Jessica Vara

Resolving Sales Allegations – Ep. 23

Episode 23 goes over an agent’s worst nightmare… sales allegations! Hopefully, you never have to deal with sales allegations, but if you do, don’t start sweating yet. Through this podcast, you will learn what to expect if you get a sales allegation. What exactly does it mean if you receive one? What’s the process? How do you make sure you don’t receive one in the future? How do you make the process go smoothly and quickly? Our Queen of Compliance, Gina Angelo, has all the answers! 

Also, we talk about the Presidential election that is just around the corner and what the polls are telling us when it comes to Medicare for All. How do voters feel about it? What does this mean for the future of our industry? We’ll go over the numbers and give you a starting point for your own research before you have to pick a candidate!

Podcast Episode 23 – Resolving Sales Allegations Transcription:

Disruptive Waves [01:00] :

Jessica: Happy New Year everyone!!! This is our first podcast in the new year and we are pumped for what is to come this year for Selling SMART. 2020 is going to be AMAZING! 

Sarah: Yes SO MUCH is going to happen this year I can feel it! And one of the big things that we all KNOW is going to happen is the Presidential election. 

Jessica: This is true, and as we all know, healthcare is a huge topic of discussion going into these primaries and debates. 

Sarah: Which is why we feel like it’s important to update you on some recent polls that have been conducted by Kaiser Health News and a few others. Obviously, polls change all the time. The article that we found on Kaiser Health News discussing these polls was published on December 3rd, so it’s fairly recent but we know people’s minds change all the time… so just wanna put that disclaimer out there.

Jessica: Yeah, also it may be good to go and check out the article. Kaiser Health News does a really great job of staying impartial and just reporting on the facts, but we know that whenever you’re hearing statistics and numbers, it’s always good to double-check your resources. We’ve gone ahead and made sure that they were legit and there wasn’t any kind of bias, but we’re human so we want to encourage you to use this information as a starting point to your own research to come to your own conclusion of these topics.

Sarah: Yes that is definitely a good idea! And also if any of you know the history of Kaiser I think it’s also good to let you know that we did some digging to see what their relationship with Kaiser Permanente and Kaiser Industries. Because when we first found the article, we were a little concerned that their relationship with those entities could make them biased. BUT! We found that in 1985 Kaiser Health News separated from Kaiser Permanente/Kaiser Industries and now their only tie is that one of the family members gets to serve on the board of Kaiser Health News.

Jessica: Right, so that’s also good to know. And if you want to go find the article yourself to do further digging it’s on the Kaiser Health News website and it’s called “Candidates Are Betting Big On Health. Is That What Voters Really Want?” and it was written by Julie Rovner.

Sarah: So now that we got all of that out of the way, let’s talk about what’s actually in this article.

Jessica: Yes! So obviously health care is a top issue for voters during this 2020 Democratic presidential primary race. Kaiser’s Family Foundation found in their latest tracking poll that 24% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said that they want to hear candidates discuss health care. That number is twice the total for the next top issue which is climate change and four times the total for immigration which is the number three issue. 

Sarah: So it’s clear that health care is very important to voters, but the question that still remains is whether that interest is going to reward a candidate that backs up the “Medicare for All” type of plan or a relatively more modest plan like a public option where a person can voluntarily join a government health insurance plan.

Jessica: And based on conversations you’ve had and people you’ve discussed this topic with, you may have an answer in your mind of what you think voters want. However, the poll numbers didn’t conclude with a clear answer.

Sarah: Right, so on one hand, Democratic and Democratic-leaning respondents in the Kaiser Family Foundation poll said that when it comes to health care, the candidate they would trust the most is Bernie Sanders, who (as many of you know) has been pushing for a Medicare for All plan.

Jessica: Here’s whats a little confusing though. Those SAME people say that they prefer a public option, which is not what Bernie Sanders is pulling for. 

Sarah: Nope. Not at all. That’s what Joe Biden has been wanting. 

Jessica: Yeah, so I think it’s safe to say that’s NOT what many people would expect the polls to conclude. 

Sarah: So also, in a separate poll done by Quinnipiac University, 36% of respondents said that Medicare for All is a good idea while 52% say it’s a bad idea.

Jessica: And a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll from September found similar results with 67% of respondents saying they would support allowing people under the age of 65 to “buy their health coverage through the Medicare program,” while only 41% favored “adopting Medicare for All, a single-payer health care system in which private health insurance would be eliminated.” 

Sarah: Yeah so with that being said, people’s opinions may change between now and the primaries, but these are interesting numbers. 

Jessica: For sure! It will be very interesting to see what happens. Especially since this is the industry we work in and these are pretty major changes that they are talking about. So it’s very possible that this will have a huge effect on us and our every day lives.

Sarah: Right, so definitely do some more research, figure out what every candidate is proposing and be an educated voter!

All Aboard the Knowledge Train [09 :10] :

Jessica: So we are super happy to have our Queen of Compliance, Gina Angelo, on the podcast today! Gina, would you mind just giving us a brief overview of who you are and what exactly your position at SMA entails? 

Gina: So my actual title is SR Compliance Manager- though Queen of Compliance does have a really nice ring to it. Anyway, what I do actually has a number of sides to it when you think of compliance- it’s part sales, part marketing, part corporate, and part workforce. So for the sales side, I ensure I’m an outlet for compliant sales activity for our organization and all the thousands of our downstream agents and brokers. For marketing, I make sure ALL of our formats are being delivered in a way that’s compliant with all guidelines. From a corporate level, I have to see to it that the organization fulfills all obligations on a Federal, multi-state, and carrier relationship level. And in regard to the workforce- I create, deliver, and document all compliance training for all of our employees. I also create and enforce all of our Compliance Policies and Procedures.

