Be service-oriented, emphasize the value of enhanced products before open enrollment begins, and treat each client like a new, warm prospect.
Despite our best efforts, we’ve all had open enrollments go awry. Last month, I emphasized how the words you use to speak about enhanced benefits will impact employees’ perception of their value. Word choice is just one factor that can get in the way of performance.
In overseeing thousands of open enrollments conducted by hundreds of insurance agents over the years, I repeatedly observe three effective open enrollment best practices that will put those rocky enrollments behind you for good:
1) Service Begets New Sales.
Do you have a committed system in place to ensure excellent after-the-sale service? While top-notch service makes it more likely you will earn introductions and referrals to new accounts from existing clients, post-sale service with each employee participant is equally or even more important to your future sales. This is particularly true if your yearly goal is to have a successful open enrollment with minimal employee cancellations and maximum new enrollees.
Always remember, a successful open enrollment relies on interest, support and buy-in from the end user — the employees. Never lose sight of service and how impactful it is on future sales, not to mention the positive employee-to-employee word of mouth that accompanies great service. Or conversely, the negative word that spreads quickly after poor or non-existent after-the-sale service.
2) Hold a ‘Wellness and Claims’ Day.
Unfortunately, it’s common for employees to cancel their enhanced benefits because they “haven’t used them” and no longer feel they need them. If not handled delicately, these unhappy and oftentimes misinformed employee clients can steer your open enrollment off course before it starts.
An esteemed colleague taught me years ago to set up a “wellness and claims day” at least a month before open enrollment. Make yourself available on site to help answer questions and file claims for your employee clients. Many enhanced benefit products include “wellness benefits” that serve as great reminders for employees of the value that these products bring to them, even if they’re not sick or injured. This is also a great time to probe employees for additional claims they may not be aware they could file or typically didn’t remember they had coverage for in the first place.
Large or mega-sized cases benefit from these “wellness and claims” days at least quarterly. For clients with multiple locations, be sure you or someone from your claims team visits each office. Base the amount of time spent at each business on employee population size. For those mega-sized clients, consider spending a couple of days with varying hours.
When timed and filed properly, employee clients will have their checks just before you’re back for the actual benefits open enrollment.
Rockstar tip: There is absolutely no selling to be done on this day – this is only a support and service day. If you start selling and enrolling on this day, your presence will likely be interpreted in a negative context, thus defeating the purpose for why you’re really there.
3) Act Like Each Group Client is a New Warm Prospect.
When you think of an existing group client as a warm prospect, you will have a natural instinct to re-book an appointment with their key executives the same way that you would if you were courting them to become a new client. This way, you can re-diagnose and ask poignant questions to properly uncover their new needs and concerns.
Remember what led the group to tell you “yes” in the first place, and re-sell them on how you have delivered all of the great things you promised them to begin with. This way, you can re-create value for existing products and services you provide, while offering new and innovative solutions.
Then, you can reestablish the open enrollment with the exact working conditions and employer buy-in that would be expected for a new group that’s never had an enhanced benefits enrollment.
By following these three best practices for open enrollment success, you not only show your clients that you’re a professional, but you also illustrate a consistent path for how you operate and what your clients can expect from you year in and year out.
Next month, I will explain how the industry must be disrupted by the broker community’s willingness to embrace constant changes in the employee benefits marketplace. Until next time, don’t just have a great month – make it a great month!