Ah, the good, old ways — the known, tried and trusted ones. The ways health benefits packages, and insurance, were sold before healthcare reform. Are they gone forever? Some are, some perhaps not.
Either way, there’s plenty you can do under the new rules of the game.
Christina Merhar, in a post on the ZaneBenefits employee health benefits and insurance blog, offers 10 ways for brokers to grasp the opportunities awaiting them.
1. Dust off your individual product lines: The individual health insurance market is rapidly growing, and you need to jump into it. Thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, nearly all individuals must get health insurance coverage or pay a fee. One market to target: small businesses that don’t now offer bennies. Become their advisor and help their employees select and purchase health insurance policies.
2. Register with the exchanges: Register with your state's health insurance exchange to be a certified producer. That way, as you’re helping individuals and small businesses, you can offer a full spectrum of options, and gain policy sales from those who qualify for the federal tax credits and purchase a policy through the exchange.
3. Offer defined contribution solutions: Many small and medium-sized businesses want to offer health insurance, but either cannot afford a group health plan or do not meet minimum participation requirements. By offering these folks a “pure” defined contribution solution, you’ll scoop up some biz. The business can offer this type of health insurance allowance instead of a traditional small group plan. Partner up with someone with a defined contribution provider to speed up your entry into this market.
4. Incorporate a private health exchange solution: Private exchanges are gaining in popularity, and businesses of all sizes are curious about how they can benefit from them. Fact: You don’t have to be Mercer or Cigna to set up an exchange. Numerous entities ranging from start-ups to new divisions of leading insurance companies have been created to offer new private health exchanges. Brokers can do the same by 1) creating a private exchange, 2) connecting the employer and employee to your private exchange services, and 3) allowing employees to use your private health exchange to purchase a policy.
5. Think voluntary: Voluntary products are all the rage. Gain revenue from employers and individuals by providing employers an opportunity to broaden their health benefits with voluntary products. Help assist employees with filling in any financial or coverage gaps in their health insurance policy.
6. Focus on your target markets: Define, refine, and reach your target markets with an eye for efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Review where you have been, and can be, most effective. Spend your time and resources on providing solutions to those employers, employees, and individuals where you are most likely to be successful and profitable.
7. Utilize Internet inbound marketing: SEO/SEM/SoMe. Learn them. Know them. Use them to boost your sales. You should be showing up in search results and engaging in some form of social media. Utilize the power of the internet, SEO, email marketing, and social media to drive qualified prospects to your website and landing pages. Outbound marketing strategies have become expensive. Even if your team is small, inbound marketing activities can help you gain a competitive edge.
8. Be the go-to person for ACA questions: Be a resource and convert advice into sales. Employers – especially small employers – are confused about their obligations under Obamacare. Educated brokers and agents are some of the most knowledgeable professionals about Obamacare. Use your expertise and resources to effectively assist employers in managing compliance issues related to reform. Small businesses are looking for this expertise as well as innovative solutions to help solve their unique challenges. They’ll do business with you once they trust you.
9. Become a trusted advisor: Here’s that trust word again. Re-focus and re-strengthen your client and prospect relationships by moving from strictly a salesperson to a trusted advisor. Prospects and clients do not want to feel like they are being sold. They want valued input and an opportunity to work with someone they trust. Approach prospects and clients with an educational approach, and the policy sales will follow as you listen and meet their real needs.
10. Ask for referrals: Businesses – especially small businesses – place a high value on word of mouth and referrals. Referrals tend to have higher close rates and a shorter sales cycle because of the trust. Ask clients directly for referrals and incorporate referrals in your marketing activities.