Don’t leave money on the table this AEP: Sell Hospital Indemnity with Medicare Advantage

My first insurance sales trainer loved to tell me, “Don’t leave money on the table.” When it comes to coupling hospital indemnity plans with Medicare Advantage, his advice resonates a little louder. Hospital indemnity plans are very affordable for your clients and pay excellent first-year commissions, often in the 50 percent range (Of course, commission varies by states).

Most hospital indemnity plans offer inpatient confinement benefits ranging from $100 to $600 as well as an ER benefit. Depending on the carrier, optional features include benefits for skilled nursing facility days, follow-up appointments, outpatient surgery and even payment for the dreaded observation status. A cancer rider is an important option you can review with clients when discussing hospital indemnity.

Guarantee Trust Life, Equitable and Medico are carriers we are proud to affiliate with and offer to our agents. Just click on our Carriers page for more information or contact us at the number below. For those of you who concentrate on the T-65 market, note that GTL’s Advantage Plus plan is guaranteed issue for ages 64 ½ to 65 ½.

Bill Ellsworth, VP of Equitable, recorded an excellent presentation last year on how to give a good explanation of hospital indemnity during a Medicare Advantage appointment. Frankly, it’s the best training example I’ve seen, and I refer all of our Equitable agents to Bill’s training located on the password-protected Equiline.com broker site. My contact information is below if you’re an Equitable agent and are interested in learning more about Bill’s winning presentation.

In fact, Bill came out to our Arizona office last year to give us additional pointers on presenting Equitable’s EquiCash product. He definitely made me a believer. If you follow Bill’s outline, you should be able to double your MA commission for a surprisingly large number of your AEP and Lock-In appointments.

Cross selling you say! Presenting a hospital indemnity plan with a Medicare Advantage plan is totally compliant with the Medicare Marketing Guidelines.
Hospital indemnity plans are right there on the Scope of Appointment form. If the CMS-approved Scope form you are using does not list hospital indemnity, Medicare Supplements and DVH products, I’ll be glad to email you a copy.

Finally, don’t forget the younger members of the household. Many of these hospital plans are offered from 40-80 years of age. They’re particularly reasonable for the younger folks and can really help fill in those hefty ACA deductibles. Just remember that hospital indemnity coverage is not minimum essential coverage.

For contracting opportunities with GTL, Medico and Equitable, and to receive more useful training content, call RB Insurance at (800) 997 3107 or email me.

Just in time for Halloween: My favorite tales from the field

You meet a lot of nice people as an independent Medicare agent working in the field. Most of them are retirees who remind you of your parents or grandparents. On occasion, though, you run into people who are a bit peculiar to say the least.

Image courtesy of iStock

Don’t allow yourself to get rattled by an unexpected situation you may encounter during appointments. Appointments are crucial to your success during AEP, after all. It’s not a good idea to dismiss or judge beneficiaries by the appearance of their homes, their looks or even their behavior for this reason, as I wrote last week. I can assure you that in my 30 years of experience, I have never encountered a malicious beneficiary during an appointment.

Here are some of my most interesting stories from my time in the field in time for Halloween:

The iguana man

During my days as a carrier rep I remember getting up from a beneficiary’s sofa after filling out a Medicare Advantage application and seeing some sort of animal I couldn’t quite make out. The apartment was dark, so I couldn’t tell what this huge thing was.

Then it hissed at me. I jumped up and threw my portfolio in the air as the beneficiary casually mentioned its name was Herman. Herman wasn’t a very friendly iguana.

The lumpiest sofa

Another time I went to a fairly simple-looking house and rang the doorbell. A man invited me inside, where I sat on the lumpiest sofa while we discussed a carrier plan. I thought to myself this had to be one of my most uncomfortable appointments. When I got up, lo and behold I realized I had been sitting on a loaded .45 pistol.

When I asked if he was missing something, he said, “Oh, I was looking for that!” I for one was happy it didn’t go off when I tried to shift into a more comfortable position.

