One problem brokers must face is rejection—made even more difficult due to the state of the economy and uncertainty over how health reform will affect them.
More employers are cutting back on both budgets and benefits for their employees. So what’s a broker to do?
Don’t want to hear the dreaded “thanks, but no thanks" from a client? Then consider some of this advice>>
Do your homework.
“The best way to avoid hearing ‘thanks but no thanks’ from a prospect is to do thorough homework before developing a proposal,” says Eric Haglund, principal at Digital Benefit Advisors in Atlanta.
“Then, create an offer that is impossible to decline—which is easy with voluntary benefits. Explain what the coverage does, who pays for it, the advantage it provides employees by reducing risk and how it can decrease the employer’s tax liability. There are no negative consequences to any parties and just a small amount of administrative time. Who could say no to such an offer?”
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Ask why they are saying no.
Justin Whitley, a Houston-based senior sales representative for employee benefits at American United Life Insurance Company, says his first response is to ask why they are saying no.
“If they cannot provide a reason then I have not done a good job in explaining my proposal. If they do, I can address the issue. Next, I find out what they liked about the proposal to reinforce the high points that caught their attention. In both instances, I am gauging how the client perceives the proposal. If the concerns are product or enrollment process driven, I restate the appropriate points in a different way, reinforce what they liked about the offer, and move forward.”
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Explain the advantages of voluntary benefits.
“In the past, voluntary benefits were often quickly met with a ‘no’ by many employers,” explains David Blanchard, principal at Digital Benefit Advisors in Glen Allen, Va. “In some cases the response stemmed from experience with a less-than-savvy rep. In others, a particular claims incident that went awry.
If faced with this challenge today, I find it effective to conduct a brief conversation with the client to determine employees’ needs and the employer’s budget. While clients may be aware of their workers’ circumstances, they may have limited funds. A well-designed integrated benefits package addresses everyone’s concerns by supplementing core employer-paid benefits with policies that fill gaps in coverage—at no additional cost to the company. Post-enrollment employee satisfaction supports this approach every time.”
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Talk about staying competitive.
Consider showing spreadsheets of recent enrollment ratios of voluntary benefits by other local companies. Not only do clients see that employees are selecting benefits such as gap health insurance or life insurance, they also realize they may need to offer these things to remain competitive in the labor market.
“I don’t have money” is likely the most common objection. But J.J. Summerell, the managing director of Worksite Insight, in Greensboro, N.C., told Benefits Selling last fall that he takes advantage of that excuse.
“I tell them, if you don’t think you have any money now, what do you think would happen if you become disabled or died and then your family would be really suffering financially?”
“Generally you can avoid objections by first describing the problem, getting the broker or the company or the employee to agree that there is a problem, and then you propose the solution,” Summerell says. “If you don’t describe and get them to agree that there’s a problem, it’s much easier for them to come up with objections.”
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“I let them know that I appreciate how they feel, then ask if they’ve considered other options,” explains Eric Pete, field vice president for employee benefits at American United Life Insurance Company.
“Giving them another angle may make them view the plan differently and be more open to considering it. For example, during a presentation a client may say employees do not have discretionary income for other benefits. Encourage the client to ask employees if they would be interested in being offered disability on a guarantee issue basis via payroll deductions. In my experience, the majority of employees will say ‘yes.’”
(Photo credit: David Castillo Dominici)