This article is Part 1 of a 4-part interview series with our very-own Steven Smith. Part 1 focuses on retention strategies. Part 2 focuses on planning. Part 3 is about how to run a consistent, successful meeting and Part 4 delves into compliance.
AEP is just around the corner. To help you prepare for your best year ever, Steven Smith, Director of Sales, is dishing on his top AEP tips for success as an independent agent. He has great advice on retention, customer service, safety and more.
Q: How should agents approach retention?
Steven: Retention is something that we should be doing all year long. It’s not just about trying to retain people in September and October. It should be something that we do throughout the year with outreach like birthday cards and quarterly newsletters.
I recommend conducting Perfect Service Reviews. About 60 to 90 days after I enroll somebody in a Medicare Advantage plan, I go back out in person, and I sit across the table from them. I want to make sure they’re using all their benefits, going to the gym, and getting their over-the-counter items, and that they’re taking advantage of the plan I put them in.
To be ready for that meeting, I put together a Perfect Service Review booklet for each carrier. I’ll have the Carrier Broker Managers give me flyers on their benefits. Then, when I sit down with my client, we go over those benefits to make sure they’re using them.
It also gives me an opportunity to talk about other products and services – things like life insurance and annuities, final expense and long-term care. I ask if they’re a veteran because veterans have options available to them that they need to know about. As a veteran myself, I want to make sure that they know all of their options.
Sign into the Medicare Engine to learn the Perfect Service Review system – proven to build retention and referrals.
Q: In addition to year-round retention efforts, how do you manage retention during and right before AEP?
Steven: I send out a letter in September to invite my customers to an Annual Notice of Change meeting. Then I follow up with a phone call.
I call each of my clients personally in September, but the meetings have to be October. October 1st through the 14th is when I like to meet with existing customers who want to keep their plans. I let them know what their current plan is doing. I’m all about educating my clients to make sure that they know what’s going on. That way, they can make educated, responsible decisions.
Advocacy is big for me. I have an entire system around advocacy instead of sales because it’s not sales to me. It’s making sure that no matter what life brings my clients, they’re taken care of. If clients want to change plans, I schedule them for a one-on-one after October 15th.
Q: What does an agent need to do to host an ANOC meeting?
Steven: I recommend setting up a few group meetings – one or two for each carrier. I can fit about 30 people in the conference room down in Tucson, so I’ll do my ANOC meetings in that conference room, and I have a big screen where I put the information up. Agents can also run an ANOC carrier meeting from a room in a restaurant or schedule a date in the WAP conference room.
At the meeting, I pass out little trinkets for everybody and make sure that I personally connect and thank everyone for coming.
Q: How can agents stand out and prove their value?
Steven: This business is evolving. These days, if you’re not professional, and you’re not focused, and you’re not driven, you could be left behind. People need to really start looking at systems like the Perfect Service Review.
I like to call customers a few times throughout the year to say, “Hey, I was thinking about you. I just wanted to check up on you.” This is the stuff that nobody does. This is the 90-10 rule: 90% of the business is done by 10% of the people because they’re focused on their profession. Other people are going to get left behind.
I’ve had customers call me in tears because I was the only one that sent them a birthday card. This is the stuff that makes us sticky. This is the stuff that makes people want to stay with us, because we’re not just Medicare agents – we’re insurance advisors. We’re advocates if we take it to that level. If we don’t take it to that level, we’re going to lose clients. That’s the bottom line.
Want to Know More?
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, PRO AEP Planning Tips, coming tomorrow.