ShiftShapersCoverArtThis week on ShiftShapers, Kevin Trokey joins us to share strategies for building a market-competitive insurance agency. Kevin is a founding partner and coach at Q4Intelligence, a consulting firm dedicated to removing the barriers that keep independent benefits and insurance agencies from reaching their full potential.

Kevin reveals how his extensive experience as a broker and a principal helped him develop the firm’s unique approach.  Kevin talks about a common mistake most agencies make: focusing their marketing on their own story, rather than that of the consumer. Consumers aren’t looking for you to look exactly like every other provider out there; they want to know which agency can creatively and efficiently help them solve their problems.

Kevin discusses importance of agencies becoming more competitive by realizing their true purpose – helping business owners achieve what they really want. He also addresses the role of increased employee engagement and improved collaboration between the service and sales parts of business in boosting overall agency success.

 

What You’ll Learn From this Episode:

  • How Kevin’s extensive experience as an agency principal helped him to develop his transformational methodology.
  • Why the traditional website design of agencies can off-putting for consumers looking for a solution.
  • The often self-imposed barriers that keep agencies from taking control of their business.
  • The benefits of separating the product and consultative stages of the process.
  • The necessity of building community amongst agencies.

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On this episode of ShiftShapers, Jessica Waltman joins us for her quarterly visit. She’s an expert on all things legislative and a Principal at Forward Health Consulting. If the twists and turns on Capitol Hill have you scratching your head, Jessica will help you make sense of recent events.

The Republican led Congress and President Trump decided to pull legislation designed to reform the Affordable Care Act. Contrary to common media messages, this bill would not have repealed the ACA. As a reconciliation bill, it was inherently limited. No one really liked the bill and attempts at compromise continued to anger opposing factions in the House. Ultimately the bill was pulled. Elected leaders on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue are now making efforts to revisit health care reform. The American public will have to stay tuned.

In this first of a two-part series, Jessica explains just why the reform attempt failed. She’ll shed light on what we can expect as lawmakers return to the drawing board. Should President Trump proceed as cautioned and just let the ACA implode? Jessica walks us through that approach and explains the regulatory steps that can be implemented now to make the ACA more responsive to market realities.

 

What You’ll Learn From this Episode:

  • What exactly happened with the Republican’s health care bill.
  • Whether or not the effort was doomed to fail from the beginning.
  • Regulatory reforms that can be made without legislative involvement.
  • Whether the PPACA is actually imploding.

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On this episode of ShiftShapers, Tobe Gerard shares valuable insight into how she built a successful agency specializing in long-term care insurance. She had 20 years of experience in the insurance industry before starting her firm, and for the past 15 years, she’s built a highly efficient, effective and successful agency using a unique strategy.

Rather than finding prospects directly – as is the case with most practices – Tobe took a different route. Instead, she cultivates relationships with other professionals, including financial planners, life insurance brokers, accountants, and others. Her network continually refers clients to Tobe as a subject matter expert in long-term care insurance. Once the prospects began flowing, she developed a multi-part strategy to convert prospects into clients.

Join us to find out how Tobe was able to shape her successful referral-based, long-term care specialty practice and how it is doing in today’s environment. Learn which tools and techniques are most effective for working with long-term care clients and prospects, and why the current trend of using riders on life plans may not always be the best solution for your clients.

 

What You’ll Learn From this Episode:

  • How Tobe was initially introduced to the insurance industry.
  • How she was able to build a referral-only practice.
  • How Tobe creates new sources of referrals for her agency.
  • Tools and techniques for working with long term clients.
  • What “Invisible Coverages” are.

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Today’s advisors are being asked to do more . . . and often – with less. Can a CRM help increase your effectiveness along with your practice’s efficiency?
Commission compression, client expectations of broader and deeper service levels and an ever more complex industry have all put pressure on benefit advisors. In many practices, this has had a significant effect on profitability. On this episode of ShiftShapers we explore the wide world of CRM systems. With a little bit of work, the right system can help your practice stay focused while delivering better service.
Ryan Pinney, President of Insureio, joins us on this episode to talk about how new CRMs targeted specifically at insurance agents, advisors, and other professionals are changing the practice management landscape. A great CRM can save you from spending the bulk of your time managing client data rather than engaging with clients themselves.

