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Broker Of The Year Finalist


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I was nominated in 2009 as Broker of the Year National. The five finalist we interviewed.

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Broker Of The Year Finalist

  1. 1. The authority for brokers and agents selling core, voluntary and retirement products Broker of the Year Finalists By Denis Storey | Published April 1, 2009 From the April 2009 Issue Harry S. Truman once said, "Men make history, and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.” We think we’ve found a few of them on the following pages. At least these are the ones are readers picked. And a lot of you spoke up this year. In fact, we received nearly triple the amount of nominations over last year’s debut Brokers of the Year in August. After much discussion and debate, our editorial advisory board managed to emerge with a list of five finalists this year. That’s right, finalists. See, we’re changing things slightly this year. From these five finalists, one will emerge as Benefits Selling’s first ever Broker of the Year. We’ll name the winner at April 2 at our fifth annual Benefits Selling Expo in Austin. You won’t want to miss it. Until then, I’d like to introduce you to this group or courageous, skillful leaders who are already changing things for the better at a time when we’ve never needed it more. Ted Bosse — What I’ve learned • Find and hire the best people you can, whether in the office or in the field, and give them the terms that make them want to always work with you. Sometimes money is the key ingredient but often it’s not. It may be flexible hours to attend a child’s school event. It might be making sure every enrollment is well organized so when an enroller shows up he or she can go straight to work without chasing down employees or being bored waiting for them to show up.
  2. 2. • Human resource managers mean well but often do not have the authority to require the conditions that make a voluntary enrollment successful. Meet the big boss and get their blessing on the agreement of working conditions. • Not everyone operates at the same ethical level. Many times we’re offered a marginal-to-poor enrollment from a broker with the promise of lots of business to follow. Too often after doing a great job on the loser case you do not get the follow-up calls for the cases that made it worth doing to begin with. • As much as you might want to, you can’t do business with every carrier. Pick the ones that make the most sense and be honest and straightforward with the others that it’s not going to happen. • Never forget what made you successful to start with. Generally we reach a level of success by doing the fundamentals. Too often when we get to a certain level we plateau and question why. Usually it is because we got busy or satisfied with our success and stopped doing the things that worked at the beginning. Hire people to do the things that keep you from the prospecting that created your success. • There will always be more work to do. Take time to enjoy life, family and hobbies. Find a balance. • When in the presence of highly successful people, ask questions and otherwise try to be quiet. You’ll learn more by listening and no one ever thought a quiet man a fool. • Always be willing to help a competitor when asked. It rarely hurts you and someday it will come back around. • Try to only do business with people you like, whether carriers, broker partnerships, clients or coworkers. Work is stressful enough and liking the people around you makes bad days better and good days great. • Be careful how you measure success. Jim Davidson — What I’ve learned Looking back, at this point in my 35-year, straight- line career, there are a few things that leave a mark. (Most of what I learned has been the hard way, from my own mistakes.) “Early on, I learned I was not well-suited to work for someone else. By age 25, I started my current business. Young people should assess early on if they want the organization environment, or to work for themselves. If they want to go on their own, start as early as possible, before they have other commitments or expenses, as it will be simpler. (Note I did not say easier.) “First is to have a bias toward action. Don’t get stalled in planning and making things ‘perfect.’ Achieve a result. “Do the important, difficult things first. Many times the successful person is the one who does things others don’t or won’t. “Listening is the most important part of benefit selling: Learn what the customer wants, and provide it. “As a business owner, the lessons came more slowly.
