The small business health insurance market is huge. In California, firms with 99 or fewer employees account for more than 36% of the state’s 3.6 million small businesses. In Nevada, there are more than 225,000 small businesses, with nearly 30% below the 99 employee threshold. That means there’s a lot of opportunity if you’re focused on selling small business health insurance and employee benefits.
That, of course, begs the question, what can you do to get the most sales? Here are some tips.
ASK FOR REFERRALS
A 2014 poll by Gallup and Wells Fargo found referrals are the most successful tool when it comes to new business. (It was cited by more than half of respondents, followed by advertising as mentioned by one-third of survey respondents.) That’s especially true for new insurance brokers. Many start out by selling health insurance to family members or referrals from friends and family.
Once you get your insurance business going, the truth is you can’t afford not to ask your satisfied clients for referrals or testimonials you can use in your future marketing efforts. Word-of-mouth is a great, free lead generator. Just be sure to ask current customers at the right time – after you’ve demonstrated your value by successfully helping them find the right solution to their health insurance needs. Don’t be premature in asking. If you are not sure if the time is right, wait.
TALK LESS, LISTEN MORE
It may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s important you not be the one talking the most when sitting down and discussing solutions to address your client’s insurance needs and/or challenges.
Ask questions, then let your client’s responses lead the discussion. Give them the opportunity to tell you about their company, their employees, and their reasons for wanting to make a change to their current health insurance plan or their decision to add employee benefits for the first time.
FOCUS ON YOUR MOST QUALIFIED LEADS
You will want to prioritize your leads, so it’s easier for you to quickly and easily determine which ones most merit your time. (An unqualified lead will waste your time and your prospect’s time, too.) If the lead comes from a referral, you’ll want to tackle it first.
Your second priority should be leads from your website – those where the potential customer has provided you with information about their business and their employees. Generally, the more detail they’ve included, the more serious the prospect. A lower priority may be leads from a purchased list, which could be dated.
BUILD CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS
The sales process doesn’t happen overnight. Establishing and nurturing a relationship with your clients is essential. Be sure to ask a lot of questions. Demonstrate your interest in helping business owners and HR managers find the right options for their employees and still keeping their benefits costs in check.
While it takes time to develop this skill, it will pay dividends for years to come – because people work with those they trust. You’ll be rewarded with renewals and referrals to others who could also use your counsel and expertise.
SELL SOLUTIONS – AND A CONTRIBUTION STRATEGY
Whether your client currently offers benefits or is just starting out (and they have not offered health insurance benefits to employees before), it’s important to sell solutions. Employee health insurance offers benefits to both employers and employees. Be sure to discuss the tax benefits, the range of available plans, the ease of enrollment, etc. You can also tout the benefits of Defined Contribution, so they understand they’re in control of what they spend, at their initial enrollment and at renewal.
There’s a fine line between being “polished” and over-rehearsed. You may be tempted to script your planned interaction with your prospects and clients. But you could sound over-rehearsed or, even worse, robotic. That could lead to you losing focus and not really listening in your discussions with your clients.
NETWORK WITH SUCCESSFUL PEERS
It’s important to be a part of your community and to engage with other successful insurance professionals at regional and national conferences, tradeshows, and underwriter association, GA, and carrier meetings.
You can learn a lot at these kinds of events, including new selling techniques. You may even find a mentor who can share advice on what to avoid or what he or she has found most rewarding while working in the industry. (Look for events planned by Word & Brown in the Events section of our Newsroom.)
Opportunities are out there – make your mark. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau Statistics of U.S. Businesses (SUBC), the vast majority of U.S. firms with employees are small. With more businesses getting started every day, your sales opportunities are growing and are virtually unlimited. Hopefully, these tips will help you be even more successful in your outreach to California and Nevada small businesses.