, and in the first 35 years the number of clients I have had go through a Department of Labor review is zero,”
Mike McLaughlin, president of Core Benefits told PC360. “The last three years: seven.” Be careful not to put your clients and yourself at risk — hire a knowledgeable attorney to stay abreast of compliance matters.
(Main image credit: skitterphoto.com/Unsplash)