Ryan talks about how some of the most successful agents have been adopting new technologies for the past decade, giving them a leg up. We discuss how the average age of agents in the insurance industry affects our willingness to integrate new technologies into our practices, and what to look for in a CRM if you’re new to the tech.

CRMs can help you maximize your sales time, keep up with clients, and prospect more effectively. Ryan describes several different CRMs and the rules-based software you can use to streamline your entire selling process. We also touch on why you must get a CRM that is explicitly secure enough for HIPAA guidelines.

What You’ll Learn From this Episode:

  • Why many salespeople only spend 40% of their time selling (when they should be spending 70-90%).
  • How operational change has been slower to effect the sales cycle than other aspects of the business.
  • How agents or advisors can begin putting their existing business onto a CRM.
  • The pros and cons of cloud-based CRMs and hardware-based CRMs.
  • The essential security questions you must ask before choosing a CRM to ensure that clients’ data is as secure as possible.

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As “wellness” evolves to “wellbeing” many savvy advisors are adding a financial component. The problem is pervasive and expensive for employees and employers, but new advisor-driven solutions are coming to market.
Jameson Fauver, Director of Business Development at Kashable, joins the ShiftShapers podcast this week to discuss why financial health is the big problem that nobody is talking about. We will learn how a seemingly simple issue faced by millions of employees can be helped by new services coming to the employee benefits space.

The problem with financial wellness is surprisingly large. Seventy-six percent of American workers live paycheck to paycheck. Over half of these workers have less than $1000 in savings. When emergencies hit, employees may have limited options because traditional banks do not offer unsecured loans to consumers. Employees generally turn to high-interest credit cards, loans against retirement plans, or payday lenders. None of those options provide good choices for employees and the financial stress that comes with them impacts both wellness and productivity.

Employers can offer low-cost, socially conscious solutions that solve a needed problem. Jameson provides several solutions that benefit advisors can package into their offerings for employers. There are three channels that advisors can explore when approaching the benefits of a financial wellness program. We dive into these simple, common sense solutions that advisors should definitely consider.

What You’ll Learn From this Episode:

  • An overview of the financial problem that employees are facing that no one is talking about.
  • How employees with low credit scores can be helped with financial wellness benefits.
  • Why payday loan programs are the worst options for employees in a financial emergency.
  • How financial wellness programs integrate with other employee benefits.
  • The best way for advisors to position these benefits when approaching clients.

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This week on the ShiftShapers podcast, we speak with John Park – Chief Strategy Officer at Alegeus. As the Trump administration transitions to power in Washington, there have already been serious signals in the consumer-directed marketplace. John shares his views of how consumerism in healthcare may change and how that will impact the future of healthcare services.

Incorporating and driving more individual responsibility in health care decision-making is at the heart of the consumerism movement. We explore two elements of modern healthcare consumerism and trends that are changing the marketplace.

We also discuss the existing tools that are changing to help the consumerism evolve. We learn that while tools are an important part of helping to build consumerism confidence, there are some challenges as well. We’ll talk about both areas and look at how current products, services, and software innovations are trying to address the concerns.

What You’ll Learn From this Episode:

  • An explanation of what consumerism in healthcare means.
  • Current trends and predictions regarding the future of HSAs and HRAs.
  • Healthcare tools that consumers are currently requesting.
  • The opportunities for advisors in the HSA environment.
  • Whether employees with high deductible plans forego needed care and the impact of that behavior on future healthcare costs.
  • How plans can incentives consumerism with employees once plan maximums have been exhausted.
  • The importance of data and benchmarking in assessing plan efficacy.

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Is there a better way to position wellness programs with employers and what do advisors need to know about the evolution of those programs?

This week on the ShiftShapers podcast, we delve into strategies that advisors can use to position wellness programs and help employers improve employee engagement in those programs. Andreas Deptolla, the Cofounder and COO of Thrivepass, walks us through how first-generation wellness differs from what’s available in the marketplace today.

