In a survey conducted by Eastbridge Consulting Group, more than 70% of benefits brokers said voluntary sales account for less than 10% of their total revenues. Brokers unfamiliar with employee-pay-all products could find it as a way to stabilize their businesses.

According to the latest edition of AWARE, an online newsletter for benefits brokers and HR professionals, brokers could have better success in this relatively new territory by shifting their sales approach from transactional to consultative.

“As customer choices have increased, both as a result of competition and because products and services are increasingly customized, understanding the customer has become an ever more important element of successful selling,” said Neil Rackman, author of “Rethinking the Sales Force.”

Rackman describes the foundation of consultative selling as:

  • Helping customers understand their problems, issues and opportunities in a new or different way;
  • Showing customers new or better solutions to their problems;
  • Acting as advocate within provider organizations.

Voluntary premiums are growing as much as 10 times faster than employer-paid premiums, according to a 2011 report by McKinsey & Company. And it’s estimated that voluntary benefits will contribute more to industry profits than employer-paid plans by 2015. And some 30% of employers in the U.S. are considering adding a voluntary benefit with the next two years, according to LIMRA.

Speakers at the Benefits Selling conference in San Antonio in March suggest:

  • Brokers focus on state-of-the-art benefits administration and enrollment innovation, and take the employer out of the middle;
  • Focus on employees’ overall health and wellness needs, retirement savings and income, and protection from catastrophe;
  • Develop a broader knowledge of benefits rather than a specialty approach;
  • Expand relationships beyond decision makers to a team of stakeholders.