Sarah Smith

Medicare Plan Finder Tool: What’s Changed? – Ep. 17

Episode 17 discusses the latest update to the Medicare Plan Finder Tool on Medicare.gov. As you may have heard, this tool has been significantly altered with AEP right around the corner. Find out what exactly has been changed and why agents everywhere are talking about it. 

As we go through all of the Medicare Plan Finder Tool revisions, we will highlight the following categories: saving information, preferred pharmacies, overview of costs, total costs, provider networks, star ratings, drug cost assistance, printed drug list, navigation issues, out-of-pocket max, and old records. Learn what is new and what has remained the same, so that you can figure out the best strategy when enrolling beneficiaries this annual enrollment period.

Finally, we will conclude on a positive note with an interview with agent Paul Coleman. No matter what is going on in the industry, we always try to focus on the good and the lives we can impact for the better professionally and personally. 

Medicare Plan Finder Tool: What’s Changed? – Ep. 17 Full Transcript

Sarah: Welcome to Selling SMART with Sarah Smith….

Jessica: And Jessica Vara!

Sarah: Today’s episode is all about the updates to the Medicare Plan Finder Tool on Medicare.gov. So we are going to switch it up a bit on this podcast. We are going to combine the Disruptive Waves section with All Aboard the Knowledge Train because this massive update we have for you will affect your every day selling this AEP…

Jessica: Yes, hopefully you have heard by now that the Medicare Plan Finder tool on Medicare.gov has had a HUGE update recently. The new Medicare Plan Finder tool went live on Medicare.gov on October 1st which unfortunately didn’t give agents much time to play around with the changes and get comfortable with the new tool before AEP. 

Sarah: So if you haven’t familiarized yourself with these changes already, you really should before AEP! These changes will affect how you use the tool during appointments to get beneficiaries the right coverage for their needs. 

Jessica: Forbes had a few articles on the most important changes to the Medicare Plan Finder tool. So let’s break down the changes and then we can dive in to how they will affect you. 

Sarah: Starting with how you save information… 

  • Saving Information – One of the biggest potential issues for agents is the ability to save information. The only way to save information now on the new Medicare Plan Finder Tool is to have an account on Medicare.gov. But here’s the catch: to create an account you need to have a Medicare number and you might need to add some other other health information. Now you could technically fudge that other information, but you have to have a Medicare number. This means agents may be unable to save information. This also means that if a beneficiary who is new to Medicare and not yet 65 wanted to browse plans and save information to discuss with an agent, they wouldn’t be able to do so as far as I can tell when I was messing around today with the new Medicare Plan Finder Tool.(Source

And now time, for an SMA Value Ad:

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Sarah:

  • What’s frustrating is that the old Medicare Plan Finder Tool on Medicare.gov would save your information and create a profile for you including your zip code, current coverage, and current subsidy level and it would sit up in the corner while you were doing a search and it would add information as created. This no longer saves, so you’ll have to start over every time you want to use the site. 
  • This also includes the “Retrieve My Saved Drug List” This was an awesome feature for agents and benes alike. You could go through the website, add the drugs and you would be able to save that drug list and it would give you a drug list id number and the date it was created. And then you could just go back in and input the drug list id number and the date it was created and it would retrieve that drug list and you wouldn’t have to go back and populate drugs every time. Many beneficiaries are taking many drugs. Some are taking 10 prescriptions, 20 prescriptions, who knows! So entering those in every single time is just a total hassle. This also was helpful if a bene wanted to use it to print their drugs to take to the pharmacy. Nope, that feature is gone as well 🙁
  • Another thing about the Adding Drug page that’s been updated is that the old page used to show you whether the drug you input was generic and if there were generic options available to lower costs. When I was in there today I did not see this feature anywhere so if that’s a feature that is available, I don’t think a beneficiary would easily find it.
  • You also used to be able to refine plan results. For example, if you only want MA only plans or MAPD plans you could choose between them. As far as I can tell, there’s no way to filter for those fields. You can filter by carrier and star ratings and then filter by coverage options like vision, dental, hearing, transportation, and fitness.

