If you know us at all, you know we love our clients like friends and family and look forward to our opportunity to bring everyone together every nine months at our Q4Live networking conference. This time was not only no exception, but it offered a new level of collaboration that strengthened many relationships.
For those of you there, here’s a little reminder of what we discussed. For those of you who didn’t attend, this is a little taste of what it’s like to collaborate so openly with peers.
Shift or get out of the way
Kevin Trokey, Founding Partner of Q4intelligence, kicked off the session as only Kevin does with an energetic, thoughtful, and entertaining reflection on what it looks like to make shifts in our lives. And he reminded us of how many shifts we have all experienced just in recent years. We’re not immune to shifts in any part of our lives, and we need to embrace them or get out of the way for others to take the reins.
Following Kevin’s high energy performance was our keynote speaker, Jennifer Powers. She kinda blew us all away with her energy, enthusiasm, and belief in her subject: Words matter, and we are all responsible for how we use them.
"I’ve seen my share of “motivational speakers,” but Jennifer Powers, author of Oh SHIfT! How To Change Your Life With A Little F’in Shift was a breath of fresh air." (Heidi Rasmussen via blog post)
"For me, [my one thing takeaway was] the message that was introduced by the keynote speaker [Jennifer Powers] and then continued throughout the remaining presentations on plan design, working with the C-Suite, marketing, branding, and growth, and that message is WORDS MATTER." (Nancy Giacolone via LinkedIn)
Vendor intros, networking, and iTalks
It takes a village to create the environment we all need to make the shifts for better healthcare and better health insurance for employers and their employees. We don’t discriminate and agree with Jennifer Powers – words matter and we want everyone’s ideas and opinions included in our discussions.
We bring our vendors into the fold and expect full participation from them throughout the session bringing their ideas, opinions, and questions to the table each time. From talks about drug pricing and federal regulations to the dangers of blindly following standard benchmarking advice to taking a dive into the common denominators for success, we all left feeling better prepared and more connected to our vendors as people and experts.
Plan designs are not one-size-fits-all
Think everything you hear online about unbundled health plans is the norm and the reality for all brokers, and you’re the only one left NOT making significant strides with your clients? Well, it’s just not true. Stop believing that nonsense.
Take it from a group of really smart advisors who have been working in this space for a while and have varying degrees of client buy-in and implementation. Bret Brummit, Josh Butler and Rachel Miner had their honesty in full show during this session as everyone talked about the realities and difficulties of 1) helping clients see the options, 2) educating clients to the point that change makes sense, and 3) communicating effectively throughout the year to make the plan design changes a good fit for everyone.
We don’t need to, and usually shouldn’t, go from zero to 60. There are a lot of options in between and you need to respect the client, meeting them where they are, and not pushing things too fast.
You may be surprised what the CFO doesn’t know
Steve Watson gave us a peek behind the curtain into the life of the CFO, and it may not be what you think. One of my top takeaways is that brokers are talking over the heads of their clients – yes, CFOs included. Just because they know finance, doesn’t mean they know RBP, DPC, HSA, HDHP, FSA,TPA, ASO, etc.
Take the time to educate your clients, regardless of what position they’re in. Maybe that comes in the form of conversations, and maybe it comes in the form of educational marketing materials you share via your website, social media, presentations, etc.
Don’t assume. It makes me wonder how many CFOs have said no to a plan design change where they could potentially save significant money because they just didn’t understand the options well enough to make an informed decision. 🤔
Buyers don’t want to talk to you
This one may also be a surprise, but buyers have so much access to information and they don’t need to talk to your sales team for most of their discovery period, and quite frankly, they don’t WANT to! They’ve got challenges in their business and they need to find solutions.
If you’re offering information about those challenges, you’ll get, and possibly hold, their attention. If you’re not talking about their challenges, you’re likely not getting their attention, or if you do get it, you’re probably losing it almost as fast as you got it. True story.
