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Many of us are guilty of constantly seeking the next “shiny object”, thinking that it will be, finally, the solution to easy profits with MUCH less effort.
While there is a lot to be learned from attending seminars, buying courses, and studying non-stop, there is a point where a successful person stops searching for the next-great-thing,and actually goes to work.
When you find yourself circling about to the things you've already seen before, and YOU have not implemented anything, it's time to look in the mirror and make a decision. Which way are you going to go?
Having worked with thousands of agents now, the pattern is perfectly clear.
Agents choose to fail or they choose to succeed. The key is, it's a choice.
That's what I covered in this SeniorAgentPodcast episode.. you can listen here:
Yes, it all still works.
See the short video:
The reality is found down at the bank. If the agent is writing 4 to 5 applications a week with absolute COLD market prospecting, they're working and doing it right. If they're writing 4 applications in four months, they're not doing anything right except pretending to be in business.
The only thing that matters, the gauge as to whether or not you're doing it right, is down at the bank. Is the business building? If not, you're doing something wrong or not doing enough of what is right.
The system is proven. End of story.
Excerpt from https://www.salesgravy.com/sales-articles/automotive/five-lessons-i-learned-at-starbucks.html
“Lesson #1 – Make sure you ask for the business. I have just watched a beggar collect at least $5 worth of donations in the last half hour with a sign that says – “I am saving up for a hooker, weed, wine and a steak dinner.” Not one of the people bothered to read his sign and know what they were even donating for. Not the family man with his wife and children, not the group of older people probably in their 80s, not the business man in the suit, nobody. The beggar obviously learned the power of asking, no matter what.
Lesson #2 – It’s not the money. People pile into Starbucks one after another spending three and four bucks on of a cup coffee. Obviously you can get a cup of coffee at a diner down the street for a lot less money. But yet, people willingly spend a $100 per month or more at Starbucks. Why?
People are buying the experience and the perception of the brand. I am sitting here writing this article in a busy Starbucks and people watching when I could be in the quiet and seclusion of my nice hotel room. The person in the seat next to me is listening to music on an iPod when they could obviously do it for free in the Square with a less expensive cup of coffee. The gentleman in the big living room type chair is reading a novel. People want the experience. Understand your customer and the value they want and the money will become less important. The big three U.S. auto manufacturers give huge rebates, and imports are still kicking their butts. It’s not about the money.”
I'm always surprised with agents who are failing at business discover that it was because they were not asking for the business. They would present options and then just leave it, never politely suggesting that the client move forward with an application.
And, if you feel the product costs too much, it's too hard for them to sign up online with you, or it's crazy for you to ask for their personal information over the phone – so will they. YOUR objection will become their objection. It's true! You have to be convinced, first, that the sale is in their best interest. When you are convinced, get out of your own way – ask for the sale and deserve it and you'll have it.
The reason I picked this niche of insurance was two-fold. One, I could work with a great generation of people and help calm their fears about their next transition in healthcare and, two, I could create a residual income for my family.
Both have come true, and it's the most amazing thing that 10 years ago I would have never believed possible. In this video, I talk about a police officer in Mount Pleasant, SC I met today (Doug), and our conversation about what starting officers now make.
Guess what? It's about the same that we made starting 10 years ago. That is absolutely crazy. I do not know how anyone can raise a family on a salarty like that, and it's totally wrong.
I told Doug that if he ever has had enough of the politics, chaos, and public resentment now happening against law enforcement, he can look me up. I'm easy to find online!
It is my sincere wish that all of the good guys, and ladies, that I used to work with could now be enjoying this lifestyle with me. It'd be even more fun! – Christopher Westfall
A question was recently asked, “Should I get an office or work from home as I'm starting to grow and it's obvious I need admin help already?”
I was still a one-man show when I rented my first EXPENSIVE office in a Regus complex in Lake Mary, FL. It was an investment in appearance for the clients, which never once came because I sold over the phone, and an investment in accountability of having somewhere to SHOW UP every day. This was the key for me.
When I started working with someone else, knowing that they were going to show up, so I had to show up, created a very productive environment for both of us. I would swear to you that business really began taking off as a result of that simple move. It was great to be around other productive people that were showing up every day to work.
I know you don't have this problem and laziness/accountability are not factors in what you're asking, but if you're ever going to grow to 5 or 10 employees or 100 if you so desire, it is going to happen sometime, anyway, and I would argue that it is best to build it before you need it. Create the envelope bigger than you need and then you will find a way to fill it.
Now looking to move offices for the third time due to growth, I know that if I had not stepped out in faith to get outside of my home office, I would never have been where I am today. Why? Because it was comfortable; it was TOO comfortable to work from home. Yes, it's cool to be running my own company, but I knew early on that I could not grow enough on my own.
Having a remote admin assistant did not work for me. When I had someone working next to me, who heard everything, then started repeating the answers I gave to the people they were then talking to, it created a synergy that has now replicated over and over again.
In my office now, someone will say something that's a great answer and then the others will start repeating it and a best practice is born. That cannot happen with remote folks. – my two cents. –cw
Approximately 30% of Americans turning 65 are opting for a Medicare “Advantage” plan. In my experience, this most often happens for the following two reasons:
- They have been relatively healthy up to 65 years old
- They believe this great health will continue into their senior years
- Medicare Advantage plans at $0 per month can be quite attractive
- They miss, or minimize the often $6,700 Maximum Out-of-Pocket PER YEAR
Sadly, there are many situations that we have seen where a Turning 65-senior has chosen one of these “free” Medicare Advantage plans only to have to experience the limitations and large hospital admission co-payments by having a serious illness that takes them into full usage of their chosen plan.
When they were first turning 65, they thought their great health would continue far into their senior years, only to discover that this is the time frame where most all medical claims are experienced in life. Sadly, when they signed up for a Medicare Advantage plan, particularly an HMO plan, they find that the restrictions now imposed on them, the trade off for little or no monthly premium, now can significantly and adversely not only affect their availability of specialty care (replaced with tight networks) but also expose them to more money spent for medical care than their non-“Advantage” plan senior counterparts.
On the contrary, the biggest proponents of Medigap (Medicare Supplement) plans are those who have had to use them with a serious illness. For example, those with a special kind of cancer who can now choose the best cancer treatment centers in America without consequence because their Medicare Supplement plan allows them to go anywhere. Those who would have otherwise been exposed to a $6,700 out-of-pocket cost with their Medicare Advantage plan for a series of hospital admissions who though, because on a SUPPLEMENT plan instead, pay $0 for their admissions and, more importantly, get to CHOOSE their hospital instead of only being able to go to the one that was the lowest bidder that joined the “Advantage” plan's restrictive network.
In an illuminating article by the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation, the choice of a Medicare Advantage plan when a senior is turning 65 can prove disastrous for future healthcare choices for the rest of a senior's life. See the article here:
It is very important that now-Medicare-eligible seniors have the full information on the good, the bad, and the possible devastating effects of picking their Medicare plan.
Chris Westfall is an independent Medicare agent and has been a licensed insurance agent for over 20 years.
-From Christopher Westfall
July 21, 2016
The Justice Department has filed two separate suits to prevent the merger between both Aetna and Humana and the merger of CIGNA and Blue Cross.
Today, Aetna said that they will defend their acquisition of Humana and gave the substantial reasons why such a merger is a good thing for the country.
Among the reasons given, Aetna says that the combined company would “Improve affordability, quality, and consumer choice.”
Their stats show that a combined Aetna/Humana company would still only serve 8% of eligible Medicare beneficiaries, far from the monopoly that the Justice Department will argue would result from the combined forces.
We are continuing to monitor the situation and expect that Obama's Justice Department will do everything in their power to prevent the merger, and it might ultimately be settled by a federal judge.
Do you sell Medicare Advantage plans or Part D plans?
If so, in addition to the AHIP test, there is now another, separate test administered only through CMS and it is required.
This test is on Waste, Fraud, and Abuse, as there always had been in the AHIP test already, but now it's required separately.
Courtesy of United Healthcare, this is a link to the instructions as to how to find and take this simple test:
Instead of a case that would pay $269.69, this video shows how the commission, first year, is $1,067.70 because CJ asked told of the availability of the cancer plan. He asked about heart attack/stroke coverage, and he asked about life coverage.
This sweet lady was used to paying $700 per month for her employer plan that had restrictions, networks, and co-pays. Now, she has a MUCH better plan (Plan G), lump sum coverage for Cancer, Heart Attack or Stroke, AND permanent Life Insurance coverage locked in now at the age of 64.
The is in a much better position, fully covered, and happy with her new security and price.
See the video:
Perfect example of a great cross sell.
CIGNA's electronic application makes this point and click easy without having to re-enter the client's information again in multiple applications.
Decades ago, companies like McDonald's learned that if you merely asked, “Would you like fries with that?” that a significant amount of people WOULD. Their profit is all in the extras..just like the movie theaters. They make nothing on the ticket sales. It is all on concessions.
This is good coverage, provides peace of mind, and because of a process like this, helps the agent to make additional income by taking care of clients in a meaningful way.
Learn how to sell cancer policies, etc. at:
Many friends and relatives have been contacting me recently to ask more about the business I’m in. Why? For a variety of reasons including, but not limited to, their changing life circumstances where they may be seeing change ahead or no progress where they currently are.