Honesty and a sense of humor have never let me down, even in the most nerve-wracking appointments.

Straight in the eye

When I was training our Senior Broker Trainer Tom O’Neil back in the day to sell a different carrier plan, we went together on an appointment with a woman who lived in a HUD apartment, but was not dual-eligible. She had biker-style tattoos up and down her arms, and while we discussed the plan with her she divided a heap of marijuana sitting on a dinner plate into baggies. We remained calm and reminded ourselves that as agents working for a private plan, we’re bound by HIPAA so we’re not required to disclose her personal business to the authorities.

On our way out after I enrolled her in the plan, she tapped my shoulder from behind and told me, “This sounds like a great plan, but if you’ve lied to me, I’m going to hunt you down and cut you.” The switchblade she whipped out to make her point was the longest I’ve ever seen.

“If I’ve lied to you, ma’am, I deserve it,” I told her as I looked her straight in the eye. Agents who don’t let themselves be phased and focus on helping beneficiaries get what they need will see the return. I knew I had nothing to worry about because I had done my research.

Aliens

Rob Bever, our Director of Sales, Training and Compliance, has had a few interesting run-ins himself. While working in rural Arizona, two beneficiaries met him wearing tin foil hats. They had made one just for him so the aliens couldn’t read his mind.  You better believe he put it on to make the beneficiaries feel like they could trust him.

Hopefully you found my post to be festive for Halloween. We’re almost halfway through AEP, so if you have any questions about what you can do to get in front of more beneficiaries, call RB Insurance at (800) 997 3107. Subscribe to the blog to hear more from me.

Be prepared for anything during your Medicare Advantage appointments

It’s surprising how much can distract you or take you away from your appointment time during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period. That’s why you need to be prepared for anything, especially if you want high commission payouts in January. Here’s my list of practical advice that will help you plan wisely.

  1. The first you’ll want to do is check your attitude. You don’t want to pre-judge a Medicare member by the condition of their house or their appearance — these things don’t always give you the right reading of who a person is. Track how many times you feel like you’re dismissing a sales opportunity because you’re being judgmental. Then work to fix your attitude.
  2. Next, view yourself as a trusted senior insurance adviser, not a sales person. You’re there to help the member with his or her health needs, even if a sale doesn’t happen. Ironically, this attitude will help you close a sale more often because it helps show members you’re the real deal.
  3. Being respectful and trustworthy are going to put you light-years ahead of other agents who slam a product down and walk out of the door, never to be heard from again. If you incorporate these virtues into your sales practices, you’re more likely to create repeat business and referrals in the long term. I’ve never understood why more agents don’t see this is what makes their book of business robust and lasting.
  4. Now that you’ve taken care of your mind, most of my practical advice deals with your car. Logistical issues can reduce the amount of appointments you run like no other. You’ll need to keep a set of jumper cables and basic tools in your car, even if you’re not travelling across the state or selling in more than one state. It’ll cost you a day of appointments if your battery dies. When I was in the field I also kept an air pump and tire plugs in my car so I could keep moving if I drove over a nail or something. I’d just throw a blanket on the ground and take care of it with a pair of pliers. If you’re travelling long distances or between states, keep a rental car company in mind if you don’t think your car can hold up for any part of the nine-week sales season. Consider it a wise investment.
  5. I always make sure I knew where I’m going each day by planning my routes the night before. I never totally rely on a GPS because it can stop working. I recommend having a separate GPS that is not on your smart phone because, because let’s face it, most of us are on calls while driving. Don’t drain the battery or crash your apps with navigation. Keep the phone navigation as your backup.
  6. Keep at least one packet or brochure for each of the products you sell in the car just in case something comes up in an appointment that gives you the opportunity to legally cross-sell. Don’t scatter them on the floor in the back seat — keep them in a bankers box or in an easy to carry portfolio.
  7. I always keep a complete change of clothes in my trunk when I run appointments, too. Not just a fresh shirt, but pants, socks, everything. You never know if you’re going to spill something or sit on something unfortunate like a sofa cushion freshly sprayed with cat pee. Yes, I’m speaking from personal experience.
  8. Looks matter, but don’t overdress. Most beneficiaries felt at ease with me when I was wearing a simple polo or golf shirt and a pair of slacks or khakis. Ladies, a simple skirt works just as good as pants, but there’s no need to dress formally. Make sure you’re comfortable because you’ll be out all day.
  9. My last word of advice is to plan your meals. Eat a good breakfast before your set out each morning, and keep a few protein or meal replacement bars with you — I avoid the chocolate ones because they melt. Stay hydrated. You can always stop for lunch somewhere, but remember that has a time and a financial cost against your AEP earnings. Eat a good dinner even though you’ll be home late. Oh, and lay off the garlic bread or anything that could make your breath an issue.

