With USAble Life’s focus on selling ancillary through Blue plans, the company relies on industry veteran Julie Marshall to lead the complex partner management and development function. This accomplished strategic thinker and leader is advancing partner relations and business results further than ever for USAble Life and its partners.
Julie recently shared her perspectives on partner relations.
Q: What was the motivation to establish a partner management function at USAble Life?
JM: The partner management function has existed at USAble Life and LSV for many years. It gained more focus in early 2017 when our board challenged us to drive additional growth. After an extensive market assessment, we held more than 50 meetings with 45 Blue plan representatives to develop partner-customized, integrated growth plans. We now have joint goals with each partner through 2021 to help ensure we grow the business in a manner consistent with our financial goals.
Q: What role do the partner governance teams play?
JM: The partner governance teams established in 2017 meet quarterly to review our strategic direction, sales and premium income goals, and facilitate executive-level sponsorship, communication, and reporting. Governance meetings are a vital forum for openly discussing the status of projects, addressing barriers that can keep us from being successful, and responding to changes in the market.
Q: What are some specific ways you advance partner relationships to achieve optimal results?
JM: It goes without saying that our relationships are open and have a lot of give and take. To help assure we are on track, we document and measure our work in strategic plans and reporting, rather than from the the sides of our desk. We’ve worked hard to establish a partner management structure with governance meetings that give us a forum in which to talk candidly about sales results, roadblocks, vulnerabilities, and sales strategy. We agree on direction, and if something is not happening, we know about it and work to find a solution.
Q: What are some of the successes that have come out of the partner governance process?
JM: We have completed several projects that are the result of working through the governance process. Partner management allows us to work collaboratively and, together, we have made real enhancements. These include improvements in the way our Florida retail products are sold, the recent launch of USAble Life-branded life and disability products in Florida, service model enhancements in Arkansas and North Carolina, and extensive cobranding with most partners. In Hawaii, we are very engaged with HMSA in marketing Oral Health for Total Health and LSV Connected Care, ℠ as well as the development of custom packages to sell in that market. We’ve also enhanced our partnership model with the addition of Jane Miyake, a previous HMSA vice president who now helps us execute our strategy with HMSA in Hawaii.
Q: What do you want our partners to remember about working with USAble Life?
JM: That we have best-in-class relationships with each of our partners and execute well on all aspects of the partnerships. We want to succeed on their behalf to help them be more effective in the marketplace, especially competing against multiline carriers and even against single-line carriers. We’re focused on being there with the right products, the right processes, the right service, and competitive prices.
Q: Is partner management at USAble Life primarily you?
JM: In addition to Jane Miyake, I also have help from Kia Webb and 38 other talented people from all levels across USAble Life and our Blue plan partners who help make us successful. We’re busy, but it’s fun! I enjoy it, because it’s all about our partners and our people working together to achieve our common goals.
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