Why I don't think you're special and need to pivot to grow 😉

Uncategorized Jul 24, 2020

You're not that special.

Too candid?

But seriously. This year hasn't gone according to plan for anyone. Anywhere.

Your process to woo prospects and serve clients isn't so "special" that it should survive intact this year if you want to hit your goals.

I work with teams adapting to sell (and advise) virtually and see different mindsets even within the same company.

Some are pivoting faster than others. Have you?

People have business problems that you can solve. Their options?

  1. Keep an inferior provider or solution and accept the consequences
  2. Wait 6-18 months until you can take them to TGI Friday's or have a "proper" strategic planning meeting in a conference room before you solve the problem
  3. You solve their problem over Zoom

Resisting change or being a bit snarky about 2020 makes you normal.

If you hear yourself saying that your prospects/clients won't adapt, call me. 

I'll remind you that you're not that special.

Then I'll encourage you...

Go on...

Engagement Results and a Challenge

Uncategorized Jul 23, 2020

Who needs to hear what you have to say, but needs to hear it differently? ‍

I took my own advice to test engagement and added a video to my weekly email last week.

Same message, but a different format, with super interesting results.

Slightly fewer people opened the email...but...

3x as usual engaged & responded about what was/wasn't working for them

Most weren't even subscribers who typically open the email. 

I find that fascinating and a good reminder to make sure you've tried multiple options before throwing in the towel and proclaiming that NOTHING is working.

It doesn't matter how many emails you're "pushing out"...

Engagement is the most important metric.

The second thing on my mind is the importance of alignment with your team. You need to clarify and verify what they need you to do "more of" and "less of" to move your collective goals forward.

Make it ok for them to tell you the truth by giving some options.

This isn't about anyone being wrong...

Go on...

Improve Engagement: 3 Tips in 3 Minutes

Uncategorized Jul 13, 2020

Who needs to hear what you have to say but needs to hear it differently? ‍ I took my own advice to test engagement and added a video to my weekly newsletter.

Same message, but a different format, with super interesting results.

While slightly fewer people opened the email...3x as usual engaged and responded in detail about what was/wasn't working for them. Most weren't even subscribers who typically open the email.

The top question I get from brokers and benefits solutions is about connecting and engaging with potential customers.

What's the best way to get "in" with a broker?
What technique works best with a cold lead?
What's better during a pandemic? Email? Phone? LinkedIn?

Are you wrestling with this and are frustrated you're not making progress? What can you try differently this week?

3 tips to get your energy and momentum back up:

Personalize and diversify your communications
Stop guessing and pay attention to what works
Get specific about the problems you can solve

Join the fun...

Go on...

I skipped my broker's barbeque for love and margaritas

Uncategorized Jun 02, 2020

25 years ago I planned to go to a favorite broker's barbecue. A friend asked me to stop by the Union Street Fair in San Francisco on the way.

I met a guy in the margarita line and he sprung for the fancy signature glass. John and I have been together ever since.

Relationships between brokers and carrier partners take twists and turns and there are a lot of variables that go into effective partnerships. 

I've been intrigued (and encouraged) by how many brokers have been watching the replay of my latest Baffled by Brokers session. I suspect it's because they know it's hard getting the right product to the right customer at the right time. They're also curious what advice I'm doling out about them to benefits solutions. 

Missed it? Check it out here and let me know what stands out or what I've overlooked. 

Effective collaboration is more important than ever.

My advice? Stop assuming that there's one...

Go on...

7 ideas if you're up for the all-you-can-eat buffet

Uncategorized May 20, 2020

The following is an excerpt from my May 19th weekly email. I cautioned readers up front that it was a true miscellaneous thought download. Enjoy! Subscribe here

Navigating shelter-in-place and information (& emotion) overload feels hard because it's hard. May I present you a participation trophy?

In many ways, with no place to go, life's never been so simple.

On the other hand, I'm having a tough time turning my brain off.

So. Much. Thinking.

It's a different kind of tired than I used to feel 2 years ago when I was doing risky things like flying around the country meeting with people. 

This week's email is an all-you-can-eat buffet. I have a lot of thoughts that I need to download and test with you.

The positive? Something for everyone.

Downside? It might feel too long, chaotic and unfocused...like the feeling I get at brunch when looking at sushi, french toast and potato salad. 

Scroll for a glimpse of what's on my mind. And...

Go on...