You don’t realize what dropping an hour here or there can do to your bottom line when you’re in the trenches, but I hope I’ve enlightened you here. Make a plan that works for you, work your plan and you’ll be able make at least one more appointment a day. That will pay off big time over a month. Above all, be prepared for anything that this AEP has to throw at you.

Are you making the most out of your AEP? We can help increase your sales with our training and support! Check out our training webinars on our event calendar by clicking here. Want to pick up some more contracts? Click here to see a list of our carriers.

Turn to the Girl Scouts for canvassing inspiration

Important note for senior insurance agents: Canvassing can be used to market life insurance and hospital indemnity, but NOT Medicare Advantage. The Medicare Marketing Guidelines prohibit canvassing for any Medicare Advantage product. Canvassing of Medicare Supplements is regulated state-by-state.

Have you found your Joy of Canvassing yet, or do you need more proof that canvassing done right really works?

I’ve been putting deliberate emphasis on canvassing in my posts lately because if you don’t have much marketing money or need to get things moving quickly, canvassing is a direct to consumer activity that can yield immediate sales opportunities. It also builds important closing muscle while you develop your unique sales process and build your client base.
Canvassing may not be as sophisticated as using your combined CRM/virtual call center or dropping direct mail, but it is effective. Think about it this way: Girl Scouts sell their delectable cookies each year through well-coordinated canvassing.

I bet you want to read more now that I’ve mentioned these treats. (I’ll take two boxes of Thin Mints, please–and no, I won’t share!) Girl Scouts have been selling cookies for almost a century as part of their mission to become courageous, confident and capable leaders. They show support to their communities with generous donations they make with their cookie sale profits. Their official website lists goal setting, smart decision making, money management, people skills and ethical business practice on their website as the annual cookie sale’s major lessons. Does any of this sounds familiar to you?

Image courtesy of Girl Scouts official website

Canvassing Inspiration

As a sales veteran myself, I may have not sold tantalizing sweets, but I did sell everything ranging from luxurious perfume to final expense policies. The Scouts’ cookie canvassing reminds me of the sales process I’ve observed in my own fields.

Here are a few points sales professionals can take away from the Girl Scouts:

They believe in themselves. Girl Scouts willingly try new activities and take on challenges together discover their talents and strengths. Those are all important parts of growing up, but have you considered how you can do the same to strengthen your profession and win more clients? 

They pick strategic locations to canvass. All right, Girl Scouts may not exclusively go door to door anymore. They set up shop outside supermarkets where families stock up on food and snacks and Sunday church gatherings where people may want to extend their goodwill. They have even been spotted on university campuses, cheerfully announcing cookies for sale to college students overloaded with homework and in desperate need of a break. One Girl Scout had enough initiative to go off the beaten path and sell cookies directly outside a medical marijuana dispensary, selling 117 boxes in just two hours! The Girl Scouts think about where their hungry customers could be, and they have even increased their outreach exponentially by offering digital cookie ordering. How do you locate your target market, and how do you adjust your appearance, manner and sales pitch to ensure they’re the most receptive?

