5 Prospecting Methods That
It’s no surprise that prospecting is the No. 1 challenge advisors face, year after year. When, as part of National Underwriter’s recent Independent Producer Study, we asked about the most challenging aspects of selling insurance products, 55 percent of respondents named prospecting as their top trial. It was a landslide winner, in fact, beating such formidable obstacles as clients’ lack of understanding around the need for insurance (34%), negative opinions of insurance products (25%) and product affordability (22%).
As you look to overcome this challenge in the year ahead, keep these five techniques in mind. While there’s no silver bullet to make prospecting a breeze, these are the methods your peers know from experience to really work.
A steady stream of qualified referrals is the lifeblood of any agency. Eighty-two percent of survey respondents cited referrals as the most effective way to prospect for new business, and for good reason: No other method will provide greater bang for your buck, so to speak. Having a solid referral-generating process in place will ensure not only that you are constantly introduced to new prospects, but that you are constantly introduced to the right prospects — the ones that meet your Ideal Client profile.
Referral expert Bill Cates suggests growing your referral network by being careful to keep referral sources informed about how you are following up on their help. This communicates that you value their insight and advice. Says Cates: “When someone gives you a referral, there are three things you MUST do to keep the referrals coming from that source: a) Follow up on every referral you get as soon as possible; b) Let your source know that you are following up on their help; c) Thank your referral source with a handwritten note and a small gift.”
At 34 percent, community involvement was named the second most effective prospecting technique. It’s Branding 101: The more people who associate your name with a positive message, the more clients you will have. Jim Brogan, president and founder of Brogan Financial in Knoxville, Tenn., makes community involvement a cornerstone of his practice, and has seen a boom in business as a result – not to mention a greater satisfaction and sense of fulfillment in the work he does each day. He encourages financial advisors to ask these questions as they consider how to get involved in their community: How many people in your community know who you are and what you do? If they hear the name of your business, what is the brand they associate with it? Is your brand different than any other financial advisor in town? Do you have a unique message and marketing initiative that helps you stand out from the crowded field of financial advisory firms?
Leading a seminar serves two important purposes: First, it establishes you as a thought leader in your area of specialty; second, it puts you in front of a group of prospects that have already expressed interest in your product line. Twenty percent of our survey respondents cited this as an effective prospecting technique – and while it may be tried-and-true, there are plenty of ways to tailor your seminar approach for today’s buyers. Industry coach Kerry Johnson suggests shunning the somewhat dated dinner seminar and instead holding a Social Security seminar designed purely to educate prospects. The overhead will be lower and, in many cases, the conversion of prospects to clients will be higher. Johnson notes: “Since you have taken away the motivation to get a free meal, the attendees are left with solving retirement problems. This is your retirement planning sweet spot.”
It may sound old-school, but cold calling can still work according to 15 percent of our advisors. In fact, picking up the phone beat out sexier methods such as social media (7%) and advertising on the radio or television (5%). Coach Kelley Robertson acknowledges that cold calling is tough, but asserts emphatically that it is not dead. To see results, you must put in the time you would with any other prospecting technique — and, of course, have thick skin. Robertson’s advice to agents: “You need to make a lot of dials. You need to target the right companies. You need a compelling opening. And you need to speak to the right people.”
Just under 15 percent of respondents cited direct mail as an effective prospecting technique — and J. Ryan Parker, general manager of Element Financial Group thinks the number of agents that prospect this way may actually be much higher, while also noting that it should not be a stand-alone prospecting method. Says Parker: “I think a lot of prospecting still revolves around direct mail — more so than people realize [because] seminars are powered by direct mail. This is obviously not the most cost-effective way of marketing yourself; you can probably spend a lot less money doing this on the Internet. But the clients producers are looking to reach, the seniors and the boomers, just aren’t as prone to go to Google and look something up. This is why more of your successful planners are still using direct mail. That said, online needs to be part of every producer’s prospecting strategy because it streamlines the business process. If I get a lead from the Internet, it automatically enters into my CRM, and we can follow-up from there. Internet is absolutely critical for today’s producers.”