More, though, are seeing the lifestyle that this business can afford those who have put the time in to build a residual income business by helping people, and they want more of that in their lives. This is, perhaps, the best reason because I firmly believe that if you want something bad enough to trudge through the unpleasant parts of getting there, you will absolutely have it.
In the last 30 days, my wife and I have traveled to Rome, Italy (with Mutual of Omaha’s Sales Leaders trip) and to Iceland with Aetna. We will soon be taking another trip to Vancouver, BC with yet another insurance organization and then I’ll be going on to a “mastermind” event in Alaska just before the busy season begins yet again.
The first week of May, Chris and the other top 150 or so Aetna agents, and their guests, were in Iceland for the production award from 2015. Many on this trip, including Chris and his wife, Nicole, had just returned back to the states from Rome with the Mutual of Omaha trip just less than two weeks prior. It was a quick turnaround for another out-of-the-country adventure.
The weather was cold, mostly due just to the incredible wind in Iceland, but the camaraderie forged between new friends made the trip a priceless gift. Sharing ideas and various business practices with the folks there just proved, once again, that it all works.
Just like the Rome trip, Chris met with many agents and discovered that what they were doing was working just as well. Whether it is direct mail, a phone room setting appointments, or agents dialing for their own leads on a predictive dialer, it is all working. Some were there because they do seminars. Some just get lead lists of T65 folks and go “door knocking”. Still others hire in-house telemarketers to find interested folks. It all works. That was the biggest point.
While on this trip, Chris was greeted about around 10 agents throughout the week that came up to introduce themselves. They were members of MedicareAgentTraining.com and had found the site valuable in their business. This was very humbling and had continued from the week prior, at the National Medicare Supplement Conference in Kansas City, where this happened approximately 50 times. It was great for Chris to be able to meet members and others from the Medicare community who he might have only seen online as their black and white username!
One of those that came up to Chris in Iceland was 20 year old Bridge.
Bridge sets his own appointments, using the predictive dialer. As one of the winners of the Aetna trip, he is obviously doing very well in the business. He sat down with Chris and talked about this, and how he just got his 19 year old cousin to get into the business with him recently. His cousin, who just turned 20 now, sold six policies this week on his own, the week that Bridge was in Iceland with Chris and the Aetna crew.
See Bridge tell the story:
This is a quick video Chris did about Iceland that relates to the Medicare field:
Photos Chris and Nicole took on the 2016 AETNA trip to Iceland:
What is it that you are communicating?
If you are communicating to the senior market that you have Medicare products, guess what?
Every other agent in America also can sell Medicare products.
What is it that you are bringing before you are asking for them to buy?
Are you providing valuable information that they can use or do they feel that the entire conversation is geared toward driving them to a sale?
It has been often quoted that people want to buy, they DO NOT want to be sold. They make their decision emotionally, based on what has been provided, and then justify that decision, later, logically. By merely providing yet another channel where someone can buy, without first providing value, you are just like every other salesperson out there and nothing separates you from what anyone else can do.
A recent survey conducted by Hubspot shows that people want to be provided service FIRST, as the most important deciding factor before they make a buying decision. This should not be news, if you examine who you, yourself want to buy.
When my wife and I were in Rome recently, we watched in awe as these young boys were on the steps to a thousand+ year old monument, attempting to sell their wares. What they were selling where 11×17 inch replica water colored paintings of the various monuments around Rome. These same replica paintings were being sold on many street corners, but these boys were very creative, and it showed.
What they did differently was that one of the boys had a coloring pencil in his hand, and a variety of colored pencils at his feet. He sat on those steps and appeared to be just finishing the next painting, himself. He appeared to be putting a lot of attention into the detail of what he was working on, as the other paintings were surrounding him on full display. This gave the illusion that HIS paintings had all be hand-done and had been created meticulously with care.
To the passing tourists, what appeared to them was that they had an opportunity to purchase custom artwork of Rome, drawn right here on the steps of one of the monuments. How unique and valuable!!
While these two kids were selling the exact same thing as everyone else, they created the perception of unique value that their particular paintings brought that other similar paintings in the area did not have. With the other unmanned displays, folks were just buying copies. With this one, they bought value.
In a similar fashion, many top producers in the industry have shared with me the various ways in which they paint the picture of unique value in the mind of their potential consumer. Whether it is researching drug plans for their clients, or promising an amazing amount of follow up, they attempt, at every turn, to separate themselves from the agents who merely provide only an application and a policy delivery.
Agents who make no attempt to separate themselves and their business from the competition will be bland, boring, and will reap the rewards that befall nothing interesting.
It is with great pleasure that I highly endorse a new book by David Duford called “The Official Guide to Selling Final Expense Insurance.” Dave's book is selling on Amazon now and a portion of the proceeds is helping another agent friend, Mark Rosenthal, with his very expensive disease treatment. Buying this book is a “no brainer” and a true win/win.
David Duford has proven himself to be a powerful influence in the final expense industry in the past few years. Not only is he a successful agent in his own right, he has a teacher's heart and enjoys helping new agents to find success in the Final Expense niche. This book is very well done and will be a resource for FE agents long into the future.
I highly recommend agents in, or considering, the final expense life insurance niche to pick up this valuable guide.
You can do so here.
We owe it to our prospective clients to know what we are talking about.
When a prospect asks you about a particular company, and you don't know anything about that company, SEARCH IT.
I have been asked, in the last six months, to represent and promote two companies that a simple Google search reveals have HORRIBLE financial histories that are out there for the public to see.
If you think that your newly signed client will not be searching Google for the name of the company that will hold their financial future in their hands, you're mistaken. They will do the searching, even if you won't.
So, do your “due diligence” and search for the company history and see what your clients will see when you are confronted with a question about a company or considering representing one.
This morning's support ticket was an agent asking why I do not offer Shenandoah Life.
This was part of my reply:
There is no way in the world I would put someone with a company that has such a history.
A simple Google search, which you should have done and your clients WILL DO will usually solve these.
You should research any company that your prospects mention
A few of the top things you would discover:
A new agent came by our office and was asking whether or not she should pursue the final expense market or the Medicare Supplement market.
My son was nice enough to catch part of the conversation on his cell phone.. here's the end of the final expense part, which was that those folks are at the lowest end of the socio-economic scale, often never having thought of having life insurance before, and often having had horrible money management their entire lives and NOW they want YOU (the agent) to solve this with a brand new policy they promise to pay for, every month, for the rest of their lives; or
replacing or helping someone with a Medicare Supplement policy that they either already had or were already going to buy and would never, ever, be without AND have the means to make those premium payments, forever.
See the conversation:
West Virginia has always had a law that prohibits agents/companies from writing Medicare Supplements more than 30 days from the effective date.
This was a very strange restriction and quite bothersome for any agents working the Turning 65 “T65” market in West Virginia.
Well, it appears they're coming around.
In a notice just recently issued, West Virginia is becoming lenient on this issue, and the carriers are starting to respond by now allowing a case to be written 90 days in advance of the effective date.
(Note that in most states you can write 6 months in advance.)
So, applications can now be written up to 90 days in advance of the Medicare effective date. It's not clear when the various carriers will catch on to this, but now you have the document in case you need to send it to them!
More to come, for sure..
Fortune Favors the Bold
This old saying is so true about those adventurous small business owners, like us, who start every day boldly helping others and building our individual fortunes in the process.
Cesar is known for this.. ask yourself:
“What would my business be like if I were 10 times BOLDER than I am right now?”
That's a terrific question to ask. If fortune does, in fact, come to the bold, and boldness is the driving factor behind your business success, then it would stand to reason that being 10 times more bold means you will have ten times the results, and it's true. Whenever you are ready to really let go and let go out doubts, fear, and intimidation by what you don't know and press forward with what you DO know – that's when the floodgates start to open up. That's where the magic happens.
Practice it until you perfect it. Don't let great get in the way of good. Get going NOW.
Prospecting? How Many Times Should You Call?
“What is the number of times a Sales Development Rep (SDR) should attempt to contact a prospect before moving on?”
Before you put a system in place for your inside sales reps to follow, you may want to consider that the lead temperature will have a factor in how many times an SDR will reach out to a prospect, as well as how often.
THERE ARE THREE MAIN “LEAD TEMPERATURE” CATEGORIES:
Below, I’ll show you an example for each one of these lead types for your team to consider but before I do, keep in mind that most sales teams simply use what I call the “RUN AMOK” method, which basically means everyone does their own thing, and there really is no system or rhyme or reason. The RUN AMOK method is causing you to lose deals. Not only do you need an adaptable system (how many times to call a prospect) but you also need to know EXACTLY what to say on each different attempt.
If a lead is “cold” (has not made contact in the last 30-days – or EVER) BUT has the criteria to be at least considered a highly probable suspect, my call schedule (cadence) is going to be less urgent. An example might be calls on Day 1, 3, 5, 10 and 30. This is just an example to help you get your creative juices flowing in order to develop what works best for you and your sales team.
A warm lead can be classified as a hand raiser but not as hot as a proposal request. One option is to give them a call on day 1, 2, 4 and 6 (again, just an example).
If a hot lead comes in (form is filled out on website requesting info / proposal request etc.) I’m going to be all over that lead, calling more than once in the same day for sure. At minimum, I’m calling them twice in one day leaving a voicemail + plus email each time. (You will need to know exactly what to say to increase your call backs – simply saying “I’m following up regarding your request” isn’t going to create the urgency you need in most cases to get them to stop what they are doing to call you back.) So if I call twice and get voicemail twice, I will leave a message and send an email each time. If I call a third time in the same day but get voicemail, I’ll hang up. Sometimes I will also ASK for the gatekeeper for their help in getting ahold of the prospect.