Katja Ritchie from HubSpot pointed out the obvious in a way that many had never considered as relevant to their own businesses. Sure, we make our personal purchases without talking to the company, but do our OWN buyers like to buy that way as well?? YES. Yes, they do.
Talking about yourself and your business doesn’t help buyers find solutions to challenges (the megaphone approach). Talking about their challenges helps them find answers and makes you interesting and compelling to them (the magnet approach). It’s at THAT point they want to talk to your sales team.
If you can’t get this figured out, you’re going to watch your business influence and market share continuously dwindle.
Consistency is key
Once you figure out your message, you have to share it CONSISTENTLY, no matter how much you may get tired of talking about it or how much you think others may be tired of hearing it. When the time is right, they will reach out to you because you’ve so consistently talked about the challenges they’re feeling and they see you as a legitimate resource (magnet marketing). No one knows this better than Heidi Rasmussen at freshbenies. Follow them for the best example of consistency I’ve seen in the industry!
Yes, your web presence matters – a LOT
And you have to have a website and online presence that effectively communicates your message in the way that buyers want to hear it. It takes both an attractive website (UI: User Interface) + an easy-to-navigate website (UX: User Experience). And if you don’t pay attention to some level of SEO (search engine optimization), you’ll have a hard time being found by the buyers you most want to attract.
Without taking the user into consideration and thinking about them throughout every step of your website, you’re missing valuable opportunity to deliver the right content in the right way to the right buyers. Thank you to our developer Tony Sova for lending his expertise and raising awareness of these critical parts to building a strong, magnetic web presence.
Think looks don’t matter? Think again
If your visual brand doesn’t match your messaging and your value proposition, you’ve got a serious disconnect for your buyers. Julie Riley, our Q4i designer, shared with us how staying current on your brand is as important for internal morale and crafting effective communication as it is for external communication and attracting the right buyers.
But here’s a core idea – there should be MEANING behind the choices you make. How do your name and visual appearance represent who you are as an organization? As a group of people? As a culture? How do they represent your value proposition? If you’re not taking these things into consideration when creating that visual brand, you’ll likely end up with something that is off the mark.
And fun fact, during her session on brand evolutions and revolutions, Julie revealed our new Q4intelligence visual brand! We believe in updating and staying current with our audience needs and our own brand and value proposition, so we don’t sit still for too long! You’ll see more on this in the next few months. 😊
What you’ve done wrong and how to set it right
One of our most appreciated sessions was from two fantastic Q4i members who were willing to share things they’ve done that didn’t necessarily work out they ideal way they wanted. Or that things changed and they needed to change along with it.
There were incredibly tough decisions from letting a valued employee go when it was no longer a right fit, to overhauling an agency management system and training everyone in the organization to make it a part of their new normal. A huge shout out to Joni de Souza and Allison Butler for their incredibly honest conversations. Thank you! 🙏
How can we better build this village?
Be willing to let your guard down. Ask questions. Don’t expect to find answers from a single source. Don’t think you’re too big, too good, too small, too far behind to learn from others.
Some of the most powerful learning moments I saw happen in the room were when two very different sources spoke their truth, regardless of size. When vendors openly shared their intent and how they want to help and not just be a sales person, but a true partner to their agencies and employers. When agencies shared that working relationships with vendors would improve with better communication and a plan of implementation laid out from the beginning.
We’re all in this together. Find a group, drop the walls, and open up the conversations. We all improve as a result and raise the bar for everyone.
And maybe that’s coming to the next Q4Live and being a part of these conversations and learning from some unexpected sources.
So, when is it??
And what everyone left asking…“When’s the next Q4Live??”
We’ll offer an update as soon as we make the choice and sign the contracts. Knowing us, it’s guaranteed to be a good weather city, in a great hotel, with a lot of options for good times networking with friends! Subscribe to our LinkedIn company page and/or watch our conference page here for updates.
And a final thank you to everyone who was there! We appreciate all of your participation and contributions to the group and can’t wait for the next one!