Medicare Blog | Medicare News | Medicare Information
CMS lifts Medicare Advantage sanctions on Cigna
The CMS has lifted sanctions it levied on Cigna Corp. in January 2016 after finding major problems with the health insurer's Medicare Advantage plans, Cigna said Friday.
Bloomfield, Conn.-based Cigna may immediately resume marketing its Medicare Advantage and Part D plans, and begin enrolling members with effective dates beginning July 1, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
"We are a better and stronger company as a result of collaborating with CMS and investing further in our processes and technology over the past year and half," Shawn Morris, interim president of Cigna's Medicare Advantage business, Cigna-HealthSpring, said in a statement.
Cigna has spent more than a year trying to resolve issues with its Medicare Advantage plans. The federal sanctions barred the company from marketing and selling its Medicare Advantage policies to new beneficiaries.
The CMS said Cigna plans "posed serious threats to the health and safety of Medicare beneficiaries." For example, Cigna inappropriately denied medical care and prescription drugs to its members.
Cigna was also hit with lower Medicare Advantage star ratings last October following a CMS audit. Cigna had only 20% of its members in plans rated four stars or higher. The company has said it doesn't believe the star ratings reflect the quality of its plans.
The federal sanctions have dented Cigna's enrollment and revenue. Cigna enrolled 441,000 Medicare members as of March 31, down 20% from the period in 2016. Cigna's Medicare premium revenue totaled $1.5 billion in the first quarter of 2017, down 18% over last year. Cigna previously said it expected the sanctions to weigh down its revenue for the remainder of the year.
Cigna also said Friday that it expects about 60% of its Medicare Advantage customers will be in a plan with four stars or more for 2018. Medicare's annual enrollment runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7.
Insurance industry analysts noted that the lifted sanctions pave the way for Cigna to pursue an acquisition in the lucrative Medicare Advantage segment. Any acquisition would likely require divestitures, but it would have been difficult for Cigna to sell its Medicare Advantage business while under sanction. Analysts say Humana is a likely target.
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Tags: Medicare Advantage
13 Ways to Improve Your Life
How dramatically we can change our results is largely a function of imagination.
In 1960, it was a technological impossibility for man to travel into outer space. However, within 10 years, the first man stepped out onto the surface of the moon. The miraculous process of converting that dream into reality began when one voice challenged the scientific community to do whatever was necessary to see to it that America “places a man on the moon by the end of this decade.” That challenge awakened the spirit of a nation by planting the seed of possible future achievement into the fertile soil of imagination.
With that one bold challenge, the impossible became a reality.
The same principle applies to every other area of our life.
Can a poor person become wealthy? Of course! The unique combination of desire, planning, effort and perseverance will always work its magic. The question is not whether the formula for success will work, but rather whether the person will work the formula. That is the unknown variable. That is the challenge that confronts us all.
We can all go from wherever we are to wherever we want to be. No dream is impossible provided we first have the courage to believe in it.
Here is how you can do that—13 ways to improve your life:
That’s how you conquer them. Don’t dismiss them; face them. Say, Here’s what I’m afraid of. I wonder what I could do to change that. Face your fears today.
You don’t have to keep doing what you’ve been doing the last six years if it’s not yielding the benefits you want. Pick a new destination and go that way. Use your willpower to start the process. You don’t have to repeat last year. Clean up the errors. Invest it now in the next year. Watch it make the difference.
Sometimes you have to admit them to others. Here’s one of the best phrases in the English language: “I’m sorry.” Those words could start a whole new relationship. They could start two people going in a whole new direction. Admit your mistakes to yourself. You don’t have to babble about them to everyone in the neighborhood. But it doesn’t hurt you to sit down and have a conversation with yourself and say, There’s no use kidding myself. Here’s where I really am. I’ve got pennies in my pocket and I’ve got nothing in the bank. That’s what I said after a Girl Scout left my door. I had a conversation with myself and I said, I don’t want this to happen anymore.
Related: Ziglar: 3 Things to Do When You Make a Mistake
Start the process. Set some higher goals. Reach for some higher purpose. Go for something beyond what you thought you could do.
You’ve got to believe in the possibilities. You’ve got to believe that tomorrow can be better than today. Believe in yourself. There isn’t a skill you can’t learn; there isn’t a discipline you can’t try; there isn’t a class you can’t take; there isn’t a book you couldn’t read.