If I don’t hear back after day one, I will try twice on day two and once on day three. If you don’t hear back from them by then, they may have found another solution already, had a hotter fire fall in their lap, or had to go into the witness protection program. I will often EMAIL them asking which of those three options happened to them and I usually get a response back.
PS … I like to also have specific emails that go out the day after I call them for the first time as well as after I’ve called them the second time. So if I know that I am calling a lead on Day 1 and Day 3 and skipping a call on Day 2, I have it set to send them an email on Day 2. It reminds them of the voicemail/email I sent them the day before and I often get a response or an appointment set from my Day 2 emails.
I use the phrase “Day 2” just to make the article as easy as possible to follow however, internally, we don’t use Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 terminology because there are always instances where calling or emailing someone the day after won’t make sense. An example would be where you call a prospect for the first time, get voicemail, leave a message and then send an email, only to get an automated VACATION ALERT auto reply from the prospect. It makes no sense to still schedule a “DAY 2” email if you now know they are out of the office till next week. Therefore, we use 1st Attempt, 2ndAttempt, 3rd Attempt, etc. Hope this helps.
– Michael Pedone
Michael Pedone helps inside sales teams conquer call reluctance by teaching them a step-by-step call process. Michael Pedone’s blueprint for success helps inside sales reps to set more appointments and how to close them. He is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com – an online sales training company.
What does your personal credit history have to do with starting, or not starting in the insurance industry?
See the video:
Supporting our families by helping seniors with their Medicare plans!
This is a great business to be in!
In this video, Chris shows his Monday morning mail, where he was notified by Aetna that he won a Holiday Helper Bonus from the last quarter of 2015.
That bonus was $4,300! It was totally unexpected and just from doing the right thing by our clients.
This bonus, and the trips, are only from personal production. None of Chris' sub-agent production counts toward the trips or the bonuses.. just his own business.
What a great career, where we are rewarded handsomely by helping people.
The A/B Split Test, and Life
I don't know why it is, but I always seem to have my breakthrough thoughts – in the shower. Why is that? I've given up trying to figure that one out.
For years I've studied personal development and internet marketing. I am confident that doing both has resulted in my business success, which is a whole world away from 10 years ago when I was a sheriff's sergeant working 12 hour shifts and always having to live paycheck to paycheck.
What had to change was, me.
What I learned, by first identifying mentors and then changing HOW I processed the information that I saw in front of me, I could start to change the results in the time I spent working on my business.
It was not enough to merely focus on the cold calling, the follow up, the company's E-App, and Steps 1, 2, 3; I had to change how I saw my business in an effort to serve others and – very, very importantly, how I dealt with the challenges and frustrations that come with ANY business venture.
Last week, my agent training membership site hit 2,000 members at the site's 3 year anniversary.
In that time I have received countless success stories from agents saying that the site's information has changed their lives, provided freedom from a J.O.B. (just over broke) and put them on a path to financial freedom.
But, sadly, too, I have experienced the communication from agents who've said that they are giving up, did not achieve immediate successes and, without enough positive results to their satisfaction at that point, they're throwing in the towel. They went back to hourly jobs, working for someone else, because they could not make it work..not successful enough for their markers with the time they'd chosen to invest up to that point.
I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is not for a lack of information, companies available, training, or product education. It is because of an internal inability to process the negative experiences that are inevitable in business.
When the rejection comes, and it will, how do you process that?
When you successfully help a new client and they express how thankful they are that they met you, how do you internalize that event?
Hear me LOUDLY here.. Whichever one of those you CHOOSE to focus on will drive that future outcome and you will experience more of what you have chosen.
If you have two plants next to each other and water one, without watering the other – one will grow and one will slowly die. DUH, right?
The same, exact scenario unfolds in our business when we CHOOSE to focus on what just happened with the 80/20 rejection that is inevitable in any business.
A focus on the negative result WITHOUT a celebration and internal reward on the GOOD result causes more of the negative outcome. You will, always, experience more rejection than success in any business. Are your expectations balanced to adjust for that? You must compensate for this inequity by making a HUGE focus on the gains and putting those front and center in your mind when you decide each morning -“What am I thankful for??”
This behavior is a choice. It is not natural. It is focusing on the seed, which grows, rather than the storm that it finds itself in. It takes a conscious decision, each and every day as to how you are going to start it.
Call centers that I have consulted for often have a big, huge bell in the middle of the room where all of the callers are working. When a worker there makes a sale and writes an application, they get up, walk over, and RING THAT BELL.
Why do they to this? Because it is proven that rewarding the great result, while choosing to accept the NATURAL negatives that happen along the way is the best path to long term success. Keeping one's head down, following a proven system, and working UNTIL the success is evident to everyone around you IS the secret.
When they are rejected, or when a client decides to take his or her business to someone else, do they go around the room and spread the rejection? NO. Why?
So, back to this morning – in the shower I suddenly realized that the personal development skills I have made into habits line up perfectly with the online marketing I've been doing, with the A/B Split Test.
Given the feedback of the day/week/year, which direction are you going to go?
Please watch this short video. I hope you are encouraged and I hope you make the choice to guard your thoughts and guard your emotions.
You are in solid control of where you choose to go in your own head.
This is no trivial thing. The best system in the world will not work if your QUIT/DON'T QUIT threshold is set too high and focused only on the losses along the way.
My wish for you is continued success and continual breakthroughs. For you, it should not be a wish, though, it should be a plan that you work until it happens.
The system works, absolutely.
The question is, will you stay around long enough for it to materialize in your life.
I think about you (members) daily and want you to succeed.
This new home health/recovery product is GREAT for those who cannot afford, or qualify for, Long Term Care.
See the video:
This policy is currently available in the following states:
AL, AR, GA, IN, LA, MS, MO, NV, NC, OH, OK, SC, SD, TN, UT
Equitable Life Medicare Supplement announced that their 7% household discount in the State of Illinois has been discontinued, following regulatory intervention from the state.
Equitable's unique household discount required only one member to be signed with Equitable's Medicare Supplement and, if they lived with anyone in the house over the age of 30 (but not more than 5 people in the residence) they qualified for their 7% “household” discount.
Other companies that have “household” discounts, such as Mutual of Omaha, have been unable (as of yet) to get theirs approved in Illinois.
Mutual of Omaha and Aetna both have spouse discounts that require both to be covered for a discount to apply.
In other states, however, Mutual of Omaha is rolling out a 12% household discount if the covered member lives in a home with anyone over the age of 60.
In it unknown whether Equitable's household discount will be replaced with a spouse discount, requiring both policy holders to own Equitable's policy in order to qualify for a discount.
See the Equitable statement:
When Chris Westfall mails policies to clients (which is required in certain states like LA, WV), he does so in a “priority express” envelope that gets special treatment/perception by the client, but costs no more than first-class postage. These envelopes do not require Priority or Express postage – mere first class stamps!
See the video explanation:
You can get these priority/urgent envelopes here:
- U.S. says Cigna has `longstanding history of non-compliance'
- Anthem, which agreed to buy Cigna, is committed to deal
Cigna Corp. was banned from marketing its Medicare products to new customers, after the U.S. found deficiencies in how the health insurer ran its plans, citing widespread violations that the government said threatened patients’ health.
“Cigna has experienced widespread and systemic failures impacting Cigna enrollees’ ability to access medical services and prescription medications,” the U.S. said in a Jan. 21 letter to the insurer outlining the sanctions. “Cigna has had a longstanding history of non-compliance” with requirements from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS.
Cigna and other insurers offer a privately run alternative to traditional Medicare, which includes insurance coverage for hospital and doctor care, known as Medicare Advantage, as well as prescription drug coverage, or Part D. CMS found problems involving Cigna’s appeals and grievances process, as well as with its drug coverage, the insurer said Friday in a regulatory filing.
Shares of Cigna, which is being bought by Anthem Inc. for about $48 billion, rose 0.1 percent to $140.33 at 10:09 a.m. in New York. Anthem remains committed to the deal, spokeswoman Jill Becher said in an e-mail.
Private Medicare Alternative
“Cigna is working to resolve these matters as quickly as possible and is cooperating fully with CMS on its review,” the health insurer said in the filing, adding that the sanctions don’t affect benefits offered to current enrollees.
For now, the ban mainly affects Cigna’s marketing to people who age into Medicare, the U.S. health program for people 65 and older. Medicare beneficiaries are allowed to shop for new plans every year during a period known as open enrollment that runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7.
Cigna, which mainly offers coverage via employers, expanded in Medicare with the acquisition of HealthSpring Inc. in 2012. The company has about 543,500 Medicare Advantage clients and about 1.1 million people in its prescription drug plans, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence.
Both Chris Westfall and his 21 year old son, CJ, will be speaking at the 2016 Medicare Supplement Conference in Kansas City Missouri in April.
CJ, who has had his license for less than one year, will be talking from the stage on what he learned that helped him to write over 300 polices to seniors during his first year.
Topics CJ will Discuss:
What kind of obstacles did he have to overcome?
How did he learn to communicate effectively to seniors 50+ years older than he is?
Chris (Sr.) will be giving an 18 minute talk on the importance of developing social media avenues to generate incoming leads.
