There are two ways to approach your business as an insurance broker. The first is to follow your clients, letting them lead the way while you respond to their needs as best you can. The second is to do the leading. You stay out front, anticipating your clients’ needs before they do. Which strategy do you think is better?
For our money, leading tends to generate better long-term results. Being a leader gives a broker numerous opportunities to build strong relationships with each and every client, based on individual client needs. It is like anything else. When you lead, you have the opportunity to do what you know is best. When you follow, you are often reacting to circumstances.
We firmly believe that brokers should lead their clients as much as possible. Here's how you do it:
1. Help Clients Establish Priorities
The employee benefits game is a complicated one. It is no longer enough to pick a health insurance plan and leave it at that. Today's employees expect more. They want everything from emergency income protection to student loan repayment benefits. The problem is that no employer can offer everything.
The point of all of this is to say that you should be leading your clients by helping them establish their priorities. Help them figure out what is most important to them and their employees, then look around for products that meet those needs.
2. Help Clients Maintain Their Budgets
Follow-up priority management by helping your clients maintain their budgets. Nothing is more discouraging at enrollment time than the knowledge that a company blew its benefits budget the year before. Blown budgets tend to make employers skittish. They tend to pull back too far the following year in hopes of recouping some of those losses.
As a broker, you have the rare opportunity to help your clients avoid spending more than they can afford on benefits. Though you cannot force them to stay within budget, you can certainly encourage them in that direction based on the products and services you offer.
3. Get Them Thinking from the Employee's Perspective
Employers sometimes have difficulty determining the best benefit options because they fail to see things from the employee's perspective. You can better lead clients by encouraging them to think like their employees think.
For example, how will employees pay their portion of health insurance? How likely are they to utilize all the benefits their health insurance plans offer? What benefits might be more important to them? Seeing things through the employee's eyes is not necessarily easy, but it goes a long way toward coming up with the best possible benefits package.
4. Proactively Look for Better Options
The most important thing you can do to lead your clients is to proactively look for better options. Do not focus so much on open enrollment that you forget the opportunities you have in the months following it. Once open enrollment is done for the year, spend the next 4 to 5 months researching how your clients' benefits could be made better.
Keeping clients up to date about new and better products keeps them thinking in that direction year-round. Then they are less likely to panic in the weeks leading up to open enrollment. They are also more likely to be actively involved in researching new benefit options for the following year.
Leading your clients is about putting them in the best possible position to help you help them. Note that if you are not leading, you are following. Turning things around could make a real difference in the success of your business.