Jessica:

  • Preferred Pharmacies – The new Medicare Plan Finder tool will make finding preferred pharmacies a challenge. The older version had two methods to retrieve this information. You could find the Pharmacy network and see a chart of all preferred, standard, or out-of-network pharmacies in a specific zip code. Another option was to click on the View Drug Cost Summary on the comparison page. This would create a comparison of pharmacies and identified if it was preferred, standard, or out-of-network. The new Plan Finder tool does not have either option available for identifying preferred pharmacies. If you want to find preferred pharmacies, you would need to change pharmacies and then compare costs. This is an inefficient method and depending on the drug, may not be accurate. (Source
  • Old site would show which pharmacies were preferred while on the Selecting Your Pharmacies page. That no longer exists so if a bene was looking for this information, they probably wouldn’t even find it.
  • Overview of Costs – In the past, agents could click on a link on the Overview page of the Legacy Plan Finder and find all the information surrounding the plan’s cost and sharing information. This information does not appear on the updated tool. (Source)

Sarah:

  • Total Costs – The older Plan Finder tool easily displayed total out-of-pocket drug costs for the year, including monthly premiums and costs for prescriptions. The new Plan Finder estimates yearly costs at retail or mail order pharmacies, but they do not include the premium. To get this cost you would need to multiply the premium by 12 and add that cost to the estimated costs. There have been reports that CMS is aware of this flaw and is working to fix it but we haven’t heard an update on this just yet but hopefully they will fix it before AEP starts. (Source)

And now time, for an SMA Value Ad:

Looking for extra marketing support? SMA Storefront is your one-stop shop for all your marketing needs! Use SMA’s Agent Storefront to customize generic marketing materials like posters, mailers, flyers, rack cards and business cards! We give you the ability to add your logo and contact information so every piece is one of a kind! Planning to host a marketing event? Order pre-designed banners and giveaways directly from Storefront! Continue your knowledge on sales techniques by viewing the Building Your Business video series and downloading Medicare-related whitepapers! Customize your marketing, educate yourself and get the tools you need to succeed, all with SMA Storefront! Interested in learning more? Visit us online at www.seniormarketadvisors.com/podcast or give us a call at 844-334-6066.

Sarah:

  • Provider Networks The older Plan Finder had a link to the plan’s provider network site. This allowed agents and beneficiaries to find in-network physicians. However, the new Plan Finder does not have this link, so it may be difficult to find this information. (Source)

Jessica:

  • Star Ratings – Star ratings are an important factor when enrolling in a plan. The new Plan Finder tools does not have information on people who left the plan (or why they left) and the rating for “ease of getting prescription filled” is no longer available. (Source) Right now the “Star Rating” just says “Coming Soon”… hopefully this feature will be added soon?
  • Drug Cost Assistance – The old Medicare Plan Finder Tool had a link to “lower your drug costs.” This link will take you to a page that would identify any assistance available for a specific medication. However, the new Plan Finder tool’s link takes you to a generic medicare.gov with 6 ways to get help with your prescription costs. (Source)  

Sarah:

  • Printed Drug List – This is kind of something I talked about earlier. The old Medicare Plan Finder Tool had a drug list that could be printed on a simple, one-page document. Many beneficiaries would take this to their physician appointments. However, the new Plan Finder does not have a one-page option. Instead, beneficiaries would need to to print each page of the drug lists, and only 3-4 drugs fit per page. (Source)
  • Navigation Issues – The new Medicare Plan Finder Tool has several navigation issues. These issues include locations changing when searching for pharmacies in two locations, no option to view all plans on one page, and less sorting options when filtering  plans. (Source)
  • Out-of-Pocket Max – the out-of-pocket maximum on the comparison page is wrong. Instead, it shows estimated total costs for the year. (Source)

Jessica:

  • Old Records – Records from the old Medicare Plan Finder Tool will not migrate into the new one. This means agents and beneficiaries will need to take extra time when entering data and there is a higher chance of errors. (Source)

Hopefully you were able to print off drugs lists or any other old records you had for your clients, but if not it may be a good idea to start doing that in the future. That way if any major changes happen again you will be prepared! We live and we learn!

Sarah:

Yeah this is a really frustrating thing. I think a lot of agents really just didn’t know that all of these changes were coming. They didn’t know that all this information would be purged. Now there is just no access to it. And it’s annoying for agents who may have used the Medicare Plan Finder Tool to house information to use to prepare before appointments. It just makes the whole process more tedious. 

Jessica:

But with all that let’s try to stay on the positive side! I mean really this is just the government is making this big push to make it easier for Medicare-eligibles. And they want it to be easier for them to find information and to learn about plans that are out there. I think that is the intent but as technology changes we are bound to hit bumps in the road and this appears to be one of them. But hopefully in the grand scheme of things, it will all work out in the end.