Chris' agency only takes incoming calls now, all from free social media platforms that he has studied intensively and he will share some of those discoveries with the conference attendees.
The first day of the conference, Monday April 25, is free.
The rest of the conference (Tuesday and Wednesday) are not free but are packed with information that agents can use.
Chris will be attending the whole conference and will be reporting back to the members of Medicare Agent Training.com.
For information on the 2016 Medicare Supplement Summit in Kansas City, click here.
This infographic from InsideSales.com tracked the best practices when responding to leads.
They are primarily talking about internet leads and the impact of an immediate response, then follow-up with that lead through the sixth attempt.
Look at how few salespeople will actually try past three calls with a new lead!
It also covers the best time of the week and the best time of the day for success in reaching leads effectively.
Over the years, Chris has learned the difference between just being busy for busy sake vs. doing things that will achieve the best, possible results for our time investment in this business.
Many agents still believe that writing applications all day is their only mission, and they'll write an application on anyone that says, “Yes.” Those anxious folks that are very eager to get going with you should be the ones you spend the most amount of time trying to find out why they are disqualified from the beginning.
The art of asking the right questions, in this case – all of the health questions, before moving into an application setting AT ALL, is critical if you want to have enough time to spend with those that are qualified.
This is a public video that Chris Westfall put out about the latest with the AT&T use of AON for retiree Medicare benefits.
For members, see the full coverage of the opportunity to help AT&T retirees, including necessary documents and reimbursement procedures by going to this link.
We’ve all been there – you call your prospect back at the appointed time for your presentation and they tell you any of the following:
This isn’t a good time, OR
They only have a few minutes, OR
They ask you in an exasperated tone, “How long will this take?” OR
They tell you they have a meeting in 10 minutes, can you give them the information anyway?
Or any other put off that will cut short the 30 minute comprehensive presentation you had planned.
Most sales reps respond to these objection-like receptions by asking if they would prefer to set another time. That response might be appropriate with the first put off – the “This isn’t a good time,” – but with any of the others, I have a better technique for you.
Let’s start at the beginning. First, when you get this kind of response from a prospect you qualified a week or so ago, don’t be surprised! Face it: it’s a law in all sales – Leads Never Get Better! If you sent out the hottest lead ever, a “10” on a scale of 1 – 10, then when you call them back, have you ever noticed that now they’re about a “7”?
And of course since most sales reps don’t qualify thoroughly enough, most of the leads they stuff into their pipeline are made up of sixes and sevens. And you can imagine how they are when reps reach them. So expect that your leads are going to drop in interest and receptiveness when you call them back, and then be prepared with a best practice approach to handling them. Here’s what to do:
Whenever a prospect responds to your call to do a presentation with one of the responses above – the “How long will this take?” – kind of response, don’t offer to call them back later, rather, get them to reveal their true level of interest to you and get them to tell you exactly how to pitch them to get the deal. Here are a number of statements you can use to do just that:
“Sure, I can take as long or little as you need. Let’s do this: why don’t you tell me the top three things you were hoping to learn about this, and I’ll drill right down and cover those areas for you. What’s number one for you?”
“Absolutely, we can do this pretty quickly. Tell me, what would you like to know most about how this might work in your environment?”
“I understand, sounds like I caught you at a bad time. Let’s do this: If you needed to see or learn just one thing about this to determine if it might actually work for you, what would that be?”
“No problem. Our presentation is pretty in depth, but I can do this. Go ahead and tell me two things that are absolute deal breakers for you, and I’ll see if we pass the test. And then if we do, we’ll schedule some more time later to go into detail on how the rest works, fair enough?”
“In ten minutes, I can show you some things that will help you determine whether or not you’d like to spend more time with me later. In the meantime, let me ask you – what would you need to see the most to say yes to this?”
“I understand, we’re all busy. Let me just ask you: has anything changed from when we last spoke?” (Now REALLY listen…)
“Tell you what: let’s reschedule something for later when you have more time, but in the ten minutes we do have, let me ask you some questions to determine whether this would still be a good fit for you…” (Now thoroughly re-qualify your prospect)
As you can see, the responses above are all aimed at getting your prospect to reveal to you both their level of interest and what it is going to take to sell them – or whether or not they are still a good prospect for you. Have some fun with these; customize them to fit your personality or the personality of the person you’re speaking with. Find your favorites and then, as always, practice, drill and rehearse until they become your automatic response when your prospect tells you they don’t have time for your presentation.
Many agents that are speaking with seniors about their Medicare options often encounter seniors who say they are on “TRICARE For Life”.
Having answered this question for hundreds of agents who haven't searched it on their own, I want to openly let you know that they are NOT candidates for Medicare Supplement plans.
TRICARE For Life is a comprehensive, Medicare wrap around product like a Medicare Supplement plan. No further coverage for them is needed.
Please see the video.
Now this is different from someone getting VA benefits. Those folks most often do purchase a Medicare Supplement because they wish to use private facilities and most often cannot when their only option is the VA hospital or clinic near them.
How much “crap” do you take from mean people who call you and expect you to worship at their feet?
Chris Westfall addresses this topic, as well as two frequently asked agent questions in this video:
Driving to the office for this podcast episode.. covering something that happened yesterday and brought a lifetime value of $3,600 by investing $1 in follow up.
Chris Westfall on getting started with Medicare Supplements
Over 200,000 seniors are turning 65 each month in the United States. This is a HUGE opportunity for those agents who know how to get in front of this “silver tsunami”!
In this podcast, Chris Westfall talks about marketing to seniors using various methods and what he has learned since getting his insurance license in 1995 up to today.
From SeniorAgentPodcast.com.. click the play button below.
What must you do to be successful in this, or any other business?
Have you ever been ready to submit a Medicare Supplement application via the iGO Electronic Application and received an ERROR message that will not let you proceed? This tip from Chris Westfall just might be the trick you needed to get on with that application.
See the video..
As of August 1, 2015, United American (a Torchmark company) has been suspended indefinitely from participation in the Medicare Part D program.
Video review and analysis:
The recent report by the Medicare trustees is currently being evaluated by HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell, who is expected to make a final decision October 2015 to impact Medicare beneficiaries in 2016.
The trustees recommend increasing Part B premiums charged to seniors monthly some 52% starting in January 2016. This would mean going from $104.90 to $159.30.
The report states that this would impact 30% of all Medicare beneficiaries and would be again tied to their income, targeting those with incomes over $85,000.
The other, more impactful recommendation is a change to the Part B deductible to $223 instead of the current $147. This would impact ALL Medicare beneficiaries and is sure to cause outrage by the senior lobbyists on K street. There will be much pushback to such an increase.
CSG Actuarial is analyzing the impact on carriers and on seniors with Plan F and Plan G. The initial analysis is that the Plan F rates will, after accommodating for the higher built-in cost in the premiums of Plan F which will absorb the new Part B deductible, need to increase 4% due to more claims. Plan G, however, would see less claims and actually justify a rate reduction. How carriers would choose to implement the change is still up in the air.
We will continue to monitor this recommendation's impact on seniors and whether or not it will be adopted.
Today it was officially announced that CIGNA and Anthem have struck a deal to become, for now, the largest health insurer in America. The terms of the final deal finally having weathered the storm of a two-month long negotiation, the deal is said to be worth $48 Billion to CIGNA for its acquisition into Anthem.
The independent market is still waiting to hear how this will impact the Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage distribution channels. The deal might take two years to get through regulator's approval.
As always, we'll have the specific news when it's available as to how this will impact the individual agent. – Stay tuned!
See the announcement:
A video that was supposed to be private feedback between Chris Westfall and one of his telemarketers in the Phillipines was accidently left PUBLIC on Youtube. It now has over 1,000 views and has some good tactical information for all telemarketers. In this video, there is an example, from Chris' telemarketer, revealing the “pause of death”, where 95% of folks were hanging up on the call as a direct result.
Once this pausing was corrected, the results took a dramatic turn and the campaign was successful.
The information in the video is repeated quite a few times, but there is some good information at the end, too, about the inquisitive, non-confident way in which each sentence was ending, by the telemarketer. Each statement sounded like a question, leading the prospect to believe that the telemarketer was 1) unqualified 2) not confident and 3) scared out of her mind.
Here's the video:
For more specific information on hiring a telemarketer, outsourcing and more, see this link from MedicareAgentTraining.com
(Non-Members won't see results.)
Over the 4th of July weekend, I received an e-mail offering a comparison of all of the Medicare Supplement rates in my area for ONLY $49!
This was such a deal because their usual cost is $99 for an unbiased quote of all Medicare Supplement plans in my area.
What a deal, right?
Wrong. I'm often asked by potential clients what my service costs.. for me to look up the rates and also provide them the background on the companies listed in the results. Very happily, I tell them that our service costs them nothing, as it is included in the cost of the premiums, whether they went direct to the carrier OR used the service of an experienced agent. No extra cost!
I did a video about my reaction, and show the e-mail from the company offering the $49 Medicare Supplement quote.
– From Christopher Westfall
As I write this on Independence Day, I am so profoundly thankful of the opportunity that I have been afforded to be able to create an income and a lifestyle rarely experienced in our world, all through the act of service. As I look back over the past 8 years of focus on the Medicare insurance niche, I recall the hundreds of insurance agents who wanted to catch a ride down this path, but gave up far too soon to realize a return of their, if any, effort.
