How to Sell Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplements Over the Phone
Selling Medicare Advantage and other Medicare products to seniors over the phone takes a slightly different approach compared to selling face to face.
Your physical presence and all the things that flow from that interaction are not available to you and must be accounted for when you’re not in front of your prospect.
When selling to a prospect over the phone remember these 8 things:
1 Craft a Good Script
2 Know Your Plans Before You Pick Up the Phone
3 Take Time to Rehearse Calls
4 Let Your Personality Shine Through
5 Find a Way to Differentiate Yourself
6 Strike While the Lead is Hot
7 Have a Clear Concise Closing Strategy
8 Offer Online Enrollment
This remains the same whether you’re selling over the phone or in person, but it’s important to note for anyone just getting started.
After the introduction and letting your prospect know the benefit your service will provide them, it’s time to start asking the right questions.
These questions will depend on the products you’re selling and the needs of your prospect.
For starters, you are trying to gain an understanding of your clients health situation, what they are looking for in health coverage, and what plans could give them the coverage they need and fits their budget.
In order to do this properly you will have to be certified to sell at least a few competitive med supp plans, and understand the coverage they provide.
You will also want to have some ancillary plans that can cover the gaps left by Medicare and med supps.
Prepare by learning all you can about the strengths and weakness of each of the plans you offer.
Having a good understanding of the different plans and how they can work together will allow you to quickly identify possible plan combinations for your prospects over the phone.
Check your attitude and energy: Don’t overdo this or try to fake too much enthusiasm. This can be sensed pretty easily. Try to find a way to get yourself in a good mood, with the intent to help people, and that energy will come through in your presentation.
Faking anything is usually pretty obvious, and may just make you seem disingenuous.
Make sure you’re speaking slowly and clearly: Many sales people tend to speak quickly when there on the phone, whether it’s due to nerves, excitement, or just trying to hit their call quota.
it’s generally a bad habit. You don’t have to waste time, just don’t rush.
Also, remember to reduce or remove the filler words, um, ahh, err, etc.
When speaking to seniors you want to be absolutely sure your speaking clear enough for them to hear and understand you. Make it a point to pay attention to your dictation and your rate of speech.
The best script in the world won’t help you if your prospect doesn’t understand you clearly.
Maintain good posture: This is an easy one to forget, especially by late afternoon. If your slumped over on the phone your tone an energy level will reflect that. Try to alternate between sitting and standing to ensure you don’t get too relaxed.
When you’re sitting, pay attention to your posture and your voice and attitude will reflect that.
Add verbal cues to replace visual cues: When you’re face to face with your prospect they can see your smile, hand movements, head nods, etc. These are normal responses we expect to see when talking to someone.
When you’re on the phone with a prospect you’ll want to get these mannerisms across verbally. If you naturally make these motions when you speak, then continue to do so while on the phone, and add a vocal equivalent.
For example, if you are nodding in agreement, give a verbal cue such as stating “ok”, or “sure I see”. Whatever the verbal cue is that comes to mind. They can’t see the gesture, but when you verbalize the gesture it gives the same kind of flow to the conversation.
It’s important to be seen as approachable and authentic over the phone.
You can do this by building rapport with your prospect. If they seem willing, ask questions about their children / grandchildren, etc.
Share personal stories with your prospects, tell a funny story if you have one.
Do whatever you can to come across as friendly and caring. Since your prospect isn't able to look you in the eyes and see you smile, you are going to need to get that same feeling across with words.
Remember to use your normal hand and body movements while you're on the phone with your prospect. Moving naturally will allow your voice and personality to come through more authentically.
The techniques you use will vary wildly from person to person as it needs to be authentic and personal to each agent.
Let your personality shine through with the sound of your voice and the words you choose while building rapport with your prospect.
Don't let the conversation turn into a dull question and answer session that will have your prospect just waiting for an opportunity to end the call.
Studies have shown that by waiting 10 minutes to call a lead rather than calling in the first 5 minutes, your odds of qualifying the lead decreases 4 times.
Your odds when calling a lead within 30 minutes instead of the first 5 minutes decrease 21 times.
By waiting an hour after the lead is created to contact the lead, you are fighting an uphill battle.
And if you wait 3 days to call a lead your odds have decreased several thousand times! This is extremely important information for all sales people.
The chart below shows how the contact and qualification rate are affected by time.
There is additional information that shows that by calling after 20 hours or more after the lead was created, you are actually hurting your chances by calling a lead. Meaning, the prospect is turned off by waiting so long.
Does this mean you should stop calling after 20 hours? That would be a little unrealistic, but it certainly highlights the importance of contacting a lead as soon after it is created as possible.
At some point before or around that 20 hour mark, your lead may turn cold. You will either have to simply deal with the long odds or have a plan to warm the lead again somehow prior to calling.
Important to note: The information for these statistics is from 2007. With the “I want it now” culture of today, it’s even more critical to contact your leads ASAP.
Closing isn’t something you do at the end of a sales pitch. It requires a foundation built throughout your sales process.
Check out our article for a deeper dive on closing. These are the basic steps, in no particular order:
- Listen intently
- Remember, your providing a solution to a problem
- Use the power of stories
- Limit your offer to a few good options
- Highlight the value to justify the price
- Ask the right questions and they will close themselves
- Summarize previously agreed upon points
If you are doing these things throughout your presentation, you will naturally come to a close with your prospect without seeming pushy.
You will need the right tools to be efficient as well as to be able to quote plans quickly and offer your prospects the ability to enroll online.
Let’s look at a few reasons why you should be using E-Applications:
- E-Apps are a great way to submit business. They are quick and easy for agents and clients alike, and can be signed electronically. An application that may take you 30-40 minutes by paper may take you just 10 minutes online.
- You can pre-qualify your clients by answering required health questions.
- Most insurance companies are offering bonuses to agents when they use e-apps. Why are they doing this? Because they benefit from the efficiency of online applications just like everyone else does. As agents turn more and more to online applications it allows insurance companies to streamline their business around that process.
- Some carriers offer immediate underwriting approval. With these carriers you know on the spot if your client is declined. No more waiting for days just to find out the app was approved or not.
- Complete multiple apps at once. Some carriers such as Mutual of Omaha and Cigna (as of the date of this article) allow you to submit applications for different plans. Ex. A client that is looking for a Med Supp. and a cancer policy can be done in one pass without the redundant paperwork.
Don’t think of handling applications online as a novel method to be used in just a few circumstances. There is no reason not to be using e-apps as often as possible. It will benefit you, your clients and the carrier if you do.
In many ways selling over the phone is just like selling face to face. Your sales process won’t change that much.
Nevertheless, there are a number of constraints a phone presentation places on you that need to be addressed.
By understanding the challenges unique to phone sales, you can adjust your technique accordingly, and continue to be successful in any situation.
Medicare Advantage(MA) has it’s own set of regulations and restrictions you must be aware of if you are going to sell it.
If you aren’t already selling MA we think you should at least consider it. The MA market is growing and evolving, and plans are selling very well.
Check out these articles for more info pertaining to Medicare Advantage, and download the Agent Compliance Guide.
How to Become Certified to Sell Medicare Advantage
Staying Compliant Before the Sale
Other Related Articles