Money tree (Photo: Brian Summers) (Photo: Brian Summers)

The “Money Tree” plant, which is also known as the Pachira plant, looks like a braided tree. Buyers may think it sprang out of the ground like that, thanks to nature, or a tree fairy.

A blogger at 1800Flowers.com has the real story.

Long, long ago, in the 1980s, a man named Liu tried braiding the stems of Pachira plants together as the plants grew. Liu discovered that braiding three plants together produced what looked like one unusually beautiful, unusually strong plant. His “new plant” sold so well that it seemed as if it were a money tree. That’s why people called it a “Money Tree” plant.

I believe that money can grow on trees for you, too — if you braid ancillary products and unique, added-value services into your practice.

That will help you, the broker, develop your employee benefits portfolio and generate a significant additional revenue stream.

(Related: 3 Peeks Through the Voluntary Benefits Curtains)

Here are four ways to get “low-hanging fruit” from your personal money tree by approaching existing clients with a targeted cross-selling strategy.

  1. Look for a plant you like.

While a detailed business plan and execution is crucial to any marketing or cross-selling plan, the most important element of any business plan is your belief in that plan.

If you do not believe that the plan will work, then it won’t.

If you don’t believe in the ancillary products and added value-services that you are offering, then they will fail.

  1. Add good leaves, and good trunks.

The braided trunks of the Money Tree plant have a unique look, and the braided trunks help “the plant” grow quickly, and strong.

Are the trunks in your practice (major medical, P&C, 401(k), ancillary products) strong? If not, what trunks can you add to strengthen your practice?

The leaves of a braided money tree plant are glossy and deep green. Most money tree plants have five to six leaves on each stem. You can sometimes find one with seven leaves. Just like finding a four-leaf clover, seven leaves on a stem is thought to bring really good fortune to its owner.

The lines of coverage (leaves) that you have with a client should be glossy and green as well. This not only establishes trust and long-term relationship with your client but, provides for greater customer satisfaction and revenue for you.

  1. Avoid overwatering.

The money tree is, generally, a very easy plant to maintain. As long, as you allow the soil to dry up just a little and then apply water to keep the soil damp, the tree will continue to grow. The tree will also grow towards sunlight. You should regularly turn the tree, so that it grows straight.

Once the seeds have been planted (enrollment), the maintenance of these plans should be easily maintained as well. Working with an expert to design and execute a strategy is critical to easily maintain any ancillary product offering.

Using the money tree example, start thinking about each of your clients.

Are the leaves of the tree glossy and green?

If the leaves are green but falling off the tree, then you may be watering the soil too much. No client wants to be smothered.

Are the leaves yellow and falling off? Then you are not watering the soil of that client enough.

When the leaves are yellow, it’s best to pick them off the plant. Allowing the leaves to turn brown can lead to decay in the tree.

Hold yourself accountable. Ask yourself if you’re the person causing the decay or if the client is causing the decay. If you’re the one causing the relationship to decay, then you must determine if you would like to nurture that relationship or to allow another broker to do the same.

  1. Be a great gardener.

Enrollment technology, health carriers expanding their voluntary offerings, telemedicine, self-funding and level-funding for small businesses, social media, etc…has significantly changed our industry over the past decade.

One thing that has not changed is that clients still want to work with someone they trust and like. Nurturing your current clients is essential for growth. These clients already trust your opinion, and the face-to-face time you spend with each client who trusts you yields dividends.

You not only need to trust the strategic partners you introduce to clients, but they must believe in strengthening and developing a client with the relationship that is based upon your standards as the broker.

There are no guarantees in our industry, but I guarantee you that I want to show my brokers and clients a level of professionalism and an approach to this business like you have never seen before.

I offer you the money tree as an age-old token of good luck and an invitation to good fortune.

— Read How Unum’s Stop-Loss Chief Sees the Gameboardon ThinkAdvisor.


Brian Summers (Photo: Summers)

Brian Summers is the founding partner at Speyside Consulting Group LLC, a workplace marketing consulting firm. He previously was the territory sales manager for the New York City metropolitan area, Long Island and Northern New Jersey for a large player in the ancillary benefits market. For 16 years, he was a firefighter.