It seems every time I browse around on social media someone is promoting some “secret” or “shortcut” to writing business, to getting the attention of decision makers. They would have you believe that prospects/clients only have a single challenge for which they are looking for the “holy grail” answer that can be yours to deliver if you just ______________ (fill in the blank with whatever service/event/product they are selling).

If only it were that easy.

There are no short-cuts or secrets or “easy-buttons” to getting the attention of decision makers (CEO, CFO, COO, HR). There is only a commitment to understand their needs/concerns and then to do the hard work of being able to fix those problems once identified.

Simple idea? Yep. Simple in execution? NOT AT ALL.

What are their concerns?

If you are having the right conversations with the decision makers, you already understand how far and wide their needs go; fixing a single problem is rarely enough to earn you the business. But, even if you haven’t been having these conversations, the information is all around you. Just look at the top 10 business concerns as identified by The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

  1. Economic uncertainty
  2. Attraction and retention of employees
  3. Compliance
  4. Cost of benefits
  5. Weak demand
  6. Government policy
  7. Employee productivity
  8. Data security
  9. Employee engagement
  10. Access to capital

What do the bold items above have in common? They all have a (mostly) direct impact on the success of your prospect’s/client’s HR/Benefit program. And, because of that, they are all opportunities for you to help deliver better results.

Of particular note – there are a lot of conversations taking place online about “new” benefits strategies. I think this is mostly terrific, but all too often, these ideas are presented as the sole conversation you need to be having with a prospect/client. On this list alone, there are three concerns that rank higher than cost of benefits, two of which you have an opportunity to address.

My gift to you

Let me give you a head start to having these broader conversations with your prospects/clients. For each concern, you need to understand why it’s a problem, how it can affect a business, and an idea of the financial and/or operational impact it represents. My hope is that this helps you see just how critical it is to have these varied conversations and just how many opportunities you have to earn a new client.

#2 – Attracting and retaining employees

The problem - Unemployment is the lowest it’s been in years. Many employers are facing a challenge to compete for talent for the first time in their business’s history. Add in the fact that baby boomers are retiring at a rate well in excess of 10,000/day and business owners have a real problem.

The cost of this problem – According to SHRM, the cost to replace a lost employee is between 90% and 200% of their annual compensation.

#3 – Compliance

The problem – There has never been a more complex compliance environment for employers to have to deal with. Not only are there more complex compliance requirements, they keep shifting as they are re-interpreted. On top of that, there is more aggressive enforcement than ever before.

The cost of this problem – I’m not sure you could accurately add up all the potential compliance costs/fines, but the low-end find for SPD non-compliance alone starts at $10,000.

#4 – Benefits

The problem AND the cost of the problem – I don’t even have to tell you this one, you already know it. I’m not suggesting AT ALL to not emphasize this one. Quite the opposite. I’m just stressing that it needs to be one of several solutions you bring to the conversation.

#7 – Employee productivity

The problem – In certain industries, one third of revenue is spent on payroll and benefits. There is perhaps no greater opportunity to impact the bottom line than through improved productivity.

The cost of the problem – A Hackett Group study identified a 22% improvement in net profit margin when performance is properly managed.

#8 – Data security

The problem – Every size company is a target; nobody is too large or too small. The result of a data breach includes a loss of customer confidence in addition to the hard costs.

The cost of the problem – According to a 2016 Ponemon Institute study, the average data breach cost the company $4,000,000. Each compromised record is a staggering $158 (when you think of the sheer number of records).

#9 – Employee engagement

The problem – The best organizations have a payroll efficiency factor 15% higher than average organizations. This equates to almost 25% more performance per payroll dollar putting average organizations at a huge disadvantage.

The cost of the problem – According to Gallup, $.37 of every payroll dollar is lost due to poor employee engagement.

You’re full of doubt, aren’t you?

I’m guessing some of you are looking at this list and questioning whether or not these truly are opportunities to help. You may be asking yourself, “What can I do to help with productivity or engagement?” For now, the answer may be nothing, but that is an answer that needs to be changed.

You may be arguing in your own mind, “But my prospects/clients aren’t looking for anything from me other than help with their insurance needs.” If that’s true, it’s only because you haven’t given them permission to expect more.

Because of the agency marketing and sales platform we teach, we have client agencies helping with every one of these concerns, and then some. Is it easy to get there? Nope. Is it worth the effort? You bet it is!

Celebrate good times!

In all honesty, you should celebrate the fact that there are no shortcuts. Most of your competition won’t do the hard work. They will keep taking perceived shortcuts and hitting dead-ends or just keep trying to do it the way they’ve always done it.

And, if you want more opportunities in your pipeline, build your understanding of your prospect’s concerns and your ability to address those concerns into your MARKETING strategy. Most of your competition has no clue about how to use marketing to get a prospect’s attention.

Despite what others may have you believe, there are no short-cuts. However, with the right marketing and sales strategy, you can build a straight line to your next new client, and the one after that, and the one after that.

Photo by Tauno Tohk

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