Case Studies

Allstate® Benefits

Allstate Benefits (ABS) and its representatives (reps) offer worksite benefits through intermediaries (brokers and agents) who access the end clients (corporations). Reps meet with brokers to present their products, servicing capabilities, and pricing. Often, brokers redirect the Allstate reps to meet with other influencers in the broker organization.

ABS reps sought to urge brokers to send data to enable them to bid on the next business opportunity. However, without direct access to the client or knowledge of how brokers made their presentation, the ABS reps could only hope for a win. Brokers controlled the end client, who looked to the brokers for rates and values on spreadsheets to compare with other product providers.

This set-up hampered ABS sales.

To improve ABS’s approach, and secure pivotal meetings with the head broker, PleinAire took its reps through Securing Strategic Appointments® training. In a fast-paced, one-half day session, we developed a market targeting plan and built hypothetical broker challenges to solve. We developed a contact plan which provided each rep with persuasive messaging to open more broker meetings under favorable conditions. Within weeks of implementation, appointments soared threefold.

Next, we introduced the reps to Conceptual Selling® which gave them a solid meeting plan with action commitments to turn meetings into positive outcomes. As a result, ABS reps now secure more and higher quality meetings. Best of all, closing ratios improved.

“From a sales management viewpoint, I now have better tools to evaluate and manage my salespeople. Bill MacDonald provided us with a defined sales process where none had existed. It was an eye-opener to learn how to evaluate and sell prospects from a different perspective. Conceptual Selling is now the foundation for what we preach in the marketplace. I’ve already logged an ROI on the training─more cases closed, revenue generated. I expect revenue to increase two to three times over by year’s end.”

Rich Sutherland, Field Vice President, reacts to the training.

Executive Benefit Solutions (EBS)

EBS is a national consulting firm to Fortune 1000 and major, privately held companies. Its sale process requires navigating complex sales with multiple decision makers, as well as the need to initiate contact with C-level executives. PleinAire worked with EBS to develop a complete go-to-market approach, based on the MERGE process.

After careful analysis of the target market, we built a database of more than 8,000 prospects and designed an in-bound marketing strategy, which relied heavily on high-quality, educational content. When the project began, the EBS website had few visitors. Today, more than 3,000 viable prospects access content monthly, as they are nurtured through a permission-based sales process.

“We’ve learned through research that up to 70 percent of a buyer’s decision-making process completes before he speaks to an advisor or salesperson. That’s why we committed to improving our content marketing to drive web traffic. Bill MacDonald introduced us to an in-bound marketing strategy from his MERGE process and assisted in content development that increased our traffic from 100 hits a month to more than 3,000.

Better yet, we track data on content and web responses which help our consultants engage in more meaningful conversations with potential clients. Bill also implemented Strategic Selling® and Conceptual Selling® for our team. Now, we speak a common language and custom-build sales strategies for larger deals. Results have been gratifying as we’ve upped our close ratio.”

Chris Wyrzten, Managing Partner – EBS – Boston

Conrad Siegel Actuaries

Founded in 1963, Conrad Siegel Actuaries, a consultant-owned firm, is one of the mid-Atlantic’s largest employee benefits firms with more than 1,200 clients from companies with a single employee to Fortune 500 corporations with international branches.

Although the firm’s consultants did not see themselves as salespeople, as owners of the organization they are responsible for bringing on new clients and contributing to presentations to secure new business. One of the principals read MERGE, which triggered his desire to develop a process internally to win new client engagements. It is important to note that a certain portion of Conrad Siegel’s business comes through RFPs; its team needed a strategy to find out the needs of key decision makers.

PleinAire introduced Bill MacDonald’s MERGE process to help the team create its go-to-market strategy. We then implemented Strategic Selling® and Conceptual Selling®, Miller Heiman methodologies.