Companies used to view their wellness programs through a lens of return on investment. In recent years, there has been a shift from the quantitative focus on wellness to a more holistic approach some refer to as “wellbeing”. Andreas provides an expert take on how advisors can help employers determine the real-world value of wellness programs since tradition ROI metrics are difficult to calculate.

The key to the success of any wellness program lies in the rate of employee engagement. Today’s programs are much more expansive and encompassing than merely suggesting people skip the elevator and instead take the stairs. Andreas shares why the older approach is ineffective and offers tips for advisors to help their clients improve engagement. He also shares talking points for advisors to use in discussions with C-level executives so they can help prospects and clients understand the broader benefits to employees and the effect that has on their companies.

What You’ll Learn From this Episode:

  • The difference between wellness and wellbeing and how programs are transforming in the workplace.
  • Whether any wellness program can provide a reliable ROI.
  • How advisors can position wellness programs to show value for employers.
  • The importance that flexibility in wellness programs has on driving engagement.
  • What a universal benefit fund is and how will it drive the future of wellness programs.

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This week on the ShiftShapers podcast, we revisit an interview with Rick Bauman, head coach of Intellectual Capital Coaching Corporation, to discuss the importance and role of culture in our businesses. He’ll explain why culture defines your organization and is the biggest differentiator in an age where differentiation is a huge challenge for many organizations.

In many practices, the laser focus on strategy overshadows culture – a critically important component of business. Rick discusses how organizational culture develops and why it’s critically important to individual practices and organizations alike. This episode will help you understand, define and sharpen your culture to deliver superior results.

At the end of the interview, learn how to get a free copy of Rick’s Cultural Engagement Assessment Tool which will help you create a starting point for improving your culture. This is a special exclusive offer for ShiftShapers listeners.

What You’ll Learn From this Episode:

  • A precise definition of culture as it relates to operating your business.
  • How culture is created within organizations.
  • Whether culture can be measured in order to track its effectiveness.
  • The correlation between engagement and profitability.
  • The importance of giving feedback to your employees.

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Commission compression is causing advisors to rethink their business model – especially looking a few years out. One option is to shift to a more consultative fee-based motif. Our guests, Mike Grinnell and Kirsten Tudman of CPI-HR, are among the handful of advisors at the forefront of this shift.

They join us today to discuss the impetus for the change as well as some lessons learned along the way. They also take us through what the employer conversation sounds like and what kind of questions and objections advisors can expect. We also explore some of the current state regulatory barriers and how those might change. Listen in to learn more and to kickstart the fee-based discussion in your practice or agency.

All of us at ShiftShapers thank you for you continued support. We hope you enjoy holidays with family, friends, great food, and this encore episode:

What You’ll Learn From this Episode:

  • Mike and Kristen’s background as traditional commission-based producers.
  • Their “Aha!” moment.
  • How ACA affected their practice.
  • Their typical client.
  • Whether the shift to fees work with all clients.
  • How the state statutes and regulations play in the process.
  • Whether they have a written agreement and what is included.

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On this episode of ShiftShapers, we are stepping out of the realm of employee benefits, insurance and financial planning to discuss the ultimate differentiator for all businesses – customer service. Peter Shankman is the author of a new book, Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans.

As an international consultant, serial entrepreneur, angel investor, corporate speaker, founder of Help A Reporter Out and The Geek Factory, Peter knows how to create zombie loyalists and why they are key to your success. As parts of our business become more commoditized, Zombie Loyalists can be the secret weapon that will help to build and sustain your business.

We begin by asking Peter a question we never thought we would ask anyone on the podcast. Peter explains how to create zombie loyalist embryos and how to feed and care for them as they turn into single-minded advocates for your practice. We also chat about how you can lose their loyalty and what to do when that happens.

All of us at ShiftShapers thank you for you continued support. We hope you enjoy holidays with family, friends, great food, and this encore episode:

What You’ll Learn From this Episode:

  • Peter’s background as a serial entrepreneur.
  • Why he chose to use the word “Zombies.”
  • How a jacket and an airplane trip crystalized an idea.
  • How to incubate, care and feed your Zombies.
  • How to create small instances of personalized “Wow!”

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