Sarah: That’s awesome Gina! We’re happy to have someone like you keeping us all out of jail haha. So let’s just start with the basics in case we have some new agents listening. What exactly are sales allegations? 

Gina: A sales allegation is essentially an inquiry that is opened due to potential sales misrepresentation. Sometimes they can be called by a different name, such as a “grievance”, “investigation”, or “complaint”. They can really come from anywhere, such as from a bene or a member of their family, other sales agents, the Department of Insurance, or directly from CMS. And that’s just a few examples. One thing I will say as someone who’s previously worked in both sales and service directly with a national carrier is that many allegations are prompted based on a call from the beneficiary and are automatic. So if any type of dissatisfaction is noted, in order to make a certain action possible for the bene to resolve their issue, it prompts the inquiry based on what the service rep is told as the order of events. So often the allegations come back as unfounded/unsubstantiated.

Jessica: So obviously a big part of your job is dealing with these sales allegations and I know that is a very scary topic for agents. First of all, you’re kinda getting in trouble so no one likes that, but then I also think it’s scary because agents aren’t entirely sure what the process looks like. Would you be able to take us through that whole process?

Gina: So first I’m going to point right back to what I just said as to WHY the allegations often happen. Anyway, when the case is first opened the carrier’s compliance oversight team will perform an investigation. They usually send out a questionnaire- now sometimes this will be straight to the agent, to both the agent and also to me, or just to me so that I alert the agent of the matter and ask for their response. Now, you have to remember that these are TIME SENSITIVE- so you will have to provide your response and all supporting information within a short period of time, sometimes in as little as 24 hours. Some of the additional info you’ll need will be things like the bene application, the Scope of Appointment, any notes, drug lists or provider searches, or recorded calls. 

Sarah: What would be your advice to an agent if they get a sales allegation?

Gina: REMAIN CALM! Also, please don’t be argumentative- just cooperate. The more you resist and argue, the worse things will be for you, I promise. It reflects very badly on your part. If you feel there has been a misunderstanding, then you can state that in the additional notes or comments section of the response form, but definitely fill in ALL of the other portions of the questionnaire and absolutely DO NOT use an arrogant or hostile tone. Some results of these investigations are additional remediation, suspension, and even termination. Tread carefully.

Jessica: And what are some ways that they can make the process easier for you and run super smoothly so that it’s resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible?

Gina: All those things I just said. Retain your notes (securely of course) and just COOPERATE.

Sarah: Are there certain questions that you feel like agents have a lot when it comes to resolving sales allegations? And if so, what are they and what are the answers?

Gina: They like to ask me “why” they’re getting an allegation. Well, since it actually came from another source, I do not have the answer. It is generally an automated process, often spurred by a call to a carrier’s customer service department. If you wish to dig deeper, I can get you in contact with that carrier’s compliance representative who sent me the inquiry, HOWEVER you are still bound by the timeframe requirements. You cannot postpone the inevitable.

Jessica: What steps should an agent take after a sales allegation? 

Gina: Once the response is submitted to the carrier and received by them, the investigation will continue until a conclusion is reached. The time this will take can vary greatly. As soon as the outcome is given back I WILL LET YOU KNOW. There is no reason to email me multiple times a day to ask about it- I promise!!! Once they evaluate it, all allegations generally fall into 3 primary outcomes: founded/substantiated, unfounded/unsubstantiated, and inconclusive.

Jessica: So most of the time are they true then? 

Gina:  Most often, generally outside of AEP, they are unfounded. Immediately after AEP, I do see a bit of an increase with founded and substantiated cases at least percentage-wise of what I receive.

Sarah: What can agents do once the sales allegation has been completely resolved to make sure they don’t have another sales allegation against them in the future? And are there certain resources that they can turn to for guidance? 

Gina: It’s extremely difficult to ensure you never receive another allegation, as there are so many different actions that initiate them on so many different levels. However, after one happens you can work diligently to change the way you approach certain situations and topics, and perhaps adjust the way you do your sales presentations. Also- I am actively working to add more resources on our Storefront related to compliant sales activity- so be sure to keep an eye out for those. Each time a new one is released we try to let everyone know via email and/or social media. Also, you can always send an email to compliance@seniormarketadvisors.com or reach out to your sales contact with us.

Sarah: So a lot of what you have been talking about is related to you actually helping agents resolve these sales allegations. That really relates to agents who are with us at Senior Market Advisors, but what about agents who aren’t with an FMO? Do they go directly through the carrier or what does that look like?

Gina: So if they are already contracted with a carrier, whether it’s through a different FMO or direct with the carrier, they should have respective compliance contacts. However, if they find that they are not getting the compliance help that they need… maybe it’s time to make a switch? 

Sarah: That’s one this SMA helps with, you’ve got Gina Angelo right here to help you out with resolving all of those sales allegations.

Gina: Always here to help!

Jessica: Well this has been awesome, Gina! Thank you so much for sitting down with us and talking about probably one of the most “not fun” things about your job and an agent’s job haha but it’s important so we really appreciate you giving us your advice and insight! 

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OEP Prep – An Agent’s Guide – Ep. 22

Prepare for Open Enrollment Period (OEP) with Episode 22! We start off this podcast talking about what to expect for traditional Medicare plans in the New Year. It looks like there will be a few price increases in 2020, however there is good news too!

We then go on to discuss the basics of OEP. What is OEP? What can beneficiaries do during OEP? What should agents be doing during OEP? We break down the DOs and DON’Ts of this period, so you know how to be compliant and successful! After listening to this podcast you will be prepared and ready for anything the Open Enrollment Period (OEP) throws your way!

