Let’s face the facts: These are tough times economically, and when you present your benefits proposal to any workplace, you may find that their final decision comes down to one word — price.

Now more than ever, businesses are focused on the bottom line. Therefore, you must show potential clients how your employee insurance programs will provide them with the best value. However, that does not mean that they should simply receive your cheapest options or deals that will end up costing you more than you make in return.

You need to show them that enrolling in your benefits programs will result in long-term savings for the company. To make that pitch effective, observe the following steps.

Be proactive from the start
When you initially meet with a firm’s decision-makers, do not waste your time and theirs rambling about how great your company is. Those people — typically the human resources director, the chief financial officer, and the owner — most likely will have already researched your company’s credentials and will ask you questions if they feel it’s necessary.

Instead, you should focus on how you can help them stop their existing troubles from creating more serious problems down the road. Audit the company’s entire benefits program, looking particularly at these elements:

  • Current benefit plan design
  • Compliance
  • Duplication of HR services

You should be able to locate some obvious oversights in these areas from the start, particularly complying with federal and state labor laws. For example, the intricacies of I-9 forms concerning immigrant workers have been a vexing problem to many employers. Your initial insights will gain their attention immediately and result in your later work being taken seriously.

Be professional and courteous
If you are dealing with an HR director, they may feel that you are stepping on their toes with your review. After all, they deal with their employees’ needs on a daily basis. You cannot afford this and should not allow the director to feel that way.

To diffuse any possible tension, take this approach: During the interview, say to the HR director, “Let me see what you are doing. Maybe I can learn something from you.” Then, employing what you have learned from your years of training, tactfully suggest what might have been overlooked and how your plans can address these issues. You will make that person your ally and thus smooth the way for your recommendations to be considered seriously by the CFO and owner when you finalize them.

Tie the service to the dollar
After completing your review, tell the decision-makers the defects you discovered and the cost of fixing them. Let them examine all of your figures and estimates before rushing into your recommended benefit plans, however. Once the owner and other officials see exactly how much they are losing by not taking advantage of your services in certain areas, they will have the information available to make their own judgment call. If you allow them this time, it will be easier to secure the decision-maker’s approval on most, if not all, of your recommendations.

Once the company has purchased your services, make sure you remain open and communicative with them, always available to address any concerns or questions as quickly as possible. You can tell everyone how great you are, but unless you show excellence through your service, no one will believe you. If your service is top of the line, it will justify the price of your benefits package in the eyes of a company’s decision-makers.

Other points to consider
When it comes to deciding what size company you should pursue, make sure it’s big enough to justify an investment of your time and effort should they become your clients. Although that may exclude some mom-and-pop organizations — and even larger corporations — that should still leave you with plenty of businesses to approach.

It is crucial to remember that all companies need benefits regardless of their industry. Focusing on only one area can prove detrimental to your business.

Opportunities exist in companies that outsource their HR needs, but only if you are able to demonstrate how your benefits would work better for them and save them money. For example, you can show how administering COBRA or designing employee handbooks in-house can help save them money.

Taking this advice, you will build a solid relationship with your clients, generating more credibility and more references for yourself. Your business will grow as a result — even in times as economically challenged as the present.

Arbie Adkins is an agent with SIA Group. He can be reached at 910-581-3837 or aadkins@siagroup.net.