We’re changing our entire culture with the MERGE approach, and our partners are on boardnot easy to accomplish. Results for our firm have been tangible and significant; we’ve won specific cases with the MERGE approach. Bill’s follow up is also great. He proactively reaches out to us to learn how our sales opportunities are progressing, and offers additional help.”

John Jeffrey, Partner at Conrad Siegel Actuaries

“The training has already paid dividends. Soon after, we faced a major prospect opportunity, competing against five large consulting firms. With Bill’s help, we were able to successfully manage this complex sale using the Miller Heiman strategies and concepts. As a result, we felt more in control of the process. All of this happened within 90 days of attending Bill’s workshop.”

Bruce Senft, Benefit and Investment Consultant at Conrad Siegel Actuaries

PCVMurcor Real Estate Services

For more than 30 years, PCV Murcor has provided real estate valuations for the country’s largest lenders, servicers, brokers, and insurers. PCV Murcor focuses on delivering values and price opinions for a broad spectrum of commercial and residential properties including a full slate of real estate valuation products and consulting services. The company prides itself on client service, and on the accuracy and high quality of its valuations.

PCVMurcor’s business model does not include a dedicated sales force. Management is responsible for the sales process, and the CEO is the lead rainmaker and salesperson on key accounts. The company found itself challenged to identify the right decision makers and conduct more productive prospect meetings to move forward the sales process.

PleinAire took PCVMurcor’s management group though both Strategic Selling® and Conceptual Selling® workshops with the goal to develop a common language, repeatable sales process, and effective collaboration for key opportunities. Post-training, PCVMurcor adopted its new sales process tools into its CRM systems and made it a strategic part of its culture.

“Bill is a great trainer. His work enabled us to focus on our customers in a more strategic way. Even with our years-long sales cycles, we’ve already closed on new business. The training motivated the whole management team to come together around common goals, sales process, and a common language. I anticipate a substantial difference in revenue going forward.”

Rich Barkley, Executive Vice President

Lion Street

Lion Street is a national financial services distribution company, owned by fiercely independent financial advisors, which specializes in financial solutions for high-net-worth individuals, family offices, business owners, and corporate clients. Formed in 2010, it is managed by a team of experienced industry veterans with a significant equity investment from Austin Ventures.

As part of its growth strategy to attract advisor-owned firms, Lion Street reached out to PleinAire to conduct MERGE workshops throughout the country. Lion Street’s objective was twofold: 1) leverage the workshops to prove value to potential advisor-owned firms in its recruiting process; 2) bring added value to existing firms with fresh ideas on go-to-market strategies and differentiation.

The workshops succeeded in bringing to Lion Street a dozen new firms. Many firms retained PleinAire to build out their new strategies.

“These MERGE Workshops were a great success. I personally sat in on many and found myself taking pages of notes as Bill MacDonald shared his insights with us. Many of our firms, especially in the corporate markets, developed sales processes to help them stand-out from the crowd, as a result of Bill’s work.”

Bob Carter, CEO and Founder


The OneGroup organization, headquartered in Syracuse, New York, comprises 170 experts and specialists who solve business problems in insurance, risk management, HR consulting, retirement planning and much more. The company sought out our MERGE workshops because it was challenged to meet with high-level decision makers under favorable conditions.

Senior executives attended, had everyone read MERGE, and we conducted training around concepts. In particular, ONEGROUP needed guidance on how to engage in conversation around triggering events, and MERGE made a difference.

“Our sales process involves complex selling situations. We struggled to harness our producers’ and consultants’ activities to become more consultative without compromise to winning sales. It was not until we learned of Bill MacDonald and his MERGE system of selling that we began to get real traction in sales. His concept of slowing down, uncovering potential red flags, and creating a team strategy around client needs was a powerful learning for ONEGROUP. Now, after successfully testing the MERGE process on a several large accounts, we continue to perfect our adoption and use of its principles, and anticipate MERGE contributing to our future success.”

Ronald Heath, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer

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