Girl Scouts believe in their product. They don’t just sell any cookie. They sell Girl Scout cookies, a name that rings in everyone’s ear, and they only do so for a limited time each year. Some of the cookies have cult-like followings, with people stocking up on Thin Mints or Samoas (also known as Caramel deLites) and freezing them. The organization responds to people’s questions about the nutritional value of the cookies, ingredients used and even whether cookies are an ethical product to sell given the national childhood obesity crisis. Girl Scouts have responded to people’s concerns not by doing away with selling cookies, but by innovating. This year, a gluten-free option called Trios will be available in select markets, while Cranberry Citrus Crisps and Rah-Rah Raisins offer dried fruit and whole grain to health-conscious consumers.

As a sales professional, are you knowledgeable enough about your product that you can confidently answer prospects’ objections with solid information? You have an amazing opportunity to interact directly with the consumer when canvassing. You can speak to them on their level!

They use the buddy system. There’s probably no better example of teaming up with like-minded associates and working an area together than the friendships Girl Scouts develop during their participation. They work together to  strengthen each other’s commitment to making their troop money, earning badges and serving their communities. You can work  with other sales professionals to tackle a market, learn from others and create a strong network.

Next week, I’ll share one more real-world example of how canvassing works. In the meantime, have you figured out how many boxes you’re going to order from your local troop?
Are you struggling to get your name out there? Call RBI at 1-800-997-3107 and get started on a marketing plan! Click here to take a look at the carriers we work with, and begin your fast-track today!

Why rent office space during AEP when you can meet prospects for coffee?

Renting office space for appointments during AEP can set you back at least $1,000 a month, which is what you can make in just one day running appointments back to back. In my 30 years of experience in the field, I’ve found that if I can’t or don’t want to conduct all of my appointments at the kitchen table, there is another option. The best place for me to meet with beneficiaries to discuss their Medicare options is actually much more inviting to them than a stuffy office. Instead, I meet prospects for coffee at a neutral third-party location.

Making yourself available for Medicare beneficiaries to meet with you in spaces that coffee shops or restaurants rent out to small groups or organizations is a great idea for agents. If the coffee shops or restaurants around you don’t have a space to rent out, you can simply ask the manager or owner for permission to conduct light business in a quieter part of the space away from the food. Best of all, agents that meet prospects for coffee save a bundle in overhead.  

meet prospects for coffee

Agents that meet prospects for coffee save a bundle in overhead.

I would recommend doing this at more than one space around town to make it more convenient for your prospects. Try to do regularly and at the same time and day each week for informal meetings. The staff will appreciate the consistency. Think of it this way: There’s probably a Starbucks within 10 minutes of all of those turning-65 seniors agents hear about all the damn time.

This amounts to having a business lunch with a prospect or already existing client, but without the lunch because the Medicare Marketing Guidelines prohibit agents from giving beneficiaries anything more than a cup of coffee with a donut, bagel or something light. Of course beneficiaries are free to buy their own meal after meeting with you, which might make them feel less pressured about the appointment.

Have a conversation with the owner and see if you can spend some time there meeting with beneficiaries during times that are not busy, like mid-morning or mid-afternoon. You should tip the staff generously because you’re not going to be buying beneficiaries lunches or dinners, and what you’ll pay out is going to be far cheaper than a lease. Pick times outside any morning or afternoon rushes and go with places where seniors will be more likely to know and like.

One more reason I’d tip staff well: If a beneficiary came in and asked about me because they heard of my meetings from a friend, they’d be tickled to let me know so I can stay longer and bring in some more business.

RB Insurance and Medicare Compare get permission from a Starbucks in our home state of Arizona every AEP to reach about 100 beneficiaries and start the enrollment process when we do our community marketing. Starbucks even gave our agents $25 gift cards to pay for the coffees. You’re not limited to chains, though — local shops can attract beneficiaries too.

