Benefits consultants can be a risk-averse bunch. When they hear about new health benefits technology, all they see is the risk of changing the status quo. They fear change. They would rather sit across the table from their existing clients talking about another annual health plan increase than changing an employee’s behavior and approach to healthcare.
It’s totally understandable… why rock the boat to sell ancillary services like navigation, telemedicine or transparency to save your clients money and risk shifting the focus to something other than closing the sale of a health insurance plan but is this good in the long term for your clients?
Your clients may not fully understand the complexity of healthcare and the reasons for their annual increases. They may be risk averse to new technology or strategies. They may not want to try and change their employees’ behavior when it comes to using their plans. But they must change employee behavior…and your role must move from relationship builder or order taker to a consultant, coach and educator. You must take responsibility for understanding your client’s risks and implementing strategies and technologies to mitigate that risk.
As Scott Cantrell of Bottom Line Solutions says, “Change is challenging but it is also inevitable. The question is: will you embrace it and exert control over it to achieve your desired objectives? Or will you merely attempt to maintain the status quo – naively hopeful the changes will occur around you letting you somehow ‘magically’ succeed or at least survive?”
Here’s a few tips on how to sell new technology to your clients:
- What they “WANT” doesn’t matter – Seriously. A common first instinct is to ask a client what they are looking for, but most of the time this is a big mistake. That’s like asking them to understand your industry and its future better than you do. This should be your job as a progressive benefits consultant. Think about it, do you think Apple asked their clients if they should remove the floppy disk or DVD player? Nope! They knew better and then pushed the industry in that direction. They lead the industry; they don’t follow. You must lead and educate clients into new directions and do what’s best for them.
- K.I.S.S – The old adage, keep it simple works with even the most complex technology sales. A great strategy is to present to your clients clearly what you’re planning to do, why you’re doing it and the benefits for them. Focus on the main benefits they will receive after implementation rather than focusing on features or technology. HealthJoy uses some pretty complex technology like artificial intelligence, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), virtual assistance, predictive analytics and a bunch of other advanced technologies, but it should be irrelevant to a customer. What should be important to them is the value they receive at the end of the day. Selling that we can affect their employees’ behaviors and get them to make smarter decisions is important. Driving their healthcare costs down, increasing employee communication and offering guidance is the true benefit to sell, not the tech. Don’t over complicate a sale.
- Make yourself invaluable to their business – Try and add value with each interaction. It doesn’t need to always be something big, but try and have something you can bring to the table. Educate them through the sales process on how to do things better. Make book recommendations or send them a link to a great article you read that’s relevant.
- Don’t fear a little internal backlash – Look, some people fear change and will complain. My mom is 85 years old and I remember buying her a new landline phone with a caller ID display. The new phone added a “1” in front of all local phone numbers and she complained that it was wrong. I heard about it for a month but she got accustomed to it. After a while she started saying how much she loved the new phone and forgot about the “broken caller ID.” Things change, people adapt. As long as the overall benefit is greater than some minor discomfort, people will get used to it.
“Having a candid and uncomfortable conversation with a client isn’t easy,” said Eric Silverman from Silverman Benefits Group. “Telling them what they don’t want to know isn’t easy. Easy only wins the short-term popularity contest. Candor wins the short-term respect and long-term loyalty of your client.”
Smashing the status quo isn’t without its challenges but in the long-term, it’s the right strategy for everyone. New technologies can increase transparency, lower costs and improve satisfaction with existing benefit offerings. Every client is different, take the time to understand their unique needs and address their individual pain points.