Ask for wisdom that creates answers. Ask for wisdom to deal with the challenges for today and tomorrow. Don’t wish it was easier; wish you were better.
Sometimes we get faked out. Motivational speaker Bill Bailey says the average person says, “I’ve got 20 more years.” But Bill says you’ve got 20 more times. If you go fishing once a year, you’ve only got 20 more times to go fishing, not 20 years. That fakes you out.
Here’s one of the philosophies that my mentor, Earl Shoaff, gave me: Profits are better than wages. Wages make you a living, profits make you a fortune. Could we start earning profits while we make a living? The answer is yes.
You might as well turn it up a notch or two. Invest more of you in whatever you do. Be a little stronger; be a little wiser. Step up your vitality contribution. Put everything you’ve got into everything you do and then ask for more vitality, more strength and more vigor, more heart and more soul.
If you just work at a job, find the best place you can serve well, and sure enough they’ll ask you to occupy a better place. Keep doing a job well; do the very best you can. That’s your best way out.
Integrity is like loyalty. You can’t demand it of someone else; you can only demand it of yourself. Be the best example of loyalty and you’ll get loyal followers. Be the best example of integrity and you’ll have people around you who have integrity. Lead the way.
I can’t give you much better advice than that because disciplines create reality. Disciplines build cities. A well-disciplined activity creates abundance, uniqueness and productivity.
It’s extraordinary to be able to say: “I fought for my kids; I fought for what was right; I fought for good health; I fought to protect my company; I fought for a good career that would bless my family. I fought a good fight.” It’s good to fight the encroachment. Opposites are in conflict and you’re in the middle. If you want something valuable, you’ve got to fight for it.
Medicare Advantage plans have played an increasingly larger role in the Medicare program as the share of Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage has steadily climbed over the past decade. The trend in enrollment growth is continuing in 2017, and has occurred despite reductions in payments to plans enacted by the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA).
This Data Spotlight reviews national and state-level Medicare Advantage enrollment trends as of March 2017 and examines variations in enrollment by plan type and firm. It analyzes the most recent data on premiums, out-of-pocket limits, and quality ratings. Key findings include:
Enrollment Growth- Since the ACA was passed in 2010, Medicare Advantage enrollment has grown 71 percent. As of 2017, one in three people with Medicare (33% or 19.0 million beneficiaries) is enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.
Market Concentration - UnitedHealthcare and Humana together account for 41 percent of enrollment in 2017; enrollment continues to be highly concentrated among a handful of firms, both nationally and in local markets. In 17 states, one company has more than half of all Medicare Advantage enrollment – an indicator that these markets may not be very competitive.
Medicare Advantage Penetration - At least 40 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare private plans in six states: CA, FL, HI, MN, OR, and PA. In contrast, fewer than 20 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans in 13 states, plus the District of Columbia.
Premiums and Cost-Sharing - While average Medicare Advantage premiums paid by MA-PD enrollees have been relatively stable for the past several years ($36 per month in 2017), enrollees may be liable for more of Medicare’s costs, with average out-of-pocket limits increasing 21 percent and average Part D drug deductibles increasing more than 9-fold since 2011; however, there was little change in out-of-pocket limits and Part D drug deductibles from 2016 to 2017.
Medicare Advantage enrollment is projected to continue to grow over the next decade, rising to 41 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries by 2027. As private plans take on an even larger presence in the Medicare program, it will be important to understand the implications for beneficiaries covered under Medicare Advantage plans and traditional Medicare, as well as for plans, health care providers and program spending.
OVERALL TRENDS IN ENROLLMENT
In 2017, one in three (33%) Medicare beneficiaries – 19.0 million people – is enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan (Figure 1). Total Medicare Advantage enrollment grew by about 1.4 million beneficiaries, or 8 percent, between 2016 and 2017. The growth reflects the ongoing expansion of the role of Medicare Advantage plans in the Medicare program.