Podcast Episode 22 – Open Enrollment Period (OEP) Prep – An Agent’s Guide Transcription:

Sarah: Welcome to Episode 22 of Selling SMART with Sarah Smith…

Jessica: And Jessica Vara!

Sarah: Now that AEP is over, we’re going to talk about how you should be preparing for OEP which is just around the corner! We’re also gonna talk about some price changes that are expected to impact Medicare plans in 2020.

Disruptive Waves [00:40] :

Sarah: 2020 is almost here which is just CRAZY!

Jessica: Yeah, I have no idea where the year went. It’s also so weird to think that we are gonna be in the 20’s. Also do you know what they call the 10’s? Is it that? Is it the 10’s or is it something else? It just doesn’t sound right to me haha I don’t know.

Sarah: Yeah, maybe if you guys know, because we obviously don’t haha leave a comment and tell us! Is it the 10’s is it the 2000’s? What the proper way to say this, we need to know!

Jessica: Yes we do! Haha but anyway… to bring us back on topic haha with it being the end of the year there are a lot of reports coming out about things to expect in the new year. And we found an article recently that had some interesting info about three major Medicare costs that are expected to jump in January. 

Sarah: Yep! Sadly, this isn’t the best news ever. Several premiums and deductibles on traditional Medicare will be experiencing increases in the new year.

Jessica: So the first one is the 2020 Medicare Part B standard monthly premium which is expected to increase by about $9.10 per month to bring it to $144.60 per month. And just for your reference, the increase from 2018 to 2019 was only by $1.50. So 2020’s is a pretty big jump in comparison.

Sarah: The next one is the 2020 Medicare Part B annual deductible and that’s expected to increase to $198 per year which is a $13 increase. And again this plan only increased by $2 a year ago.

Jessica: The last one is the 2020 Medicare Part A annual inpatient hospital deductible for traditional Medicare. That’s going to increase $44, compared to the $24 increase that happened a year prior. So now that cost is expected to be at $1,408 per benefit period.

Sarah: Obviously a lot of this depends on the beneficiary’s income for Part B, but overall these plans are looking at a pretty significant increase in 2020.

Jessica: On the bright side though, Medicare Advantage premiums for 2020 are expected to be 23% lower than they were for 2018! And it’s actually supposed to be the lowest it’s ever been in the past 13 years which is awesome!

Sarah: Yeah I think the main reason for that is CMS’s efforts to drive competition. The other thing too is that the number of Medicare Advantage plans available for 2020 is greater than ever. So not all bad news! 

Jessica: Yeah there are definitely things to look forward to in the new year!

All Aboard the Knowledge Train [04:10] :

Jessica: So now that AEP has officially come to an end, we can focus on Open Enrollment Period or OEP. 

Sarah: Let’s start with the basics! OEP is a one-time opportunity for individuals enrolled in MA Only or an MAPD plan to switch plans or drop their plan altogether. 

Jessica: And if you didn’t know, the purpose of this period is to help beneficiaries who are not satisfied with the plan they enrolled in during Annual Enrollment (AEP).

Sarah: Right! And during this period, beneficiaries enrolled in MA-Only plans or MAPD plans are able to switch to a different MA-only or MAPD plan, drop their Medicare Advantage plan altogether, return to Original Medicare and add a Part D plan. The period begins January 1st and ends March 31st. Which means you have that window to help bene’s who aren’t happy with their plans! However, OEP is different than AEP and has a few more guidelines that you have to follow in order to be compliant. And we all know how important compliance is! 

Jessica: Yes compliance is very important! No one wants to deal with any sales allegations. So in order to avoid that whatever you do, do NOT market to leads or clients during OEP. Marketing is strictly prohibited during this period, so be careful.

Sarah: OEP guidelines make it so that you are prohibited from KNOWINGLY targeting or sending unsolicited marketing materials to any MA or Part D enrollee during OEP. Now what does “knowingly” mean? It pretty much just takes into account the intent AND content of your message. 

Jessica: So this is where OEP gets a little tricky and people have the hardest time understanding. Cause how are you supposed to make any money or sales during OEP if you can’t market to beneficiaries. And that’s where I would remind people that there is a difference between marketing and communication. You can still communicate with your book of business, you just can’t open a discussion about OEP specifically and how it’s a period they can use to switch plans.

Sarah: Right, so with that being said, you CAN reach out to them to make sure that they’re happy with the plan they selected and you can also take that opportunity to educate them on the ins and outs of their new plan benefits.

Jessica: Exactly! And this gives them the opportunity to bring up to YOU if they’re not happy with their plan and want to look at other options. 

Sarah: Yeah cause remember the main reason you can’t start the conversation about it is for the beneficiaries protection. They don’t want people taking advantage of these different selling periods and talking people into different plans simply to make money. That would not be good!

Jessica: And don’t forget you can talk and communicate with your clients through a ton of different platforms. And I think this is where people tend to get confused because when people think about flyers, emails, and direct mail they think marketing which is not allowed. However, you CAN use flyers, emails, social media… all of these different outlets! You just have to be careful with what you put and say on these materials. 

Sarah: Yeah, you may not be able to talk about how bene’s can change their plans during OEP, but you can use those materials and have the content be educational or retention efforts. And that’s something you want to be doing anyway! You want to make sure you’re checking in on your clients and see if they are using their benefits and are happy.

Jessica: Yep! So go ahead and make those calls! Send those emails! You want to make sure your clients don’t forget that you’re there to help them with all of their Medicare questions and needs!

Sarah: And lucky for you guys, Senior Market Advisors actually has a ton of approved flyers and mailers on our Storefront that you can purchase if you’re an agent with us! However, if you’re a subscriber we’re going to give you a flyer to download for FREE!