This morning, I turned on the TV to see a former Navy Seal singing a country music song on Fox & Friends and, when asked what makes him proud of America on this 4th of July, he said that he wants to thank the small business owners of America for putting their freedom into action. That made me proud.. to think that here we are, building a business by tuly helping other Americans.
See the clip:
And just to think, that so many have quit this race before they even got over that first hill!
As I saw Gary Vaynerchuk say today, so many people in today's culture expect immediate gratification and immediate results that, when they don't get it, 95% will leave their business before getting the desired result.
This is a fascinating clip that I encourage you, highly, to watch:
And yet, Entrepreneur magazine, among others, says that even in a franchise business model, where the concept is rock-solid proven to work, the business owner should expect a minimum of three years to even reach profitability in the business and start returning some of the initial investment!
So, my message this Independence Day is that freedom, even to be your own boss, isn't free. It takes much more time and energy than some have patience for. But the reward is definitely, absolutely worth it.
We are able to build a tremendous residual income over time that gets easier the longer we stick with it.
We start building momentum, referrals, and diversified marketing methods with time and experience until we get to the point where the phone is just near-constantly ringing with folks that need our help. Yes, it is worth it!
So, Happy Independence Day, and I'm very proud to be associated with all of the other business owners in their pursuit of the American dream – helping our fellow citizens and enjoying the freedom that comes with business ownership!
Here's a quick video message from Chris Westfall on considerations as to whether or not to hire an assistant..
See the video:
This new graphical flyer from Humana does a good job of explaining how the donut hole applies to the Medicare recipients on their Part D drug plan (or embedded drug plan in their MAPD).
Click here for the PDF flyer: Doughnut Hole for 2015
And here's a helpful video that Chris did for his clients to explain the doughnut hole.. this video is from 2013, but you'll get the point!
See the video:
Can you use direct mail to sell Medicare Supplements by Phone?
If you know what you're doing.. absolutely. Information will be in the Webinars page under the member's area.
CIGNA has agreed to purchase Sterling Life from Wellcare
See the video:
April 24, 2015
CIGNA has entered into an agreement, pending regulatory approval, to purchase Sterling Life Insurance Company from its current owner, Wellcare. Wellcare purchased the fledgling Sterling Life just three years ago, and tried to turn around its sinking sales of Medicare Supplements, without success. Now, CIGNA hopes to sell their ancillary products to the Sterling clients.
CIGNA's official e-mail to agents can be found here.
For details on how this might impact the competitive nature of Medicare Supplement selling, make sure to watch the Medicare training webinars inside MedicareAgentTraining.com
Chris Westfall was interviewed at the 2015 National Medicare Supplement Conference in Orlando. The interview was to be included in the bonus footage provided to attendees and others. In the video, Chris was asked about various aspects of selling Medicare supplements by phone.
This is behind-the-scenes “bootleg” video of the recording. The TV cameras caught the good footage and the audio, to be edited later!
Medico just sent out an e-mail blast telling agents that they should strongly consider NOT chasing the Turning 65 crowd.
This is great! It's the first time a carrier has acknowledged the huge opportunity that I've been talking about for eight years – all of those (45 Million) that are NOT “Turning 65”.
Higher premiums means higher commissions and more opportunities to help folks out of an expensive plan!
See more on Medico here.
Way to go, Medico!
A recent post Chris made on the insurance forums:
“I really can't recall reading anyone who just started from day 1 selling 3-5 med sups a week yr round? It just seems med sups are part time selling for 3-5 yrs till it builds up and you're making $100k plus a yr”
When I started selling Medicare Supplements by phone, I was using direct mail from Mainstreet Powermail and relied heavily on their experience with historical response rates to guide where I would do the mailings. As I could mail anywhere in any state, I asked their rep for guidance as to the absolute best state response rates in the country and then in that best state. Believe it or not, I was getting 4 to 6% response rates in Michigan at the time.
I was writing 3 to 5 deals a week and only working Med Supps two days a week in the early days. I then continued to mail, fill the pipeline, and moved eventually to doing it five days a week, away from a mix of doing local final expense sales in person. Making that transition was a balancing act, because the final expense sales paid more, up front, but I knew from the residual income aspect that it was a better, long term play to get into the Medicare Supplements.
When the direct mail returns started to go down and we had two postage rate increases close to each other, I turned to telemarketing. I paid a local guy to do my calling and he would gauge interest and then build me up to the potential client on the phone, setting an appointment for me to go over their options based on how much they would save by switching to a new carrier on the same plan. This, too, worked very consistently.
Fast forward six years later and the phone rings all week from referrals now.
I write three to eight deals every week from referrals, spouses of clients, or posts I've put on the internet that are discovered by those shopping.
It is nice not having to do outbound marketing. This is something that I was told, early on, would happen but was hard to believe when it felt like it was so hard to get any traction in the business.
“It just seems med sups are part time selling for 3-5 yrs till it builds up and you're making $100k plus a yr”
You can do it part-time and get there slower, for sure. I know many agents who started selling Medicare Supplements at night after their full-time jobs. I started part-time doing it just two days per week but set those entire days aside to concentrate on this aspect of my business before going full-time.
If I had it to do over again, I would have done it the exact same way. I probably worked 30 hours in those two days, early on. I know for a fact that it greatly depends on how hungry you are. I see, day in and day out, agents who rely on their spouse's income to support their family and they treat their business as a part-time hobby. That won't cut it. Those in that scenario do not have the fortitude to weather the rejection and stay long enough to enjoy the income.
On the other hand, I see agents who commit to cutting their safety net and it is sink or swim. They swim. Their commitment level is do or die and that makes all of the difference in their mindset to working the hours necessary and doing whatever it takes to make enough presentations.
Whichever direction you choose to go in, I strongly suggest investing in help with the prospecting, then the prospecting and pre-screening as soon as you can afford to do so. There is no greater time waster than spending YOUR valuable, limited and precious time with those that are uninterested. Even worse is spending 95% of your time with those that are uninterested and even if they were interested, unqualified to take action (due to health, qualification to buy a Med Supp, etc.).
I continue to find it extremely liberating to have someone on your schedule that understands what you do, knows the price of the best plan for them, knows that they will likely qualify based on the health questions OF that plan and knows exactly what their savings will be once they consummate that transaction with you.
This was my best lesson learned in this business:
Is it a good idea for a senior to fill out their own electronic application for Medicare Supplement coverage?
Should you, as an agent, send out direct mail with a carrier's website and a six-digit number code after it, and expect seniors to sign themselves up?
Absolutely not.. see the video:
What do the letters mean on the Medicare Claim number?
The Social Security number followed by one of these codes is often referred to as a claim number.
They assign these codes once you apply for benefits.
These letter codes may appear on correspondence you receive from Social Security or on your Medicare card.
They will never appear on a Social Security card.
For example, if the wage earner applying for benefits and your number is 123-45-6789, then your claim number is 123-45-6789A.
This number will also be used as your Medicare claim number, once you are eligible for Medicare.
A Primary claimant (wage earner)
B Aged wife, age 62 or over
B1 Aged husband, age 62 or over
B2 Young wife, with a child in her care
B3 Aged wife, age 62 or over, second claimant
B5 Young wife, with a child in her care, second claimant
B6 Divorced wife, age 62 or over
BY Young husband, with a child in his care
C1-C9 Child – Includes minor, student or disabled child
D Aged Widow, age 60 or over
D1 Aged widower, age 60 or over
D2 Aged widow (2nd claimant)
D3 Aged widower (2nd claimant)
D6 Surviving Divorced Wife, age 60 or over
E Widowed Mother
E1 Surviving Divorced Mother
E4 Widowed Father
E5 Surviving Divorced Father
F1 Parent (Father)
F2 Parent (Mother)
F5 Adopting Father
F6 Adopting Mother
HA Disabled claimant (wage earner)
HB Aged wife of disabled claimant, age 62 or over
M Uninsured – Premium Health Insurance Benefits (Part A)
M1 Uninsured – Qualified for but refused Health Insurance Benefits (Part A)
T Uninsured – Entitled to HIB (Part A) under deemed or renal provisions; or Fully insured who have elected entitlement only to HIB
TA Medicare Qualified Government Employment (MQGE)
TB MQGE aged spouse
W Disabled Widow
W1 Disabled Widower
W6 Disabled Surviving Divorced Wife
NOTE: This list is not complete, but shows the most common beneficiary codes.
CMS is gearing up to release the 2016 funding levels on February 20th, 2015.
Last year, there was a lot of intense lobbying in Congress after the first set of numbers were released, then they were changed due to these lobbying efforts.
What will happen this year? Speculation ranges from .8% increase, by JP Morgan Chase, up to 2% increase by other industry watchers. Medicare Advantage rates are not just driven by the needed numbers. Moreso, the increase or decrease is driven by politics.
We will see soon…
A good article on the topic:
Lobbying Peaks as Rates for Medicare Advantage Expected
From the former debate:
A report from PublicIntegrity.org details new, and not-so-new investigations into Medicare Advantage potential fraud and abuse around the country. In multiple states, and across providers, Congress is trying to get a handle on the overpayments that are happening with this managed care approach to replacing original Medicare.
A new podcast was uploaded to iTunes recently answering the question as to what the secret is in closing the sale – any sale.
This was based on much research into where the failures or shortcomings exist where agents are showing a consistent track record of NOT making sales happen, even though they know the technical knowledge and they know how to present the opportunity to save money to the senior client.
