- How to prompt referrals before you leave your AEP appointment
- How to set yourself up for a calendar full of appointments for January and February
- How to cross-sell different insurance types and how to do it in a way that’s natural to the prospect
- 3 ways you could be selling Medicare Advantage beyond AEP
- What tools you need to stay in contact with your prospect and client base that will draw referrals and increase retention
Mike even gives us his top recommendations for a CRM and why agents need to get one if they don’t already have one. Don’t miss this episode with Mike and be sure to check out his training site when you get a chance!
Interview with: Mike Gattorna, Director of Health Agents Network and Host of Medicare Café
Glen: Hey Mike, I really appreciate you coming onto the Heroes Huddle Podcast as host of Medicare Café. I know we have spoken previously about all sorts of different things in regards to Medicare marketing, Medicare Advantage, AEP – which is something I definitely want to get into since we’re doing this recording right now, and it is AEP, and most Medicare agents are running around like chickens with their heads cut off. From the independent agents and the agency owners that I work with and I speak to, I know it’s just a crazy time of year.
Then you’ve got the holidays on top of it, so I know it can be very busy, so I really appreciate you taking time out of your schedule to come on and talk with me. Hopefully we can get to the bottom of some of these more pressing Medicare issues. One of the big things, like I said, AEP, and what to do after AEP.
I know there’s some Medicare agents, and maybe you’re listening to this podcast right now and that’s you, and it’s very seasonal for you, especially if you’re focusing on Medicare Advantage. That might be something that you really just focus on during these last eight weeks of the year. Then maybe you’re looking else for something else to do during the rest of the year, and I’m kind of interested to what Mike thinks. So Mike, take it away.
Mike: Thank you, Glen. Thank you for having me on, it’s definitely a pleasure. I know we’ve spoken in the past and I always enjoy your content that you put out there.
I mean that’s the thing is AEP, right now—I’m sure by the time you hear this it will be post-AEP and that’s really what we focus on, is AEP being—we call it the ‘365 Approach’ because it’s every day you need to build momentum up to AEP.
It’s not a sprint where we have a seven-week sprint at the end of the year to get everyone signed up; it’s more of a marathon mentality where you have to build up. Because if you asked me to run a 5K tomorrow I would probably die at mile marker one.
Glen: Preaching to the choir.
Mike: Yeah, no kidding. Yeah, I’m not running for anything. So it’s a matter of ok, now that we have this huge enrollment time, you need to make sure you’re thinking about it starting December 8th, the day after it ends, and building that call list, building that client and prospect list all throughout the year, because every senior—for the most part, unless they have group or Medicaid—they’re going to be subject to AEP in some way or form.
A lot of seniors still think that Medicare Supplements are part of AEP. So if you think, ‘Well, I just sell Medicare supplements, I don’t have to worry about it,’ well, you have Part B and a lot of seniors think that Medicare Supplements are open enrollment during that time. And as we know, that’s not the case.
Glen: You’re absolutely right. The funny part is not only is it a misconception with seniors about when they can switch and when they can look at other options; I also have found that it’s a misconception with insurance agents, where I’ve talked to agents before and they’re saying, ‘Oh, well, Glen, what am I supposed to do? I can’t write a Medicare Supplement in June.”
And I’m like, ‘Yes, you absolutely can. I know many agents who write hundreds of apps outside of AEP.’ So that’s something that I think is very important, that agents also are aware of that. That if you’re—especially if you’re writing Medicare Supplements—you don’t have to wait for APP to do that. That can happen at any point during the year. [03:11]
Mike: Absolutely. It’s funny, on the flipside of that, they think that Medicare Advantage is a seven-week enrollment process, where a lot of carriers we talk to are saying that we’re seeing just as much enrollment for Medicare Advantage with dual-eligible and special needs plans and T65 people, as we’re seeing in AEP. Because as Medicare Advantage plans grow in popularity in the marketplace, people are staying on them longer. I think one large carrier said that their average member out of a Medicare Advantage plan is on the plan over four years.
So they’re seeing a lot of stability happen in the marketplace, just like Medicare Supplements. So it’s not every year everyone changes plans; it’s every so often, there’s a shift in the market, but then stabilizes for a handful of years. So then a lot of agents are switching gears and going to special needs plans, dual-eligible plans to offset that stability that they’re seeing in AEP. So it’s not really seasonal anymore, and carriers are being very wise to that and are making new plans to have something for agents to do during the year as well.
Glen: Yeah, no absolutely. And with Medicare Advantage, I think it’s kind of gotten a bad rep in the past. Depending on your area, I mean like you mentioned, sometimes these plans can just drop out of a region. I know here in Oregon, there was a county that just dropped one of the major players, I can’t remember exactly who it was, but I just remember talking to some agents and they were saying how frustrating it was that a third of their book that they were going to have to look at rolling to a different plan because the current plan just got withdrawn.
But yeah, I think it’s very region-based. I actually have a heat map for anyone listening right now. There’s a heat map on my website, if you go to LeadHeroes.com and you get to the order page, it is a Medicare Advantage penetration heat map. So you can actually see per county for the entire U.S., approximately how much, percentage-wise, Medicare Advantage is in that county, so in your area.