Jessica: So just to wrap it all up, as you’re preparing for OEP here are the do’s and dont’s. First, DO market to those who are eligible for a Special Enrollment Period.

Sarah: And that includes people who are turning 65 soon and still haven’t made an enrollment decision, as well as dual-eligible and low-income subsidy beneficiaries who can make changes once per the calendar quarter during the first nine months of the year. 

Jessica: Also for 2020 you are now able to include GENERAL information about enrollment periods, including OEP. But just remember that when you send out marketing materials regarding SEP you CANNOT state WHAT OEP is or market it as another time people can switch plans!

Sarah: DO communicate with beneficiaries and send materials, have one-on-one meetings and provide information. Just make sure to do it in a way that’s compliant!

Jessica: Finally DO market 5-star plans if they’re available because those can be sold year-round!

Sarah: And now for the DONT’S! DON’T send unsolicited materials advertising the ability to make an additional enrollment change during the Open Enrollment Period (OEP).

Jessica: DON’T use messaging that markets the Open Enrollment Period (OEP) as a time people can switch plans. 

Sarah: DON’T specifically target beneficiaries who are in the Open Enrollment Period (OEP) because they made a choice during AEP, by purchase of mailing lists or other means of identification. 

Jessica: DON’T engage in or promote agent/broker activities that intend to target the OEP as an opportunity to make further sales.

Sarah: And finally, DON’T call or otherwise contact former enrollees who have selected a new plan during AEP to bring up OEP and ask them if they want to switch their plan.

Jessica: If you follow these guidelines you’ll have a smooth OEP and hopefully help some beneficiaries as well! 

Sarah: And if you have any questions about OEP feel free to contact our Sales Team! They will be happy to help you and answer any questions you may have!

The Value of Cross Selling – Ep. 21

In Episode 21, we discuss cross selling! However, we start off by talking about how drones are saving lives! When you think of a drone, what comes to mind? Do you think of healthcare? Maybe not. But a company called Zipline is working to change that! They are using drones to deliver life-saving medical supplies to remote areas in African nations. 

Later in the episode, we welcome Keith Hinson as a guest! He provides us with insight on the value of cross selling. His experience is incredibly helpful and valuable to other agents who want to cross sell! Keith makes it simple and easy to understand what benefits cross selling offers, what to offer to clients when cross selling, and his advise on how to cross sell successfully!

Podcast Episode 21 – The Value of Cross Selling Transcription:

Sarah: Welcome to Episode 21 of Selling SMART with Sarah Smith…

Jessica: And Jessica Vara!

Sarah: In today’s episode we’re coming in hot with DRONES! Yes, you heard right. Drones are saving lives! We will discuss how. We also are going to talk about something you all should be doing when possible, cross selling! Cross selling is really important to increase your sales and build your business. We brought our very own Keith Hinson back on the podcast to break it all down!

Disruptive Waves:

Sarah: So continuing our discussion of some interesting technological advances that are affecting the healthcare space, we are going to talk about drones today! Okay, we all know drones are cool. Kinda scary. But also super cool. Well, drones are now being used to save lives!!

Jessica: We are pretty lucky here in the US, most places at least have the infrastructure to be to transport life-saving materials, even to remote rural areas. But other countries like Rwanda and Ghana, aren’t always so lucky. Currently, they don’t have the necessary infrastructure to allow for access to remote health centers. Some of these health centers only receive medical supply deliveries twice a year. But a company called Zipline is working to change that!

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Sarah: Zipline manufactures drones in California and then stations them at distribution centers in the African nations of Rwanda and Ghana. They hope to expand into other developing nations as well! Basically, their goal is to deliver life-saving medicines and other medical products to remote areas that don’t have the infrastructure in place to receive deliveries any other way. So they probably just don’t have the road access but what’s awesome is that Zipline drones fly without a pilot and are able to fly over mountains and rivers so the local communities don’t need to have roads in order to receive medical deliveries!

Jessica: What’s really cool is that the doctors in these remote locations can request deliveries via an app! These drones can fly rain or shine and they’re now supporting hundreds of deliveries per day! 

Sarah: Yeah and in places where it used to take over 5 hours for medical supplies to arrive, now can only take 30 minutes with a Zipline drone delivery! That can be the difference between life and death for someone in critical condition so it’s so awesome!

Jessica: Yeah this just shows the power of technology in today’s world. It’s so amazing that people are using drones for good!

Sarah: Yeah I feel like I typically think of drones as either a military thing or just for fun to fly around your neighborhood and take photos so it’s really cool to see drones being used to save lives!

All Aboard the Knowledge Train:

Jessica: Today we are lucky to have one of our own, Keith Hinson on the podcast! He is going to talk to us about the value of cross selling, how you can be doing it and why it’s so important!! First Keith, would you mind giving us a little background about yourself?

Keith: My name is Keith Hinson and I am the Vice President of Life and Ancillary Sales here at Senior Market Advisors. The way I got into the insurance business was that I was actually educated to be an engineer and I was working a graveyard shift sitting at my desk and I realized that it was not the way I wanted to spend my working life. So I did research and figured that insurance would be profitable and a good fit for my life so 20 years later this is where I find myself. Couple fun facts: I’m an eagle scout and I’m a three-time iron distance tri-athlete.

Sarah: Okay so cross selling is that simple right. Can you just talk about the basics of cross selling and what products you would be cross selling?

Keith: 

  1. What is cross selling?  At its core cross selling is selling complementary products that pair well with the original product or additional products that were uncovered during your fact finding process.
  2. As an example, for the senior market, these products may include products such as Dental, Vision, HIP, Home Health, Cancer, etc.  All of which pair with with Medicare plans or specific needs that would be uncovered during the fact finding process.

Jessica: How does cross selling help grow your business?

