If you played baseball as a kid, you’ve heard the term “hurry up and wait” a hundred times. The phrase refers to the wisdom of running as fast as you can to where the ball is going – and being prepared to make the catch when it gets there. Lazy ballplayers will try to time their run to get there as the ball gets there – and as a result are not prepared if the ball takes an unexpected hop.
Turns out coach knew something about sales, too. If you are working the senior market, now is the time to get ready for the Medicare Advantage enrollment period. Yes, it doesn’t start until October 15th. But now is the time to get in front of the ball. Start boning up on the Medicare Advantage being offered in your area, and start taking steps to establish yourself as the trusted expert on Medicare issues in your community.
Here are some steps you can take now:
- Become an expert on Medicare enrollment. Not just in the plans that can make you money, but in all four parts of Medicare plus Medigap. If you can provide answers in one area of Medicare – even if it doesn’t pay a commission to you directly, you set yourself up to get customers in another. Remember, Medicare Part D’s open enrollment period is the same as that for Medicare Advantage: October 15 through December 7th.
- Cull your book of business. Print yourself out a list of everyone turning 65 or older this year. Go meet them. Buy a cup of coffee and just ask them about their Medicare plans, questions and concerns. Don’t get commission breath, but make a note of the solutions they need. Ask them what their friends are saying.
- Do the same with your unsold prospects. Maybe you don’t have their dates of birth. Contact them anyway, and ask if they’d have any objection to learning more about their options.
- Deal with logistics. If you’re a “seminar-seller,” you can get a better deal by booking the venue well in advance. Seminar selling is as much about controlling costs as it is about making a presentation.
- Prepare a newsletter. It’s not hard to prepare a simple direct-mail newsletter, targeted to your most promising prospects. Response rates of 1-2 percent are considered good with generic direct mail to strangers. But you can bump up that rate dramatically by keeping it simple, hand-addressing your newsletters, and mailing to people who already know you. If you’ve been aggressively prospecting a while – and keeping good records – you’ll have no problems coming up with names. Ensure you deal with any compliance officers, if you have any you must report to. Check with your manager before mailing anything.
- Advertise. It takes time for advertisements to make an impression. You don’t want to be the brand new name out there when the enrollment period comes around. An advertising presence now in senior market media will help ensure your name is established and familiar when the critical time comes.
Remember – Seniors talk amongst themselves. Take good care of them and they can be a rich source of referrals. But if you slip up, word will get around. Concentrate on keeping things as simple and straightforward as possible, and make sure they fully understand the products.