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I’m a salesperson and I have no clients

By: Joe Goolsby, Regional Sales Director, Midwest Region

I’m a salesperson and I have no clients. That sounds a little bit like something you might hear at a support group, but in my case it’s true… though probably not in the sense that you’re thinking. But that’s because I have partners that I am very proud to do business with, and the distinction between a “client” and a “partner” is a very important one. 

Clients vs. Partners

Rather than give you a Webster’s Dictionary definition of the words “client” and “partner,” I’ll just give my personal take on the difference. A client is someone with whom you are exchanging products or services for payment, whereas a partner is someone with whom you are working together to find a solution that is mutually beneficial for both parties. In one, you are much more trying to extract value from the other party, whereas with the other, you are collaborating for shared success.

Now, there are some industries where the difference between a client and a partner is negligible. But, to me, those are more industries where you’re exchanging something tangible, something where it’s far more transactional. 

What the difference means in practice

What’s unique in the world of voluntary benefits is the need to provide far more comprehensive, multi-faceted solutions for the people you work with. As such, you simply won’t succeed by operating on the premise of providing service in exchange for payment. To succeed in the world of voluntary benefits you need investment from everyone involved, you need partners.

Think about how difficult it would be to have a successful enrollment, or effective employee communication, or even to offer benefits if the employer involved wasn’t invested. Likewise, if you are just going through the motions when offering benefits, you’re not going to go the extra mile to set up a benefits enrollment for success and you’re certainly not going to achieve your goals. The same can be said of your broker and enrollment partners when working on a case, you need investment from all partners to have any kind of success.

The need for a partnership extends beyond enrollment, too. Partnering to make sure employers and employees are set up for long-term success with billing solutions and multi-year strategies for ongoing enrollments will yield better results for everyone involved. Building relationships for the long-term also builds familiarity and a rapport that leads to success. None of this is possible if you are thinking of the parties involved as clients and not as partners (and treating them as such).

Changing your approach

Now, it may sound a bit like splitting hairs or simply playing with words to say that you won’t have favorable outcomes by thinking of the people you work with as clients. I suppose what’s really important is the underlying way in which you think about and approach these relationships. If you can emphasize collaboration, if you can make a concerted effort to listen to your partners and be willing to go above and beyond to meet their needs, that’s where you can truly find long-term success for everyone involved. The need for partnerships in the world of voluntary benefits is one of the things that I love about working in the industry and, because of it, I’ll gladly continue to be a salesperson with no clients.

Posted on March 01, 2018 in Sales Trustmark

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