Chris Perrera is Director of Proposals and Pursuit Management at ConnectYourCare. He combines project management, sales, writing, and even statistics analysis to produce the best possible client proposals. Listen as he talks about the importance of data security, implementation services, and relationship building in the health care benefits arena.
Carla: Hello, I'm Carla Wardin, and I'm the host of the ConnectYourCare podcast. I'm talking today with Chris Perrera, who is director of proposals and pursuit management. Hello, Chris, how are you?
Chris: I'm well, thanks. Good morning.
Carla: Good morning. Chris, can you please tell me about yourself and your work?
Chris: Okay, sure. I'd be happy to. I've been here at ConnectYourCare for about a year, just under a year. So I'm relatively new to the organization. And my work is, you know, it's sort of multi-faceted. I think of myself as a project manager, or I think of myself as a salesperson, as a creative person, and sometimes a statistician.
Carla: You got it all.
Chris: Yeah, there's a lot of different skills I have to kind of draw on to make sure that we get proposals out to clients that, the right information and are persuasive for them to understand ConnectYourCare.
Carla: That is interesting. So these proposals to the clients, for someone who wasn't familiar with what your job entails, what would you say that that consists of?
Chris: So our role really is to be an extension of the sales team, right? So what we do is we partner with sales to write a response to an RFP that is persuasive and compelling, and really sort of draws out the differentiation that ConnectYourCare can bring to bear to the client or the prospect. Our role is really focused on getting the opportunity to the finalist stage. I mean, it's the sales team and, you know, Barb and Glen and people like that, that really kind of negotiate the final, you know, terms and conditions and close the business, right? But it's our job to really help whittle that list of contenders down to a small list, a manageable list for the prospect so that we can go in and really talk to the client about how we can solve their problems or meet their needs.
Chris: I think that's kind of it in a nutshell. There's a lot of pieces to that, but that's kind of an overview.
Carla: Yes, lots of pieces to that, including being a creative writer, which I really appreciate. How did you become interested in working for ConnectYourCare and doing this in the first place?
Chris: So I've had a pretty varied background and I've done a lot of different things, and I think that the interests that I have are kind of, you know, a little bit expansive, I would say. And I think that I've had an opportunity to do so many things, and so it's almost like the perfect storm of opportunities in my past had put me in a perfect position to help ConnectYourCare. So you know, I've done a lot of things in healthcare, right? My whole career has been in the healthcare space, but I've touched a lot of different places in that sphere, if you will. I've worked in pharmaceutical sales and medical device sales, and then I took a quick turn to technology, and I became, you know, I worked for a small firm that was doing some stuff in motion capture in the animation industry, and I spent a lot of time running around the world introducing some of the technology into the medical spaces. It was imaging technology that enabled, for example, 3-D renderings of baby faces when you've had an ultrasound, for example. So from there to working for a company like IBM, where I was taking a lot of intellectual property, doing research and baking that into the healthcare life sciences domain, and part of that role required a lot of writing. And you know, there was journal articles to write, there were RFPs to respond to, and I got to really draw on that part of me that really kind of enjoys communicating via the written word. And that's always been something that I've liked to do, and so that really kind of was the first opportunity in a professional environment to do that, and then all of my subsequent positions had some element of writing involved. Got my tops in the RFP space itself, and then I came to ConnectYourCare. ConnectYourCare was always on my radar and I began to, you know, read more about the company and to research it a bit more. And it became on my target, you know? It became a place that I wanted to work because of its reputation in the marketplace and the quality that I associated with this industry was represented well by ConnectYourCare. So that was really the impetus to come here.
Carla: You mentioned that part of your job involves talking about how ConnectYourCare differentiates itself from other companies and in the marketplace. During your year here, what have you seen in that area?
Chris: Oh, there's so many ways. I mean, I think we're a very versatile company and I think that we've got a lot of expertise in a lot of areas that really matter to clients. So I think one of the most important things to understand is first of all, what's important to the client. But key areas where we differentiate would include things like our security. You know, we're high trust CSS certified, which means that we've got the very best and I think the most robust security protocols to ensure that your data and your confidential information, your PHI is all safe. And we go through a lot of external audits to achieve that certification, and we are alone among our direct competitors that have the certification. And so, I think it's a signal to companies that your data is secure with ConnectYourCare. I think it's one of the reasons that the nation's largest and most recognized names, you know, do business with us in financial services, in technology, in healthcare, in government and in education. I think that the security really plays a big role in that, in winning those kinds of clients.