Keith: I believe that cross selling as part of your daily activity is important for four main reasons..

  1. First and foremost, it’s the right thing to do for your clients. – educate them
  2. Book Diversity
  3. Money – Marketing is expensive – at least expect to double your income at 1 out of 4
  4. Retention – Limra Study 3+

Sarah: Okay so there are a lot of compliance concerns around cross selling. Even the word cross selling makes some agents feel uneasy. Can you just talk a bit about what you can and can’t do and how to make sure you’re compliant?

Keith: The easiest way to answer that question is to make sure that anything you discuss  has been initialed on the scope. Dental, Vision, Supp, MA, Indemnity, Part D (exclude life, DI, LTC, etc.)

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Jessica: Are there certain products that pair well together and should be sold together if possible?

Keith:There are several plans that pair well together.  As an example:

Supp, Part D, Dental, Vision

MA, HIP, Cancer – OOO, Part B Cost with Chemo, Part D cost

Sarah: What is the best advice you can give an agent who decides to go ahead with cross selling?

Keith: My advice is pretty simple.  

  1. Have a plan/presentation and know your products
  2. Present the options every time
  3. Do it consistently.  Not everyone will buy and you have to polish your presentation

Make sure to tune in for an extra funny segment of Ending on a Positive Note with Jessica and Paxton! You don’t want to miss it.

Sarah: If you want to learn more about how Senior Market Advisors can be your home for success this AEP, give us a call at 844-334-6066. If you want to be featured on the podcast, visit www.seniormarketadvisors.com/podcast and click on the button that says “Share Your Story.” 

Sarah: Want more Medicare sales related content? Follow Senior Market Advisors on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter – links in the description. We post new episodes every other Friday so make sure to follow and like us to stay up to date with all the newest content! If you’re liking our podcast, share our posts with the hashtag SELLING SMART to be entered to win an Amazon Echo Dot! 

Jessica: We appreciate you joining us this week on Selling SMART 

Sarah: with Senior Market Advisors! 

Finding Your Why – Ep. 20

In Episode 20, Sarah and Jessica begin by discussing the purpose of knowing your why. They walk us through four questions that you can ask yourself in order to figure out what your why is! This is important in everything you do, but especially in your professional life as it helps identify what you define as your purpose.
 
Later in the episode, our hosts change direction and turn their focus from the individual to the company. They talk about the TED Talk with Simon Sinek that goes over what a company’s “why” is and how to find it. If you want help finding your own why, download our “What is Your Why” worksheet!
 
Finally, the podcast concludes with an amazing discussion with our Director of People and Culture, Paxton Manly! Paxton shares with us his own personal why and how he implements it in his life at home and in the office.

Podcast Episode 20 – Finding Your Why Transcription:

Sarah: Welcome to Episode 20 of Selling SMART with Sarah Smith….

Jessica: And Jessica Vara!

Sarah: In today’s episode… we’re going to talk about what is your why! We’re gonna go over some awesome ways to figure out what your purpose is both within yourself and maybe in your professional life as well. And then Jessica and I are actually going to go over our own personal whys and how we figured that all out. And finally, we have our Director of People & Culture Paxton Manly! And he’s gonna share with us his thoughts on purpose and how he makes sure he is true to his why in and outside of the workplace.

Disruptive Waves:

Sarah: Today we are focusing on one word in particular, “why.” Why do you do what you do? How does that correlate to your everyday life personally and professionally? And do you really know your why?

Jessica: Most of the time we use this segment to bring you news on how different technologies or innovations are disrupting the market, but today we are coming at it from a different angle. What can YOU do to ensure that YOU’RE disrupting the market and aren’t making just tidal waves but TSUNAMIs! 

Sarah: Exactly! I see what you did there.

Jessica: I was hoping you would notice haha it was a terrible joke but I’m proud of it!

Sarah: Anyway… I would say your why is definitely connected to your purpose. And it’s probably a good idea to eventually come up with a personal mission statement that combines the two.

Jessica: If you’re sitting there thinking, “Purpose is a scary word because it holds so much weight and I don’t even know where to start,” this may help. Think about the things your passionate about, skills or expertise you may have, what your talents are, and finally what are your values? If you put all of those things in a big pot and stir it up, you get purpose soup! 

Sarah: Yeah, it can definitely be an intimidating task to find your purpose.

Jessica: Kinda feels like you’re a knight on a quest in some fairytale or something haha

Sarah: Sure, Jessica haha… Well what may help you on that quest are a few of these questions that you can ask yourself and ponder.

Jessica: The first one is “What makes you come alive?”

Sarah: This isn’t referring to taking your dream holiday or when you get super hyped for your team during the Superbowl. This is something bigger than that. 

Jessica: At SMA, we recently started working with Performance Coach, Ben Newman, and he described this as your fire. What is the thing that gives you that burn, that desire to do something because you REALLY care about it. 

Sarah: The next question is, “What are your innate strengths?” Everyone has something that they are just naturally talented or skilled at and comes easily to them. So what are the things that you’ve always been good at?

Jessica: Yeah, like I’m GREAT at making really bad jokes as we have already witnessed haha but I’m also extraverted so talking and connecting to people has just been something that comes a little bit more naturally to me. 

Sarah: Right, so you may be a natural-born leader, maybe you’re able to see patterns and opportunities that others can’t, you could be creative and easily think of ‘outside of the box’ solutions. All of these things are strengths that make you unique and will most likely correspond to something that you’re passionate about.

Jessica: So now the third question is, “Where do you add the greatest value?”

Sarah: This is important because if you know your strengths and where you can be an asset, then you’re more likely to succeed in your role!

Jessica: And it’s natural for many of us to undervalue the skills and expertise that we acquire over time. But one thing you can do is reframe the way you define adding value.

