Every year between October 15th and December 7th Medicare beneficiaries have the opportunity to make changes to their existing policies and change their benefits with regard to Medicare Supplement plans, Medicare Advantage plans and Prescription Drug plans. It can be an overwhelming time for seniors as they sift through all the literature that has been mailed to them, and all the plans they've been researching online.
Your clients should have received their 'Annual Notice of Change' from their insurance company. This notice will list any changes in their policy, such as possible increase in costs or coverage. The notice should compare the benefits they currently have and what they will be in 2020. Their prescription drug plans should also be reviewed at this time of year to ensure that their medications will still be covered.
As their insurance agent, you can assist them with making the best decision regarding their policies for the next year or even longer. We've laid out everything your clients can do during this enrollment period below.
So what exactly can your clients do?
There are so many options for your clients, and it can be a daunting process to assist them with their choices, but utilizing our tools and resources will help make the process smoother. Some of these tools include using our rate and underwriting tool which will allow you to cost compare Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage plans for them. If you don't have access to our Resource for Rates tool, you can request access and receive a 30 day trial. Our contracted agents always have full access to this tool. It's also available as an app in the App Store and on Google Play. Use your login credentials for the desktop version to access quotes on the go.
Reviewing our new Medicare & Part D Plan Finder guide will help you if you're not AHIP certified and selling prescription drug plans to your clients. It's a step-by-step guide to the newly launched site on Medicare.gov. The new plan finder has a much simpler, and user-friendly interface; however, it does encourage Medicare beneficiaries to create a My Medicare account and to login with their credentials so they can save their prescriptions. It is not necessary to have them create an account if they do not wish to; you'll still be able to assist them with their drug choices.
In some cases, your clients may already have the best plans, and they won't need to do a thing. However, this is your opportunity to review their policies and determine if they'd be better off with another plan. It also provides the opportunity to open up the discussion about other types of insurance they may need.
How many times have you said to yourself "How do I get more leads without paying for them?" It's the never ending question that plagues insurance agents. You want your business to grow and don't know how to get more clients calling you. The reality is, if you're servicing your existing clients properly, they will do the marketing for you. Calling, mailing, emailing and even door knocking (yes some agents still do this) are all forms of outbound marketing. It's time to review your strategy.
How will your existing clients market for you, you ask? It's a process of nurturing them and educating them. Keep in touch with them, inform them of new products and services you offer. In essence, be their teacher. And what does this do for you? It lets your clients know that you're keeping abreast of market trends and products. You're coming to them with the latest in industry news and solutions. Bringing your A game to the table resonates with clients.
Word of mouth and influencers are two forms of marketing. But the reality is, they're both the same. Influencers typically work online and via social media. Word of mouth extends into the digital space and offline as well. If you take care of your clients, they become your influencers and spread the word that you are THE agent to work with.
Building your brand and your credibility comes from within. If you exemplify professionalism, integrity and wisdom, your clients will talk about you.
Another key component to this, is to focus on additional sales with your existing client base. Offering one type of insurance can be limiting, so if you feel you can take on new products, by all means do it! You don't have to offer every insurance product known to man; however, if you can assist your clients with an array of solutions, you'll have your own, private army doing your marketing for you.
Referral marketing is big in this industry and everyone asks for referrals. If your clients talk about you, they'll send referrals without you ever having to ask for them. They're doing the marketing work for you.
Incorporate inbound marketing with your outbound marketing strategy to allow your client base to grow. That means sending them informative pieces, and it doesn't have to be solely insurance-based. Including articles about retirement, nursing homes, social security and even protecting them from identity theft are all ways to enlighten your clients. The more you focus on attention and sales within your existing client base, the more you'll get in return.
1. Professionalism is at the top of the list. You have one time to make a first impression. If you blow it, that's on you. Dressing the part, speaking intelligently and avoiding slang or industry jargon will lend itself well to gleaning more clients. The first step to having your clients entrust you with their future insurance needs is to act accordingly. Would you buy insurance from yourself? Trust is huge when it comes to purchasing insurance and financial products.
2. Knowledge is next. If you don't know what you're selling, how do you expect your clients to purchase from you? Study your insurance products and understand what benefits they provide for your clients. If you don't know the answer, simply tell your client you'll research the answer and will get back to them. On the flip side, you don't want to come across as a "know-it-all" and overwhelm your clients with non-essential information. Moderation is key.
3. Technology is on deck for number three. If you aren't technologically savvy and struggle with basic web navigation and software, then it's time to bone up on those skills. Successful insurance agents today submit their business electronically and monitor their business online. They also run quotes and illustrations for clients online at any time of day or night. Everything you need to be successful in insurance is online.
4. Marketing is number four on the list. Carriers will provide you with consumer-facing materials, but at the end of the day, it's up to you to market yourself and your agency. You are your own brand, and you must convey your professionalism (see tip #1) via your email address and online presence. That means ditching the Yahoo email account and purchasing a domain (they're incredibly economical) and doing business with a verified business email address. And while we're talking about online presence, having a website or at the very least a landing page or micro site, is prudent. Many agents get a way with just having a facebook business page and their LinkedIn profiles, but if you can afford a small website to direct your clients to, you're on your way to a successful career.