I think that’s really important to know, especially if you’re thinking about getting into Medicare, whether you’re offering Advantage plans or Supplement plans, I really think you should do you homework on your local area, because there’s some areas like Portland, which is close to me, if I was trying to exclusively offer Medicare Supplements in that area, I would get roasted because it’s 55 percent roughly, it’s very popular, most people have it, and it makes sense in that area, and in different regions it makes different success depending on the plan and what’s around you. So definitely do your homework, that’s what I’m really trying to stress. [05:55]
Mike: Absolutely. And that’s the thing, is I grew up and then—or I sold in area where it was very high MA penetration. We’re seeing it push out to more rural markets as well. So even if your primary focus is Medicare Supplement, you want to have Medicare Advantage at least in your back pocket, because you’ll be surprised how many rural people will travel to a major metropolitan area for services, especially when it comes to outpatients and seeing specialists, because the rural markets don’t have that specialty anymore.
A lot of these hospitals are buying up all these doctor networks and all these rural clinics to be part of this mass network. So you’re not seeing the separation of urban versus rural, it’s becoming very blurred. That’s helping Medicare Advantage plans grow in popularity. So if you’re just doing Medicare Supplements, at least have Medicare Advantage in your back pocket. When you certify for Medicare Advantage—or excuse me, for your Part D Plan—just click on the Medicare Advantage and do that as well.
You’ll be surprised how many people start looking into it and say, ‘You know what? I do want to try that route of switching over to a zero premium or a lower premium plan than my Medicare Supplement.’ That way, you don’t have to give away business, you could say yes to business and not, ‘Well, I don’t sell that product. I don’t offer it.’
And definitely don’t tell your clients you don’t believe in it, because as we’re seeing, it’s actually more popular than standalone Medicare Supplements now. Medicare Supplements are I think about 25 to 26 percent, and Medicare Advantage is like 31 or 32 percent. So you’re going against the masses when you say you don’t like Medicare Advantage as an agent.
Glen: I love the ‘say yes to business,’ and that’s really essentially the same advice I would give an agent. If you want to start and just focus on Supplements because the underwriting’s a little easier or the product’s a little easier, or you don’t want to take the time to get certified, or you don’t want to deal with the CMS guidelines, whatever that is. At some point, it definitely makes sense to have that as an option.
You know, if you have a book of business, whether it’s 50 or 500 clients, at some point you will start losing clients if you’re not offering an Advantage plan that they’re wanting. I think that’s really great.
So right now I know, like I was saying earlier, most agents are probably crazy busy. The last think they’re thinking about is, ‘What am I doing in January of 2018?’
What advice you give to an agent if they were to come to you and say, ‘Mike, AEP is going really well, I want to hit the ground running in 2018. How should I approach staying busy in the New Year?’ [08:24]
Mike: Well I can tell you the first thing that we recommend agents do is never leave your current appointment without your next action or your next appointment confirmed. So when you’re sitting across the table with a lot of Medicare Advantage plans—like individual agents and brokers are still sold belly-to-belly or across the table—always have your next appointment set, because it’s much easier to get back in the home if you have a preset appointment than almost cold-calling your clients and saying, ‘Hey, I need to talk to you again.’ Because then the red flags go up, ‘Why do you want to come here? What are you going to try and sell me? What’s going on?’
If you say to your clients, ‘I always do a follow-up visit one to two months after we initially meet to make sure you’ve got all your materials, you’ve got your cards, everything’s OK. It’s just a quick 5-10-minute, “how are you doing, you’ve got everything? Let me see what you’ve got. Do you understand everything? Great.”‘ It’s much easier getting back in the door doing that.
Even if your client forgets, he might remember the conversation, ‘Oh yeah, Mike said he was going to come back out, why don’t you come back out?’ Just like your dentist, doctors do, they always set the next appointment ahead of time. Because they know if you have a preset appointment, even six, seven, eight months down the road, you’re probably going to attend that, but not blow it off. So do what your dentist does and set your next appointment so you don’t weasel out of it like I do with the dentist. Now that’s a whole other podcast.
Glen: Yeah, that’s our next episode.
Mike: But always set your next appointment to make sure that you’re in good standing with your clients. And even if it’s not a sale, you know what? Your clients are going to remember that, they’re going to really appreciate that, and it’s a great way to get referrals. To ask again, ‘Hey, if you know anyone, if you have a friend, a neighbor, a family member that’s aging into Medicare, if they just have some simple questions, let me know,’ and you’ll drop off a few more cards.
That will get you in really good positioning for a lot of the ancillary products; now hopefully you’re cross-selling. One thing we always teach agents on ancillary products for that second appointment is don’t forget that most of your clients come from a group setting. When you work for a manufacturer or a corporate business or wherever you have group employer benefits, they don’t just offer major medical anymore. Most of them offer dental, life insurance, short-term care, long-term care, cancer products. They have this huge bouquet, if you will, of different offerings.
Glen: A cornucopia of insurance.
Mike: Yeah, a cornucopia—if it was right around Thanksgiving a cornucopia of options for them. I’m trying to use big words, I’ll stop. But no, they have an array of products that they’re offering. And you know, the HR manager isn’t high-pressure, it’s: ‘Here’s your major medical benefits, sign here, do you want life insurance? Sign here, this much out of your check. Do you want this? It’s this much. Do you want this? It’s this much.’
For the past 20 or 30 years, your clients have done that. But then a Medicare agent comes along and says, ‘Here’s your Med Sup, here’s your Part D Plan, or here’s your Medicare Advantage plan. I’m done.” Well, your client may have had dental insurance for the past 20 to 30 years, and now even though they can get one, they don’t know. They’ve been covered by group, and Linda in HR has been telling them for the past 30 years, ‘Sign here for this benefit. You’re done,’ and you’re denying them that right.
