For two decades, industry voluntary sales increased year after year.Growth was largely driven by new brokers entering the business, primarily from the ranksof the traditional medical and group brokers. But these newentrants did not begin growing their sales and increasingproduction each year as one might expect. Instead, they sold a fewcases each year, with results changing only slightly fromyear-to-year.

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Many of these brokers were selling defensively, offeringvoluntary products when a client asked about them, or when acompetitor came on the scene. And apparently, the likelihood ofthese things happening was not changing much from year to year.Voluntary productivity increases were low, but the waves of newentrants kept industry sales growing.

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The Broker/Voluntary Learning Curve

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About seven or eight years ago, this influx of new brokers cameto an end. Since then, our surveys have consistently shown thatapproximately 95 percent of all benefit brokers now sell voluntary.And that means that essentially, they are all in. We began to seethat the days of growth through migration were over, but industrysales kept increasing and even accelerating. As we tracked this,the changes became clear. The data confirmed what common sensepredicted: brokers were finally selling offensively with voluntaryproducts, and productivity was increasing and accelerating.

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The key is that this growth in productivity also means thatbrokers are gaining more experience than in past years and that theaverage broker is now more knowledgeable about voluntary. And thatmakes him or her a more formidable competitor. The graph shows thestate of these traditional benefit brokers as it relates tovoluntary business, with three-quarters claiming they now sellvoluntary offensively.

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In past years, it was easier to survive in the voluntarymarketplace when competition was less intense and fewer adversarieshad true voluntary expertise. But that is obviously the past, andtoday—even more so, tomorrow—the bar is being raised and thosetrying to just get by will wind up being left behind.

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