What could be better than saving a senior $300 a month? Every year I meet two or three people who do not know they are eligible to receive Low Income Subsidy (LIS) benefits to reduce their prescription drug costs or have their Medicare Part B premium covered by Medicaid. Once I sit down with these folks at the kitchen table and help them see real savings, I know I’ve made a meaningful impact in their life and can add a lifetime client to my book of business who would be more than happy to send friends and family my way. You can do this too.
You can save your client up to $300 a month or more by helping them apply for LIS and other Medicare Savings programs that do not require them to be a full dual-eligible. Individuals who make between 100-135 percent of the federal poverty level can apply to have their Medicare Part D premium covered and their prescription cost sharing significantly reduced as well as their Medicare Part B premium covered. Click here for a link to your state’s programs.
I recently went on an appointment with one of our new career agents in Arizona, and we helped a woman save $325 a month. Taking away her $35 Part D premium and reducing the cost of her prescriptions she takes she saved $225. We also saved her $104 a month on her Part B premium. It gives you a good feeling inside when both you and the client have tears in your eyes because you have had such a profound effect on their lives.
If you can help a senior that is on a fixed income save more than $3,600 per year, it will make a huge difference in their lives. Based on my experience, saving a senior $300 a month is significant: the difference between being able to afford medications or groceries. The data doesn’t lie either: Senior hunger is a real problem in our country. You can do a good deed and build your book of business by sharing your knowledge of Medicare Savings Programs.
Agents who are knowledgeable of these available programs really have an advantage over other agents who just say “I have nothing for you” or “I can’t help you.” Even though you may not have anything to sell that prospect, helping someone enroll in LIS or a Medicare Savings Program is a very positive way to spread the word about your business. Remember, you’re a senior insurance advisor, so that implies you sometimes offer pro bono advice. The bottom line is referrals are the easiest way to generate Leads, so you may see some sales from these connections for Special Needs Plans or other products.
Are you looking for more information on where to get started saving a senior $300 a month? Click here to watch a recorded webinar about LIS and how you can implement these practices in your business! Call our office for more information at 1-800-997-3107!
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 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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
Important note: Canvassing can be used to market life insurance, but NOT Medicare Advantage. The Medicare Marketing Guidelines prohibit canvassing for any Medicare Advantage product.
As a young child, a rainy Saturday afternoon would have me sitting in front of the television (before cable!) with four programming choices: CBS, NBC, ABC and PBS. “Sesame Street” would just be signing off and Bob Ross’ “The Joy of Painting.” would come on. He would stand in front of a blank canvas and say, “What do I see today? A happy little tree could go right here or a singing bird would go perfect there.”
Depending on your age and industry, canvassing can be called door-knocking, soliciting, clover-leafing, hot-knocking, cold-calling and gold-calling. The more contemporary names are grassroots and community-based outreach and B2B marketing. Just remember that if you’re a senior insurance advisor selling Medicare Advantage, canvassing — no matter what it’s called — is not allowed by CMS.
For sales professionals like senior insurance advisors selling life products, canvassing boils down to you meeting a stranger, engaging them in a conversation about your business or product and anticipating that interaction evolves into a sale.
When you hear it said like that, no wonder most sales people turn up their nose at it. But there is one thing you need to know before you get a nose bleed: Canvassing works! Let me give you an example:
While I was in college I needed money. I needed a flexible schedule and a chance to make $10-$15 an hour. One day I saw an ad on the corner of Georgia Tech and North Avenue: College Students! Earn $10-$15 an hour! Flexible Schedule Call Today!
I had no idea of the product or where we were going, but when this manager smiled and said, “It’s going to be a great day,” something inside me said, “Yes, I agree!”
I left my car at the office and drove with the manager to a less than desirable part of town. She had nerves of steel as she went door to door with an attaché case. I had no idea what was inside.
“Is the lady of the house in today?” she would say if a man answered the door. If his answer was “no” then she hit another speed, “As I am sure you treat your woman like a queen, what I have today would be perfect for the person in your life.”
She took a velvet bag out of the attaché and pulled out an exotic bottle of perfume. She sprayed a light mist in her direction. She then stepped closer to the man as the door opened wider and she tilted her head to the side and back to give him a whiff of her neck. “Smells amazing, doesn’t it?” she asked.
Here are her results from 6 hours of doing this:
- 200 knocks (she put tic marks on a page),
- 40 people answering (she tic marked that too!)
- She sold 9 bottles at $25 each
- Her cost was $6 a bottle
- Daily profit of $171 cash, making an hourly rate of $28.50
I referenced “charity work” on behalf of non-clients toward the end of my post on appeals and the CMS-1696 Appointment of Representative form a couple of weeks ago. I should have referred to these non-clients as Leads. As I mentioned then, this type of work is unwelcome, given that I don’t see the commissions for my services. I actually severely limit free Medicare advice in my business.
In my first few years in the field selling the old Medicare HMO products I assiduously avoided friends, relatives and their various cronies who wanted free help with their HMO. Having been advised by some old timer agents that working pro bono was a waste of time, I steered clear of helping these kinds of folks. After about 10 years into the Medicare insurance business I changed my tune when I met Ralph.
The exception that proves the rule
Ralph was a retired construction guy who was also married to one of my HMO clients. I was a captive employee agent at the time. Ralph was enrolled with a decent HMO plan offered by our main competitor in Arizona. He had a problem with a claim from an emergency room visit at Hayseed General or some such rural facility, while fishing up in Wyoming.
The doctor portion of his ER claim was billed separately and denied by the carrier as “out of network.” It amounted to over $500. My client, his wife, called me and asked if I could give them some advice before they sent out a check. I knew what probably happened even before I saw the bill. The doctors working at Hayseed General belonged to a private group separately contracted to provide ER services at that facility.
I’d seen this type of claim denial several times when I was an appeals supervisor, usually for services provided out somewhere in the sticks. We called the customer service department at Ralph’s HMO, but they refused to consider the emergency circumstances of his treatment. I typed up a quick appeal, had him sign it and was out the door in less than half an hour plus a quick stop at the corner post office. Ralph, of course, had no stamps!
A happy ending for everyone
Fast forward 30 days: Ralph’s appeal was sustained, and the doctors were paid by the carrier. Mrs. Ralph really appreciated the help. So much so, that just about every referred Medicare beneficiary living on her street is still my client.
That was a happy and profitable ending, but let me stress that I’ve become discerning about who I will help. I’m not an employee of the Bishop’s Relief Fund, and at my advanced age I still need to make an income that supports my “lavish lifestyle” and visits to Las Vegas.
Almost without exception, if I am assisting a non-client I ask them two questions. The first is “I take it your current agent has been unable or unwilling to help you?” and second “I’ll be glad to help if you will give me the opportunity to be your agent. Agreed?” A few beneficiaries have hemmed and hawed about the second question. Send those folks to their customer service department — don’t waste your time with them. I’ve found that a majority of people will hire me when I give them the benefit of my expertise.
You should have the same results. Bottom line: limit free Medicare advice, not because you lack compassion, but rather because your time and expertise are money.