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Picture our hero, the worksite supplemental insurance producer: The new account is closed and the benefits enrollment is scheduled. Now its time to start working on the next big sale.

But wait. Instead of hitting the streets cold, we see our hero knocking again on the door of the account just closed. Because the truth is, the best way to get new business is by making the most of existing businessthrough increased penetration and additional sales.

This process starts the very first day, beginning with the way the producer and new customer view who the producer is and what he or she is there to do.

The producer and the insurance company he or she represents are no longer vendors. Theyve become an extension of the new clients often overworked and understaffed human resources department.

By adding value beyond simply selling products, the producer forges a lasting partnership with the client-employer, one that helps the employer meet the goal of attracting and retaining the best employees.

How does this happen? Here are some ideas to consider, if you are a producer.

Set expectations for success. There is almost nothing you can do thats more important at this stage than setting the proper expectations with the client. Then, make sure to deliver on those expectations. That not only avoids potential problems, but it also creates an atmosphere of trust and cooperation.

Go beyond the basics. Constantly assess whether you are delivering recognizable value in terms of communications, products and servicesand then go beyond those basics. For example, show employees the ways their employer is investing in them through the carriers products as well as other benefits.

And, while conducting the enrollment, you might help your employer-client by getting the most up-to-date contact information about the employees. (Youd be surprised at the number of employers who dont have the current addresses and phone numbers of their employees.)

Build long-term relationships. Take time to develop personal relationships with the clients staff members. The contact person at the company may change. People get promoted or leave to take other jobs. By cultivating relationships with other key people, you wont be out in the cold if the main contact person moves on.

By getting close to clients, you also position yourself to have a better understanding of clients needs and wants, so youll always know what product mix to offer. You wont find yourself suddenly replaced by competitors who offer clients what seems a more diverse menu of different products, when you actually had all the same products in your own arsenal.

Offer new solutions. At least annually, take a look at what products and services you are offering in each account and match that against what your company now offers.

Are there new products or services to offer the employer or employees? Maybe you started out with a small case size at an employer, but now the account is mature enough to add additional products? You can use those new services and tools at your provider as door openers to get back in to visit the employer on a regular basis.

Stay on top of technology. Youll also be at an advantage if youre able to save the employer time and money through use of the Internet and other technologies.

For example, if your insurer has a Web site where the insurer can communicate with account plan administrators, point this out. Also, if your insurer offers an electronic billing reconciliation process, note that this allows plan administrators to send in an electronic file of their premium deductions through a secure Web connection. The carrier can balance those bills with no paper involved, so that reduces the time the administrators must spend in monthly bill reconciliation.

In addition, to make the enrollment process go faster and more efficiently, seek carriers that provide enrollers with laptop computers that are loaded with all the information they need. This technology allows for extremely fast issue of products, and with fewer errors and less incomplete information, too. Ultimately, this results in fewer billing issues because the bills are set up correctly from the start. The faster business is submitted, the quicker the policy is issued and claims are made.

Clients expectations are higher today than they have ever been. You never want to take their existing relationships for granted. So, by constantly innovating and raising your own standards, youll be able to increase penetration and retention of your in-force accounts.

is vice president of sales-in-force accounts at Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company, Columbia, S.C. His e-mail address is dahughey@unum.com.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, June 29, 2001. Copyright 2001 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.


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