TRENDS IN ENROLLMENT BY PLAN TYPE
As has been the case each year since 2007, about two out of three (63%) Medicare Advantage enrollees are in HMOs in 2017. One-third of enrollees are in PPOs – with more in local PPOs (26%) than regional PPOs (7%) – and the remainder are in Private Fee-For Service (PFFS) plans (1%) and other types of plans (3%), including cost plans and Medicare Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs).
• HMOs - Enrollment in HMOs increased by 0.6 million to 11.9 million beneficiaries in 2017 (Figure 2 and Table A1).
• PPOs - Enrollment in local PPOs increased by 0.8 million, with 4.9 million beneficiaries in local PPOs. In 2017, 1.3 million beneficiaries are in regional PPOs, similar to 2016.
5 Crucial Things to Do in the First 10 Minutes of Every Sales Presentation
If you don’t like the first few episodes of a TV show, do you stick with it until the series finale?
Probably not. It’s unlikely you’ll suddenly start loving it, and there are plenty of other options out there. Unlike a show, your prospect probably won’t stop the sales presentation if the beginning doesn’t go particularly well. But the first 10 minutes can determine whether the entire meeting is a success or a failure -- which means you need to nail the opening.
Read on to discover the crucial things you should do at the beginning of every presentation.
1) Confirm Your Audience
It’s easy to tell who you’re speaking to when you’re giving an in-person presentation -- after all, they're sitting right in front of you. But when you’re on the phone or sharing your screen, it could be just your prospect on the other end -- or it could be your prospect plus several other stakeholders.
Knowing your audience is essential, since it lets you tailor your message to each person’s specific needs, goals, and involvement in the buying process.
Ideally, your prospect will let you know in advance if other people are attending. But don't count on them to do the legwork for you.
At the beginning of the sales presentation, quickly clarify who you’re talking to by saying,
“Is it just you and me today, [prospect], or do we have others joining us?”
If there are more people on the call than you expected, ask everyone to introduce themselves -- and pay special attention to their titles, since those will help you figure out their role in the deal.
Not sure why someone is attending? After they introduce themselves, say:
"Great to meet you, [name]. So I can make this relevant to you, is there anything in particular you're hoping to learn today?"
If you think there's a stakeholder who should be on the line, but isn't, consider speaking up. Not only will including the right people help you avoid internal obstacles and speed up the deal, but it'll show your prospect that you're experienced and helpful.
2) Build Rapport
Next, before you get into the nuts and bolts of the presentation, build some rapport.
Setting a friendly, natural tone from the very beginning is important, as it’ll make the buyer more engaged and interested. Plus, getting them to open up early on means they’re more likely to ask questions during the actual presentation, which could allow you the chance to handle an objection or concern before it derails the deal.
3) Set the Agenda
A presentation without an agenda usually feels like a string of unrelated facts rather than a tightly woven narrative.
Setting an agenda gives buyers a clear roadmap of where you are, where you’re going, and where you’ll end up by the end of the meeting. Not only will their level of comprehension skyrocket, but knowing the plan will make them feel more in control. Empowered prospects speak up -- so you'll get better insights into their mindset throughout the meeting.
Try the “Purpose, Benefit, Check” agenda:
4) Say You're Open to Questions
Your resentation should be interactive. Nothing makes prospects stop listening more quickly than when you throw an endless list of facts and numbers at them. Instead of lecturing your audience for 20 or 30 minutes straight, have a conversation with them. Make sure they know you're open to -- in fact, welcome -- questions. As an added benefit, encouraging them to ask questions makes you more likely to hear their objections while you still have time to resolve them.
A few good lines to use, ranging from funny to formal:
5) Recap What You Know
Looking for the perfect segue into the actual presentation? In one to three sentences, summarize your prospect’s pain and/or your current understanding of their situation.
Outlining their biggest challenges has a couple benefits. First, it focuses the conversation. Second, it sets you up to discuss your product’s features specifically as they relate to your prospect’s challenges, which will boost their engagement.
Here’s an example:
"During our last conversation, you shared a few things you were frustrated with or hoping to improve -- specifically X, Y, and Z. Does that sound right to you?"
Once the buyer has confirmed your overview, you can smoothly transition into the presentation itself by saying, “Great -- let’s walk through how [product] can help with those challenges.”