Are you having a difficult time getting your prospects to answer your call when you are calling them back?
This is very often due to the fact that you are calling from an area code outside of their service area. One study showed that you can increase answer rates by 40% by using local Caller ID. Is this compliant with the Trust in Caller ID Act of 2009? Yes, when you in fact own the rights to the number you are calling from.
There is an active discussion going on in the Member Forums here at MedicareAgentTraining.com where agents are sharing their solutions to this issue.
– AHIP has released data showing that enrollment in the Medicare Supplement, Medigap, has seen a steady increase from 2014 to December 2015. The data represents statistics from 11.8 million enrollees with policies from 305 separate insurers.
The steady increase is due to the standard deductible, and rising out-of-pocket costs for Medicare members, AHIP says. As an essential source of Medicare supplemental coverage, Medigap fills a critical need in the healthcare coverage ecosystem.
The report states that in 2015, Medicare Part A had a $1,260 deductible per benefit period for inpatient hospital care and coinsurance beginning with day 61 of hospitalization. Part B required a 20 percent coinsurance for outpatient and physician care after an annual deductible of $147.
The AHIP data showed four main trends within the Medigap data:
All Medigap enrollment increased from 11.2 million in December 2014 to 11.8 million in December 2015.
Plan G enrollment, which provides coverage of all Medicare deductible and coinsurance amounts except the Part B deductible increased by 28 percent from 2014 to 2015, or by 198,000 enrollees.
Enrollment in Plan K, which provides partial coverage for coinsurance and copayments and has an out-of-pocket limit of $4,940, also increased by 28 percent from 2014 to 2015, or by 16,000 enrollees.
An increase in the percent of fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare beneficiaries with Medigap plans increased from 30 percent in 2014 to 32 percent in 2015.
A partial explanation for the increase in Medigap coverage is directly related to the shifting sands of Medicare coverage since 1990, which has left beneficiaries and payers in flux.
This began in 1990 with an omnibus spending plan that required Medigap plans sold after 1992 to conform to one of 10 uniform benefit packages.
Then in 2003, the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) required elimination of prescription drug benefits, authorized two new plans (K and L) with cost-sharing features, and encouraged development of standardized benefit designs with additional cost sharing features.
More cuts came in 2008 with the passage of the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA). This legislation led to the elimination of at-home recovery benefits to be replaced with hospice care. It also included the removal of preventive care benefits in response to increased FFS coverage. 2008 did see the introduction of two new Medigap policies (Plans M and N) with increased beneficiary cost-sharing features.
Medicare SELECT plans are identical to standardized Medigap plans but require policyholders to use provider networks to receive full benefits. This results in Medicare SELECT plans to generally cost less than related Medigap plans.
In April 2015, Congress passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA).
MACRA states that as of January 1, 2020, Medigap insurance carriers may no longer sell Medigap plans covering the Part B deductible to newly eligible Medicare recipients. Only individuals who are age 65 before 2020 or those Medicare eligible due to a disability will qualify.
Three states maintain waived Medigap plans, exempt from all legislative changes from 1990 on. The three states (Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) continue to offer standardized Medigap plans. Individuals who had purchased Medigap plans in these states do have the ability to keep their coverage if they move out of the three waiver states.
According to the NAIC data, 97 percent of Medigap policies in force on December 31, 2015 were standardized plans. Pre-standardized plans made up only three percent of existing Medigap policies.
Medigap plans are “guaranteed renewable” regardless of when they were purchased. This means Medigap policyholders can maintain their coverage and not have their policy cancelled if there is continued payment of premiums.
AHIP noted that Medigap plans with the highest rate of growth offered the beneficiary a predictable and consistent premium. This feature was especially important to fixed-income Medicare members.
It also saw plans that mirrored features seen in traditional commercial products (coverage for copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles) favored by consumers.
Riding the train from Lucerne to Zurich as I write this, I am reflective of my journey to this point in life and what I had to go through to get here. Traveling Europe this month with my beautiful wife who with me through it all from the beginning, we often take the time to reflect back on the twisted and mangled path that led us, finally, to where we call ourselves “successful”.
Growing up, the only thing I ever wanted to be was a police officer, the guy who helped everyone by getting the “bad guys” and putting them in jail. My world view changed somewhere between 19 and 35 years old, after chasing as many of them as I could and doing my best to rid humanity of the evil-doers.
What impact did I have in that role?
Absolutely none, I'm certain now. My new role in life is much less exciting but much more rewarding at the same time.
In my role now as an insurance agent, trainer, and sometimes role model for others entering this profession, I have heard hundreds of agents from around the country tell me that I was somehow inspirational in their quest from living a possibly exciting, yet for the wrong reasons, life to one of fulfillment, non-excitement, and financial rewards. Sometimes, pursuing the non-exciting life is a reward all in itself.
Not having to respond to everyone's emergency, and being able to build financial freedom slowly and methodically, has its perks. The knowledge that this profession has now given me the opportunity to build a true residual income that builds and builds, versus the old salary days of having to count how long it would be, in days, until the next paycheck where we could buy what we really needed for our young family – truly a blessing. I can clearly recount the horrors of a car problem that would leave us sidelined and having to rely on friends or family to shuttle the family around as we checked the credit card balances to see how we would pay for our one minivan's repair to get us back into some state of “normal.”
