Reeling Them In At Enrollment Time
The initial enrollment period is critical to success in worksite marketing, experts say. And the payoff at enrollment time comes for the producer who has done his homework in terms of identifying the right client, gaining noticeable support from top management, nailing down adequate face-to-face time with employees and selling products for which employees see a compelling need.
Who is the right kind of employer for selling voluntary worksite benefits?
“The right client is a client who looks at worksite benefits as a benefit to them, not just to employees,” says Michael Chille, vice president of the Northeast region for AFLAC Inc. “That means they will partner up with you.”
If the employer is unwilling to let you have an adequate number of minutes alone with each employee, a successful enrollment is unlikely, adds Lawrence Prichard, managing general agent in Dayton, Ohio, for Colonial Supplemental Insurance, Columbia, S.C.
“In group meetings, employees dont want to open up because they dont want to appear ignorant or talk about their personal information,” he says. “The biggest key is the 20-minute one-on-one. Otherwise, you are not going to sell the product because its not going to be understood.”
But the initial groupwide meeting also has a critical role, adds Chille. “The group meeting lets you spend less time with each individual.”
Running a companywide meeting also tells employees you have the all-important backing of top management, he points out.
Schedule that rollout meeting well ahead of enrollment time, advises Jerry A. Fisher, agency disability and long term care insurance specialist and brokerage director in greater Los Angeles for MassMutual.
“You want to go in 6 weeks out, so they are set to make an educated decision,” he says.
Making it convenient for employees to arrange their meetings and to enroll is important, too. Prichard of Colonial Supplemental posts sign-up sheets on employers bulletin boards so employees can readily schedule a 30-minute meeting with a Colonial rep.
“Its important that nobody waits on line or waits around in the lunch room for an enroller,” he says.
Prichards enrollers are equipped with laptops, on which each employees personal information is loaded already from the employers database, making sign-up a highly efficient operation, he says.
“We electronically submit about 90% of enrollments in the first 2 days with that technology,” he adds. “We dont do any paper applications, because you are not going to be able to tell a person much when you only have 20 minutes and youre trying to fill out paper.”
James T. Pettapiece, president of Vision Financial Corporation, Derry, N.H., a third-party administrator, says laptop enrollment lets the enroller skip a lot of information gathering during individual meetings and cut to the chase.
“The laptop also adds a tangible feature to the presentation, so agents who use them are reporting a greater feeling of participation by employees,” Pettapiece says.
Laptop enrollments are also much more accurate. “That means that underwriting is much faster, and people get their policies quicker, so a sale is much more likely,” he says.
But paper-based presentations can be effective, too. The key is to keep it simple, says Milton Jones, principal, Insurance Plus, an agency in Fayetteville, Ark.
When he recently offered an optional universal life policy as part of an employers 401(k) plan, Jones used a one-page illustration with graphics during his one-on-ones with employees. The illustration showed how the employee could invest up to 25% of money set aside for the 401(k) in the UL and how that investment could grow.
“They didnt have a lot of information to wade through. I found I got a lot more interest when I did that. I presented it as part of the safe-money component of a balanced 401(k) approach.”
Jones says he earned more than $10,000 in commissions on that case.