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Top 10 Things I Learned at Benefits Selling Expo 2016

Apr 26, 2016

One might expect a health insurance conference to be boring. What? Shocker! As I embarked on my first Benefits Selling conference, I was hopeful, but expecting it to be like many others.

GOOD NEWS! It was SO much better than I expected (my article picture is from some other conference). Following are my top 10 AHA moments…

 1. Focus on the future and your network:

Congratulations to Benefits Selling Broker of the Year, Reed Smith of Cobiz. Here’s what he had to say: “It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the business. It is about where it is going and be that expert by surrounding yourself with the smartest people.”

 2. Changing times make you more valuable:

This one theme was consistent across all the speakers. Everything from politics and marketing, to technology and healthcare is shifting. This drives the need for better strategies and solutions to meet client needs.

3. The job market is undergoing generational changes:

In case you’re confused by all the change in your business, consider what futurist Jim Carroll told us: 65% of children in kindergarten today will work in a job that doesn’t even exist today.

4. Millennials are taking over, but they’re not insurance savvy:

According to Amy Christofis of ConnectedHealth, 1 in 3 American workers are Millennials making them the largest generation in the workforce. Still, 70% can’t define the word “deductible” and many are still on mom & dad’s health plan.

5. Politics are insane:

(OK, this wasn’t one of my key learnings, because I, like most Americans, kind of already knew this) Ari Fleischer, who spent years as the White House Press Secretary under George W. Bush, noted how entertaining it is to see that the two most outsider candidates are winning. The summary of his expert opinion is simple: “This race is nuts!”

6. “Employee Benefits” are getting a makeover:

The Benefits Selling Conference also reported on the annual MetLife Trend study. Jimbo Story presented again this year, and the study shows an ever-increasing number of employers, in all segments, are looking to expand their non-medical benefits. 

 7. Out-of-pocket costs are starting to hurt:

Jon Duczak of Fringe Benefit Group, highlighted how out-of-pocket costs continue to grow. He quoted that 1 in 5 adults spent at least 5% of their income on out-of-pocket costs and 13% have forked over 10% or more.

8. Benefits Selling is part art and part science:

Don Goldman, Word and Brown, is always a great storyteller and he really hit home with how to blend the art of selling with the science of sales. Facts and details are great but what people remember in the end is the story. I learned that it’s time to get back to the story or the consultative approach – and it’s time to step away from the spreadsheet.

9. Some Brokers need to change their selling style:

Reid Rasmussen of freshbenies noted, “Brokers today MUST become an end-to-end solutions provider, rather than just a product distributor.”

10. Stop focusing on the competition:

Finally, Kevin Trokey, Q4intelligence said it best, “if you are losing business to the competition, quit focusing on their business and start focusing on yours.”

Now it’s your turn! Were you at the Benefits Selling Expo? What was your big takeaway? Comment below or send me a note to!

Jo Ann

For over 20 years, Jo Ann has been helping brokers and employers develop strategies and benefit programs for their clients and employees. She takes a consultative, holistic approach to benefit design by providing relevant solutions for employees and ultimately cost savings for the employers. She can be reached at

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