| Blog

10 Sales Tips for Prospecting Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs)

Written by: Christina Merhar
June 23, 2014 at 3:00 PM

This article provides ten BTB sales tips for health insurance professionals on prospecting small and medium sized businesses (SMBs).


SMBs are the core of the US economy. They account for approximately half of all jobs, more than 40% of private sector payrolls, and 65% of new job creation. 

And yet, SMBs have been a difficult market for insurance professionals, as many SMBs have been unable to afford traditional group health insurance. However, new solutions such as defined contribution health benefits are opening the SMB market back up to health insurance professionals and creating significant opportunity.

1. Shift from Salesperson to Consultant

SMBs have a strong demand for educational outreach. Many of the tips to follow focus on solving problems (being a “consultant”) instead of just selling ( being a “salesman”). As such, you will become their go-to-person for changes with health reform, reporting, compliance, health insurance, and best practices.

After all, how do you know what health benefits to sell until you fully understand your clients’ needs?

2. Understand their Unique Challenges

A SMB may present a challenge, but what is the true challenge? Seasoned sales professionals will always say “the first question is never the actual question.” Follow up with 2-3 more questions to get to the real pain and the real need. 

3. Understand their Buying Process

Understand where the prospect is in their buying process, and who the decision makers are by asking these types of questions: 

  • Who will be involved in the decision? What are their steps to make a decision? 

  • Who are the most influential decision makers? At what stages should they be involved?

  • What does each decision maker want? What are his or her problems/needs?

  • What is the attitude of the most influential decision maker about your company and the solution?How do they feel about it?

Match the steps of your sale process to where they’re at in the decision-making process.

4. Use Education and Analysis

Once you understand their true challenges and their buying process, take an educational approach. Use specific numbers and analysis that help them solve their challenge.

5. Provide Value in Every Touch

Be helpful and add value in every contact. At first, don’t talk product. Rather, talk about their challenges and what benefits they are looking for. Don’t pitch the solution or product too soon.

6. Make the Right Offer

Make the right offer at the right time. At first contact, your offer may be a 5-minute phone call. The second offer may be a 30-minute in-person health benefits assessment, etc. Always know what your goal is for the outcome of the meeting.

7. Be Open and Honest

Integrity speaks volumes with SMBs.

8. Make Multiple Touches, in a Variety of Ways

It takes many attempts to get through to prospects …7, 8, 9, or more. It always takes more touches than you think. Use of variety of methods such as calls, email, and in-person.

9. Stay Connected to Old Leads

Take the consultant approach with old leads, too. Use new developments in health reform and defined contribution to make contact with a previously closed prospect. Business budgets change, the economy changes, and decision makers change. Unless specifically told otherwise, stay in contact even after a no.

10. Focus on Building Relationships

It may go without saying that relationships are central to successfully prospecting and selling health benefits to SMBs. After all, most insurance professionals are in the business because they relate well to people, help solve problems, and are skilled sales and business people. Here are quick ideas to build effective business relationships:

  • Establish a peer dynamic (e.g. don't talk over or under the prospect)

  • Align with the goals of the business by bringing new ideas to the table that help their goals

  • Resonate personally and emotionally... be genuine

  • Listen more than talk

What are your sales tips for prospecting SMBs? Leave a comment.

Get the free QSEHRA eBook

Additional Resources

Trying to decide which HRA is best for you? Take our quiz to find out.
Get our guide on how to offer health benefits with a small budget.