Sarah:

Obviously, these updates are causing agents huge headaches and are not ideal, but as you should know if you listen to our podcast regularly, we try to stay positive.

This is there biggest overhaul they’ve done to the site in years. So it’s not surprising that there is bugs and things that they didn’t prepare for or they missed. So hopefully it is a work in progress and will improve. We know all these changes are not ideal but as you know if you listen to our podcast regularly, we always try to end on a positive note.

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!

SMA AEP Kickoff: LIVE Recording – Ep. 16

Join us for the Senior Market Adivors AEP Kickoff event in Nashville, TN! Episode 16 is different from all previous podcast episodes! We are proud to present our first podcast on the go! Sarah and Jessica set up the podcast at Topgolf where Senior Market Advisors hosted a select group of agents across Tennessee and our carrier partners.

In this episode you’ll get a sneak peek of some of the 2020 benefits offered in the Tennessee market for carriers like Aetna, Cigna, Amerigroup, BCBS of TN and more! You’ll also hear about some of the amazing value adds that Senior Market Advisors provide to our contracted agents.

Then we conclude with a couple interviews with two agents, Ray Dover and Eric Peek who share their advice for agents in preparing for AEP and some feel good stories. Get motivated and get excited because AEP is right around the corner!

How to Market Yourself on Social Media – Ep. 15

Episode 15 is all about how to market yourself on social media. By subscribing to this podcast, you’ll also get access to our e-Book titled: “Social Media Marketing for Insurance Agents” which goes into greater detail on how to market yourself using social media. 

We begin this episode by discussing something exciting that FitBit has in the works to allow users to share their health data with healthcare providers and manage chronic conditions. Then we do a deep-dive into how to market yourself on social media.

First off, what is social media? Sarah and Jessica start by discussing the basics of social media and how to use it successfully to grow your business. This includes how to select your target audience, social media compliance, understanding types of content, creating a social media strategy, social media platforms, and more!

Utilizing multiple social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is key when marketing yourself online. Our e-Book gives you step-by-step instructions on how to create profiles on each platform and best practices for remaining compliant. Sarah and Jessica touch on all of this in the podcast and more!

Plus, we end on a positive note with our very own Director of Digital Engagement, Jenn Pratt whose team was responsible for putting together the e-Book on this topic. She tells us an inspiring story about how even though all the odds were stacked against her, she overcame adversity to get where she is today.

Podcast Episode 15 – How to Market Yourself on Social Media Full Transcript:

Sarah: Welcome to Selling SMART with Sarah Smith….

Jessica: And Jessica Vara!

Sarah: Today’s episode is all about how to market yourself on social media. Lucky for you, if you’re listening to this podcast, you also now have access to our e-Book titled: “Social Media Marketing for Insurance Agents” which will go into greater detail on how to market yourself online using social media. We also discuss something exciting that FitBit has in the works and we conclude with a feel good story from our Director of Digital Engagement, Jenn Pratt!

Disruptive Waves:

Jessica: So by the time this podcast is out, Fitbit will have launched a brand new service called FitBit Premium! 

Sarah: That’s right! This paid service will develop personalized wellness reports allowing users to share their data with their physician, including health data trends and analyses of activity, heart rate, sleep and weight fluctuations.

Jessica: Which is awesome! They also plan to launch a personal coaching product in 2020 for users who are managing chronic conditions like diabetes.

Sarah: And they will have a limited pilot available for that at the end of this year! So big things are happening!

Jessica: Yes, big things for sure! With these new developments, people will be able to export their wearable data from the Fitbit dashboard in order to share it with their provider, although it doesn’t integrate directly into the EMR. 

Sarah: The subscription service will also include sleep tracking, customized fitness and diet programs as well as health reports like we mentioned earlier. 

Jessica: The premium cost will be $9.99 per month or $79.99 annually and will be included under Fitbit Care which is a one-year-old connected care platform for employers, health plans and health systems.

Sarah: Yeah, so just be aware! This may be something that would be of interest to you or people you know. It sounds like a great tool and just one of the many innovations emerging in the marketplace to help improve healthcare and people’s personal wellness! We got this information from HealthcareDive so make sure to check out their website, they have a lot of great content related to breaking news in the healthcare space.