So now they think that one, Medicare is going to cover everything for dental, and they’re going to find out the hard way it doesn’t. Or they’re going to think that there’s no dental plan available on the market because they don’t know, because Linda’s gone. When they leave the group, there’s no guidance. When they come onto the group, Linda’s there holding their hand, walking them through everything, but then when they leave, Linda’s like, ‘See ya. Here’s your real fake gold watch, here’s a pen. Go enjoy your time,’ that’s it.
So we want to make sure you almost replicate the HR experience and tell them about dental and Final Expense and short-term care, and all—cancer plans. Even if they say no, at least they know you offer it, so if something changes down the road, if they have a friend that asks about dental, ‘I don’t have dental, but my agent offered me dental. You should call them.’ And that’s going to get you more referrals than just selling straight core products such as Med Sup and Med Advantage.
Glen: I’m going to take it a step—first of all, enormous value in the advice you just gave, Mike. I mean that’s the sort of advice that I wish I could have had as a new agent coming in. But just to take that a step further, so you know, like you said, they had someone who kind of handled everything and explained things to them, and once they left the workforce, they don’t have that and that’s where a Medicare agent could step in, or if you’re in Final Expense and you’re listening to this, the same for you.
If it’s a senior who’s retired, they might not have someone to help them out in some of these different lines of insurance. Another one especially on the Medicare side of the business that I see some agents excel at, I mean incredible. I should also mention on Final Expense, I just talked to an agent last month who was also doing the same thing: handling financial products for these seniors.
Just like Mike mentioned a few minutes ago, it used to be that they had someone in the same building as them that they could go talk to about their insurance options and it was very easy. They probably also had someone that they talked to on the financial side that they might not have access to anymore. So maybe they have a lump sum of money they’re trying to decide what to do with after they’re retired. Maybe they have existing savings accounts that they’ve been putting money away for five, 10, 20 years and they’re only getting 1 or 2 percent back as far as an interest rate goes, and you can come in and help them with that. So that’s another huge opportunity that I think a lot of agents miss on.
And if you’re doing that set appointment and whether it’s—you know, you’re coming back in a month or maybe you’re following up with them in a year—definitely offer them something additional. I mean that’s just extra revenue that’s coming into you. Also, from a persistency standpoint, and Mike, maybe you can speak to this, but—and I don’t have any statistics in front of me, but what I believe I have read previously is that the statistical probability of losing a client when you have more than one policy in the home, regardless of what that second policy is, right, so whether it’s you have a Med Sup and a Final Expense life insurance plan in the house, or maybe it’s a dental plan and Medicare Advantage, whatever it is. But if you have more than one policy in the home, the chances of you retaining that client for life are significantly higher. [14:40]
Mike: Absolutely. LIMRA did a study a handful of years ago about that. If you have one policy with your clients, it’s about a 50 percent retention rate. If you add a second policy, it jumps up about 60 to 70 percent. If you have three or more, then it jumps up to about 90 percent.
Mike: Even if it’s just a simple, like you said, a dental product, to leave that person is a tough call. And the other thing is don’t just sell on price, because if price worked, we’d all have Geico, because ‘a 15-minute call could save you 15 percent or more.’ I’ve never called. It’s—oh my gosh, it’s a 15-minute phone call? That’s half a sitcom! I’m not going to call, I’d rather laugh at my television.
People get comfortable, and that’s a question I asked when I was in the field full-time, was if they had auto and home. If they had the same auto and home policy for 30-plus years, you know they’re going to stay put and you know they’re going to be good clients, hopefully. And a lot of times, they have a lot of policies with that P&C. It could have auto, home, maybe an umbrella policy, so they stay put. So if you think these statistics are just made up and yeah whatever, look at the P&C market. They have all kinds of people that have been on the policies for 40, 50, 60 years even, because why change?
Even though they could save hundreds of dollars by switching, look at the hassle it is. And with you, they’re almost forced to change in the Medicare market because they’re a leaving group or they’re aging into Medicare some way or another. So make sure you’re taking that concept that the P&C market has mastered and applying it to your practice as well.
Glen: Here’s a question for you. So when you’re talking about setting that appointment and coming back out and visiting that client, so let’s say you’re meeting with someone during AEP right now and you’re setting them up with an Advantage plan or a Supplement plan. Are you coming back out and visiting them outside of AEP then, and at that point that’s when you’d be looking at offering those additional lines of insurance or maybe financial products, or maybe you’re asking for referrals, ‘Do you have friends or family members who need help with this or that?’ Is that kind of what you were getting at with that? [16:48]
Mike: Absolutely. I always tell my clients, ‘Look, I’m going to come out after January and just make sure you’re settled in, everything’s going fine. It’s new coverage, I know it can be daunting. Let’s make sure you’re covered and you’re comfortable.’
And so they would, most of the time, they’d say, ‘Yes, no problem.’ And the way I’d verify that appointment is I would go ahead and either send them a postcard, just like your dentist or doctor does, and say, ‘Hey, we have an appointment January 15th,’ send it about a week ahead of time.
Or nowadays with email, most seniors have email. I think a lot of Medicare agents are stuck in the mindset of, ‘Well, my clients are old, they don’t have email, they don’t have phone.’ But your average 65 to 70-year-old left the workforce just a couple years ago. Workforces have been using email, smart phones, and all this technology for years now, so they’re probably very accustomed to it.
So send them an email, ‘Hey, I’ll put you on my calendar and I’ll go ahead and see you January 15th. I’ll shoot you an email before I come out,’ and make it simple. You can make it very easy for yourself if you have a CRM that automates the process. That’s even better obviously, because then it just takes the pressure off of you. But somewhere or another, just send them a communication saying, ‘Hey, I’ll be out there in a week. If you need to reschedule, no problem, I can do that, but I plan on being out there Wednesday at 2:00.’