It's worth a listen. In the post that holds the podcast, there is a link to a very valuable book by Mike Brooks. Everyone that convinces, influences, or sells by phone should own that book!
See the post here: Secret to Closing the Sale
As of January 30, 2015, the MedicareAgentTraining.com site is providing the best quote engine in the Medicare Supplement business as a free benefit for its members. The quote engine includes all states in the country, and the value is over $100 per month to our member. However, it's included in the regular membership.
This quote engine provides not only the hottest carriers in the market, in real time, but also rate increase history, company earnings and loss ratio information, AM Best rating and more. This can be vital information to help you help your senior client to the facts that will help them save money by making you their client.
This is only one of the benefits available to members, making participation in MedicareAgentTraining.com a “no brainer”, as they say!
Watch this short video clip from the webinar announcement:
I've been often asked, “Should I work each day until I reach two or three sales in that day, then stop for the day?”
Here is the answer:
A few weeks ago, over 100 websites hosted on my server got infected because someone did not have their WordPress page updated.
This vulnerability cannot be allowed to continue, so with that warning, here is a VERY important message for ANYONE with a WordPress site. If you do not watch this, or implement these steps, it is only a matter of time before your web site is utilized by hackers to further their business. Your web hosting provider will eventually shut down your site, too, as they see the site being taken over by “Malware” (malicious software).
Please watch this important video:
( I recommend maximizing it to full screen at the highest resolution to see the detail.)
When can you or your telemarketers make calls?
Several states have more restrictive calling time restrictions than those published by the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission.
Federal rules dictate no calls before 8 AM or after 9 PM, and apply to all calls that do not have a more restrictive state requirement listed below.
Please be aware of these restrictions and keep in mind that violations may amount to $16,000 per call.
STATE CALLING TIME RESTRICTIONS
Alabama 8 AM to 8 PM (Monday-Saturday) Calls prohibited on Sunday and state and federal holidays
Connecticut 9 AM to 9 PM
Illinois Security sales only 9 AM to 9 PM (Monday- Saturday), 12 PM to 9 PM(Sunday)
Kentucky 10 AM to 9 PM
Louisiana 8 AM to 8 PM (Monday-Saturday) Calls prohibited on Sunday and state holidays
Massachusetts 8 AM to 8 PM
Michigan 9 AM to 9 PM
Minnesota 9 AM to 9 PM
Mississippi 8 AM to 8 PM (Monday-Saturday) Calls prohibited on Sunday and legal holidays
Nevada 9 AM to 8 PM
New Mexico 9 AM to 9 PM
Rhode Island 9 AM to 6 PM (Monday – Friday), 10 AM to 5 PM (Saturday) Calls prohibited on Sunday and state and federal holidays
South Dakota 9 AM to 9 PM (Monday – Saturday) Calls prohibited on Sunday
Texas 9 AM to 9 PM (Monday – Saturday), Noon – 9 PM on Sunday
Utah 8 AM to 9 PM (Monday – Saturday) Calls prohibited on Sunday and legal holidays
Wyoming 8 AM to 8 PM
Personal observation in my neighborhood about positioning and the insurance professional.
If you are considering local marketing, please use the methods described in this post.
The results are much better and the positioning makes you out as the expert you are.
Leaving flyers, door to door, for insurance leads is not only a tough way to go, but doing this yourself means you have nothing better to do and leaves you in a very bad position in the mind of your prospect. There is a way to do it where you can introduce yourself, show what you have to offer (much better than a corporate brochure) and have others deliver these packets much more efficiently FOR YOU.
See the post: Getting Started Without Leads
It is ALWAYS better when you develop your own leads for insurance sales. Rather than relying on lead vendors, who very often rip off the unsuspecting agent, when you learn to create your own leads you can control the quality, the quantity of leads, and your costs along the way.
On November 15, 2014, Chris Westfall was interviewed on the “Money Matters” radio program on WSC 94.3FM in Charleston, SC.
The show's host, Rick Durkee, is a well known financial advisor in the greater Charleston area with a financial services firm dedicated to those that are retiring or already in retirement. Chris met Rick through a mutual friend at the radio station and Chris was invited to be a guest on the show, in recognition of the “Medicare season” going on.
Here is the interview, edited by Chris for brevity (commercials removed):
As seen on Shark Tank, sometimes you just have to say, “I'm Out!” when you are presented with someone that only excuses, no results, and wants you to rescue that situation.
What Lori has to say about it:
What Robert has to say about it:
And Cesar said it, too:
Many of my clients are now finding my agency from the online world.
It is getting to be essential to have a presence online that is credible, persuasive, and looks professional.
This is the neatest thing I've seen in a very long time.
It makes the nicest looking pages I've ever seen, but adds animation and lots more, if you want it.
Here, I show a couple of demo sites that I created in 10 minutes and 15 minutes, respectively.
You can check out this awesome software and see more comprehensive demonstrations here: MedicareAgentTraining.com/profitbuilder
The question will naturally be “Can you make members one of these cool web sites?”
The answer is no, not at this time. With my schedule, it's just impossible, and with this super easy tool, it is too easy for anyone who wants a great looking site, to build it in minutes. Learning how to directly control your internet presence is essential, and becoming more so each and every day.
The quote engine we see is a reflection of today's published rates by the carrier.
This has absolutely NOTHING to do with the rate the long time customer is paying right now.
What you are seeing on the quote engine software, or the rates offered today, does not in any way correspond with the rate increase that a particular person has received over the period of time with the company.
You are not looking at THEIR rates that they have risen to, right now.
You are merely looking at what the rates would be, today, if the person was a new client.
This is a better way to present it. I tell them that if they were a NEW customer with THEIR same insurance company, they would be treated MUCH better today. Insurance companies do not reward loyalty. They are always offering better deals for the NEW people. Just like a cable company, cell phone company, etc.
Even today, gym memberships, etc. will offer a very special program, but the small print says, “Not available to current members.” It is because they already have you, lock, stock, and barrel.
If you don't shop the market, at least every two years, you are at a tremendous disadvantage.
The insurance companies are loyal to one thing – the DOLLAR. And they want new clients, always.
The ones they've already got, they'll continue to raise the rates faster.
See the video:
Do you take the machine gun approach to leaving a voicemail?
Or are you thoughtful in the message that you leave, encouraging with your tone of voice, diction, speed, and message for the person to call you back?
This is a drastic example of what not to do..
1) Who are you?
2) What are you calling about? (“What's in it for me?”)
3) Phone number given, twice, at writing speed.
How do you cancel an old Medicare Supplement policy when the new one has been issued?
That's the topic of this week's SeniorAgentPodcast with Chris Westfall.
Feel free to listen to the answer!
Questions answered include:
- When should you cancel a new Medicare Supplement policy?
- Do you call, or does the client call the old company?
- Is a form required to cancel an old policy?
- Can they get their old policy back?
- Is there any grace period?
Can I legally call someone and talk about Medicare Supplement plans?
This is a question that was asked by a new agent this week.
The agent said she had heard that you can lose your license, pay a fine, etc. for cold calling someone about Medicare plans.
What the agent is referring to is the marketing of Medicare Advantage Plans.
You can find the marketing rules from CMS about Medicare Advantage plans here.
However, in most all states, it is perfectly legal to telemarketing / cold call, door knock, and approach seniors about Medicare Supplement plans. Only one state, that I know of, has restrictions on the marketing of Medicare Supplement plans.
That state is Ohio. Their law prohibits the following for both Medicare Advantage AND Medicare Supplement marketing.
(2) Any of the following unsolicited contacts with a medicare-eligible person:
(a) Door-to-door solicitation including leaving information such as a leaflet, flyer, or door hanger at a residence, or leaving information such as a leaflet or flyer on someone's car;
(b) Approaching individual prospective applicants in common areas (e.g., parking lots, hallways, lobbies, sidewalks, etc.);
(c) Telephonic solicitation including leaving electronic voicemail messages;
(d) These prohibitions on marketing through unsolicited contacts do not extend to mail and other media (e.g., advertisements, direct mail), or unsolicited contacts with prospective applicants with whom the entity or insurance agent has a business relationship.
Near the end of this podcast, I have several suggestions for various new ways to market Medicare Supplement plans through centers of influence.
Those referenced interviews are found at MedicareAgentTraining.com
Today, Monday June 9, 2014, I had FIVE agents write to me that they've just sold their first Medicare Supplement policies.
Their membership costs here at the support site are now waived forever.
Thank you guys (and gal) for stepping up and stepping apart!
You continue to prove that yes, this can be done successfully, and I'm very proud to be working with you!!!!
There is also a major agency out there that recruits with a "free leads" model for Medicare Supplements that says that the owner specifically prohibits you to contact your clients that you've written, after you've written them.
He says in his agent contract that he believes it's in their best interest to be "left alone" and not bothered again by the agent.
"If they don't call you, leave them alone and they will stay."
This is a public post answering the question, “When is the best time to start my new Medicare Supplement plan.”
This answers the question as to the best effective date for a new Medigap plan.
NOTE: For those on Medicare Disability, and turning 65, the effective date of their >65 Medicare Supplement has to be ON THEIR exact birthday… NOT on the first of their birthday month.
Why? Because since they're already on <65 Medicare, due to disability, THEIR Open Enrollment period starts actually on their birthday. So, you can write Plan G, etc. because of Open Enrollment, but it cannot start before their actual birth day.
