Thinks WAY too many of your prospects.

One of the great things about being a benefits advisor is the abundance of options you can offer your prospects and clients. There is virtually no end to the number of solutions you can offer.

Of course, you have an abundance of insurance solutions. To start, you can offer them medical, dental, life, AD&D, STD, LTD, LTC, voluntary, and even pet insurance. And that’s before you even get into financing options. Your menu likely includes fully-insured, self-insured, minimum premium, reference-based pricing, level funding, and maybe even something new that has popped up since I was writing this.

But, the list of insurance solutions you offer likely pales in length compared to the non-insurance (you may call them value-added) solutions you offer. This menu may contain:

  • Help desk
  • Wrap docs
  • HR hotline
  • Ask an attorney
  • Safety programs
  • Lunch and learns
  • Communication tools
  • Employee handbooks
  • Compliance assistance
  • Harassment prevention
  • Benefits administration platforms
  • Employee training programs
  • Employee engagement programs...

Seriously, these lists could go on and on and on.

Oh yeah!

I suspect when you sit back and look at your specific menu of solutions, you likely feel pretty good. After all, you have EVERYTHING an employer could want. Right? 

Here's the harsh reality. As important as it is to have all that "stuff," you would be wise to introduce it to your audience in more manageable portions. Your source of "quantity confidence" doesn't necessarily translate to prospects and clients finding the confidence necessary to engage with you.

You have how many choices?!

I’ve only eaten at The Cheesecake Factory twice. I remember it being a perfectly good meal. But what I remember most is being overwhelmed by the menu. They have over 250 items on their menu—and 85 different chicken dishes alone!

I’m not the only one who has experienced the feeling I had when trying to choose my Cheesecake Factory dinner. There is a psychological theory that addresses this phenomenon. It's called the "paradox of choice," which says the more options we have, the more anxiety we feel.

Not only does your list of stuff not instill confidence in your audience, but you are also serving up a cold plate of anxiety.

What do you recommend?

I can be a creature of habit, especially when it comes to my favorite meals. At the same time, I love enjoying new dishes at new restaurants.

When doing so, I will often ask the server what some of their favorite menu items are. I hate it when they go through and robotically list a dozen or more items almost as much as I hate hearing, "Oh, it's all good." It may be "good," but I want "exceptional."

More than anything, I want a committed and passionate opinion with a bit of an explanation of why.

I always appreciate them taking the time to ask a couple of questions. "Are you thinking meat or seafood?" or "Any allergies?" But what I love most is when I see their eyes light up at the initial question, and I hear, "My absolute favorite item on the menu is (fill in the blank)!!"

I'm all in! The confidence in their recommendation, and the ensuing excitement, is contagious. I immediately become confident in my decision and exponentially more excited for the meal. Because of this overall experience, I know I end up enjoying the meal more than if I had found it on my own.

Guess what?

Your prospects are the same. Overwhelming them with too many choices and not being decisive about a specific recommendation hurts everyone.

When you take a CYA approach offering them your insurance solutions menu of 250 items, your prospect does what I do in a restaurant when presented with too many options—I go back to my "creature of habit" choice.

In the case of your prospect, that means the incumbent wins.

Know your menu, learn your audience

There is a lot more on the line for your clients than a disappointing meal if they aren't able to make the best benefits decisions.

Too many brokers have a false sense of security by taking a Cheesecake Factory approach. They show up with a spreadsheet that includes every line of coverage offered by every provider, with every finance option. As if that weren't enough, they will list out every value-added service they have ever even heard of.

Instead of doing all that, take the time to learn about their benefits appetite. Ask questions to understand what they want to accomplish with their program. Ask more questions to learn about their current situation and what may be holding them back. Narrow down the choices and explain the pros and cons of each.

Watch their interest grow as you narrow down your recommendations to specific solutions you would recommend to address their most critical needs. Their confidence in you will grow when they watch your eyes light up as you describe the results enjoyed by other clients. As you lay out the implementation plan you have put together for them, they’ll already be anticipating with great excitement the peace of mind that will come from the decision they are about to make.

With all due respect to The Cheesecake Factory, an overwhelming menu is a lazy, marginal-at-best way out as an advisor. Your clients deserve exceptional.


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Photo by ginasanders.