Do you subscribe to the “Mr.Rogers shoe philosophy? If so, here's a tip: always have a backuppair! (Photo: Shutterstock)

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We asked our readers what the most unique or creative thingthey've done (planned or otherwise!) that has left an impression ona prospect or client. Here's what you said.

Getting a foot in the door

Ever make an egregious faux pas? Me either. About a decade ago,a good “friend” of mine certainly did. As a relatively green vendorrepresentative, having spent the prior 10 years on the broker side,here was one of “her” first big breaks. A chance to build a new relationship with one of the “who'swho” insurance firms in Texas. This was a big deal. Someone hadgone out on a limb for me, and boy, did they hear about itlater.

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Related: Good brokers, bad conversations

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See, I subscribed to the Mr. Rogers shoe philosophy. Afterparking, I excitedly and nervously grabbed for my laptop bag in thebackseat and reached for my high heels on the floorboard. But wait,they weren't where they “lived” in my car. Oh no. I turned white asa ghost. With no time to spare, I made the (extraordinarily long)walk of shame across the parking garage, into the main lobby and upto the eighteenth floor of this high-rise and right up to thereceptionist who gave me a once over…as did the Director ofOperations who had agreed to let me teach CE to 30 of her employeebenefits professionals, sight unseen. In some irrational place inmy mind, I was hoping, pleading with God that no one would lookdown and see what I had on my feet.

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I set up in the conference room overlooking the city, with richwood paneling and plush leather chairs I just knew would soon befilled with intimidating big-wig types. I announced to theconsultants and account management teams that this might be themost memorable first impression by a vendor rep they would everencounter. With my head held high and my face as red as my hair, Isuddenly remembered it was April 1. Taking a chance, I usedBroadway hands, opening my arms wide, and stuck out one white,fluffy house-shoed foot and said, 'Happy April Fool's Day!' Iexplained what happened. They laughed. I laughed. We bonded. Andthe women especially understood. We all agreed that high heels wereoverrated and that the show must go on. To this day, they stillchuckle about this when I come to visit.

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And so does the agency I walked into about five years later withone black pump on and one blue. My footwear may have caught theirattention, but my depth of knowledge kept it.

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I'm currently on a flight to Houston for a single finalistpresentation—me and my three pairs of shoes for one appointment.Lesson learned. As with PowerPoints, I have learned to make sure tohave backups for my backups.

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Gentrie Pool, midmarket vice president,ConnectYourCare

Gaps and overlaps

My first experience as a service representative for GroupHospitalization, Inc. involved resolution of a claim issue for thesecretary of a company CEO. They had recently purchased a groupplan and he called our office asking for instructions on how toterminate the contract. His secretary had given birth several weeksprior and her claim was denied, as her coverage was terminated whenshe left the firm prior to the birth of her first child. However,the contract would pay benefits provided conception occurred whilethe plan was in force, even if the member was terminated beforedelivery.

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They had not enrolled her under the new plan, assuming theinsurer would pay. Since the group contract had been cancelled whenthey moved to the new plan, the claim had been denied. I told theCEO I wanted to come see him and he said, “don't bother.” I droveout to his office and bullied my way past his new secretary. Iexplained the difference in contracts and promised to get the claimpaid as an exception. He was an angry man when I arrived andrelieved when I left. I did get management to pay the claim andencouraged the personnel and training department to train salesstaff to read contracts, both the old and the new, to ensurenothing fell through the cracks.

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Years later, working for another Blue Plan, I met with a largemedical manufacturer in the Chicago area who was referred to me.The CEO's secretary had paid for dependent coverage for her husbandon their group plan for several months, assuming it would pay assecondary to his employer group plan, which reimbursed at 80percent. The sales representative had not explained at the time ofsale the coordination of benefits provision in the contract theypurchased. It clearly stated the “non-duplication” COBmethodology.

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I reviewed his entire contract with him and explained theimportance of comparing every last provision and how they canimpact plan performance and employees electing coverage. While Idid not acquire the plan that year, I was able to acquire them as aclient a year later.

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Too often, we focus on rates and plan design and overlook thedetails that can cause misunderstandings and can cost us a client.Busy executives don't typically enjoy reviewing contract featuresof a health plan or compliance requirements; however, we fail theclient if we don't insist on a thorough review. I wish I had acamera to take the picture of HR professionals when we tell themthe review of their SPD will take hours, not minutes—not includingthe PBM setup.

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Marcia P. Friedman, Arrow Benefits Consulting, Inc.

Everyone needs an Adam

A partner at one of my client firms reached out about waivingthe new hire waiting period for a new employee. “We can't makecontractual exceptions,” was my reply; however, we could modify thepolicy for future new hires. After my response, the (new hire)employee reached out with the same question, possibly thinking thatasking another way would result in a different answer.

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After a little digging, I asked what health care services thisemployee needed before the 30-day waiting period was over. Turnsout, it wasn't a medical procedure, but a prescription fill forseizure management. I quickly made a couple phone calls and we wereable to secure a cash deal of 60 tablets for $17.40. That's cheaperthan it would have been using her insurance that hadn't startedyet.

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The email response from the employee: “Woweee you're amazing!!!!This is. Amazing. Everyone in the U.S. needs an Adam getting themcheap prescriptions. Thank you!!!!”

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This is why we do what we do.

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Adam Berkowitz, founder & president, RHU

Prowess and dedication pay off

On an afternoon in the summer of 2015, my partner, Tino Russo,and I jumped on a prospecting call with the director of benefits ofa 5,000-life, Fortune-ranked company who we had met with earlierthat year. At that time, they were working with a top-three,national benefits consultancy.

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On the call, we learned that the incumbent broker had just beguna multi-month marketing exercise of the employer-funded ancillarylines. We asked if she could possibly send over their experiencedata, which she promptly did. Based on our underwriting prowess andbefore the call ended, we provided a five-minute,back-of-the-envelope analysis and followed it up with a moredetailed analysis two days later, uncovering 15 percentsavings.

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Nearly three months later, the incumbent broker came back withtheir results, virtually matching the number we provided in fiveminutes. Furthermore, based on our guidance, we directed theprospect to ask that the savings begin immediately, months beforethe upcoming renewal. We further suggested she ask for a rateguarantee that extended far longer than the one presented to themby the incumbent. Needless to say, we BOR'd the group's ancillarylines.

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Fast forward two years, and the group put their entire benefitsoffering out to market, via an RFP that excluded the ancillarylines under our consultation and additionally stripped out theirvoluntary benefits, also placing them with us. The group eventuallymoved away from their “alpha house” broker, but kept us in place onall ancillary and voluntary components. Our front-end work got usin the door, but our dedication to service kept us there!

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Kevin Kennedy, benefits consultant, TriBenInsurance

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