Watch the Full Replay here:
*Hosted by Christopher Westfall and Sandy Botkin
About the presenter: Sandy Botkin is a CPA, tax attorney and a former IRS trainer. He has been trained millions of small businesses and independent contractors on how to get their taxes down to the lowest legal limit. He is a bestselling author of “Lower Your Taxes Big Time” and several other best-selling business books. Sandy is a frequent guest tax expert on NBC, ABC, Fox, and CNN.
There is a right way and a wrong way to be a Medicare agent.
This was one of my experiences on a cruise to the Bahamas in March, 2014:
If your intention is to build a business BY helping people, you will succeed by putting activity behind that intention.
If, however, you want to make money at all costs, and seriously don't care how you get there, please do not join the ranks of the insurance industry. There are enough agents out here now trying to give us a bad name.
An agent recently asked me, “Is it really possible to succeed, selling Medicare Supplements from home, as a one-man show?”
Yes, absolutely you can succeed at it.
Here are some of the keys to making it as a one-person agency to get started:
Membership at this site gives you the tools and the knowledge you need to be successful when selling Medicare Supplements by phone, or in person. You do have to apply yourself, and yes, it does take discipine and committment, but there are thousands of agents now doing this, and we have millions more seniors to reach. Come on!!
I'm often asked, “WHEN is the best time to ask your client, or potential client, about other products that they may be interested in?”
Yes, there are plenty of things that your clients may eventually want to purchase, but the best thing to do is to first make them a client, preferrably by saving them money. Then, and only then, talk about cross selling other products to your Medicare Supplement client.
Also see this related post: http://medicareagenttraining.com/where-to-focus-the-riches-are-in-the-niches/
The Fortune is in the Follow Up
Medicare supplements provide insurance agents the opportunity for residual income. But, with that opportunity, comes responsibility. The responsibility is to take care of your clients and continue to shop for them in the future. It is not a one time transaction.
It should be an on-going relationship of taking care of their needs.
It is very rewarding to offer seniors the chance to shop for the best Medicare Supplement rate and move to the better offer. All Medicare Supplement plans are the same. They perform exactly the same way. The only difference (found on Pg 68 of the 2014 Medicare & You Guidebook) is in the premium.
And there is a great difference in the premiums.
We are often able to save our senior clients from $50 to $150 per month on the same, exact plan that they have.
The fact is, their agent should have been shopping the market for a better plan much sooner than allowing them to get that far out of whack from the best rate in the market.
The insurance companies HOPE that the senior never shops the market again. They take it for granted that they will not go shopping and will stay right where they are. They then continue to raise the rate, faster and faster.
It is definitely in the senior's best interest to shop at every announcement of a rate increase. If you, the agent, has a relationship with your client, you'll be able to be the one they call to shop again.
Glad we are focused on Medicare Supplements, which remain untouched by this news. - CW
Insurers face about 3.6% Medicare Advantage rate cuts
Have you heard someone repeatedly say, “I can't do technology”, or “I don't do computers”, or “Technology is not my friend”, or “I'm not good with computers”?
This is a cop out from trying UNTIL you get it.
It takes time, and you can absolutely, positively figure it out (with with my help on MedicareAgentTraining.com).
My best advice is to never let those words come out of your mouth again.
By letting yourself hear those words from your mouth, you are absolutely, without a doubt, sabatoging your success, your business, and your potential income.
Whatever your mouth says, your mind believes.
You can have what you say.
Try this instead, “I'm learning how to use the computer.”
“I am getting better and better at the computer.”
“I was a late comer to technology, but I'm getting the hang of it.”
Then, stop learning WHEN you've learned it.
Do not give up UNTIL you get it down.
Do not stop trying different things UNTIL you get it to work or find the resource to explain it in a way that you understand better.
This rant of blunt truth is just the beginning.. It's time for me to stop hand holding and start telling the truth straight to folks. Some will, some won't do it, but it really is the agent's choice – either way.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right.” – Henry Ford
Plan G is a better value than Plan F. Every day every time.
Because even if the rate is not drastically better today, the renewals surely will be better (for Plan G) tomorrow.
Mutual of Omaha on February 12, 2014 had a post purporting the benefits of Plan G.
This was covered in depth for our members in this webinar, where not only are the benefits shown, but the salesmanship to go along with it are explored. The only company in the market paying commissions on the Part B deductible is New Era (and sister company Philadelphia American). This means, with the other companies, you are not getting paid commission on the deductible, anyway.
In my opinion, it is far better to separate yourself from the competition by saving your client the most money today, and at renewal time, by strongly recommending Plan G.
Remember, though, that many seniors just won't get it. Some are not capable of understanding the numbers and just want the convenience of Plan F. Don't be discouraged when you encounter this. They just don't want to be bothered. In the end, the customer is always right, and I'm happy to sell them what they are looking for.
Last night I was out with my wife and saw, on a restaurant's TV, a commercial playing on the ESPN channel.
The commercial was for SelectQuote Senior – their new senior division, selling Medicare Supplements to seniors.
Upon reviewing their site, they have a very limited, and somewhat outdated, list of carriers that they represent in the Medicare Supplement market. For instance, they're still selling Gerber Life and GPM Life's Medicare Supplement plans, neither of which are competitive anymore.
The fact that such a large company is entering the Medicare Supplement marketplace reinforces that this is definitely the place to be!
The recent report by CSG Actuarial said that the outlook for 2014 and beyond for the Medicare Supplement market is very good.
Proving once again, selling Medicare Supplements by phone CAN be done!
Here is the commercial I saw:
Update since the post:
Comment from Paul in KC:
On Sun, Feb 2 at 11:35 AM , Paul wrote:
A new study by the CSG Actuarial folks says that it is a very good time to be in the Medicare Supplement market.
By Doug Feekin on January 31, 2014 —
Now that we’ve put a wrap on 2013, here’s a 2014 Medicare Supplement market forecast from CSG Actuarial. All in all, it is a very good time to be in the Medicare Supplement market. The market is expanding due to the demographics in the United States and the risk issues of the past few years seemed to have settled down. Most companies are realizing additional profits from lower claim trends and attempting to increase market share.
Claim Trends Stay Lower
CSG Actuarial is projecting that overall Medicare and Medicare Supplement claim trends will continue the pattern from the past three years and remain lower in 2014. Along with the overall lower claim trends, Medicare Supplement Plans C and F should experience further dampening of their claim trends due to the Part B Deductible not increasing in 2014.
Lower Claim Trends | Lower Premium Increases
CSG Actuarial is projecting that these lower claim trends will continue to drive lower and/or delayed premium increases. Overall premium rate increases have declined the past three years and we expect 2014 rate increases to be generally in line with the level of increases implemented in 2013.
CSG Actuarial is projecting a continued emphasis on Plan G from some of the primary companies in the Medicare Supplement market. In most instances, the premium savings for Plan G versus Plan F is substantially greater than the out of pocket cost of the Part B Deductible and some agents are starting to put more focus on plans other than F.
Sales, Sales, Sales
CSG Actuarial is projecting continued growth in the overall sales in the Medicare Supplement market. Our current estimate for overall 2014 Medicare Supplement annualized new premium sales is between $3.5 and $3.6 billion. CSG Actuarial expects that at least 10 companies will have Medicare Supplement sales greater than $50 million in 2014.
New Market Entrants
CSG Actuarial is projecting an increase of new entrants into the Medicare Supplement market in 2014. The pipeline appears to contain at least 10 and possibly as many as 15 companies attempting to put new Medicare Supplement products on the street in 2014.
About CSG Actuarial
CSG Actuarial is a leading provider of actuarial and competitive information for supplemental products. CSG has more than 50 years of actuarial experience with pricing, product development and competitive intelligence within the Medicare Supplement, Critical Illness, Cancer, Final Expense, and Hospital Indemnity markets. Call 855-861-8776 or email [email protected] to learn more.
(Remember, you can utilize the CSG Quote engine for free using our tools. See the Tools page.)
Today, Central States Indemnity Company (CSI Life) announced that they are ending the sale of final expense plans effective March 1, 2014.
A company news release through their distributor, AIMC, today said they will not be renewing any state appointments for CSI life.
The release says that any business in place with CSI Life will continue to remain in force as long as the insured pays the premium, and that renewal commission will continue to be paid.
They also say that they are very committed to the Medicare Supplement market.
This is the second carrier in as many weeks that has announced they are leaving the final expense market.
Last week, we covered the fact that Forethought Life Insurance Company told their FMO‘s that they are leaving the final expense market and will no longer accept applications after January 31, 2014.
As mentioned in the first webinar of 2014, we have a study going on with the following lead sources for the first quarter of 2014.
1) Internet leads targeting Medicare Supplement online leads
– Using AllWebLeads / InsuranceLeads.com
2) Direct Mail to 68-72 year olds. 4,000 pieces mailed, split between:
– Using Kramer Lead Marketing's “Medicare Comparison” piece and
– Using LeadConnections.com “E-80” lead piece
3) Telemarketed Leads using the new discount with the phone room with USA operators.
The study is well underway and updates will be sent to all members when ready.
In a recent story by Forbes online, they state:
“The Obama team has made a warm embrace of managed care options when it comes to Obamacare and Medicaid. But for Medicare, they want to deny low-income seniors these options. All of the administration's old arguments on why they resisted these private Medicare plans have been largely mooted, or never materialized.”
