Road Warrior: my first AEP

Road Warrior: My First AEP

James Gramp

Road Warrior

Some of you may recognize my name, probably from when I bugged you to finish your contracting/certifications before October (you know who you are!) or reminded you to update leads in your Medicare Sales Engine account. What a lot of you may not know is that this was my first year selling out in the field.  So, about 1,500 miles and two months later, I’m here to share my experiences as a Road Warrior with you all.

Learning to balance commitments

Besides working full time at RBI, I also go to school as well.  Add in my first AEP, trying to run appointments, and you’ll get the idea.  Balancing these many commitments quickly became a challenge.  Let’s just say fighting rush hour going into central Phoenix trying to make a 9 AM weekday appointment was not the best use of my time. I can’t tell you enough how important it is to schedule your appointments wisely.  I don’t just mean scheduling all your leads in Phoenix or Glendale for the same day. To really get the most out of your time you should be thinking of which way rush hour is headed and where your appointment is. You can save 1-2 hours just in driving time alone which ultimately means more appointments and more sales.

Perfecting my follow-up

Another important lesson I learned is that you have to follow-up with your leads, especially the people that pull a “no-show.” Two of my leads bailed on appointments that I scheduled with them.  There’s nothing like driving 45 minutes only to realize that you have been stood up (I never did get a hold of one person to set another appointment despite calling 6 more times).  As for the other person that stood me up, I called her 4 times before she finally got back to me. When I did reach her, I learned she works 30 hours/week, is going to school full time to finish her degree, and babysits her grandchildren on the weekends.  To say she was swamped is an understatement.  I ended up enrolling her and she was extremely thankful that I followed up regularly. So instead of acting like you got stood up for a date and never contacting those leads again, pick up the phone and reach out, you never know what it may lead to!

The art of the close

My last takeaway is don’t be intimidated by the idea of selling. I’m what you would call an introvert, not very outspoken, need time to myself to recharge, mind-my-own-business kind of guy.  In fact, the only sales experience I had before this job was waiting tables at an Italian restaurant in Scottsdale.  This AEP has been a great learning experience for me.  I now plan my routes and most importantly ask for the sale.  So if an introverted college student can get out there and make 24 sales, then so can you!

Tips & Tricks

Always keep spare oil and coolant in your car during AEP – My car didn’t break down during AEP, but it did end up overheating the day after AEP. Luckily it was a cheap fix, just had to replace a stuck thermostat.

Make sure your spare tire is inflated properly

Bring an extra pair of pants and a shirt in case of car trouble

Check google maps for backed up traffic/accidents to avoid being late – I ended up being an hour late to an appointment thanks to an accident that caused both directions on the I-10 to come to a stop.

Always let the person know if you are going to be late – I was late for a few appointments this AEP, but I called them when I was on my way and everyone thanked me for calling

Ask for the sale – after presenting plans you think would fit your client’s needs, you should be asking for the sale.  I assume you do not want to call back a couple days later to answer a very simple question/objection and then have to drive back out to get the application, or worse, lose the sale.  If you ask for the sale right then and there they will most likely tell you any objections they have right up front. I personally lost 3 because I did not ask for the sale.

For more tips see our very own Bob Bever’s post about being prepared!

–from the desk of James Gramp

Upcoming events:

Ace your 2019 AHIP Discount Training

You can get a $50 AHIP Discount with RBI! Check out our National Sales Manager’s blog post and get $50 off 2019 AHIP Today!

Most Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan insurers accept or mandate America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) Medicare Training, we would be remiss not to assist our affiliated agents with some tips regarding the navigation of this annual rite of passage. Be advised though — a few carriers have their own internal training available in lieu of the 2019 AHIP courses. Usually the test costs $175 but RBI is offering it’s very own AHIP discount for agents.

AHIP has announced a June 19 release date for the 2019 AHIP annual sales training.

Many agents who have successfully completed AHIP for several years now are probably spending more time than necessary completing the courses and preparing for the test. Newer agents often invest days in study and rote memorization efforts. Hopefully we can ease any trepidation with a few simple tips and reminders as we head into this year’s sales season.

Besides remembering that learning and accountability are why we take the AHIP, keep the following in mind:

  • The 2019 AHIP is an open-book test. Remember that term from school? It means you can print the entire course slideshow or even order a booklet. If you don’t know the answer, look it up. Call us at the number below to learn a better way to keep information in front of you while you take the test.
  • Pace yourself. The comprehensive test phase of 2019 AHIP gives you two hours to complete it, and you have three attempts to pass with a minimum score of 90 percent. Eliminate all distractions while you’re taking the test — leave your phone in another room, close out of other programs or websites on your computer, etc.
  • If you don’t pass 2019 AHIP within your three allotted attempts, you’re done for the next six months. Some carriers do have alternative training available, so check with their broker support. Do not re-register for the course and pay another $125 or $175. Just because you got the AHIP discount with RBI, doesn’t mean you can pay again elsewhere to retake the test. You can re-register, repay and go through the course to take the test again, but Medicare Advantage carriers will not recognize the pass grade for the fourth or subsequent attempts. Last year we assisted three agents who made this rather expensive mistake.
  • You’re not finished after you pass the General Compliance portion of the test (Modules 1-5). You still must complete the Fraud, Waste and Abuse (FWA) module and test before you are totally done. You’ll know you’re done when you receive a certificate.

RB Insurance-affiliated agents can call us at (800) 997 3107 to discover simple strategies to pass the AHIP with a 90 percent or better score. Don’t forget to sign up for our blog and earn an 2019 AHIP Discount of $50 instantly!

ICYMI: Harbor Health Plan drives the competition in Detroit

We had a great time in Michigan during our Harbor Health Plan Benefit Rollout meetings last week. We gave away a 10” Android Dragon Touch tablet in each of our meetings, so congratulations go to Michigan agents Mike Flaker, Dave Irwin and John Sheriff on their new gear (It will come in handy for submitting online enrollments during AEP)! It was my first time visiting Detroit, and I had a great time learning about the Motor City.

Randall Dervishi attended our meetings as well. He was hired last December as the market manager in Detroit for Harbor Health, and he has been visiting a lot of DMC doctor’s offices over the summer getting them acquainted with the Harbor Health name. Tenet Healthcare owns both Harbor Health and DMC, so there’s a natural working relationship between the two companies.

Downtown Detroit image used courtesy of Flickr user ifmuth under Creative Commons License

About the plan

Harbor’s network has greatly improved from last year. It has all of the hospitals in the tri-county area (Wayne, Oakland and Macomb) under contract except the Henry Ford System. Currently there are over 1,200 PCPs and about three times as many specialists ready to serve clients enrolled in one of Harbor’s two Medicare Advantage plans available for 2016.

A $0 premium MA plan will be available in addition to a more robust $47 plan pending CMS approval. Both have a great maximum out of pocket (MOOP) rates and include dental and fitness benefits. Harbor Health has a great plan benefit design with no referrals necessary to see an in-network specialist. This feature is unique to Harbor Health — no other plan in Michigan is doing this! Most Medicare Advantage plans are shrinking their networks and limiting their clients’ choice. Harbor Health is doing just the opposite.

If you’re interested in viewing the plan benefits (Remember, CMS still needs to approve them) or want to contract or certify with Harbor Health just this second, email me or call RB Insurance at (800) 997 3107.

RB Insurance is ready to make it happen for you

Of course we discussed our exclusive AHIP reimbursement program for agents, Brandon Clay’s 6 Hours to 6 Figures mentorship series plus RBI’s direct mail marketing pieces. I’m also looking for seminar presenters for the 2016 benefit year. I need a total of 20 presenters so if you’re interested in being a presenter, please email me.

For the pièce de résistance, we’ll be back in Detroit on September 24 — check our events calendar for the specifics. We’ll be discussing the confirmed 2016 plan benefits and talking about how to sell Harbor Health versus the competition in the tri-county area. For our afternoon session we are pleased to have none other than Brandon Clay himself sharing his successes and delivering his signature advice on how to become a trusted senior insurance advisor.

Please feel free to share this information with your fellow trusted senior insurance advisors. I would love to see them at our meeting in September!


Seize the Medicare sales season starting now

America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) will release their annual Medicare training modules June 22nd for the 2016 sales season. I’ve been involved with Medicare since 1996, so I’m proud to say this will be my 20th campaign as a successful senior insurance advisor!

AHIP has gone through many changes in the past two decades, but one thing that has never changed is the great opportunity waiting for agents who will take it.

October 15 will be here before we all know it, and while some agents will be ready to maximize its great opportunity, others will not. That’s why you should seize the Medicare sales season starting now.

If you’re a new agent, AHIP and everything else an agent needs to take care of before AEP can be daunting.  However, I can tell you personally that the career satisfaction and earning possibilities through lifetime renewals far outweigh the effort you will expend.

Whether this is your first AEP or your 20th, your most precious asset is time.

How can you make the most of it? Make a plan and take action.

Planning is vital to sales success during AEP and beyond it if you are looking to sell year-round. Multiple to-do’s will be competing for your time and energy, so having an outlined process is critical.

If you’re a seasoned agent working the Medicare Advantage market, then you already know the drill that is the Annual Enrollment Period, the legally designated sales period for Medicare Advantage. You need to complete AHIP certification, complete various carrier trainings and Continuing Education for licensing; read up on new products to stay current and keep revenue flowing in; do member outreach and education to make sure you don’t lose current clients; engage in CMS-compliant marketing strategies to find new clients and continue to add to your portfolio of products to maximize cross-selling activities.


You can adapt my personal outline below to your specific business approach:

  • Begin your AHIP certification the moment it becomes available.  It will help you get through most other carrier certifications faster. with less time involved.
  • Complete carrier’s certifications and live trainings as soon they are made available, too.
  • Prepare your Annual Review Letter for an October mailing to your clients (I’ll be posting more about this soon!)
  • Conduct plan reviews to identify the strongest in your market.
  • Identify your mentor. Who will turn to when questions pop up while you’re in the field?

After you have created your plan you must take action.  Make each step simple so you still have time for all your other daily activities.  For example, you can do one AHIP training module a day and finish the test by the end of the week. Getting an early start leaves enough time for effort without rushing.  It will help you feel organized, which just might keep you from getting frustrated or overwhelmend.

Whatever you decide to do — and how — do not procrastinate.

That simple advice is also the hardest to do, but understand the sales season means nothing if you are not Ready To Sell!

Will you be ready?