For those of you who have not seen it Zenefits, an emerging benefits broker offering free technology, has posted a comparison of their services to many of their competitors across the country. You can see the link here. https://www.zenefits.com/broker/ In my opinion this tactic goes below the line of ethical standards. Not only does it misrepresent what many of their competitors are offering but they seem to be excusing themselves if they are wrong by putting asterisks at the bottom of the comparison that reads as follows.
** Zenefits cannot be sure what services are offered by (Broker Name). Contact them directly to find out.
This one line does not excuse them from being wrong. It is disingenuous. And I am quite sure they did not go out of their way and call all their competitors to validate their information. I ask anyone who reads this blog to call me if they did in fact call you and ask about your services.
I know for a fact that much of this information is wrong as many of my clients are on this list and I supply some of the products or services that Zenefits says they don’t provide. Zenefits says, for just about every broker on their list, that the competing broker does not provide Benefits Administration Software or ACA Software Compliance and Administration. Many brokers on the Zenefits list provide these products or services. Whether they provide them FREE or not is another check box on their list but that can be represented fairly.
I was once given some good advice by a broker in Michigan when I was a young sales guy for UNUM. He told me to never say bad things about your competitors because 50% of buyers out there will think less of you and not buy. Why would you want to eliminate 50% of your prospects? I have taken that advice. That does not mean you can’t sell against other companies models. In this case Zenefits is not necessarily saying bad things about their competitors. However, I do believe they are knowingly misrepresenting the competition. If they are knowingly doing this then in my opinion it sinks to the level below of someone that bad mouths a competitor. At least a person that verbally bad mouths a competitor is not trying to deceive. I would rather have someone tell me what they really think even if I don’t like what they say.
Zenefits is a benefits brokers and wants to disrupt the benefits distribution market. Why they want to create enemies with firms like ADP ( See USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2015/06/10/zenefits-vs-adp/71019080/ ) and now benefits brokers across America I don’t know. As a young athlete I learned to respect your competition but also play fair. My father used to use terms like “take the high road”. These lessons that we have all learned at a young age have been lost on Zenefits. I can only blame their leader. They should immediately take down these web pages and apologize to all those firms that they misrepresented. If they want to show a comparison then at least get the information right and don’t hide behind a ** at the bottom of the page.
Joe – Thanks so much for writing this! This really is a dubious practice…for a company trying to “change the game,” they seem desperate to borrow authority from existing small-group market leaders (by disparaging services that they’re obviously unfamiliar with). The real story seems to be how little Zenefits actually understands about the small group landscape. Truth be told, many of my company’s (FormFire) clients are on this list also and Zenefits has vastly underestimated what those agencies can already do with small-group benefits technology. Zenefits strikes me as the “T-Mobile” of the benefits world: A crude, noisy also-ran that’s desperate for attention.