The key to sales success during AEP is managing your time spent working Leads and taking care of existing clients. You can leverage your time if you put yourself in one spot and make phone calls when beneficiaries aren’t coming to you.

Read more of CEO Bob Bever’s insights by subscribing to The Agent’s Advantage blog. Click here to sign up for a weekly email of helpful content during AEP and throughout the year.

Show clients what’s really going on with doctor compensation

Our recent Harbor Health Plan 2016 Medicare Advantage product roll-out meeting in Detroit was one of the few meetings I’ve been a part of where a single agent didn’t leave early (That’s directed toward those of you who have stepped out, say, a few hours before an industry affair was totally over — you know who you are). In case you missed it or are curious about what packed the house, let me give you a quick rundown here.

I set the stage with a piece of information that applies to any open-access network plan you can sell during AEP. RB Insurance currently has Harbor Health Plan in Michigan, Allegian Health Plans in Texas and Phoenix Health Plans in Arizona available for agent contracting.

Help your prospects and existing clients looking to make a change see the difference between doctor compensation models that affect their freedom of choice. The differences between open-access networks and what are called capitated networks can be the deal breaker in your appointments this AEP. Your prospect or client is looking for freedom of choice as their bottom line, so why not show them where it is?

Open-access plans have similarities to PPO networks because a member does not need to get a referral from a primary care physician (PCP) in order to make an appointment with a specialist. Open-access plans that use a Fee For Service (FFS) model only pay doctors when you see them for care. On the other hand, many HMO networks today use capitated provider payments to control costs and access to health resources. That means members must receive a referral from a PCP to visit a specialist unless they have an existing treatment plan. Doctors in capitated networks are paid monthly regardless if patients see them or not.

The limitations don’t stop there with capitated networks. A patient often has a limited window of time to see the specialist they’ve been referred to. With open-access plans, patients can go to any doctor in the network as many times as they like without worrying about referrals or being surprised by a crowded PCP office.

There you go: Use freedom of choice as your sales pitch and educate your prospects and clients about how their care is received. Providing them with this information will increase your close ratio during AEP.

Following me, 6 Hours to 6 Figures author, speaker and 30-year industry veteran Brandon Clay got into his element as he let the audience in on his new online training series. He went over the nuts and bolts of the sales process, showing agents how to maximize each step’s potential for sales.

Brandon showed a lot of agents how to let new and already existing clients you’re still there for them after the sale and promoted life insurance. The goal, of course, is to lock in renewals and generate referrals. You can catch up with Brandon’s posts on our blog here to get in on his expertise.

Everyone loved what he had to say, and I think they’re all motivated to follow through on his word this AEP. I hope the same goes for you.

Call RB Insurance at (800) 997 3107 or email us to request your Harbor Health Plan, Allegian Health Plans or Phoenix Health Plans contracting today. Subscribe to our blog here to receive one weekly newsletter of sales tips from our experienced agents.

Tips for agents’ Job No. 1: Prospecting (Part Two)

Here’s the rest of my Top 10 Things to Consider When Prospecting (Read the first five here):

6. Name recognition.  Is your company well known in the market where you are prospecting?  Does it have a good reputation? Do you represent a group of companies that includes household or obscure names?As you look at effective prospecting you have to be thoughtful of your company’s place in the mind of the prospect.  Lead with the strongest message possible.

7. How much time can you commit?  All forms of prospecting require effort — this means they require time.  We all have to eat while we hunt, which means you have to find clients while you are closing clients.  If you have a limited pipeline, you should block out specific days to devote to prospecting and the other days to full sales presentations.  If you have a steady stream of opportunity you have to devote time, as it is available, so your well doesn’t run dry!

8. How much money can you commit? If you have no money, then you have to engage prospecting methods on the left side of the “Y” axis (upper left quadrant of the graphic).  As you begin to have money to invest in your marketing efforts, you have to decide how much.  If you knew you could spend $500 on a direct mail campaign and close $2,500 in commissions, would you do it?  Are you doing it?  Invest in your business!