And you’d be surprised how many people will either A, be there waiting for you, or second, ‘Hey, can we meet Thursday instead?’ They don’t try and cancel, they’ll go ahead and say, ‘Hey, let’s change it to this date, let’s change it to that date.’ Because it’s a non-threatening and no pressure appointment, because the buying’s done, and it’s so much easier to cross-sell then too because the trust is there, ‘If you think I need this. I don’t know, that one’s good. Let’s go ahead and get it.’
It’s so much easier of an appointment than the initial one. So I highly recommend it.
Glen: Absolutely. And if they already bought from you, and man, I should have had these stats in front of me and I apologize to any listeners. But statistically, I want to say it was something like the chance of selling someone who’s already bought something from you is in the 40-60 percent range, whereas a brand new client, you’re looking at 5-20 percent, somewhere in that range. If I can find something on that, I’ll link it to this podcast, but I know you have a much higher likelihood of selling something to someone who’s already bought from you, than you are to go find a brand new client.
So I mean again, great advice. I also like the dentist analogy; I’ve used that several times when talking with agents. I think if you’re looking for a great idea of how to properly run your business, you really need to guard your time like a dentist or a doctor does. You do not hear a dentist or a doctor who calls to set their own appointments, they are not handling a lot of the follow-up and scheduling calls. They’ll even sometimes have someone who handles all their paperwork. They are focused on handling the client and closing the deal, essentially.
So if you can schedule or set up your business like that, I mean that’s—the guys who are really producing seem to have something similar in place. So again, I think that’s a terrific analogy. [20:03]
Mike: I love agents that, at the end of AEP, they sign up maybe 30, 40, 50 new people, they talk to maybe 30, 40, 50 of their clients. That’s like almost 100 people. December 8th hits and they’re like, ‘I have no one to talk to.’
You just talked to 100-plus people about stuff that you could go back and talk to them about more stuff. They’ve already trusted you and you’re looking to sell to brand new people. And again, just like you, I don’t have statistics in place, but I think it’s almost three times less costly to work a book of business than acquire new clients. It’s so much easier, the trust is already there, you don’t have to be high-pressure, they’re used to having options—there’s so many pluses to working a book of business, but agents just get scared because they think, ‘I’m going to be high pressure, I’m going to ask them to buy something they don’t want to buy.’
The clients know that one, they’re getting older, they can use this information, and they probably have no idea what the group coverage looked like because no one ever asked that. So ask them:
“Hey, what did your group coverage look like?”
“Oh, I had dental, I had cancer, and I had life insurance.”
“Do you have any of that now?”
“Do you want to see what that looks like now if we can get it going?”
“Well, yeah, I’d love to have dental again. I’d like to have life insurance.”
Your clients will tell you what they want, if you simply ask the right question. It’s so simple. And they have no idea how to buy insurance. They’ve never bought insurance. They were always handed insurance—back to Linda in HR. They never bought, they were just handed insurance. I always tell agents, when I turned 16, I didn’t buy auto insurance. My dad handed me my insurance card and said, ‘Here’s your insurance card. If you crash the car, don’t come home.’
So that’s how I got auto insurance for the very first time. I didn’t buy it, I was handed insurance. That’s how your clients bought health insurance for 30 years, so be the source, or be a beacon of light, that guidance that they need, because they really have no idea what they were doing.
Glen: Be the expert, absolutely. Be the expert, make sure that if they have questions, that they can reach out to you and refer to you, or you can go back out and see them. I, as a life insurance agent, which most of my experience comes from the life insurance side of the business, very often, I would go out at the one-year mark of the policy, and at that point I would really explain, ‘This is what we talked about last time I was here. This is the policy that you have in place today.’
And then if I took notes from the first visit, ‘By the way, you mentioned you had a brother who might be looking for insurance. Or by the way, you said you had $250,000 in this account and you didn’t know what to do with it. Do you know anyone right now that you’ve talked to who might be looking for insurance that I could help out?’
I mean, there’s so much you can do by just working your existing book. Some of the most successful agents I know will continue working their book. I’m all about diversifying marketing efforts, I’ve talked about this all the time. I don’t think you necessarily have to stop going after new clients, but it’s definitely smart to stay in contact with people who’ve already bought from you and to work that existing book.
So yeah, I think that’s great advice for anyone who’s out there right now working AEP, and if you’re looking for more activity going into 2018, definitely do not forget those clients. And also, don’t forget the clients who didn’t buy, right Mike?
Glen: I mean what about the people who you sat down with and maybe you had a good conversation, but they weren’t ready to pull the trigger, and that’s fine. Make sure you’re following up with them, as well.
Follow-up is so key, it’s just one of the biggest things that I think agents miss out on. Whether they bought from you before, whether they’re just a lead you haven’t gotten a hold of yet, or maybe you sat down with them and they just didn’t buy yet, make sure you’re following up with these people.
And the postcard that Mike mentioned earlier, that’s a great option. Something like SendOutCards, which is very popular I think with agents that you can use. You can do hand-written cards. I know some agents still swear by hand-written cards. But whatever it is, just those different methods of having those touchpoints—email, phone calls, appointments, sending snail mail. I mean, whatever it is, I think that’s really great advice. [24:12]
Mike: Yeah, I’m a big proponent of hand-written thank you cards, because we don’t get those anymore in society. We get the—if we went to a small child’s birthday party, you get the forced ‘Mom made me write this thank you card in crayon.’ It’s going to say, ‘Thanks for the Legos set,’ or whatever. But beyond that, we don’t get thank you cards.