Other areas where we differentiate, I think, are in our implementation services. We're very good at bringing on large, complex clients. We've got, you know, very rich and robust project management skills and methodologies that we use. We've done a lot of implementations and I think it's something that people can have confidence in that they're going to have an onboarding experience that's really positive. And you know, other places where I think that we differentiate are service. One of the things that is really important about ConnectYourCare is that our history is that we did not, we don't gobble up our competition, right? We didn't gobble up competition and we didn't buy books of business. Instead, we had to grow ourselves organically by providing excellent service that was referencable and you know, this is a relationship kind of business where relationships matter. And I think relationships play a big part of the sales process. And I think that people could ask other colleagues or other companies and understand and hear that ConnectYourCare was a high quality enterprise that provided really great service, because we really differentiated on that for sure to enable our growth.
So those are three or four areas that I think really resonate with a lot of clients.
Carla: Yes. And when you're talking about relationships, obviously 2020 had a lot of challenges in that area because the face-to-face wasn't happening. And still isn't happening. Obviously, we've had that to deal with. What do you see going forward in 2021 in this area, how can we get past this? How are we dealing with this as a company and how are you dealing with this in your role?
Chris: I am so excited about 2021 and there's a number of reasons for that. COVID is still gonna be with us but I think that we've found ways to work around the fact that we can't always be there in person. You know, we've got a lot of digital skills. I mean, we've always been a technology company from the get-go and we've used technology to solve problems, and that's what we're doing in this instance as well. We're bringing people together over the digital space and I think that it may take just a little bit longer to build a relationship that's maybe the same. But I think it can be done. I think we've all proved that to ourselves in some of the Zoom calls and all of the, you know, families and all the meetings that we have with our families and friends over Zoom. And so, it's definitely possible, and I think that some of the solutions that we've rolled out around our virtual benefit fairs and other ways to communicate with our clients really are mattering. They really are working. And so, I think that we'll continue to see success there as well.
Carla: Yes. You mentioned the virtual benefit fairs. That's one way that obviously has been working out and something that has changed. How else has your job changed over time? Have the questions that you've gotten changed or has your role changed? What is something that is not the same as it was when you started in this industry?
Chris: I think that there's always change. I think one of the most important things is that buyers now have more information than they've ever had. They can make decisions about you very quickly just by looking at some of the trails that you leave around the digital space. They can research your company, they can find out a lot about you. And sometimes that's great and sometimes that's not so good. And that's why I think that developing these relationships is so critically important so that you can ensure that the right message is getting out to clients. I mean, I think that the choice for us and the actions that we want to take are to continue to be succinct, to write candidly, to write crisply and to write confidently about our capabilities because I do think they're very, very strong and they're incredibly competitive. We want to tell people about ConnectYourCare. We want to tell them our story but we only wanna do that after we get to know them. And I think that knowing who they are and what their needs are is so critical in the sales process, so that we can spend cycles on telling them what they need to know because that's what we'll, you know, fuel their decision-making. So I think that the opportunity is still to get crisper, to get better, to get more insight into the client so that we can really tell them about our capabilities, but in a way that matters to them most.
Carla: I really like that you're excited about 2021. I think everyone shares that excitement for our bright and shining new year coming up. And I wanna do thank you so much for your time for talking with us.
Chris: Oh, it's my pleasure. Thank you.
Carla: Once again, this is Carla Wardin, and I'm talking with Chris Perrera, and for more information, you can always go to connectyourcare.com.
Carla Wardin is the host of the ConnectYourCare podcast, Exclamation of Benefits. Carla brings her broadcasting and technology experience to talk to experts about the latest innovations in the benefits industry. Carla is an author, speaker, and marketing communicator from Michigan, where she and her husband are raising three boys on a dairy farm.