It's not all about money, not in the least. As I am now passing through the beautiful countryside of Switzerland, I am reflecting back to my start in insurance. I was in the City of Deltona, Florida, where the majority of the population appeared to be at or below the poverty line. Or, maybe that's just the side I got to see every day in my profession, as we would respond to all of the most horrific of human tragedies on a daily basis. Murders, suicides, car crashes and human-on-human suffering created for no reason other than that folks felt like they had nothing to look forward to and nothing to live for. This is what I saw all day, every day. Unfortunately, it had a very negative impact that grew over time.
Here, in Switzerland, we have been experiencing not only the majesty of the snow-capped mountains and the beautiful lakes and crisp, clean air, but we are alongside other tourists from around the world who are here celebrating where their life has brought them to this point where they can experience the world and take it all in. We have enjoyed tram rides up to the peak of Mount Pilatus with folks from China. We rode a train in Amsterdam with to the tulip fields with folks from Japan. Each of these experiences reinforced to me that there is a much bigger world that has been going on during my whole lifetime, that I have been 'til now, missing out on because of where I chose to spend my first career trying to get the bad guys and suffering, right along with the rest, in daily human suffering.
It is true that being a first responder and seeing it every day does not make you so much a participant in the tragedy you witness, but after a number of years the toll it takes on you and the paradigm through which you see the world becomes grossly desensitized and numb. It creates the apathy we have seen many times in the news, whether truly reported or not, where police officers seem now callous to the plight of victims. It is not that the officers are somehow sub-human or incapable of human empathy. Rather, it is that they have been exposed so often and so long to the absolute worst of humanity that they come to expect the worst from everyone – everyone not in a uniform, that is. That self-created isolation gets very lonely. Shedding the uniform and entering life as a regular person was probably the biggest transition I ever made.
It is by a true miracle that I landed in a profession where communication and effectiveness are rewarded with monetary gains. Countless times we have encountered super impressive people who instantly built rapport with us and made us feel at home and welcome. Whether it was the front desk staff at the Art Deco hotel in Amsterdam or the Food Fresh stand at the Lucerne train station, these effective human communicators are all around us. Their chosen profession, however happy they are to occupy them, will never give them the rewards that my chosen profession can give, simply by having a small percentage of their communicative abilities and genuine care for others.
While many jobs reward positive interactions with the public and effectiveness in the position with increases in hourly wage and bonuses from time to time, it is only by being self-employed where these positive attributes are truly judged by the ultimate rewarder of human performance – the marketplace. If you are good, and you put yourself out there to the marketplace using a vehicle that increases your compensation based on effectiveness, you cannot help but win. The vehicle that I chose, insurance, is just one of those that bring limitless rewards for this kind of effectiveness.
Countless times I have mentioned to my wife that we had just experienced a person with super ability, both with communication style and passion for their role. It is very simply these same traits, I'm certain, that are the only ones needed for success in my field. The complexity of product design, the insurance landscape, and myriad of benefit options available are all far less important than a genuine feeling of empathy for someone else's plight and the ability to latch on to a personal connection with them.
The age-old question, “Are good salespeople born that way or are they taught to be that way?” has, in my humble opinion, two answers.
Yes, there are people who have naturally evolved into excellent communicators. Those people are certain to be a “natural” when selling any product or service and a sales/delivery career is definitely where they should be. However, I have been through enough sales training courses in my life, from my metamorphosis from a police officer to an insurance professional, to know that the there is training that, when fully applied, definitely results in an individual possessing enough skill to make a very successful salesperson, no matter what “natural” ability they brought to the transformation process from the beginning.
In other words, I truly believe that anyone can be successful in this profession. Sure, there are those who prefer to drive a taxi and they leave 50% of their mental capacity at home when they go to their job every day. There is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing to live a simple life and, for many, that is exactly where they want to be.
But, for those who decide to live a different kind of lifestyle or those frankly who are sick and tired of the lifestyle they have chosen up to this point in their lives, I know that there is a path to success in this or any other profession where results are significantly rewarded. Whether it is by merely pointing an already-effective communicator into another profession or by a non-communicator making an affirmative decision to seek the training necessary to become one, both paths work if chosen.
From the age of 5, I wanted to change the world. For now, I am content to leave the adrenaline chase to those half my age while I am happy to watch the world go by and to explore it, one country and one experience at a time.
All the best… from Switzerland, Christopher Westfall, Sr.
Some agents are trying to convince themselves that they're doing what is necessary to build their business. Some even are trying to convince their spouses that they're “working hard” in this business.
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.
Having been asked to listen to recordings of hundreds and hundreds of agents getting started in selling by phone, one common theme has held many back.
Brett Kitchen, in this video below, talks about this problem when selling over the phone and how to address it. I call it “practice it until you perfect it.” Others call it, “Fake it 'til you make it.” Either way, you have to be aware of the potential to sound TOO interested in the sale outcome and you have to know what effect it has on people.
Brett's group sells IUL (indexed universal life) products by phone to high-income individuals using radio ads.
No matter what you're selling over the phone, this issue can be a problem! They can hear desperation through the phone!
And remember what Mike Brooks says in the Top 20% Webinar series (at the bottom of this page), “A bad lead never gets better.” Move on from angry, disgruntled, difficult people!
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.
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.
“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.
Seven Things to Say when Prospects Don’t Have the Time for Your Presentation
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.
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.
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!
“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.
Originally Posted by sirherbie
“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.
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:
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!
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: