Your integrity is priceless, especially amid market uncertainty

I’m on a mission to change the perception of sales through my 6 Hours to 6 Figures platform. As a veteran of Medicare Advantage and the senior health insurance industry I know that begins with my own attitude and with my own interpretation of the sales process. I was given an especially important opportunity to practice what I preach this Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), which wraps up next week.

Balancing my travel schedule with the all important duty of tending my Medicare book of business has been my focus for the past eight weeks, aka the busiest time of year for agents. I was set to touch base with around 100 clients I had picked up through running appointments and enrollment meetings during the last two AEPs for a certain carrier. 

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If you’ve been keeping up with my weekly column for The Agent’s Advantage, you know that I pride myself on service and meeting the needs of my clients by keeping in touch with them throughout the year. Doing this became a real juggling act this year as I added developing corporate training platforms to my extensive resume.

I was about to travel for several weeks, scheduled to return on October 15 for the first day of AEP. While that was cutting it close, I had my plan and strategy all mapped out — send my very own Annual Notification of Changes (ANOC) letter, reach out to my clients via Skype (international calls are expensive!), and set up a few in-home visits as needed. I expected the turnover to be minimal since they had all been very satisfied with the carrier plan’s benefits, network and service. I wasn’t planning on actively selling to new clients this year, though that is a No. 1 concern for most agents. I was out to take care of my already existing book of business. In fact, I only certified with the carriers whose plans my clients were already enrolled in.

Just as I was putting stamps on my personalized ANOC letter, the carrier announced it was exiting the Medicare business. The timing couldn’t have been worse for my business. I knew my clients wouldn’t wait for answers, even though they had plenty of time to make a transition to another plan.

With my travel and the fact I did not certify with all the carriers I needed to help my clients find a plan that would best fits their needs, I had to do what was in the best interest of my clients.

I made a compliant introduction between each of my affected clients and a trusted colleague I have also had the privilege of calling a friend for the past 19 years. I trusted this agent and knew he would always do the right thing for my clients. He helped many of them navigate their options, answered countless questions, eased their concerns and enrolled most of them into a new plan.

Many of my former clients still called me, thanking me for helping them in the past. Others asked about my wife Natalie and our children. Each of my former clients who called wished me continued success. Some said they would keep in touch on a yearly basis to ask advice as they knew more changes would come.

I view these calls as my reward for service and integrity. Don’t get me wrong — commission is still important to me, and I took a substantial loss when I did the math. I’ll be perfectly honest and say I wish the carrier could have remained in the market so I could service my clients for years to come. I know that the real test of integrity isn’t when things are going right, though. The real test is when you have to make a choice in light of challenges and you do what is right for the client.

Want to be successful? Focus on service as your mission, not commission. Your integrity is priceless and should not be for sale.  Hold on to it and remember that as you do the right thing for your clients, you will have the reward of a good reputation, their gratitude, career satisfaction and — when all the planets in the sales universe align — commission.  Enjoy the satisfaction of your integrity and know that as you serve, you deserve.