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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.

 

Mastering sales is just like learning to ride a bike

I remember I had just started a new sales job when it was time to teach my oldest son, Chaz, how to ride a bike. It wasn’t easy at first because he didn’t want to ride it without the training wheels. Until one day some neighborhood kids laughed at him.

“Dad, I want to take the training wheels off,” he said, holding back tears. 

I had encouraged him to take them off weeks earlier, but I didn’t press him. I knew there would come a time when he would want it bad enough to pursue it without carrot and stick motivation. We took the training wheels off and he got on the bike. The extra little wheels that made the bike safe were gone, and for the first time he couldn’t place both his feet on the pedals unless he moved forward. He had to build momentum.

Our long driveway was mostly straight and had a slight grade. I started him in the middle and held on for several attempts as he pedaled, learning balance and steering. At about the tenth time, I took him a little higher up the driveway and we began going down the hill. As you have probably guessed by now, I let go.

I still continued to let him know I was there, but at this point he was doing it all on his own. He was still telling me to hold him, not knowing I had already let go. He looked over his shoulder and saw I wasn’t there. He panicked and fell. After he checked for broken bones and realized he was OK, I started to laugh.

He did too. Through that experience, I learned that riding a bike and getting better at the sales process have a lot in common. You may already have drawn from this life metaphor things that relate to your own experiences, but there are a few specific things I want you to focus on the most.

  • Know your fears. What really scares you?  For most sales professionals, it’s rejection. The antidote? Don’t take it personally. Get over it! Rejection is going to happen because it’s part of the process. For others, fear of failure is at the top of their minds. It’s overcome by making goals, visualizing success and taking action in spite of conditions and circumstances. Movement is the best cure for this fear. Be persistent in spite of rejection or temporary failure. One lost opportunity or setback does not make a winner quit. They keep going. Resolve to be persistent until experience brings you competence, which will in turn give rise to confidence.
  • Know your product. Many sales people have not taken the training wheels off. They constantly need someone to help them with the products for which they should be the experts. Memorize your products’ features. Convert them into benefits your clients need.  Know what your product will do and what it won’t do. If possible, experience the product at work in your life and through your clients’ experiences. You must understand how your product will meet your clients’ needs.
  • Know your limitations and stay on the straight path. Most sales people don’t start with finesse and skill. They start out as order takers. Order taking may help you close 15 percent of your opportunities, but is not the way to build momentum for a sustainable career. How do you get to a 60 percent closing rate? Through the experience of objections, rejections, falling and failing. The school of hard knocks will teach you the little things along the way that help you evolve — to help you get better.

When I think of how I got started in sales, I am amazed and humbled by my success. Then I remember Chaz on that bike. Less than six months later he was building ramps and jumping over boxes. He had converted fear into skill. That skill brought confidence in trying new and daring things. For sales professionals, that translates to new opportunities for growth and development, facing a new set of fears and challenges with faith in your abilities.

Having seen thousands of sales people make the same progression, I’m qualified to say that mastering sales is just like riding a bike!

Stand apart from the competition this AEP — be yourself!

How has AEP 2016 treated you so far?

We’re rapidly closing in the the halfway point of AEP. Besides dealing with the challenge of having so many people to see in so little time, one of the recurring frustrations I hear from agents this time of year is “Everyone is after the same people.”

This definitely stands to reason. Large carriers have commercials and infomercials on 24/7 directing them to call or go online, mail is getting delivered to eligible beneficiaries in high volume and agents probably just left the house you are walking into, while another one follows behind you.

Within the sales process, there are three things you can do to save yourself from the clutter and competitive chaos that makes AEP what it is.  If you can do these three things, you will be the sales person of choice for more clients, even if they have seen other sales peopleThankfully, they’re simple. However, my observation has been that the vast majority of sales people do not do them, which means they do not stand out.