Sarah: Yes! So look at it more through a lens of problem-solving. What problems are you equipped to solve?

Jessica: And then take that a step further and ask yourself what problems are you passionate about trying to solve. This will allow you to focus more on your natural strengths rather than be focusing on all your weaknesses and how to eliminate them.

Sarah: Yeah, cause if that’s where you put all of your energy than you’re going to have a negative outlook on things instead of seeing what you’re amazing at and letting that fuel your fire and ultimately allow you to feel inspired, energized, and driven!

Jessica: And now the very last question to ask yourself, “How will you measure your life?” 

Sarah: I think this is important because you are going to be a lot more successful in life if you stand for something or have a purpose.

Jessica: Well and that’s really what that question is saying. It’s more about deciding what you want to take a stand for and then figuring out how to live your life in alignment with it. 

Sarah: Yeah and I think it’s good to point out that your life’s purpose may not align with your job. It may be something that you conduct in your personal life.

Jessica: Definitely! And sometimes you may not be able to find purpose in WHAT you’re doing, but don’t let that discourage you because purpose can also be in HOW you do your job. I think sometimes people feel a pressure to have their job be their everything and their ultimate purpose in life, but it’s not always going to work out that way. 

Sarah: Which is why focusing on the “how” you do your job is such a great way to frame it because that mindset will allow you to still draw meaning from what you’re doing.  

Jessica: Yes! And knowing your purpose is not only going to inspire you but it will also stretch and grow you and your desire to take on more challenges! 

Sarah: So hopefully while we were talking through those questions you were able to reflect on yourself, your values, and what give you purpose. 

Jessica: And now as we move into the next segment you can take that personal insight and apply it to something that is a little larger than just your individual purpose, but that of an entire company and also tie all of those things into your why!

All Aboard the Knowledge Train:

Sarah: As we’ve mentioned before, today’s episode is all about finding your why! At SMA, we think it’s really important not to understand what you do and how you do it, but WHY you do it. If you’ve ever watched TED Talks, you know how inspiring they can be. 

Jessica: A couple years ago SMA’s CEO, Jeff Pitta, discovered a TED Talk with Simon Sinek who changed the way he thought about his company and how to be successful. If you haven’t seen the Ted Talk, we highly suggest you give it a watch, it has over 44 million views on the Ted website. 

Sarah: So what makes Simon’s TED Talk so inspiring? We want to start off today’s podcast with an overview of what Simon talks about in his TED Talk. His key point is that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Every company knows what they do. Every salesperson knows what they do. Most good ones know how they do it. But have you ever thought about why you do what you do? Very few companies and organizations have and do it well. And chances are you’ve heard of them, and you may even be loyal to their brand. But the question is why?

Jessica: Because like we said: people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Sarah: The easiest thing to do when starting a company or even just thinking about yourself is to think from the outside in. Start with the easiest which is what do you do? Then think about how you do it. That’s a little harder. And then get to the why part because that’s usually the most difficult part to figure out for most people. And the why isn’t just about profit, that’s just a result. No, the why should be about your purpose, your drive, your mission. Why do you get out of bed in the morning?

Jessica: So Simon says you should flip that around. Start with WHY you do what you do. Then think about how you do it. Then what you do is just the means of driving home your why.

So a good example of this is talking about Apple. Now Apple kind of lost it’s spark more recently, but when they were at their peak, it’s because they always started with their why.

So here’s two ways to think about selling a computer. The first way is starting with your what and then ending with why. We make great computers. They’re beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. Want to buy one? Was that inspiring? 

Sarah: Nah not really. Does it make me want to buy one? Nah not really.

Jessica: Okay lets flip it around. Start with the why and end with the what. At Apple, everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo and we believe in thinking differently. We challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly computers. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?

Sarah: Yeah that was definitely more inspiring. At least kept my attention.

Jessica: We said the same exact thing, just reversed the order of the information. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Sarah: The same concept can apply to you as a person and building your own brand as an agent. Why do you do what you do? Why do you get up in the morning? At SMA, we believe in serving the underserved. It permeates everything we do. This goes both for our agents and consumers. Everything we do as a company revolves around this core idea of ensuring we are serving both underserved agents and underserved beneficiaries. So what’s your why?

Okay let’s just sit down and try and figure out our own why’s.

Okay so Jessica you and I are both on the same team. So let’s figure out why we do what we do in our careers here at SMA.

Don’t forget to download our What is Your Why worksheet to help you find your own why!


How to Build Client Trust to Make the Sale – Ep. 19

Episode 19 is all about client trust. Learn what steps to take when you first step into an appointment and meet a beneficiary for the first time in order to gain their trust and get the sale. We’ll discuss ways to connect with your clients so that they feel comfortable with you because people want to buy from people they like. Pay attention to your surroundings and find topics that you can bring up in conversation, be polite, and treat your client the way you would want to be treated by someone coming into your home. Most importantly, to gain client trust, it needs to be clear that you care about doing what is best for them and not the sale. You want to help them and find a plan that is right for them!

In this podcast, we also talk about scammers who are targeting Medicare eligibles by getting them to take genetic tests to see if they are more likely to get cancer or if they will respond poorly to certain medications. These fraudulent tests have been happening all over the country and there are hundreds of investigations in the works to try and get to the bottom of this issue.

Finally, with Veterans Day right around the corner, we end the podcast with stories from our very own employees about their time in the military or the impact the military has had on them and their lives. Thank you for your service Gina, Aaron, and Omar! Another big thank you to anyone else who has helped protect our country and our freedoms! We appreciate all you’ve done and sacrificed for our country! 