5. Listening is imperative. You can spiel about the importance of insurance all you want, but if you don't listen to your clients and their needs, you're shooting yourself in the foot. Listening is half of selling. You need to create solutions for your clients and since they can't pick up a Medicare Supplement or Life Insurance policy in their hands and have a tangible product to identify with, it's up to you to listen and then relay the benefits of the solution you create for them,
6. Attention to details. Paying attention to yourself is imperative, whether it be in meetings, how you speak to your clients, how you respond to emails or voicemails. Paying attention to how you conduct your business will go a long way in helping you correct your mistakes and becoming more versed in this industry.
7. Digging deep. That's right. Selling insurance is not for the faint of heart. It takes dedication, commitment and hard work. Yes, you're your own boss, but with that comes accountability. It's up to you to monitor your business, market yourself, bring on new clients, set goals for future growth, make time for continuing education and taking care of your existing clients.
8. Connected is up next. Being involved in your community, networking and having a social presence is paramount. You don't have to be the town mayor, but you do need to be social. Reach out to your clients, follow up with them, let them know about new products and find out how they're doing. Life is not static. It's up to you keep up with the pace and be socially aware.
9. Receiving advice is important. If you have a mentor or someone you value who works in the insurance industry and can impart knowledge and tips, then listen and take advantage of their wisdom. We all know we learn best by actually "doing", but when you can learn from someone who is successful in this business, why wouldn't you?
10. Patience. Lastly, we must address the elephant in the room. Success doesn't happen overnight. If it did, we'd all be jumping on the next bus to Money Town. Remember that hard work and dedication DO pay off and every year you should see incremental growth. If you're not, then you need to unearth why you're not growing and what's contributing to your lack of success. Each day is a new day to call prospective clients, learn about a new product and grow your business by thinking forward. If you take the time to invest in yourself, you will undoubtedly be a successful insurance agent.
It's crucial to stand out above the rest, and if you're sending your clients elsewhere to research Medicare or Life insurance or any other senior healthcare product, you're doing yourself a disservice.
You're the expert and you need to let your clients know why they should choose you. Marketing yourself and your services is vital to growing your business. If your tell clients to go to another website to research Medicare, the likelihood of them buying a Medicare Supplement from you is nil. After all, why should they? You didn't explain their options to them. They had to research for themselves and it's quite likely they will either A) buy from another insurance agent who will help them with their choices or B) buy direct from the carrier. If you're going to make them read up on Medicare or any other insurance topic that you're knowledgeable about, at least send them to YOUR website.
In order to market yourself, you need to let your clients know why they should choose YOU. What do you bring to the table that another insurance agent doesn't? What makes you so special? Your clients and prospects are online researching insurance agents and products, just as they're researching doctors, restaurants and real estate agents. And with that being said, having an online presence is paramount. Make sure your face-to-face presence is in alignment with your online presence.
Having a website is an expense I can't really afford.
You can't afford a website you say? Well let me tell you, NOT having a website is an expense you can't afford. You already know your clients are online doing research on an array of topics. If you don't have a website or even a micro site you're just losing out on potential clients. Websites don't have to be complex and expensive. They don't have to be chock full of bells and whistles. They DO, however, need to be current, informative and user-friendly. Your clients and potential clients need a way to research you and your expertise online. If you don't have that available for them, it lessens your credibility. You hand out business cards and brochures, right? Your website is your online business card and brochure. It's yet one more way to promote yourself. Your competition down the street has one, you can count on that.
Your website may not generate thousands of leads for you, but what it will do is increase your chances of being found more easily. And? It will demonstrate to your clients that you're on top of your game. When your clients can go to your website and read up on the services you provide, just as they would if you mailed them a brochure, they are more likely to refer your site to someone else who needs your services. How easy is it to send a link in an email? VERY.
Where do I start? Who do I hire to build my website?
We have a myriad of solutions to help you with getting your presence online. Be it with a full-blown website, a micro site, or simply claiming your business on Google and building a free site with Google's tools. Don't let the internet intimidate you from realizing your potential. Think of it as a giant encyclopedia, and you need to grab your page in it. You'll be glad you did. And so will your clients past, present and future.
No one plans for a tragedy to strike...
...but if one should, having Disability Insurance ensures your clients are covered, allowing them to focus on their road to recovery, while having the means to pay the bills. May is Disability Insurance Awareness month. It's the perfect time to open up the conversation about having disability income.
Speaking to your clients about DI (Disability Income/Disability Insurance) is a conversation worth having. Having insurance that insures the beneficiary's earned income will be provided should they become disabled not only gives one peace of mind, it's just good common sense. Nearly 18.5% of Americans currently live with a disability. One out of every four Americans will suffer a disabling injury before retirement. Statistics like these are hard to ignore.
Life Happens poses this question:
"Without your paycheck, how long would you be able to make your mortgage or rent payment, buy groceries or pay your credit card bills without feeling the pinch?"
"If you’re like most, it wouldn’t be long at all: 7 in 10 working Americans couldn’t make it a month before financial difficulties would set in, and one in four would have problems immediately, according to a Life Happens survey.¹"
¹”What Do You Know About Disability Insurance” survey, Life Happens, 2018
Carolyn Portanova is the Director of Marketing at The Brokerage Resource and has been with the firm since 2012.