I’ll share this story. Back when I lived in Kansas City, my wife at the time went to a nursery to go do some landscaping on our front lawn, she was trying to do some different stuff. And they actually—she filled out a little thing to be on their mailing list, they sent her a hand-written thank you card with a coupon inside saying, ‘Hey, it was great talking to you. If we can help you, blah, blah.’ Well, she was back that next week and bought all the stuff from them, and all it took was a hand-written thank you card. Because to this day, I haven’t gotten one since, from anyone. So those things do work. I promise you, hand-written cards work.
Glen: You’re absolutely right, and I can speak to that because a lot of the mail I get is just complete junk mail, and I’ll notice—it always sticks out to me, and really the only one I’ve gotten recently was from the car dealership. I bought a car—it’s not even my most recent car purchase. It’s a car that I purchased back in I think it was like 2012, I mean it’s almost six years now. And I get hand-written letters probably between one, two, or maybe even three times a year, like, ‘Hey, this is the anniversary you bought your car. Glen, we’d love you have you come in.’
While I’ve never reached out, I almost always check that mail. I almost always look at it and for better or for worse, they’re at the front of my mind. So I think that really is great advice, and it does stand out. There’s so much mail going out these days, junk mail, good mail, bad mail, whatever it is. So you have to try to stand out, and I think that’s the same as when you’re an agent and you’re in the house presenting. You want to try to stand out, you don’t want to be the same agent that they maybe talked to last week or last month. [26:12]
Mike: Absolutely. And that’s another thing, too. If you’re not doing hand-written—or you should do hand-written—but on top of that there’s no excuse in 2017 or 2018 to not have some sort of electronic newsletter. Because there are free services out there, I always promote MailChimp, I have no affiliation with them, but if you have less than 2,000 email addresses it’s free. You could use Microsoft Word; you could use MailChimp. If you can’t use Microsoft Word, it’s 2018, time to get rid of the typewriter and fire up a computer, because it’s only been out for 30-plus years, it seems like.
But it’s—and that’s—the magic about newsletters is don’t make it salesy. Just say, ‘Hey, I do recipes, I do events around town, I’d love to put you on there. If you have a recipe you want to share with everybody, if you have like a secret like a great cookie recipe or anything.’ Your clients will all have this great recipe that is passed on for generations, ‘If you want to share that, I’ll share it with all my clients and feature you on my newsletters.’
I had a good agent friend of mine that did that. She almost had like a cookbook full of recipes because her clients loved that. ‘Oh, I’ve got this recipe. I saw this recipe.’ Everyone eats, so it’s a great common ground. So you could make it fun, you don’t have to make it, ‘Please buy more stuff from me because I have skinny kids.’
You can make it fun and it’s a great way to keep in touch with the clients, because we say seven touches a year. At least seven touches a year. If you have a quarterly newsletter, that’s more than half of the touches you should be reaching out to your clients with.
So again, no excuse. If you want help, join us at the Medicare Café, we could help you with that, I know Glen can help you with that, I know he’s more tech savvy than I am. So talk to one of us, we’ll get you on board.
Glen: I totally agree with email. I mean especially with mass communication, I mean you can have a personalized newsletter like what you just described, Mike. I love the idea of recipes. I would also love to have a screenshot of a newsletter, even if you have multiple, whether it’s your own or an agent that you’ve worked with before, I would love to share that on my website and have agents—so keep an eye out on my website, I’m going to try and get a screenshot here from Mike.
Because yeah, I think that’s a no-brainer and it doesn’t need to be over the top, and I think as an agent before myself, I can see maybe the stress point of ‘this isn’t good enough.’ But even if you’re just still trying to figure it out, MailChimp is terrific software, I’ve used it, I currently use it. There’s other great software for email marketing like Active Campaign, and the list goes on and on and on. Find one you like.
If you don’t have your clients’ email addresses, get them. If you’re talking to a lead on the phone and they don’t want to buy yet or they’re not ready to set an appointment, maybe try to get their email address and start a list for those people. Yeah, and reach out and contact—seven’s a great number, even if it’s only a few times. Even if you’re only able to do two or three points of contact a year, it makes a huge difference. I love the seven number. If you’re doing like a monthly newsletter, that’s 12 right there. So I totally agree.
And to touch on your point from earlier, Mike, you mentioned how seniors are becoming more and more tech savvy. I’m thinking with my own parents in mind, and Mom and Dad, I guess if you’re listening, I hope you’re not angry I’m sharing your personal life here, but they’re extremely tech savvy. They are. I mean they’re in their 60s and they use smart phones, they have email on their phone, they check email on their laptop.
I know for some seniors, depending on the region too, might not be as tech savvy, or if they’re in their late 70s, even if they are able to use a computer, they might not be excited about it. But it’s the future, it’s inevitable. I think we can all agree on that. So if you’re not adapting now, you’re going to lose out on time and business down the road. So start now. [30:12]
Mike: Absolutely, my parents, same thing. They’re actually both on Medicare, they both have iPhones, they both have no idea how the iPhone works, but they have them. My mom’s text is I swear one letter per on the screen because it’s gigantic, but they haven’t had smart—they’ve had smartphones for the past handful of years. My mom as a laptop, they have a desktop, they have high-speed internet, my mom’s on Facebook.
I always joke about Facebook. The joke was if you friend them, if you sent my mom a friend request, she would accept it. She accepted everyone’s friend request. And then I looked at her profile the other day, she has over 2,300 friends on Facebook.