Image courtesy of Brandon Clay

 9. How effective have you been with prospecting?  Are you prospecting by giving it your all, or are you doing it with half-hearted effort? Are you pushing with tenacity and grit? Either way, if you are not measuring, monitoring and managing you could be spending precious time, effort and money on the wrong approach. Review where your last 90 days of sales came from and use that as a jumping off point for broader prospecting effort.

10. You need a plan. The real challenge I see with sales people is a lack of strategy and the corresponding tactics.  Each prospecting method requires a different approach so you would need to be agile in your execution.  More than likely, two to three prospecting methods fit your business model and, once perfected, you simply repeat, repeat and repeat!

Next week, I’ll take a step-by-step look at the strategies of each major prospecting method. Begin to review your current efforts and begin to devise an approach that can take your business to the next level. It is critical that you stay positive and motivated about your possibilities. You could be one simple change away from a higher level of success through the Power of Prospecting!

What’s going on with the Medicare Part B premium?

The “Doc Fix” bill that passed this spring includes a provision to level the portion of Medicare Part B costs paid for by beneficiaries. This means the premium has to go up to cover the unfunded portion. According to an analysis by the Center for Retirement Research, quoted in this Fiscal Times article, up to 15 million beneficiaries could see their Part B premium increase from $104.90 to $159.30 a month. Couples could be paying more.

Click here to view the 2015 Annual Report from the boards that manage Medicare’s trust funds, and jump to pages 201-203 to view rate tables.

70 percent of the Medicare population gets their Part B premium taken out of their Social Security check. There is a “hold harmless” provision of the Social Security Act that does not allow Medicare beneficiaries to have any costs passed on to them if there is no Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) to cover that increased premium. So, most beneficiaries’ premiums will remain stable at $104.90 this year.

Unfortunately for the 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries who do not have their premium taken out of their Social Security check, it just so happens that if there is no COLA increase they are responsible for covering the entire amount of their premiums, which will be raised more than 50 percent to $159.30.

This also includes all of those on Medicaid that have their premium paid by the state as well as all individuals who have either chosen to delay taking Social Security or are not full retirement age yet (age 65-67).

Agents need to be proactive this AEP let their prospects and clients know what could happen to their medical costs so they’re prepared. My 82-year-old mother heard on the news that her premium was going to $159 and she was very worried about what was going to happen.

Most seniors do not know the details of the situation. As their agent, you can be the first one to educate them and earn their trust.

Don’t miss a thing this AEP. Subscribe to The Agent’s Advantage for more Medicare policy news that can affect your book of business. Call RB Insurance at (800) 997 3107 or email me to learn more about how Medicare Part B premiums may be changing for your prospects and clients this AEP.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated to include more sources and to clarify the premium increase.

How to realistically increase your app writing capacity during AEP

How many apps you write during AEP determines how big your commission is going to be in January, so you’re going to want to make sure you have a plan for the busiest time of the year if you really want to see success. The biggest challenge for most agents during AEP is the logistics: the number of appointments you make with Medicare beneficiaries to secure your sales goal and the fact you need to travel to their homes. It’s extremely easy for agents to get caught up in driving around town to all of the appointments they make and lose sight of the rest of the work they need to get in so they can get paid. What’s the solution? What’s the best way to realistically increase your app writing capacity during AEP?

The single greatest piece of wisdom you can glean from my three decades of experience in the field is that top producers don’t necessarily work alone. You’re going to have to bite the bullet and hire a temporary administrative assistant if you want to see phenomenal earnings. With the help of Diane, someone I hired to work out of her own home, I put in 1,800 apps during my best AEP. That’s about 600 apps a month, mainly in group meetings.

Increase your app writing capacity

I would get referrals from local churches for assistants. They were usually single parents who could work from home. There’s no need for them to come to your home, and if you are affiliated with RB Insurance they can use the Medicare Sales Engine to process your Leads, make outbound appointment calls and enter sales information for you that lets you track your commission. Calls will be recorded so you have backup in case you get audited.