Podcast Episode 19 – How to Build Client Trust to Make the Sale Transcription:

Sarah: Welcome to Episode 19 of Selling SMART with Sarah Smith….

Jessica: And Jessica Vara!

Sarah: In today’s episode we discuss…

Disruptive Waves:

Jessica: So you may have heard but there has been some fraudulent activity regarding unnecessary genetic testing targeting seniors in the Medicare space recently.

Sarah: Yes in all, more than 300 federal investigations have been conducted by multiple law enforcement agencies. One assistant inspector general for some of the investigations said that his office would receive about one or two complaints per week in 2018. However, now the fraud hotline has as many as 50 calls a week.

Jessica: And these incidents aren’t limited to one geographic location! These investigations are going on across the country.

Sarah: Yeah, and a lot of these investigations were partially started because they noticed unusual Medicare billing data patterns and these started emerging quite a while ago in 2015. 

Jessica: Yep! According to an analysis found by Reuters, for Medicare payouts, genetic tests have gone from $480 million in 2015 to $1.1 BILLION in 2018! 

Sarah: Which is a crazy jump! The investigations are examining billings submitted to federal health insurance programs because by law all diagnostic lab tests have to be ordered by a doctor treating a patient for a specific condition.

Jessica: Well and in the cases under review, investigators and patients told Reuters that marketers would get elderly residents to turn over their Medicare or Medicaid info, their driver’s license and other forms of identification and then they would tell them to take a free cheek swab that will help them understand their risks of developing cancer and how they will respond to drug treatments based on their genetics. And then they get a doctor to sign off on it and approve the test which is then taken to a lab which then seeks Medicare payouts. 

Sarah: And then a lot of the labs aren’t even relevant to the patient’s history and some of the doctors are trusting the patients and signing off on them without conferring with the patient. Apparently many patients aren’t even receiving the results and if they do receive them, they receive no assistance in interpreting the results.

Jessica: Really I think a lot of this is also happening because scammers see trends like 23&Me and things like that and they know that people will trust it or want to know certain information about their genes and/or health.

Sarah: Definitely, but it is just super sad and for multiple reasons. I mean one is that a lot of these seniors are getting their tests back and none of them even make sense and it’s just useless information. The part of the problem is that Medicare may deny these claims, meaning that the Medicare beneficiary may have to pay out of pocket for these fraudulent tests costing them thousands of dollars in some cases. And labs are billing Medicare insurance plans for crazy amounts of money. One woman from Florida said that she found out a lab billed her Medicare Part B plan more than $30,000 and was paid more than $12,000! And she also said that the test results she got back were pretty much useless. 

Jessica: What’s also really sad about this is that now seniors, who honestly are already a relatively suspicious market, are now having real cause to be suspicious which is just hurtful to the people out there, like our agents, who are truly trying to help.

Sarah: For sure! It’s not just about the money these scammers are getting, but the people. They are definitely hurting people and making them question. That’s also why it’s good to practice ways of building client trust, which we will discuss in detail in the next segment!

All Aboard the Knowledge Train:

Sarah: Okay, so once you’ve got an appointment with a beneficiary you may be asking what you can do to make sure you successfully close the sale.

Jessica: And there are many factors to making sure you’re successful, but the most important is definitely building client trust. 

Sarah: Client trust is definitely key! Put yourself in their shoes, what kind of salesperson would you want to buy from? 

Jessica: I know that I wouldn’t want to buy from someone who seemed like they cared more about the sale than me. I would think they are taking advantage of me for sure! 

Sarah: Exactly! You would want to buy from someone like you, someone you feel you can trust!

Jessica: So this is how you build client trust!

Sarah: First impressions are EVERYTHING, so be prepared! Dress appropriately, make sure you have all your relevant marketing materials, applications, and scope of appointment forms.

Jessica: When you arrive at their home, be friendly! Smile when you get out of your vehicle, be inviting!

Sarah: Yeah and be looking around for clues that will give you insight into what their interests are.

Jessica: Maybe they have a military bumper sticker or are hanging a sports team’s flag outside their door. These are things that you can be paying attention to so that you can bring it up in conversation and relate to your client!

Sarah: People can also sense your level of confidence. 

Jessica: Kinda like how animals can sense your fear! Haha!

Sarah: Haha right! So when you walk up to the door, make sure you walk with purpose! Oh and whatever you do, DO NOT peer into their window after you knock!

Jessica: Yes, make sure you step back after knocking on the door. Some elderly people may take a little longer to get to the door and if they see you peering in they are going to get spooked! I know I would!

Sarah: And when they finally invite you in, make sure that you don’t hesitate. Talk to them as you enter. Also, remember to be courteous. If their home seems neat and tidy and they’re not wearing shoes ask if you should remove your shoes before entering. 

Jessica: Just think about what you would want if a salesperson was coming to your home. If you always put yourself in your client’s shoes, then you should be safe in making them feel comfortable with them.

Sarah: Obviously building client trust goes beyond the initial few seconds of you arriving and entering their home. So let’s talk rapport.

Jessica: Building rapport means making the beneficiary feel comfortable with you by presenting yourself as friendly and open. This can be done in many different ways. So let’s break it down, Sarah!

Sarah: Alright! Number one: make small talk by asking questions and discussing their interests. Like we mentioned before, take note of your surroundings. If you noticed that they served in the military you may be able to start a conversation. Oh, you were in the military? My dad was a Marine! Or something like that. Try to relate.  Also, make sure you stay away from religion and politics if possible. And of course, ask lots of questions to understand what products and services they may need or want.

Jessica: My turn! Number two: Listen and engage. A lot of what we have told you already serves to this point, but there is a reason for that… it’s important! Try to get to know your client on a personal level and share stories of your own to connect with them. Try and find commonalities between the two of you. This will make you seem like a real person and not just some stranger trying to sell them something. 