Glen: Whoa, that’s more than me. Your mom’s more popular than me, Mike.
Mike: You and me combined, probably. I always say, ‘Mom, don’t send anyone any money. Holy cow, please don’t. It’s a scam, I promise you.’
But the point is even your older clients, when it comes to Facebook, it’s no longer, ‘Hey, we went on vacation, we took a bunch of pictures, let me mail you some.’ It’s, ‘Go to Facebook, we posted them there.’
So my grandfather was in his early 90s when he passed, but he was on Facebook. Not because he wanted to be, because we forced him on. We said, ‘Here’s your account, here’s your login, you want to keep up with the kids, grandkids, and the family? This is where it happens. We’re not going to write you a letter, we’re not going to print out any photos, you’ve got to go here.’ We basically forced him onto Facebook and that’s what a lot of families are doing. It’s no longer—that’s just the new world you have to live in. You have to adapt.
So if you think your clients are too old for Facebook, talk to their family, because they’ll be like, ‘No, they’re on Facebook. We forced them.’
Glen: That’s great advice. I’ve talked to some people in sales who will set up a separate Facebook account just for clients, so that way they can kind of stay in touch without necessarily mixing their personal Facebook account. I don’t know how well that works. I personally never added any of my clients on Facebook, but I think it can be a huge tool. I have a friend who is very active on Facebook and he will actually take pictures with clients that he has closed and talk about, ‘Hey, this is Meredith, and I just helped her with her Medicare Supplement plan.’
And it’s—maybe Meredith is holding up her folder with her insurance plan in it and she’s smiling. And then before you know it, you’re—her friend saw it, if it’s your personal page, your friend saw it and someone sees it, and then all of a sudden you’re getting referrals. I mean it’s—it’s a great tool. It’s definitely something to consider, I totally agree. [32:53]
Mike: Absolutely. Yeah, you can’t go wrong with Facebook, you should be active on Facebook, especially if you don’t have a website, because Facebook has great SEO. I think the proper thing for Facebook, if you think of Facebook as a prospecting tool, it’s not, it’s more of a retention and a popularity tool to get your name out there. I definitely wouldn’t use it for prospecting—but there’s a lot of ROI you can do with it—or not ROI, there’s a lot of analytics you can do with it, just like the email newsletter.
It’s hard to do analytics when you’re door-knocking, it’s hard to build an algorithm when you’re door-knocking, because you don’t know. But a lot of the online things, you can. So if you are looking to do the online route, start with the current book of business and then you can slowly branch out and to process. But know that if you’re not online and you’ve decided not to do it, other agents are. So when your clients are on Facebook or they’re checking their email, who are they going to find? Because if you’re not on there, they’re going to find other agents.
Glen: I totally agree, Mike, and I think from a credibility standpoint, like you said, if you don’t have a website yet for your company, which I would highly recommend doing, even if you’re just an independent agent and it’s just you, I would highly recommending either naming—finding a brand name that you like or maybe it’s just your name, agency, whatever it is. I highly recommending having a website.
If you don’t, I think Facebook could definitely be used as a great credibility tool. Like you said, it’s not necessarily a prospecting tool, I mean maybe if you’re doing some advertising on Facebook, but you can definitely use it for referrals and retention and credibility. So I do, I think that’s a great tool that is probably being underutilized by most agents. It’s just going to continue to grow in popularity, more and more people will be on Facebook. The sort of growth they’ve had is insane; over a billion users. It’s crazy. So you’d be crazy not to be active on that platform.
Tell me about this though, Mike, I want to try to get a little bit more out of you here before you’ve got to go. Talk to me about tracking sales, tracking existing clients, lead management. That is so important, it’s right there with follow-up. I mean it’s all right there together, and I see it on my end when I’m talking with one agent versus another. For example, if they’re buying leads from Lead Heroes and I send the same exact type of lead to two agents, obviously there’s some variables there, but I’ll notice maybe one agent excels while another agent struggles.
And one of the biggest differences is going to be lead management, follow-up, are you using a CRM, how many times are you calling a lead before you’re considering that lead dead, and having a system in place and sticking to it. Rinse and repeat. Once you find success, stick to it. I wish I didn’t even have to say that. I do, I wish I didn’t have to say that, but I do. If you have a system in place and it’s making you money, don’t stop. Why would you stop? [35:59]
Mike: We have a funny thing: It works so well, we stop doing it immediately.
Glen: Seriously. Just to get your opinion on that though, Mike, and I’ve talked about that. I have a blog article on my site talking about the top 10 CRMs for insurance agents. I don’t feel like that gets talked about enough. So any insight that you could share, I’d love to hear it.
Mike: Absolutely. The thing is with tracking your results is it’s so important because you have to figure out what you like doing. That will actually help excel turning your prospects into clients.
I’ll share my personal story. I hated phone solicitation. I didn’t like cold calling. I know it’s a mental thing and if I just talked to myself I’d be better at it, I’d get better at it. I just didn’t want to do it. I’d rather be door-knocking and be belly-to-belly with my clients, because that’s what I preferred. I didn’t want to do anything on the phone.
I’ve got a good friend of mine in Iowa that all he does is phone selling, he never leaves his office. He just strictly does phone, and I pretty much strictly do in-home. He’s successful and I was successful, and it was great, but I tried cold-calling and I was horrible at it because I’d make two phone calls, I’d be like, ‘Ugh, ok. I made two calls. I’d better check my email to make sure no one important emailed me.’ And two hours later I’m watching cat videos online. So I knew it was horrible for me.