All Aboard the Knowledge Train:

Sarah: Okay so as we mentioned earlier, today’s episode is all about how to market yourself on social media! If you want a copy the e-book so you can review this information later, we’ve got a link in the description on our podcast website! DOWNLOAD HERE

Jessica: So before we dive into how to market yourself, let’s start with an overview of social media and the insurance industry. We have entered a new era of communication. Gone are the days of the one-way stream of communication from business to customer. Social media now allows for a dialogue between the business and customers. Today’s accessibility to people and brands is unprecedented! Businesses are successfully taking advantage of this new gateway, and using it to reach their audiences. You should too!!

Sarah: But how does an insurance agent like you actually take advantage of this new tool and use it to market yourself? Let’s start out by understanding the basics of social media. 

There are many forms of social media and chances are, if you haven’t been hiding under a rock since the dawn of the internet, you have used at least one social media platform in your lifetime, if not many. But the way you use social media as an individual is very different from how you should use it as a business.

Jessica: Understanding how to market yourself on social media really depends on your industry. If you’re listening to this podcast, than there’s a high probability that you are in sales or would like to be. And there’s an even higher probability that you are in Medicare Sales. We all know Medicare is heavily regulated, which means you can’t just post whatever you want on social media to market yourself. You must remain compliant. We will cover compliance a little later in this podcast. But the biggest thing to remember about marketing yourself on social media is that you should use social media to humanize your business, build relationships with potential clients, and spread the word about your business. Ultimately, you are using social media to market yourself and generate leads.

Sarah: If you are in the Medicare space, you know that not all, but a large majority of your clientbase will be made up of seniors. This means your main target audience (individuals who you want to engage with) will be seniors. Okay so you may be thinking, but wait Sarah and Jessica… do seniors even use social media? The answer may surprise you.

While it may seem like individuals 65 & older aren’t using social media, they absolutely are. In fact, Pew Research Center found that 67% of seniors use the internet and 34% of Americans ages 65 & older use Facebook and Twitter. That’s a lot of potential leads right there that you could be missing out on if you aren’t marketing yourself on social media!

Jessica: Unlike millennials, seniors tend to use social media more as an encyclopedia, to gain knowledge on particular topics that interest them. You can tap into this desire by providing Medicare-eligibles (whether they be seniors or not) pertinent information about their health, new technologies in the healthcare space and educational information regarding Medicare.

Okay so now that you have a background in the basics of social media for business, we want to talk about one more very important topic before we discuss how to market yourself on social media and that my friends is COMPLIANCE. DUH DUH DUH. 

Sarah: Yeah yeah we know. Compliance is one of those things that no one likes to talk about, one because it tends to be dry and 2 because well if you’ve received a compliance violation you know it’s a big deal. And it’s no different when discussing how to market yourself on social media.

Jessica: There are very strict guidelines that CMS puts on social media marketing and they are written directly into the Medicare Marketing & Communication Guidelines which CMS updates and releases every year. If you want to know more about the guidelines for 2020, we will cover them in more depth in a later episode with our compliance manager. For the purposes of this episode, what you really need to know is that social media is less about marketing and more about communication. 

The main thing to note is that you cannot market specific products or aim to steer a beneficiary towards any specific plans or carriers. Keep everything you post on social media generic in nature. Focus more on educating beneficiaries on Medicare-related topics rather than plan-specific details or benefits.  

Sarah: Here are some big no-no’s:

  1. Just because someone likes your post, follows you, or comments on your post DOES NOT mean you have permission to contact.
  2. You can answer questions via social media, but do not address them beyond the scope of the question or statement
  3. Never buy social media leads or referrals. This will not give you permission to contact.

And for your reference, we’ve got a ton more information on social media compliance within this awesome e-Book!

Jessica: Okay now that we got that out of the way, let’s get into the fun stuff! Well, we think it’s fun since we do this for a living. But honestly, you can have fun with it as well! How to Market Yourself on social media using Content Marketing! Okay so if we want to go back to the basics, what exactly is content?

Sarah: When talking about social media, content can mean a LOT of things. It refers to things like posts, blog posts, photos, infographics, videos, podcasts, eBooks, articles, webinars, case studies, promotions, etc. 

But just knowing all the types of content that you can post on social media won’t really get you anywhere. What’s most important is the quality of the content that you’re posting. Think about how much content you consume each day and start thinking about what brands stand out to you and why?