  3. 3. “The toughest for me was not to hire the skills or resume but to hire the person: the behaviors and personality. A friend, who runs a huge plumbing organization, taught me: ‘Hire people who are customer service-oriented. I can make anybody a plumber, but I can’t teach attitude towards customers.’ “The only organizational differentiators in our business are people. We invest in people, in skills and training. But it’s more important to invest in them personally, to give them opportunity to grow, and room to make mistakes. When they do err, support them, encourage them to find solutions immediately, and to tell the client. We teach team members not to be afraid to tell the client; many times we have a stronger relationship after we make and fix mistakes, because the client can now trust how much we care to make things right. “Mostly, the value of a business is in the clientele, not just new sales. Good clients will treat us well over time, and bring us more business. “What I’ve learned about myself is that my primary driver is to be part of a community of high-performing people, who want to do what is right, and do what brings value to their clients. My reward is having been able to provide an opportunity for our team members to create that community.” Jay Dye — What I’ve learned Execute the fundamentals I’ve learned it’s more effective to conduct enrollments at the worksite and insert technology at the proper time and place in the overall process. It’s important to remember that technology can assist, not replace, human interaction in the enrollment process. As part of the sale, human interaction can be the difference between an enrollment with 6 percent participation and 50 percent participation. A basic fundamental is to mandate that all eligible employees provide an accept-or-decline decision. This requires educating the client as to why proper communication of the plan and documenting employee elections is important. Worksite enrollments might seem intrusive, but will result in higher participation and reduce employee confusion. Remember, it’s about selling an employer- sponsored plan — take the concept seriously and the client will, too. Protect your underwriter Experience has taught me to focus on quality groups that represent an acceptable risk to the underwriter. Don’t try to put lipstick on a pig. Make sure the group will support the benefit offering and enrollment process and resist the easy sale of the wrong group, those that want to cut corners on proper communication. If the group is not committed to the process, a large “name brand” client could sink your firm and damage your underwriter. Know your administrators Take time to meet with and understand the job of each home office employee that works on your business. Understanding the internal administrative processes that affects my clients is critical to my success.
  4. 4. Hunt elephants I learned a long time ago that it takes the same amount of effort to sell a large group as a small group. In fact the large group might have a better understanding of benefit plans in general and more likely will have a better understanding of the payroll-deduction process. There are more elephants out there than you might think. Be a specialist Find a market or niche that is underserved and learn everything about that business, then stand tall as a specialist. Many large brokerage firms fail to provide niche services. Respect your employees It has been important to me to create a unique and comfortable office atmosphere where my employees can work as a team (and learn from each other). Provide incentives for all employees so everyone shares in the firm’s success. Work hard and play hard, and just have fun with your team. They deserve it. Importance of Mentoring I have been lucky to have a father who was a pioneer in the employee benefits business. Marshall Dye and his buddies, Turner P. Williams, Jim Hunt, Bill Gantt and others gave me a priceless education in the employee benefits business. It is important to share experiences (good and bad) with the up-and-coming members of our relatively small industry fraternity. The introduction of technology into our industry has provided us with exciting tools to help us work more efficiently; however, our industry has a rich history of personal relationships and client service. These old school concepts should be shared and respected. Steve Fallon — What I’ve learned • Relationships are the cornerstone of success. • Never burn a bridge. • Have fun. • Have balance in your personal and professional life. • Walk away from prospective clients who do not share your values for a positive business relationship. • Take care of your clients and the money will take care of itself. • Listen. • Help young people grow. • Lead by example. • Do what you say you are going to do. • Have a sense of urgency on behalf of your clients. • Laugh at yourself. Lisa Martin — What I’ve learned
  5. 5. • An advisor that seeks to serve clients (not sell them), is more profitable, more successful, and more powerful in the marketplace. If you are not 100 percent focused on providing a “WOW” client service experience, someone else will be. • Find the passion in your business, and tie it to supporting your clients. When an opportunity presents itself to exceed expectations, take it. • Learn to anticipate what issues a client might be facing within their respective industry and provide creative insight into solving these issues. Be extremely proactive in your thinking and your timing. • What got you here won’t get you there. It’s critical to constantly find ways to reinvent and improve yourself. When you think you’ve got it all figured out, keep looking. • Strong, solid relationships are never cultivated through e-mail and voicemail. If you expect $50,000 worth of business, learn how to develop $50,000 worth of face-to-face rapport. • Shut up and listen. It’s as simple, and as complicated, as that. • Hire only the best, most passionate people you can find. • Mistakes happen. The only thing the client cares about is how you’re going to fix it. • Instead of learning the tricks of the trade, make sure you take the time to actually learn the trade. • Drive fast and take chances.