3 Tips from an HR Director: How to be a Trusted Advisor
What’s the main reason employers choose to use an employee benefits expert? It’s to help them select and offer the right benefit plan for their needs. But, there’s SO much more to becoming a trusted benefits consultant to your clients.
What makes you stand out to current and prospective clients? As a former HR Director, I’m sharing 3 tips that will keep you in the driver’s seat as a trusted guide for your groups…
1. Actively listen
There are 2 ways to work with clients…
- “Get right to it” is a swift approach to simply tell clients what they need to do (because you already know based on your industry experience and knowledge, right?). While this works with some, it’s a presumptive approach. No matter how long you’ve been in your profession, there’s always a chance to learn. Your client may have needs that aren’t evident on the surface and perhaps they don’t realize you could help with certain challenges, so they don’t mention it. Not only is that leaving business on the table, but more importantly, it’s not giving the best solutions to your clients.
- “Listen without assumptions” is a practice of active listening. Many studies have shown the human brain can’t successfully do two things at once. So, when you’re listening to someone and already forming the answer or statement to throw out as soon as they stop talking, you aren’t actually capable of fully comprehending what they’re saying.
As a former Regional HR Director, it was ALWAYS a much better meeting when I felt like my vendors were truly hearing my concerns and asking good questions to dig deeper to the need. Most of them already had an idea of what my company and employees probably needed. They came to the meeting having done their research. But the best partners always listened first to be sure my true pain points were addressed before rolling into their ideas. When people feel respected and heard, your influence is maximized. Ask questions and clarify the information you’re being given. It will go a long way.
TIP! I was taught to silently repeat in my head exactly what a person was saying as they spoke. This allowed me to really pay attention and kept my brain from prematurely starting the answer formation process. This article in the Harvard Business Review may give you some ideas for your next conversation. Plus, this article from Wendy Keneipp has great tips to guard against overtalking with your clients.
2. Recommend topnotch partners
When you recommend vendors to your clients, be absolutely sure they can “walk the talk.” Whether you find new product/vendor ideas by referral or by research, you must have a thorough vetting process prior to connecting a vendor to your client.
Supplementary and ancillary benefits are now pivotal pieces to offset some of the holes in the major medical plan. Use or test products and services first-hand to have confidence they’ll take care of your clients. Look for partners with…
- Service recognition in their industry
- Convenient use and communication methods
- Experiential presentations such as demos, trials, videos, etc.
TIP! Your credibility can be greatly impacted by the quality of partners you recommend or work with. This Inc. article by Lolly Daskal outlines 10 ways to earn credibility. Make sure your recommended partners have earned it from you as well.
3. Own the “extra mile” mentality
Providing extraordinary service to your clients is one BIG action that will set you apart from your competitors. One particular broker I’ve worked with has done this - and then some. He literally did some old-fashioned hand holding with his group of about 100. He consistently worked to ensure the onboarding process was informed and smooth from the very beginning. Then, he coordinated a plan to get me in front of the group to explain services, answer questions, and give instruction so they’d be successful with the services we provide as a vendor.
In today’s busy world, it might not seem the best use of your time to take this extra care with your clients. But I can assure you he’s the kind of broker I would work with over and over again - I’m betting his clients feel the same way.
Show your clients you’re dedicated to jointly taking care of their employees. You’ll build strong business relationships for the long-haul.
TIP! Constantly educate yourself on new services and strategies. This article can help you evaluate new technology and this article highlights the mindset of a broker vs. a consultant.
Now it’s your turn! How do you go the extra mile for your clients and prospects? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.