Jessica: Right, you always want to put yourself in your target audience’s shoes. What do they want to know? What information are they searching for? What would make them want to engage with the content you post? These are all really important questions when thinking about how to market yourself on social media. Its similar to selling right? People like to engage with people they know and like. Similar to sales, if they don’t trust you and they don’t like you, they probably won’t want to engage with your posts and therefore will keep scrolling.

Sarah: Okay so what are some of the most important factors when coming up with a strategy for how to market yourself on social media?

  1. Know Your Audience. We talked about this a bit earlier. If you’re in the Medicare space, your target audience should be Medicare-eligibles which mostly consists of seniors. So think about what seniors would be looking for when scrolling through social media and what sorts of images, videos and messaging would catch their eye. You can even do some market research to help! Google is your friend people!

Jessica:

  1. Establish Goals. If you want a more in-depth guide to Setting SMART goals We have a whole podcast on this topic but for now think about what your end goal is. (Access Ep. 5 here). Why are you posting on social media? How many leads do you hope to generate? How often do you want to post? These are some of the questions you should be asking yourself as you set your social media goals.

Sarah:

  1. Create & Curate Quality Content. All this means is you can either create your own content to post on social media so in other words, write your own blog, create a video explaining something, etc. and/OR you can repost content that already exists! Just make sure you’re giving the proper credit. Give credit where credit is due! There are pro’s and con’s to both so make sure to check out the e-book we’ve provided to dive into greater detail! You can find a deep-dive on pages 21-28 where we discuss tips for creating and curating content, writing resources, design tips, image dimensions for different social media platforms, avoiding plagiarism and more!

Jessica:

  1. Time Management. Don’t take up too much of your time on social media. It doesn’t have to take all day if you’re doing it right! Just a few tips that may help you stay on track include: creating your content all at once, creating a content calendar, using a content management tool to schedule posts, and posting timely content as needed.

Sarah:

  1. And Lastly, Review Your Analytics. What’s the point in posting all this awesome content on social media if you never check to see if it’s working? Reporting is incredibly important. You should consistently review your posts to make sure that what you’re posting is in fact generating you leads, generating interest, or hitting whatever goal that you’ve set for yourself related to your social media strategy.

Jessica: Alright now that you know the basics on how to market yourself on social media, let’s talk platforms. How do you know which one to use? Well the answer is, it depends. But we’ve selected four platforms to discuss today that we think best suit the needs for insurance agents like you!

  1. Let’s start with Facebook – Facebook is great for client engagement. Facebook is probably the most used social media platform by your biggest target audience, seniors. Make sure to read pages 37-42 of the e-Book for a step-by-step guide on how to create a Facebook Business page! You’ll want to separate your personal profile from your business profile because mixing the two can get confusing for your potential clients and privacy of course. 

Sarah:

  1. Twitter – Twitter is great for engaging with clients & colleagues. With Twitter, you’ll want to follow other insurance professionals and engage with content that would get your profile seen by your target audience. You can tweet your own content, reply to others tweets, retweet other people’s content (in other words repost), and like content! Using hashtags is also a great way to gain followers and engagement with your tweets. And if you want a deep dive into how to market yourself on twitter, read pages 44-55 in the e-Book!

Jessica: 

  1. LinkedIn – LinkedIn is great for engaging with colleagues. You could use this for networking purposes with other agents and maybe even get some cool new ideas and sales techniques!
  2. Forums – Forums are a great way to engage with colleagues as well. You can talk with others about what works, and what doesn’t work. And it’s just another really great place to make connections and share your expertise.

Sarah: Now that you have a solid foundation for how to market yourself on social media, it’s time to get started! Know your audience, set some goals, create profiles on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and begin creating and curating content. Don’t forget to analyze your strategy and make changes based on the results. Social Media is an ever-changing space, so always stay up to date on the newest trends and don’t be afraid to try new things (as long as they’re compliant of course!) 

Jessica: This podcast episode just scratches the surface of all the amazing information our Digital Engagement team at Senior Market Advisors has put together for you in our e-Book: Social Media Marketing for Insurance Agents so make sure to download that and get going on developing your own social media strategy to grow your business!

Ending on a Positive Note:

Jessica: Alright we’re here on Ending on a Positive Note and we have our very own Director of Digital Engagement, Jenn Pratt. So thanks for being with us. I know it’s really cool to have you on this one since we’re talking about these social media marketing e-Book that your team put together and how amazing it is.