The Forbes.com article goes on to site a study that says at least 13% of Medicare Advantage plans expect to be eliminated by 2015. The agent in the Medicare market must strongly consider having a deeply rooted anchor in the Medicare Supplement market, as we do.
As always, I'll continue to keep you updated on the changes and opportunities in this awesome marketplace, here on MedicareAgentTraining.com.
Source: More Cuts In Store For Medicare Plans — Here Are The Options That Will Shrink Most For Seniors
On the Friday webinar for members, held January 3, 2014, I laid out the predictions from all of the experts on the decline for Medicare Advantage business in the near future. This is for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the shenanigans employed by the president just prior to the election, where Medicare Advantage would be propped up to shield seniors from the cuts in the ACA – until just AFTER the election.
See the webinar on this topic here:
Today, an article was written by Bloomberg pointing to the same conclusion.
It is an interesting read, and further proves my prediction was correct. Medicare Supplements are the wave of the future, not Medicare Advantage!
Make sure that you're a member of MedicareAgentTraining.com to get the latest, even before the pundits, on what's happening in our market. If you're not a member, you can join here.
Today, I was introduced to the famous quotes of Ben Franklin, and WOW.
I think all of these specifically apply to small business people and salespeople, specifically.
In my experience with agents, I have found that the #1 cause of failure for insurance agents is that they not followed these principles. I never knew, until today, that all of these principles were espoused to prominently by our founding fathers, too!
Here are Benjamin Franklin’s Top 9 Pieces of Advice for Living a Productive Life
1. The sleeping fox catches no poultry.
2. Lost time is never found again.
3. Laziness travels so slowly, that poverty soon overtakes him.
4. Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
5. There are no gains, without pains.
6. Diligence is the mother of good luck.
7. Be ashamed to catch yourself idle.
8. Let not the sun look down and say, “inglorious, here he lies”.
9. A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two separate things.
Re-posted from Chris Bloor:
FACTS ABOUT FOLLOW UP
• 48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect
• 25% of sales people make a second contact and stop
• 12% of sales people make more than three contacts
• 2% of sales are made on the first contact
• 3% of sales are made on the second contact
• 5% of sales are made on the third contact
• 10% of sales are made on the fourth contact
• 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact
Creating and using a simple follow up system [that works on autopilot] is a guaranteed way to grow your business.
CONSIDER THIS: With less than 52% of all sales people following up with their prospects at all, you will not only grow your business but you will stand out ‘head and shoulders’ amongst your peers.
And bearing in mind that 80% of sales are made in the 5th to 12th contact if you are in a market with serious competition you can literally eliminate your competitors by simply following up on your prospects diligently and consistently.
We use follow-up systems like Send Out Cards for insurance agents, with customized campaigns that we make available to members.
Whatever you use, you must employ some sort of follow up system. All professionals do, if they plan to stick around!
I'm convinced that the reason for my agency's success has been the effective use of time.
See the video:
If you are willing to do NOW what others are not, you will have, LATER, what others will not.
I wish you the best for 2014 and beyond!
A new report by CSG Actuarial shows that the trend in Medicare Supplement rate increases is actually going down.
According to the survey, the average rate increase for 2011 was 8.4%.
The average rate increase from 2012 was 7.2%, while the average rate increase in the year 2013 was down to just under 5%.
This is a positive development, as all seniors consider rate increases in their selection of the Medicare Supplement as to the solution to their healthcare needs.
Watch this video commentary on the CSG study..
See the video:
I'm often asked, by agents considering coming into the niche of marketing insurance to seniors, “Which way should I go? Life insurance sales or Medicare Supplement sales”.
The question really is, are you looking for one-time income, or residual income?
If you can pay your bills right now, while starting to build your residual income, that's the best strategy.
Life insurance should be pursued in niche marketing. “The riches are in the niches.”
Medicare Supplement sales should be pursued to build a residual income for the future. This is a great retirement plan.
Mentioned in the video:
http://MedicareAgentTraining.com – Medicare Training
Thanks for watching..
In this briefing, Chris Westfall goes through the Medicare Advantage changes that are now being followed in the media. Seniors considering a Medicare Advantage plan for 2014 should watch this video and see the writing on the wall.
Update since video:
20% of RI docs leave the MA plan:
See the video briefing:
http://MedicareAgentTraining.com – for agents only
Seniors should visit: http://SeniorSavingsNetwork.org
What happens when one spouse is approved, yet the other spouse is declined on a Medicare Supplement application?
Framing the situation is critical so that they understand the net savings are still worth pursuing, since this is why you wrote the applications in the first place.
Find out in this video:
00:40 Restaurant Story to Frame the Problem/Solution
01:20 Spouse Discount considerations when splitting the policies between carriers
02:50 What I say in these split approval situations
03:10 Backup plan – having a company with unique underwriting opportunities
03:35 2014 Medicare & You Guidebook -“How do I Compare Medigap Plans?”
03:55 Gas station analogy that we use for comparing companies
“Yeah, but, can I sell Medicare Supplements successfully?”
This is the question I'm answering in this video.
Coming from law enforcement into the senior market in insurance, that was about the craziest transition ever. I know that if you can go from 15 years of telling people what to do, and ordering around subordinates, and you can learn the skillset necessary to succeed in a sales career, then anything is possible!
If you've been in construction, retail sales, or customer service – it does not matter.
If you focus on the skillset necessary to become an interested salesperson – interested in what the client's needs are, you can succeed.
This was a weekend video rant about agents who are giving us all a bad name and it answers the question:
Click the video for Chris' weekend rant!
This is a preface to our webinar from September 20, 2013 on Building Trust with Senior Clients, in order to make the Medicare Supplement sale by phone.
How to sell Medicare Supplements, either in person or by phone.
Far too many agents are chasing the senior that is turning 65.
I advocate for a different approach.
Find the senior who already knows what they have, how it works, etc., but they've been abandoned by their “T65” agent for years. They have put up with the rate increases because they just do not know where to turn. That's where you come in.
As an independent agent, you can help this, our greatest generation, to save money on something they already know how to use. You don't need to educate them on how Medicare supplements work down at their doctor's office. They can tell you lots of stories about how great the program is. But they're paying too much.
Each time you ask them, “Where has your agent been for the last five years?”
They will say, “What agent?”
These agents are signing up seniors once, at 65 years old, never to be heard from again. That's a very stupid business model that makes agents look bad, as a whole.
We should be promising to follow up, and then actually following up each year, at least, at renewal time to again shop the market for them and constantly look out for our clients. They deserve nothing less.
This video is for agents only…
We're available for contact at 1-800-729-9590
Our agency is:
It was just annoucned today, September 16, 2013, that the product will no longer be offered, effective October 1, 2013.
This is a disappointing move by AFLAC and its distributor, AIMC. There is, as of yet, no explanation for the sudden move and no field communication has been made prior to this decision that might have helped independent agents get positioned for such a potential transaction with applications currently in process.
This sort of non-communication and rull-pulled-from-under agents and clients is not typical in the industry and will affect future decisions on what companies to market from these higher distribution channels in the future.
In a recent post, we covered guaranteed issue situations in general.
You can see that post on guaranteed issue Medicare supplements here.
Here, I've extracted some good content from one of the carrier's underwriting guides that helps to break down the guaranteed issue rules for California, the guaranteed issue rules for Missouri, and the Guaranteed issue rules for Oregon.
See the graphics below.. the rules on the underwriting dates in advance of the effective date, are specific to Stonebridge Life's Medicare supplement. The Enrollment starts on the birthday and lasts 30 days, not 30 days on each side. All that means is you have to take the app on the birthday or 30 days after to be GI. I am sure Stonebridge will accept apps on either side of the birthday, but no other carriers in CA that I know of will.
See this latest update from the California Dept. of Insurance:
State of Washington:
Leaving on a plane today to get a briefing from various carrier leaders on the outlook for this year's Annual Election Period (AEP).
I will be in Nobelsville, Indiana for meetings Thursday and Friday, and reporting back to our membership at the end.
There is also an important message in here. Click the image below!
First Impressions of Indiana Trip:
Importance of Building Relationships:
Today had an opportunity to sneak away from the conference and drive 3 1/2 hours (each way) to see a friend that I had only known via the phone and computer.
My friend Scott Burke owns an insurance agency with his wife, Jo, in Evansville, Indiana. Scott took me on a drive in his new Mini Cooper turbo! Wow, that's a fast, tiny car for someone who is 6′ 5! Thank goodness he also had a sun roof in there! I also got to meet a couple of Scott's agents, while there, and had a great visit.
This video was made on the 3.5 hour trip to see Scott today.. on the importance of building relationships in this business:
Cesar is now a friend of mine and has some great content in his free webinar that you can attend with the link below.
I guarantee you will get A LOT out of this.
“Former 21yr old Clueless, Broke College Kid Reveals The Secret Lead Generation, Prospecting, & Closing Techniques He Used to Earn His First Million Dollars By The Age of 29″
See the webinar at this link: http://medicareagenttraining.com/go/yesformula/
A little clip from our Self Improvement Page on Cesar:Caesar Rodriguez on Destination Thinking
This is a replay of Mike Brook's webinar: Overcoming Initial Resistance.
While Mike uses this webinar to sell his book of scripts, there is great content here.
Click the image to see the video:
Medico has released their competitive information to their FMO's across the country.
They also announced lower rates and a new household discount in three states, that takes effective September 1.