Kurt Meyer – vice president of sales & operations, Group Benefits
I’ve been involved in selling group insurance products for some time with a number of different carriers, and recently became deeply immersed in physician group LTD products. As I came up to speed, three things immediately jumped out and hit me right between the eyes:
- This is a highly differentiated product area – a rare find in today’s disability marketplace.
- Brokers and reps who specialize in this area close over 2/3 of cases they work!
- Generalist producers close less than 10% of cases they work.
Honestly, I was blown away. Eight times higher closing ratio? I had to check the data a couple of times. How was this possible?
As I dug into it, an interesting picture emerged. In the 10% approach, physician-tailored products were being compared – more precisely, spreadsheeted – next to what I call ‘commercial LTD’ coverage – great products, but not designed to meet the specific needs of physicians. The other approach recognized and highlighted features physicians value in products specifically built for them. It sounds simplistic, but it was the order and positioning in which the unique value was presented that completely changed the conversation with physician decision makers.
Stuck at 10%: The Race to Zero
Generalists typically approach physician groups the same as any other industry group, and soon find themselves in what I call the dreaded ‘race to zero‘: collect the data, get a few quotes and race your competitors to the lowest price. It’s a cycle we all hate in insurance sales. This approach usually nets an 8-10% closing ratio. These brokers are often unaware of or untrained on the key differentiated value available in physician-focused products.
The 8X Advantage: Change the Conversation
The specialists, on the other hand, took a different approach. From the very first interaction with a prospect, they kept a few key points always front and center that completely changed the conversation:
- Position the solution as an IDI supplement, NOT commercial LTD. A highly differentiated group product should be compared to physician-tailored coverage they are already familiar with: individual disability that almost every physician leaves medical school with. Comparing it with standard group LTD is apples-to-oranges and ignores the added value of a specialized product.
- Establish early on a few of the key physician-specific provisions that make a huge difference for doctors in the event of a disabling incident: own occupation/specialty/sub-specialty definitions and part-time work requirements are the foundation. These are integral to physician-specific coverage products.
- Sell what you don’t have. Standard commercial LTD includes provisions that are actually detrimental to physicians at claim time. Understand what they are and ensure they are not part of the solution you offer.
- Strategically add riders and special provisions that are meaningful to physicians.
Following this type of approach, the specialists found they not only avoided the race to zero, but their physician prospects were not phased by a 25-30% price premium over commercial LTD, because of the high perceived value. Bottom line: 65% – 70% closing ratios and a price premium to boot. It’s almost too good to be true.
High Percentage Selling
In a nutshell, this is what I mean by high percentage selling. Changing the conversation with these specialized physician disability products in such a way that closing percentages skyrocket. Based on that experience, we initiated the High Percentage Selling discussion topics for brokers and financial planners. The initial focus is the Changing the Conversation topic. We’ll share key insights we’ve found to be effective in selling differentiated value to physicians, avoiding price wars, and closing a high percentage of cases, and invite you to share your successes and experience in selling to physicians as well.
To get the ball rolling, we created short, succinct summaries of each key point that you can quickly scan and digest. There is also a podcast series accessible on both iPhone and Android. To keep it real and hands-on, rather than create pristine studio recordings we followed our sales specialists into meetings, presentations, and discussions with prospects and partners, captured the sales gems, and packaged them into 5 minute segments that are quick and easy to digest.
A Dozen Differentiators
The first two segments in the discussion cover the two foundational points in a high percentage selling approach for physician LTD:
- Positioning it as a supplement to their individual disability policy, NOT as commercial LTD. This is a crucial distinction that if made from the very first conversation completely changes the conversation and keeps the sale out of the spreadsheet-driven race to zero.
- The critically important differences in own occupation/specialty/sub-specialty definition and part-time work definition.
The other 10 segments outline other critical elements of achieving high percentage sales, including the importance of selling what you don’t have, specialty riders, and other provisions that make a value difference to physicians.
These are exciting times to be involved in selling to physicians. Despite change and uncertainty, they still recognize and reward value in the products they purchase. Please join us in helping them find the greatest value for their insurance dollar. We welcome your feedback, ideas and experience.