Senior Agent Contributor: Tom O’Neil

Tom O’Neil has been in the Medicare industry since the 1970s!  Whether the topic is selling Dual Eligibles, or how to increase business cash flow, or simply the craziest Medicare Advantage home appointment he’s ever been on, he has a wealth of stories and enjoys sharing them. When he isn’t running appointments, writing for our blog, or planning his next sales, he enjoys spending time with his canine companion, Molly.

Pictured above: Tom’s sweet pup!

2 Simple Sales Tips:

Listen and Observe

Senior Agent Contributor: Tom O’Neil

This humble offering is directed at those brave souls who have decided recently to enter the rewarding and challenging Senior Insurance Market.

Let me preface this brief sales tip with a story:

Back in the 70’s I was lucky to score an Army school slot at Fort Rucker, Alabama, the home of Army Aviation.  The course of study was for those being awarded the designation of Air Traffic Control Specialist (ATC).  It was by no means a slam dunk.  About 25% of my enlisted classmates washed out during initial academic testing, live tower operations or by failing the FAA final exam. 25% was an unusually high failure rate for an Army school.  We all had to pass the same FAA ATC test taken by civil service controllers as well as completing the military portion of the training.  Almost all the soldiers had at least one or two years of college and a few were degreed.  The Army had only recently reclaimed the ATC training program from the Air Force ATC school at Lackland AFB.  To say the least, the Army was going through some growing pains getting things up and running.

Moving on to the sales tie-in:

Redstone Airfield Air Traffic Control Tower

This tower, at Redstone Field, is identical to the training tower I was assigned to, while at Ft. Rucker. — Tom O’Neil

In the initial academic training my scores and evaluations were excellent.  The staff awarded me and one other student a special “honor graduate” designation for stage one of training.  I was assigned to a cramped training tower with another soldier where we worked with American student pilots.  It was a very busy airfield from dawn to dusk.  We were both doing great as student controllers until the pilots from South Korea came in for my last week of live training.  The Koreans, speaking English, were hard for me to understand.  I was starting to panic and lose some confidence.  If I didn’t pass this final portion of my training I would be off to Jeep mechanic school!  My training partner, another “PFC,” was doing great with the Korean flyers.

When I asked my buddy how he was excelling he gave me some great advice: “Don’t just listen to them, look at the aircraft to see what they are doing.  By observation determine exactly where they are coming in from and anticipate in advance what they are doing and it will be easy to understand what they are transmitting and requesting.  They are all flying the same damn patterns!”  Wow.  By the next afternoon I was as comfortable as a minnow in a mountain stream.  We both graduated and went on to our unit assignments.  My old ATC buddy now runs a chain of pizza places back East.

The 2 simple sales tips: listen and observe

Our senior clients are “all flying the same damn patterns” as my buddy noted about the Korean pilots.  They have different starting points, may want a different runway, need to refuel, or might even have what they consider an emergency.  By listening and observing (body language, medical devices, meds) before we start the sales process we can identify where they’ve been and where they want to go.  As independent agents we can offer them a lot of different options (runways?) and add-ons.  Let them transmit what they want before YOU decide where to send them.  They always transmit the info, we just have to listen, observe, communicate, and then “control.”


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