1. Prepare. When you do prepare for your 1 p.m. sales call?  I hope you didn’t say when you’re in the driveway! The best time time to prepare for your day is early in the morning or better yet, the night before. In-depth review of your client’s situation will provide you with a higher level of confidence that you have the right product and approach to meet their needs.  Nothing says professionalism like preparation.
On the other hand, nothing turns clients off faster than a sales person who seems discombobulated.  It makes them feel as though they weren’t important enough for you to spend time getting ready for them.
2. Be meticulous with detail.  The first place to impress the client is at the door to their home. Be on time, dress appropriately and be in control (Read No. 1 again if you have to). Using and remembering names is critical.  If kids are present, include them in elements of the discussion — it will reflect positively on you.  As you conduct your demonstration and ask questions, take notes. What your clients say is worth taking down because it’s important to your book of business, and the gesture also shows your client that their voice matters to you.  Reflect active listening skills by restating what you have heard.  Show them you are focused on their needs.
If follow-up activity is necessary, create timetables of deliverables or dates and times you will call back with the additional information. Just make sure that you actually do it!  Just in the last month, I have had three service people neglect the promises they made to follow-up. It has become so acceptable to provide slack service, that if you simply do what you say, you will set yourself apart from the majority.
3. Dare to be different and memorable.  I am not asking you to be “salesy” or over the top, but you do have to do something that cuts you out from the clutter.  It could be a business card with your photo as a magnet for the refrigerator. It could be a monthly newsletter that includes inspirational articles, especially if you’re like me and enjoy writing. You could use a CRM tool that provides you with special reminders. Get an interesting company or agency name or logo. Simply staying in contact with sincere, personalized messages will give you a recognizable brand!
Doing these three things as an ongoing part of your sales process will allow you to stand out from the competition this AEP. You’re one of a kind, so leverage it!

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!

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!

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.

The Joy of Canvassing: Be confident when prospecting life insurance

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.” 

Joy of Canvassing
His soft-spoken “don’t worry, be happy” demeanor belied his military background and was part of the charm of the show. At the end of 30 minutes, there would be an amazing scene that evolved right before your eyes from a blank canvas.  He believed you could do the same if you could find your happy place.
 
Pardon my pun here: Prospecting is also an art because it starts with a blank canvas.
Canvassing is basic. Primal even. To be good at it you have to find your happy place because it is hard work (that actually does work! More on that below). 

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!

 My prayers were answered! I went for the interview and they told me I fit the profile: young, good-looking and energetic (Just telling you what I was told!). I was partnered with an extremely attractive female manager who took me out in the field and showed me the ropes.

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
What lessons can be learned from my experience? You could say that sex sells — and it does — but this was not that simple. You could say men buy from beautiful women, and they do, but many men said “no,” and only some women  said “yes” to my manager.  She was neither overt nor acting with poor taste — she just exuded a confidence that I had never seen before or since.
The real lesson I have for you today is that canvassing works when you work it with boldness and confidence. Your approach to the sales process is built to not only your product, but your personality as well. To be truly effective you must find your happy place and embrace what I’ll call the Joy of Canvassing!
Want to get more confident with the Joy of Canvassing? We can help you with this! Call RBI today at 1-800-997-3107 for help on canvassing and other great community marketing ideas.  Click here to watch our recorded webinar on “Marketing for Success.”

Send clients your very own Annual Notification of Change letter this AEP

An agent once perfectly explained the paradox of the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period to me: “It’s hard to keep the client in your hand as you chase the one in the bush.”

Everyone is after your clients during the designated Medicare Advantage sales season (Remember, it runs from October 15 to December 7 every year, and you need to complete the AHIP, contracting and certification in order to sell). Numerous carriers and other agents in your area are all vying for the attention of your clients and prospects. 

Keeping the clients you have while attracting new ones during the six weeks of AEP is challenging to say the least. Send clients a generic ANOC letter reminding them you’re their agent, ready to educate and support their insurance decisions. Image courtesy of iStock

First, clients receive their Annual Notification of Change (ANOC) correspondence from their current carrier. Carriers may also conduct telephonic outreach at the same time because they’re set on preserving your client as their member. This works in your favor if the plan’s benefits are still strong and the member had a good experience during the year. But it can make your job tougher if your client thinks finding better plan is in order this AEP.

Your clients are bombarded with form letters, printed advertisements, special offers and other outreach from other carriers to get them to enroll in a new plan during the fall. Agents who are competing with your senior insurance business may send your clients mail or place ads in their favorite pennysavers, promising to help them move to a better plan (You can learn more about how to use direct mail to maximize your personal marketing investment here).

In the real world, clients don’t always call you before they make a decision. We risk losing clients when they make decisions without us, and yet scrambling to keep them with us can cut into our prospecting efforts. Both of these affect how successful we will be during AEP.

That’s why I highly recommend sending your clients your very own Annual Review Mailer. Sending your clients a personalized letter around the time they receive notifications from their plan carrier is completely compliant, and it will set the stage for you as their trusted senior insurance advisor and the person they should consult before they make any decision. 

Your very own ANOC letter must be generic and cannot mention carrier-specific benefits. See examples below!

Click here to view CMS’ official sample for an ANOC sent from a carrier to a beneficiary enrolled in a typical HMO Medicare Advantage plan.

Click here to download a FREE sample of an agent ANOC letter from RB Insurance.

Harbor Health agents: Don’t miss out on our latest meeting!

