Are You Working With an Insurance Salesperson or a Benefits Consultant? Here’s How to Tell.

Today’s employers are screaming for an increased ROI on their employee benefits. They want an affordable option that takes care of themselves, their families, their employees, and their businesses.

Meanwhile, healthcare costs continue to spiral and the demands on HR have become increasingly complex. This puts employers in a difficult position having to navigate some very complicated and expensive circumstances.

Is it all about cost?

Every business needs to have some degree of control over these critical factors related to benefits and employees.

  • The cost of the benefit/insurance program
  • The time demands of service issues associated with the program
  • Clearly defined goals for the HR/benefit/insurance efforts
  • Their ability to attract/retain the best talent
  • The level of morale and employee engagement in the organization

Historically, insurance brokers have only focused on the first two items: The cost of the program and how it will be serviced.

But as the needs of employers change, so too should the level of discussion and the range of advice your insurance consultant brings to the table.

Sales vs. Consulting

An insurance salesperson will come in talking about two main things:

  • The Product
  • The Price

They may also try to sell you on their great customer service and the power of your relationship with them and their relationship with the carriers. But this is where it ends. 

An employee benefits consultant won’t come in talking at all.

And they won’t breeze in with a spreadsheet full of carriers, price points, and policy recommendations. No, a true benefits consultant will come to you with a list of questions.

In order to be able to offer ideas and advice on how to improve your business through a strategic employee benefits strategy, they need to hear from you. What are your most pressing issues? Your pain points? Those things that are not only keeping you up at night, but also keeping your business from getting where you want it to be?

Ye Olde sales pitch

“We have great relationships with the carriers! Let us give you a free insurance quote! We can beat your price!”

“Nobody provides better service than we do! We’ll be like an extension of your HR department!”

“Look at all of the ‘free stuff’ we’ll give you if you become a client!”

If you’re hearing these things, you’re probably working with a salesperson.

A new approach

True benefits consultants are much more interested in helping employers craft strategies for better alignment between HR and company goals.

Yes, they are committed to ensuring their clients have the right insurance solutions at the right price, but they also understand that insurance is just one part of the answer they must bring to their clients. These folks show up with a level of insatiable curiosity focused on uncovering what may be holding your organization back from reaching new heights.

This kind of conversation can cover anything from employee recruitment and onboarding to benefits communication to plan design to compensation structures to wellness programs and more.

The name game

Don’t be fooled by the terminology. Just because a broker refers to himself as a consultant doesn’t mean he is one. And just because a consultant refers to herself as a broker or agent doesn’t mean she’s simply swooping in for the hard sell. You’ll need to make your assessment based on the focus and level of conversation presented to you.

If it’s all about product, carriers, price, and spreadsheets – you’re probably working with a salesperson. Or a glorified distributor of carrier products.

If it’s all about you, your HR and company goals, your employees, your strategy, their process to help you with those things, and a clear distinction between the insurance carrier and their own advising services, you’re talking to a consultant.

Who would you rather work with?

A policy peddler who focuses on one year at a time or a trusted advisor who wants to help you create a long-term strategy for success?

Think about your current insurance agent. Which category does that person fall into? Is it time to take a look at some other options?

It can be daunting to think about breaking ties and starting anew. But it can also be a great opportunity for you to take your benefits, your broker, and your business to a whole new level of performance.


Photo by  diplomedia