I knew my ROI was atrocious, so I actually hired a telemarketer—this was many, many years ago—who could do that for me, but I bought leads and I did all these other things, and that was much more successful for me than me sitting there on the phone making excuses for myself, why I’m not calling.
Also mail-drop; it’s very easy to do that because you have a finite number you drop, you have a number you get back, you could calculate your costs very easily because you have hard numbers there. Door-to-door marketing, same thing. How many door knocks do I have to do to get to that one person to get inside the home to make a sale? So you need to track all these things because if you’re spending all your time trying to cold call and you’re not having very good success, but you’re having better success at mail drops, then obviously spend more money on mail drops. If you’re buying leads, you’re finding out you have great success there, and you enjoy it, then do that more.
Because like with your lead system, I’d much rather call somebody that’s expecting my call than cold call from scratch, because I have no idea what they’re doing, to be honest with you. I didn’t like it. That’s so important for ROI.
But then the whole follow-up process, not just for clients, but for prospects as well, that’s just as key. What I have found that worked for me, and hopefully it will work for some agents listening, is that I always, on my voicemails, told them my next step, especially if I met with them. So if I met with you, Glen, and you said you want to think about it and we talk a little more, and you decide that you just want to just talk it over with your uncle’s hairdresser’s dog-walker’s nephew, great. I’ll call you Thursday afternoon.
I always said morning or afternoon in case something came up, so I had some leeway, and I’d call you Thursday afternoon. If I got your voicemail, I’d say, ‘Hey Glen, this is Mike, I told you’d call Thursday afternoon; wanted to follow up with you. If you have any questions let me know, let me know what your next step is. If I don’t hear from you by Tuesday afternoon, I’ll give you a call back.’
Then I put you on to call on Tuesday afternoon and I’ll call, and I would space out my calls a little more and more, but I would always call until they told me, ‘Stop calling me,’ or, ‘Thank you for your persistency.’ Because I’m not being a pest, and I tell you exactly what I’m going to do. It’s not, ‘I’ll call you later,’ and then you stop calling me. It’s, ‘Hey, I’ll call you Tuesday afternoon. I’ll call you Friday morning. I’ll call you Thursday morning. I’ll call you this time.’
So one, I’ve established myself as an expert and as a—not expert, professional. Because I’m telling you what I’m doing, I’m not being a pest. And two, you’re not getting rid of me until I hear—have a hard answer. And I never had anyone yell at me, say, ‘Stop calling me. You’re annoying.’ They say, ‘You know what? Thanks for calling. I’m going to go ahead and stay put.’
I say, ‘Great. I’ll call you next open enrollment, which is next October,’ and they typically say no problem. But guess what? They know I’m going to call because I’ve already called them 40 times. That typically is three to four calls and they would response, but I’ve also had clients say, ‘Thank you for your persistency.’ If you’ve never heard that, you’re not working leads hard enough.
So once you start hearing those words, ‘Thanks for your persistency. Thanks for not giving up on me. Thanks for letting me know what’s going on, I appreciate it.’ If you’re not hearing those words, you’re not working leads hard enough. And that’s probably the best advice I can give an agent when they’re working prospects is to do that. And if you have a CRM you could have—you could make that process so much easier.
The second thing you can do if you want to really maximize your follow-up is when you leave a voicemail with your email address, hopefully you have it, send them an email with the subject line that says ‘voicemail’ and tell them basically what you said in the voicemail in the email, in the body of the email.
So Glen, if I was calling you Thursday afternoon, I would send you an email saying, ‘voicemail’ then in the body I’d say, ‘Hey, I told you I’d follow up with you, if you want to call me you can call me at this number, or simply reply to this email and let me know what your next step is.’
That way if they don’t want to call you back, they can email you back just as easily, and then you’re not wasting so much time calling all the time. Sometimes it’s easier to say get rejection from an email, which is fine, because I don’t want to keep on calling if you’re going to reject me anyway. So that’s my second piece of follow-up.
And if you have a good CRM, I know some have automated systems with preset emails, you could do that in your CRM as well to help remind you, to help—maybe do some AB testing in there of what works, what doesn’t, there’s better verbiage here, but simply do that.
But definitely when you make that follow-up email, make it short and sweet, because the best email, in my opinion, is one by the time we open it and look at it, you’ve already read the whole thing. So don’t send nine paragraphs of how great you are and how great this product is, nobody cares. They’re not going to read it. They’re just going to delete it.
Glen: Mike, I think that might be some of the greatest advice I’ve ever—when you said, ‘Thank you for your persistency.’ If you’re not hearing from your leads someone telling you, ‘Thank you for your persistency,’ then that means you’re not working your leads hard enough. I mean that’s the best advice I think I’ve ever—and I can tell you as someone who’s purchased things from sales reps from different—I mean you name it, there’s always been that time, and I’m sure we all can relate to this, where there’s something you want to buy or you’re thinking about buying, but you haven’t done it yet, and if someone can just follow-up with you one, two, three, like you said, usually it’s about three or four.
Velocify did an excellent study, they have their own CRM dialer system, and they did a study of about 40,000 leads that went through their system. If you went up to about nine or 10 contacts, you’ll pretty much get a hold of every single lead. But the sweet spot’s about five to seven, I think, and usually three to four, you can even have a lot of success with. So making sure you’re reaching out. But that is a terrific line. That should be on a quote card, Mike. [43:12]
Mike: Oh, thanks.
Glen: No, that’s really good. So is there a CRM system that you have used, or that agents you work with use, that you would recommend? One that I’ve spoken about highly previously is radiusbob. I’m not sure if you have any experience with that, but I would love if there’s any tools that you would recommend to our listeners that they could check out.