Whether you’re new to Medicare sales and this is your first AEP or you’re looking to rejuvenate your senior business this sales season, our next meeting for Harbor Health Plan agents in Detroit is all about how RB Insurance and Medicare Compare are here to make it happen for you. More information about our event can be found here.

Take note we are requiring Harbor Health agents to attend our event on September 24 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Embassy Suites Southfield (more information below). In order to receive free carrier Leads during AEP, you will need to complete a brief certification for our custom Lead Management System, the Medicare Sales Engine. That’s the only reason why we’re making attendance mandatory — we’re standing by with the easy to use tool that can help you convert Leads, close sales and complete all the necessary tasks that ensure prompt receipt of commission.

We also have two great speakers lined up to talk sales. Our founder and CEO Robert “Bob” Bever, the “RB” in RB Insurance, will be discussing Harbor Health Plan‘s unique network and how to discuss plan benefits with prospects. Bob will show you how to talk to prospects in a way that will make them ignore every other agent out there. 

Medicaid Expansion

Bestselling author, speaker and sales mentor Brandon Clay, who writes for our blog every Tuesday, will be presenting a shortened version of his groundbreaking 6 Hours to 6 Figures strategy for substantially increasing revenue for your senior insurance business. He’s offering all RB Insurance-affiliated agents exclusive access to his online training course.

If the mere mention of “online training course” reminds you of the drudgery that is annual AHIP certification, prepared to be pleasantly surprised that someone in the industry has crafted an educational program that speaks directly to agent’s interests and aspirations. Brandon aims to show agents how to get themselves in front of more potential clients by practicing simple techniques such as compliant final expense cross-sales, methods of regular communication with clients and how to tactfully request referrals.

Oh, lunch and refreshments will be provided in case you need another reason to save your seat at our event.

You can register by phone by calling (800) 997 3107. Online registration is available here.

What: Medicare Compare and Harbor Health Plan 2016 Medicare Advantage Product Rollout

When: Thursday, September 24, 2015, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Where: Embassy Suites Southfield

28100 Franklin Rd.

Southfield, MI 48034

Why: Agents who want to work free carrier Leads this AEP need to complete Medicare Sales Engine training. Agents will also learn sales strategies for securing clients by highlighting unique plan benefits and payment models.

Who: Founder and CEO Bob Bever and author, speaker and sales mentor Brandon Clay

Register here.

Don’t give up on prospecting Medicare Advantage and life insurance!

Prospecting.

The word alone conjures images of doors slamming in our face and telephone hang ups while we scramble to finish our sales pitch. And yet it’s the first stage of the sales process that can lead you to 6-figure senior insurance sales success.

Even if you’ve heard that 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day, you’ve probably wondered how you can even reach them with all the rules, regulations and market challenges that are part of the industry. To make matters worse, seniors are flooded with marketing materials during AEP from carriers and other agents and might not be in the mood to hear yet another pitch. This is why you have to reach them with smart prospecting.

How you prospect makes all the difference between making a sale, earning a client’s trust and generating referrals for your business or walking away without a sale, feeling the sting of rejection and self-doubt.

Death of a Salesman image courtesy of The New York Times (http://nyti.ms/1KZf4qg)

do-not-give-up-on-prospecting-get-smart-about-Medicare-Advatange-prospecting

Old-fashioned canvassing, leaving door hangers, telemarketing, sending small-batch mailers and pre-set appointments, direct mail campaigns, earning repeat business from existing clients and generating referrals are all methods of engaging prospects, and you will need to find the best method for your personal communication style. Be careful to comply with the Medicare Marketing Guidelines, as some of the methods I’ve listed above cannot be used for selling Medicare Advantage.

If you sell just Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplements, you must follow the Medicare Marketing Guidelines, which you can review here. I highly recommend that every senior insurance advisor I mentor add final expense or life insurance to his or her portfolio of products to maximize earnings from repeat business. You can cross sell both products and still be in compliance!

Stay with me as we head into the sales season as I review strategies for your prospecting efforts. You’ll have to suspend judgment on what you think will work and what won’t work because any of them can work for you if you’re willing to be diligent and persistent.

Although I will ask: Which methods should you predominantly spend your time pursuing? I hope you answered repeat business and referrals — they have the lowest cost (essentially free!) and the highest close ratio. That puts a higher importance on each sale that you close because these two sources can only come from a current client.

You have you stick to prospecting because it just doesn’t work automatically. Refine your methods to be smart about prospecting and watch your metrics improve. Giving up on prospecting after one day because “it’s not working” or because you feel the sting of rejection is not true prospecting. You’ve likely heard the saying, “Nothing begins until a sale is made,” but that really means that nothing begins until you are sitting down with the prospect.

Read my post on overcoming the fear of rejection when prospecting for Medicare Advantage and other senior products.