The health insurance market continues to transform as competitors consolidate and customers’ expectations rise. Carriers need to deliver value to their customers – now. While small and mid-market accounts are the most profitable for carriers, the largest, most strategic accounts make up the greatest portion of membership. These large accounts are also critical to a carrier’s ability to drive scale across its network. How can carriers make sure they deliver enough value to not only attract but also retain these strategic accounts? The Alexander Group has boiled down the recipe for helping clients build and optimize their Strategic Accounts programs to three main actions:
1. Selecting the right accounts
What are the right accounts to include when building a Strategic Accounts program? Start by analyzing the largest accounts by members, subscribers or revenue. From there, define segmentation criteria to help narrow down your list. A variety of segmentation criteria could apply in addition to size of the account, including the growth opportunity within the account, the influence of the account in the market and the service intensity of the account. This approach applies not only to existing accounts but also to identifying potential prospects that meet both size and segmentation criteria.
2. Designing the right sales and service motions
Next it’s time to optimize the sales and service process for the Strategic Accounts. A well-defined process is one of the most important components of a Strategic Accounts program. It outlines a detailed, systematic approach for how to engage and deliver value to top accounts. It also provides internal rules of engagement for how Strategic Accounts resources should work together to deliver that value.
The key element to keep in mind when designing the process is to create interactions that align with the expectations and needs of top accounts. Precise design delivers value that not only attracts and converts prospects, but also engages current accounts to ensure retention as satisfied members of the Strategic Accounts program.
There are five critical stages in the health insurance sales and service process. Each stage below highlights key activities to help engage and retain Strategic Accounts:Prospecting: Proactively formulates a comprehensive and innovative strategy to meet identified prospects’ health care needs. Sales drives this motion but does so with significant collaboration from product, network, medical management and underwriting.
RFP/RFI: The RPF/RFI stage is less reactive because the Strategic Accounts team proactively developed the strategy and communicated it internally during the prospecting stage. Instead RFP/RFI focuses on developing thoughtful responses from subject matter experts (SMEs) based on the prospect strategy.
Finalist Presentation: While the prospect or consultant sets the agenda for the finalist presentation, it’s the Strategic Accounts organization’s responsibility to assemble the right cast and crew. This ensures a coordinated and rehearsed presentation, which crisply articulates the value of the carrier.
Onboarding: After a prospect decides to purchase, finalizing the benefits, providing consultative advice on benefit options and managing a timely and accurate implementation are critical drivers of the account experience.
Ongoing Service: Instead of reacting to account needs and resolving escalated service issues, value is delivered through a proactive understanding of the account’s business strategy with an emphasis on developing actionable recommendations to help meet account objectives.
3. Aligning the right set of resources to deliver
After identifying accounts and designing the sales and service process to align with customer expectations, the final ingredient is aligning the resources to deliver value at every stage of the process. The Strategic Accounts resources are the first point of contact with top accounts. They work together to bring the flow chart of process steps, activities and detailed rules of engagement to life and ensure account engagement each step of the way. While there are many resources that support Strategic Accounts, three roles are critical to program success. These resources work together to ensure seamless delivery of value-driven activities across the sales and service process. They are responsible for attracting and retaining strategic accounts.
Strategic Account Sales Lead – responsible for building relationships with key prospects, identifying account needs and developing a holistic solution offering that meets those needs.
Strategic Account Executive – responsible for further developing relationships with strategic accounts by gaining a deep understanding of the account’s business strategy and developing solutions to address needs.
Implementation Manager – responsible for managing the implementation process to ensure a timely and accurate implementation, including documentation of benefits and coordination of the internal resources needed to support data integration, account structure and benefit coding.
Following this recipe for success will set a solid foundation for building or transforming a Strategic Accounts program that delivers value to customers and positive business results to the health insurance organization – both through improved new business wins and retention of existing accounts.