Quick look: Small- and medium-sized business (SMB) leaders are busy. Your livelihood depends on attracting their attention. Here’s how to tailor your sales strategies to stand out from competitors and create more meaningful connections with C-suite executives.
Executive leaders at small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are becoming more engaged in workforce management. They recognize the valuable role employees play in the company’s success. As a broker, you are in the unique position to help SMB leaders solve business challenges – but the last thing busy C-suite executives want to talk about is “insurance.”
Most business leaders see employee health benefits as an unavoidable, unglamorous expense that eats into their bottom line. It’s difficult to break through the noise and attract their attention. However, C-suite buy-in is make-or-break for growing your book of business.
Here’s how to get more interest from time-strapped, ROI-focused C-suite execs.
Learn about your prospects
Dedicate yourself to conducting key company research before reaching out. Learn about the history of the company and the challenges facing its industry today. Learn about their business, but also the individual. Look for areas you can make a genuine personal bond. Is there a university alumni connection? Do they do charity work for organizations you admire? Have they recently published an article you found interesting? Equipping yourself with knowledge about the business and company leaders will increase your confidence before reaching out and help break the ice quickly when you do make a connection.
Probe, probe, probe
When you finally connect, learn more about the company’s goals. Companies of the same size in the same industry may have drastically different objectives. Ask SMB leaders to share their company vision for the next 12 to 24 months. Are they looking to generate more revenue? Trying to increase operational efficiencies? Focusing on scalability? Knowing what drives their day-to-day decision-making will make your future conversations – and the solutions you present – more meaningful.
Lose the formality
Many C-suite executives complain that all brokers sound the same. Ease up a bit. Eliminate complicated jargon. Treat every interaction like an authentic peer-to-peer conversation. Get to the point quickly, highlighting specifics about what you have learned about their company challenges to inform your communications. When based on incisive points, less formal conversation packs a more engaging punch.
Talk about insurance less
It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s time to talk less about health insurance and more about solutions. Yes, you’re in the insurance business, but you’re also in the problem-solving business, the peace-of-mind business, and the risk management business. Each of these is fertile ground for opening and continuing the conversation with C-suite execs who deprioritize the role of insurance.
Partnering with a professional employer organization (PEO) like ExtensisHR enables you to broker HR management and compliance services SMB leaders need but may not be aware of. Expanding your service offerings through a PEO partnership also establishes a strong foothold as a trusted advisor from the beginning of the engagement. Helping C-suite executives understand the breadth of services you can offer will demonstrate the full value of working with you.
That said, many SMB leaders lack a deep understanding of the details of insurance and the overall employee health benefits landscape. Become an open book to answer their questions. Break down plans in a way they can understand. Make the conversation about more than just the bottom line. Executives will start to see insurance in a new light and recognize its value – and yours – differently.
Do your homework
Talk about solutions in practical terms. Guided by your prospect’s company objectives, help them evaluate apples-to-apples comparisons and talk about the real impact on their budgets. Educate yourself on financial terms so you can speak their language. Don’t just discuss percentages – do the math and calculate real numbers. Knowing these figures will shed some light on the company’s health and benefits demands and the very real balancing act the C-suite must manage when weighing options.
Know where HR fits in
It’s tempting to aim your discussions at top-level decision-makers, but the company’s HR department can be your biggest ally…or stumbling block. Before heading into talks, learn more about the company’s structure. Who are the key decision-makers? Who has a strong influence? Bring in HR stakeholders early on and use their insights to drive your solutions. What is important to the HR department will likely align with leadership goals but may present additional considerations. Your job is to provide solutions for both – or a single solution that bridges the gap between the two.
Share helpful information
Busy C-suite executives don’t have a lot of time to pore over dense sales and marketing materials. They need quick hits of easily digestible, information-rich content. Short videos, guides, infographics, checklists, blog articles, and white papers can all communicate important points about employee health benefits and human capital management strategies in memorable ways. Broker-only PEOs like ExtensisHR produce lots of valuable, industry-specific content you can quickly and easily share with SMB leaders. Take advantage of these resources to advance the conversation with prospects.
Increase your credibility
C-suite prospects are more likely to listen to your message if they believe you are an authority.
Be proactive about helping your prospects overcome HR and employee health benefits challenges. Learn about trends in recruiting, employee benefits, and retaining top talent. Attend industry conferences, participate in discussion panels, and hold your own informational seminars. When speaking with prospects, present data or discuss case studies demonstrating the end result of a broker’s involvement. Your perspective and your results are key points of differentiation between you and your competitors.
Ask for a referral
Word of mouth is one of the most effective forms of advertising, leapfrogging every other form of outreach. Getting in front of the prospect with an implicit endorsement from a colleague puts you head and shoulders above brokers using an undifferentiated, “shotgun” approach.
SMB leaders are usually happy to share their experience with other professionals but making professional services connections may not be top-of-mind for them. Periodically prompt current clients to connect you with other executives who would benefit from your services. Their introduction could lead to valuable business opportunities.
Finally, focus on empathy
Shift your mindset from “growing your book of business” to “how many people can I help today?” Adopting a service-first mentality will re-frame your approach – something SMB leaders can feel. Position yourself as a supportive ally at every stage and use that perspective to guide every interaction with prospective clients.
See how ExtensisHR’s broker-only business model can help grow your book of business. Contact a broker success manager today.