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Small Business Employee Benefits and HR Blog

5 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Small Business Clients

October 28, 2013
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It may go without saying that relationships are central to successfully prospecting and selling health benefits and defined contribution solutions to small and medium businesses (SMBs). After all, most insurance brokers are in the business (and stay in the business) because they relate well to people, help solve problems, and are skilled sales and business professionals. Whether you're starting out in the field or a seasoned professional looking for ways to stay at the top of your game, here are five best practices to building effective business relationships.

build better relationships SMBs

Tip #1: Establish a Peer Dynamic

As we wrote about recently, SMB owners value trusted peers and advisors. Being confident in the value you can offer from a business perspective and being confident in yourself personally will go a long way. Aim to come across as a trusted peer and consultant and not talk up or down to your prospect. This may mean tailoring your conversational style and physical appearance to your prospect's comfort zone.

Tip #2: Align with the Goals of the Business

Don’t just focus on the business's problems. Yes, you do need to focus on their problems to get to their pain and their true challenge that you will help solve. But also focus on future goals (growth, innovation, competitive advantage, and what ideas will be the ‘next big thing’ for their business). In addition to being a problem solver, you can start to bring new ideas to the table that align with the businesses goals will help you become a trusted advisor. And, your client will be more likely to use your services in the long-run if they trust you to bring solutions to their challenges, and bring new ideas to the table.

Tip #3: Resonate Personally and Emotionally

Find genuine ways to connect, as this will lead to real and long term relationships. The key word here is genuine. Everyone does this in different ways, and everyone can detect quickly if you're not being genuine.

Tip #4: Lead Masterful Conversations

Leading masterful conversations something that we all strive to do - it helps us connect to a prospect and truly understand their needs. It's not a script, a robotic set of questions. It is a genuine way of listening (the 'art of listening' to be cliché), and for many of us it takes a career to master. For example, google active listening or masterful conversations and you'll see the vast resources, exercises, books, and trainings available. This market exists because having masterful conversations does not come easy to most, but mastering conversations can significantly enhance business results. Here are a few best practices:

  • Avoid asking irrelevant or generic questions.

  • Be knowledgeable about your prospect’s background (take notes about them personally and professionally and refer to these notes in future conversations). 

  • Offer ideas. 

  • Ask questions. And, answer questions with questions. Dive into the real issue and the real pain. 

  • Don’t give up. Keep trying to reach the level of conversation that is needed to get to the deep conversation, and to the real issue. It takes time to develop these skills. 

Tip #5: Build a Personal Brand

Cultivate a reputation as an acknowledged expert in the field. Do this by creating relationships with other executives and industry influences. Utilize social media such as LinkedIn or industry forums to become a thought leader with peers (and clients). And, attend local networking events such as CEO networking groups, chamber meetings, or service group meetings in your community. 

Related articles on selling and prospecting health benefits to SMBs:

What are your strategies for building better relationships with small business clients? Leave a comment below.

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