Today's pandemic challenge? Leading while learning 🤓

Uncategorized Apr 29, 2020

2020 goals hadn’t included running a consulting and crisis (and psychic) hotline out of my dining room…Consider me the EAP plan for the industry. This week’s pattern?

The novelty of shelter-in-place is gone.

Stress is as experts wrestle with how to guide customers without models, benchmarking and 5-year strategic plans.

My advice? Don’t waste energy worrying about what your client will think when they find out you don’t have all the answers in a global pandemic.

Nobody has done this before. Nobody has the “right” answers that can be audited and validated, today, when decisions have to be made.

Clients hire you to be led, and they fire you to be led.

They never cared as much about your whizbangcontrabulator risk machine as you did. They valued how you led them through the decision-making process. As you did confidently ... with your tools.

Now’s the time to rely on your skills and available resources. Walk the client through what you know,...

Go on...

Don't hoard toilet paper or good ideas 💡

firm operations sales Mar 18, 2020

I'm checking in from the Bay Area where I'm "staying-in-place" for at least three weeks with the husband, kids (21 & 16) and 2 foster puppies.

We're already discussing the "family tattoo" we're each getting at the end of this adventure. Suggestions? 

I've been trying to decide whether to work or sanitize our canned goods. ‍Do people really need an update from the BenefitsLady in the midst of this chaos? I've rewritten this 10 times the last few days.

Here's my current thinking. Your clients are stressed. My clients are stressed. There are things we can do and offer that will help others. We shouldn’t hoard toilet paper or our talents. Now is the time to crowdsource ideas and positive energy in the employee benefits community.

It will be different, but let’s stay engaged and connected.

This morning I caught up with an industry friend for an hour for a casual Zoom coffee. I’m looking at my calendar and scheduling connections with people who...

Go on...

Do you celebrate the badass?

Is "risk-taking" rewarded in your office?

How about celebrated?

We've been talking about the employee benefits strategic planning cycle. Our industry needs to change and that involves some risk.

Lately I'm hearing variations of these themes:

  • Practice leaders want their teams to be more assertive & innovative.
  • Teams want "management" to get focused and make creative investments.
  • Benefits Solutions are frustrated brokers aren't quicker to adopt new offerings.
  • Benefits Solutions & Brokers complain that their mutual clients are afraid to make changes.

We're a group that takes pride in protecting our clients. The insurance industry beckoned us saying "hey, if you like certainty and avoiding risk, come on over and build a career over here" and now we're surprised at how easily we can talk ourselves out of trying something new if we're not careful.

You know I'm right. At least a little.

When someone introduces a new solution or tackles a challenge, does...

Go on...

2 tips to increase confidence in a strategic planning meeting

Uncategorized Feb 20, 2020

In a prior post, I asked you to pay attention to a critical number and that email generated a lot of conversation. #TTFR

What triggered the most feedback? 

You might be too light on thinking time if...

You haven't factored in the team's (yours and the client's) experience levels and mindset. Industry veterans don't realize how their desire to protect the benefits program from disruption is a roadblock to progress. How will this impact your client, if at all? #blindspot

I don't have a magic wand and we can't give ourselves brain transplants. We CAN try a few tactics to get unstuck.

Be honest

Don't pretend you're comfortable if you're not. You can acknowledge to colleagues, benefits solutions and even (gasp) the client, that some aspects of innovation push you into an atypical sandbox.

You're a protector, after all, committed to steering your client away from risk. It's not a surprise that introducing unproven (at least to you and your firm)...

Go on...

1 critical number to monitor before a strategic planning meeting

firm operations growth Feb 13, 2020

Next up? Strategic Planning

Did you catch Bill Murray's Super Bowl commercial? The movie Groundhog Day reminds me of the Employee Benefits lifecycle. We recover from the "busy season" and launch into the "strategic planning" cycle with clients. Rinse and repeat.

Didn't we just update that PowerPoint deck? Erg. Here we go again.

There's a number I'd like you to pay attention to as you're collaborating with your team for this next phase in the Benefits cycle.

What is your thinking to formatting ratio?

I've noticed that some teams spend more time formatting their PowerPoint to look strategic than thinking strategically about their client's priorities.

Where would your clients fall on the chart?

It's important to present ideas in a modern and professional format. However...

Clients don't hire you to create PowerPoints. They want your guidance and PowerPoint (or whatever you use) is simply a tool to support a strategic conversation.

You might be too light on thinking time if:

  • Someone...
Go on...