Mike: Well I’ll self-admit, back in the day when I was in the field full-time, which was in the mid-2000s, basically from ’05 to probably—no, ’03 to about 2011 is when I was in the field full-time, then I went part-time, and now I just do training. But I used Ad and it was horrible, because I had to build it from scratch basically.
I always tell my client or my clients now are agents, there are three options. There’s the Zoho CRM, it’s free, but it’s a generic CRM. You’re going to have to get your—do some elbow grease and kind of work on it to make it do what you want. If you don’t want that, because remember it’s free. You get what you paid for. You do have to have some sort of kind of some technical ability to use that.
If that’s not what you’re looking for, if you’re looking to just plug-and-play, I recommend radiusbob as well. I have no experience with them, but I know a lot of agents use them, so I’m just using the voice of other agents like yourself to say, ‘This is a very popular one.’
Another one is Agency Bloc, that’s another system I’ve looked at before, I’ve never personally used, but they have anything from individual all the way up to agency use, and they have a lot of stuff built in. They could automatically send emails out, a lot of tracking mechanisms. I think they have a commission tracker in there as well.
So those are the three I recommend, but more so than anything is Agency Bloc or radiusbob. Those are the two that really ring out to the community and a lot of agents. Any agent you’ve talk to has heard of at least one of the two of those.
Glen: Absolutely. And in that top 10 article I wrote for my website, if you guys check that out, “Top 10 CRMs for Insurance Agents,” we cover both radiusbob and Agency Bloc, and Agency Bloc has—and that’s the thing, they all have little different features, so you’ll have to kind of figure out what’s best for you. I have used radiusbob as an agent, I have spoken to the owner of radiusbob, Clu. Just great guys running a great service, in my opinion, so I highly recommend checking them out.
There’s a few—there’s so many, honestly, and there’s more that come up all the time. Another one that just came up not too long ago, MyMO Pro, I know the guys over there and they also have a great product, especially if you’re in face-to-face sales. They have a bunch of great tools in there for like route-tracking and lead management, all sorts of really cool stuff in there.
But Mike, any kind of parting advice or wisdom or anything that we weren’t able to get to because we ran out of time that you want to share with our listeners? [46:17]
Mike: Oh, I think just to kind of recap what we talked about is make sure that you’re—once AEP is over, get back in contact with everyone you talk to, because it—they’re fresh, you’re fresh on their mind, they trusted you enough to make a purchase from you, and don’t forget to ask them what their group coverage looked like. Because you may think you’re being a pest or you don’t want to cross-sell anything, but there’s a good chance they want additional coverage.
Make sure to grab their email addresses because a lot of people prefer email communication. And that’s a good question that I’ve been approached with before is: what’s your preferred method of communication? Is it a call? Is it an email? Is it a text? You’d be surprised how many seniors are texting now, because that’s what everyone’s doing.
Also get a CRM. Holy cow, stop—you can’t use the floorboard of your car as a CRM. Get on the computer and I can tell you that made a world of difference for me because when there’s a shift in the marketplace, the agents that are on it are the ones that can filter out their clients that are affected by it and contact them immediately—as opposed to going through a box of random paper and figure out who had what, what was my chicken scratch here? I don’t understand.
So if there’s a 20 percent rate increase on one of your products, you want to be the one to reach out to your clients and say, ‘Hey, are you ok with that? I just want to let you know there’s a 20 percent rate increase. If you want to look at another product, let me know, but if you’re ok with your rate still, the rate, just let me know.’
Don’t forget, rate increases happen all the time and we’re used to it. Look at gas, it fluctuates all over the place, but I’d rather have the rate increase being called from my agent than get a generic letter in the mail from the carrier saying, ‘Oh by the way, you’re getting a huge rate increase.’
So be that person that’s going to be there to help them shop for a new plan, as opposed to other agents that have a CRM that may have talked to your client in the past that are going to jump on that opportunity. So get on the CRM.
I know I looked at that top 10 article that Glen talked about for the CRMs. Look at that, take a test drive on a couple of them, figure out which one you like best, and make the investment to have a streamlined practice implemented.
Glen: Awesome parting advice. Thanks, Mike. Yeah, speaking of that article I’m going to try and update it next year, for 2018, because I know there’s probably more CRMs that I didn’t include in that article that exist that other agents are using. So keep an eye on that article, if you’ve already read it, I’m going to try to update it in 2018.
Mike, I hope I don’t mispronounce your last name here, Mike Gattorna?
Mike: Yeah, I can’t pronounce it either, don’t worry.
Glen: Host of the Medicare Café. I will have a link on my website with the call notes or under Mike’s description, where you can sign up for Medicare Café. It’s a really great opportunity to learn more. I’ve seen all sorts of different things come through there. Mike actually had me on earlier this year to talk about telemarketed leads, and that you can find on either YouTube or Facebook if you try to search for it. I might have that linked as well, that previous interview that Mike did with me talking about telemarketed leads for Medicare.
So definitely stay in touch with Mike, he has his thumb on the pulse of the Medicare industry so you can stay up-to-date on all things Medicare. Again, Mike, just really appreciate you coming on and taking time out of the busiest time of year to talk about Medicare with me and here on the Heroes Huddle.
Mike: Well hey, I appreciate it, Glen. Thank you so much. I love your service, and we’ll definitely keep in touch and keep everyone aware of what’s going on in the Medicare Market.
Glen: Sounds great, Mike. Have a wonderful rest of your day.
Mike: You too, Glen, thank you.