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How brokers can address the needs of HR

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Check out this column in Employee Benefits Adviser

The HR department plays a crucial role in making clients’ and prospects’ benefits decisions. As a result, brokers are increasingly recognizing that to be able to solve benefits challenges for small and mid-sized businesses, they have to provide solutions to other HR challenges.

Because of this trend, more and more brokers are adopting HR technology solutions and providing them to clients as a part of their value proposition alongside their professional benefits and compliance consulting.

Competing on quotes alone generally isn’t enough to win an agent of record letter. Especially as employers face challenges that both impact benefits and are impacted by benefits — such as hiring, onboarding and retention — it makes sense for brokers to play a role in solving these administrative challenges.

That said, integrating an HR element into your sales process does represent a change in strategy. Here’s how brokers can think about this, and a few tips for selling to the HR department.

Reach HR where they are 
First, take the time to understand what challenges prospects are facing, and what they are getting — or not getting — from their existing broker.

In your first meeting, ask prospects not only about their benefits situation, but also their HR challenges. Seeking to understand their current position can present a multitude of opportunities to demonstrate your value. In many cases, neither the prospect’s benefits strategy nor their HR administration processes are optimized, and the HR lead isn’t aware of the many services a different agency would provide.

Understanding your own HR system
If you are already using an online HR system, or are planning to adopt one soon, it may have additional HR functionality beyond the benefits feature. Many systems available to small and mid-sized groups have applicant tracking, onboarding, PTO tracking, time tracking and offboarding features in addition to benefits administration.

If your agency isn’t already using the software to its full extent, this is a great place to start.

Using the software’s full functionality within your own agency will allow you to more confidently speak to the advantages of pairing benefits consulting and HR technology to streamline the full employee life-cycle and reduce pressure on the HR department.

Further, using the software’s full functionality within your agency means that nearly every person on your team will have insight into the system, allowing for a higher level of client service and success.

Address pain points, solutions 
After you’ve understood the prospect’s pain points during your first meeting with them, in the second meeting address the pain points the prospect shared and the solutions your agency will provide. In this case, you will want to ensure your proposal persuasively demonstrates the value of combining benefits expertise with HR software solutions.

This is where having a robust understanding of the technology is beneficial. Being able to explain the advantages of using a single system to manage the entire employee life-cycle — from a new hire’s first touch with the company, to benefits enrollment, to the COBRA process, is a significant competitive differentiator.

The takeaway is that addressing the full scope of an organization’s HR needs will continue to become increasingly important when it comes to winning new business. Currently, there is a window of opportunity for brokers who are on the cutting edge of this transition.

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