You’re going to need a routine that ensures you’re filling out apps at a steady pace and that you’re filling them out compliantly and correctly, which is just part of the value of hiring an assistant. Showing your clients the utmost courtesy and respect is important, and that’s easier when you’re not scrambling back and forth to the fax machine. An assistant can call clients well in advance to reschedule if something comes up instead of you giving a “Sorry, can’t make it” to them 30 minutes before the appointment. Getting a beneficiary mad is the best way to lose a sale.

Before you tell me you don’t want to spend money on an assistant, let me tell you in plain English: If you’re writing 250 apps a month during AEP you’re going to be earning around $50,000. You can afford to hire someone to keep you sane and to help you reach that capacity during those crazy three months. After working on your feet all day, you’re not going to want to spend two more hours processing all the required paperwork.

The assistant can take some of the burden of the mundane stuff off of you, and as long as he or she isn’t discussing plan benefits with beneficiaries on the phone, no insurance license is required to do the job. Understand that you get to keep all the commission your assistant helped you earn in the second year when you get renewals.

You’re going to have to get used to the fact you can only turn in 80 or 120 apps a month if you’re working solo, and you’ll get a commission that fits those numbers. It’s all about your time and ability during AEP, and without an assistant my experience has shown me you’re going to be taking time and energy out of your appointments.

Call us 1 (800) 997 3107, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. MST, to learn more about how RB Insurance makes sales success happen for independent Medicare agents. Click here to see a list of carriers we work with, and get started!

Tips for agents’ Job No. 1: Prospecting (Part One)

Prospecting is hard work, but it’s Job No. 1 for senior insurance agents. If you don’t have a steady flow of client opportunities, you have to prospect.  If you’re an independent  agent, prospecting is doubly important because you have the full responsibility of finding clients. If you’re captive, your company is counting on you to augment its marketing efforts with your own opportunity cultivation.

It’s crystal clear, then, that “Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman, not the attitude of the prospect” (That’s a W. Clement Stone quote from my collection). Before I begin to looking at the specifics of each method in this most crucial part of the sales process, here are the first five of my Top 10 Things to Consider When Prospecting:

1. Prospecting is not selling. Generally speaking, the goal of prospecting is to build a pipeline of qualified people you can then make a full presentation to. Yes, I know insurance people who canvass and go right from the front porch (not advisable if your are working with Medicare Advantage) to the kitchen table to sell policies.  It’s great work if you can get it!  For most sales people, there’s a two-step process.

2. Price is not an object. Don’t objectify your product by offering price while prospecting. When someone asks, “How much does it cost?” we get excited, thinking the prospect is showing genuine interest.  The moment you give price without value creation, you generally allow the cheapest product to win. What are you going to do if your product isn’t the cheapest?

3. Who is your ideal client? If you could create a profile of your ideal client, what would he or she be like?  Make sure to include key demographic factors such as age and income ranges.  For effective and efficient prospecting you have to narrow your focus to the group that needs your product and is willing and able to buy it.

Learn more about the final expense market here, and learn more about the dual-eligible market here to get your sales process ideas flowing.

4. Where can they be found? If you’re selling used Bentleys, then your clients are probably going to be in a particular ZIP code.  You can cast a wider net when selling insurance. Either way, you may need to seek professional help as you set your target. Reputable list companies can help you locate concentrations of people who will be most likely to buy your products and services. Direct mail marketing is one of my preferred solutions for compliant lead generation.

5. What prospecting methods work for top producers?  As you go to seminars or weekly meetings, observe what the successful people around you are doing.  Likely, they’re heavy on repeat business and referrals. But successful sales people are always engaging other prospecting methods.  They still call on businesses or do direct mail, but  they are always prospecting. Their positive results mean that it is possible for you too!

Click here to read more of my sales process series.