The way people buy employee benefits is changing and as a result brokers need to change how they sell, says Chad Schneider, chief sales officer at brokerage consultancy Code SixFour. And, in his opinion, this will help brokers to not only be successful, but to simply exist.
Brian Kalish’s April 17, 2017, Employee Benefit Adviser article covered Schneider’s review of the trends that affect the way agencies and producers go to market and interact with employers, and how they can be more effective in employee benefit sales. The average buyer wants to make three touchpoints with a seller before buying something and the average sales cycle time has increased 22 percent in the last five years, according to Schneider. In addition, there is a 23 percent increase in decision-makers. Plus, clients are becoming savvier about how they buy: 61 percent of all business-to-business buyers have a formal bidding process, up from 45 percent a year ago.
According to the article, one way Schneider advises to be more successful is by using LinkedIn to sell. Every person who has a LinkedIn profile has a social selling index (SSI), which gives a score based on the users’ effectiveness of using LinkedIn. The score includes factors such as maintaining a professional brand, finding the right people, engaging with insights, building relationships and updating a profile daily. Schneider says the average sales professional in the insurance industry has a score of 13 out of 100 – and that needs to rise.
LinkedIn is most powerful social selling tool on the market today because, according to Corporate Executive Board, it takes five people to get to a ‘yes’ when selling and 75 percent of buyers use social media. Through LinkedIn, many of those decision-makers at a prospect company are already connected. On top of that, Kalish’s article points out that according to the Harvard Business Review, 90 percent of decision-makers will never respond to a cold sales outreach, so connecting first on LinkedIn provides an entry point.
Since the social selling index is so important, Schneider advises brokers to work on raising their score, which they can do by talking about what they do in their profile. Don’t just say you are a benefits broker, say why you help people and why you are the best at it. Additionally, he advises searching “like crazy” to make connections on LinkedIn and engage with insights, so they know who they are working with is a top notch adviser.
The numbers will prove it is worth the time. Those with high SSIs have 45 percent more opportunities to sell, are 51 percent more likely to reach quota and 78 percent outsell their peers, according to Schneider.