Sarah: Remember, that clients like buying from people they actually like. Sometimes the product is secondary. You could be selling the best product in the world, but if you don’t seem trustworthy and honest, it’s likely you’re client will buy from someone else who they like more.

Jessica: Yes, that’s super important! We can’t emphasize that enough! 

Sarah: Which brings us to the last part of building rapport: tone and body language. We like to use a technique called parroting. 

Jessica: haha What a great name!

Sarah: haha Yeah, so to parrot you talk how your client talks, act how they act, etc. because, once again, people like doing business with people like them.

Jessica: Yes, so make sure you pay attention to their body language because that will help you with parroting. But also, it will give you an idea of how they feel. If they are leaning in and nodding their head then they are most likely engaged and interested, but if they have their arms crossed and are leaning away from you that’s a sign of disengagement and they may not trust what you’re saying. We actually discuss understanding client body language in Episode 3 of the podcast about The Assumptive Close technique. So give that a listen if you want to dive into body language a bit more!

Sarah: So another way to make sure that you build client trust, introduce yourself as an expert. Even if you’re brand new to sales!

Jessica: Fake it till you make it, am I right? haha

Sarah: You are definitely right! Haha! Spend a few minutes letting them know who you are, what you do, and that your job as a Medicare specialist is to make this process as easy as possible for them. Remember that you will be discussing a lot of personal information with this person, they may open up to you about their health problems. So making sure that they see you as an expert, as someone who truly understands what you are selling them, is incredibly vital.  

Jessica: Make sure that you believe in yourself and what your offering! Remember, people can sense your level of confidence! Also, think about what your why is! Once you know this it will be easier to convey that you truly want to HELP people and get joy from helping beneficiaries like them getting great benefits that cover their needs. 

Sarah: Yeah, I mean maybe even tell them a story about someone else that you’ve helped gain the coverage they deserve and how much joy and gratitude you received from that interaction. We interviewed motivational coach and international speaker, Ben Newman, last episode and he talked a lot about how telling stories is an important selling method. It makes you relatable and connects with the beneficiary on an emotional level.

Jessica: Telling your client about others you’ve helped will allow them to get comfortable with you and know that they are doing business with someone that a lot of other people trust.

Sarah: Yes, why else do companies always want customer reviews? Because people gauge their confidence in a salesperson or a product based on other people’s experience. This is a great reason why referrals are so important in growing your business!

Jessica: Also remember that this trust-building process doesn’t stop once you’ve made the sale. That is only the beginning of your relationship with your new client! If you truly want to retain your clients, it’s important to position yourself as their go-to person for everything Medicare, even after the sale. You want to be their point of contact for whenever they have a question about their Medicare coverage.

Sarah: Yes!! I feel like this is a part of selling Medicare that doesn’t get enough attention. Selling the product is important but what you do AFTER the sale is equally important!

Jessica: If you’re wondering what you can do after the sale to retain your clients, you can use the 3-30-60-90 conversation guide! We’ve got another podcast episode that discusses the 3-30-60-90 guide in detail so give that episode a listen. But to summarize, in order to build client trust, it’s important to maintain contact. Whether that be 3 days after the sale, 30 days, 60 days or 90 days! Always stay top of mind with your clients and make them truly feel like you are there for them and care about their needs.

Sarah: Yes! So there you have it! These are great ways to build client trust. 

Jessica: And the more client trust you have the more likely you’re going to make the sale and maybe even get referrals! So always put yourself in the clients’ shoes. Think about what would make you want to buy from someone. You’d probably want to buy from someone who is friendly, honest, likable, and truly knows and understands the product. Someone who you can trust to not only help make the best healthcare decision but also someone you can rely on as a true Medicare expert!

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Jessica: We appreciate you joining us this week on Selling SMART

Sarah: with Senior Market Advisors!


2020 AEP Preparation Checklist – Ep. 12

In Episode 12, we discuss 2020 AEP Preparation and the features of Anthem’s new AI-driven member app called K Health. K Health uses years of anonymous health data to offer members answers to simple questions related to their health. Members can also chat with doctors via the app.

Next we dive into AEP preparation. SMA put together a preparation checklist outlining 5 important areas to focus on prior to October 15 to ensure a successful AEP! In each area we break down some questions you should be asking yourself as you prepare for this AEP. It’s never too early to start preparing so get started today!

Today’s AEP Preparation: 

  1. Set Goals
    • Have you researched the carriers and products available in your market?
    • Have you set goals for AEP and written them down?
  2. Become Ready to Sell
    • Are you ready to sell with all the carriers you want to sell this AEP?
    • How many carriers are you contracted with?
    • How many certifications do you have to complete?
  3. Know Your Products
    • Have you attended webinars and/or trainings to learn the 2020 benefits for each carrier you are contracted with?
    • Do you know how to use carrier portals and tools?
  4. Order Supplies
    • Don’t wait to order supplies!
    • Do you know how to order supplies from each carrier?
    • How long does the process take from order date to fulfillment?
  5. Market Yourself
    • Do you market your services? If so, how? What’s working?
    • How many tools do you use to market yourself?

With all this talk of AEP preparation, it’s easy to feel stressed out. Jessica and Sarah end the podcast on a positive note by discussing how SMA de-stresses during our busy season: a company cornhole tournament! Want to be featured on the podcast? Share your story with us at www.seniormarketadvisors.com/podcast.

Like what you heard on today’s podcast and want to download the 2020 AEP Preparation Checklist? DOWNLOAD HERE.

Follow us on social media and share our podcast postings with the #SellingSMART to be entered to win an Amazon Echo Dot!

Facebook: Senior Market Advisors

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