Jenn: Yeah great to be here!

Jessica: Yeah we’re excited to have you! And you’re going to talk about overcoming adversity right?

Jenn: Yes definitely. Something that really holds true to my heart is – I grew up in a very disadvantaged family – single mother, homeless half my childhood, and I came out of my neighborhood… I was the only one that graduated high school, went to college, and got my MBA as well so I had all the odds stacked against me and I just decided I wanted to have a good life and I didn’t want to get in the same things that the other people in my neighborhood did – you know gangs and drugs. Even though my mom was a single mom, she always pushed education on me and that’s what I’ve done with my boys. And the fact that I went through all that and still came out, as my kids have said, half okay, you know I really love hearing stories of people like me that have overcome a lot of challenges and that’s another way that I’ve always given back to the community.

I’m also in the process of getting a foster child so I can give someone else a good life that would not get it otherwise.

Jessica: Wow that’s amazing! How do your boys feel about that?

Jenn: They’re a little iffy about it but they understand that they have a wonderful life and they want to share that experience too.

Jessica: I’m sure that whole experience is going to teach them a lot and shape them into real great people as well.

Jenn: So we’re super excited and hopefully we’ll get our foster child within the next two months.

Jessica: Do you know which age range or if it’s a girl or boy?

Jenn: We said any age, any nationality, any gender. We’re welcome. They said there is a long waiting list for younger children so we’ll probably end up getting an older child which would be fine. We’re more than welcome to it!

Jessica: Is this something that you’ve always wanted to do?

Jenn: Yes, it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do specifically because I went through all that adversity and I just want to give back to somebody else.

Jessica: That’s amazing, wow! How heartwarming. Thank you so much for sharing that.

Jenn: Your welcome!

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! 

Facebook: Senior Market Advisors

Instagram: @SeniorMarketAdvisors

Twitter: @SeniorMarketAdv


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.” 

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

Sarah: with Senior Market Advisors! 

4 Sales Tips for Getting Past the Gatekeeper – Ep. 14



Podcast Episode 14 Transcription:

Sarah: Welcome to Selling SMART with Sarah Smith….

Jessica: And Jessica Vara!

Sarah: In today’s episode we are going to talk about how the healthcare industry is working to use technology as a way to detect evidence of dementia. We also go through four sales tips to get past the gatekeeper when building partnerships with providers in your area to generate leads.

Disruptive Waves:

Jessica: So this is pretty cool! Apple and Eli Lilly (which is a huge pharmaceutical company) are partnering up to do research on whether health features on the iPhone and Apple Watch can detect evidence of dementia and cognitive decline. 

Sarah: Oh that is super cool! Have they found anything of use so far?

Jessica: So yeah, they found that when compared to healthier counterparts,  people with symptoms of cognitive decline showed slower typing, less regularity in their schedules, fewer text messages and they also relied more on helper apps.  

Sarah: That’s interesting… how exactly did they come to these conclusions? 

Jessica: Well they had a 12-week study that included 31 people with various stages of cognitive impairment and an 82-person health control group. Researchers were able to collect 1.5 gigabytes of data per participant per day and that included data on motor function and sleep rhythms. 

Sarah: So did they just have people use their phones like normal and kinda monitor it?

Jessica: I don’t think that’s far off! They collected their data from a bunch of different platforms. They used iPhones, Apple Watches, iPads, and Beddit sleep monitoring devices for the study. I believe they are planning on conducting more research, but this was just an early-stage study. 

Sarah: Nice! Yeah I think that this is great! I mean dementia affects about 47 million people across the world, so anything that helps us detect early stages of mental decline is amazing!

Jessica: Oh definitely! And the initial results of this study are pretty promising. The only thing is that the researchers are stressed that they’re only a “starting point” for further studies on using consumer gadgets to predict these type of diseases. 

Sarah: Yeah, things like this are going to take some time, which can be frustrating but at least we are moving toward improvement. 

Jessica: Right and as the site of care moves more toward the home with things like telehealth, it’s going to be so important to have devices that can help notice these signs so people can be notified and seek the treatment they need. 

All Aboard the Knowledge Train:

Sarah: If you listened to episode 7: Building Your Business, you learned how to partner with providers like dental officers, PCP’s, and pharmacies. If you haven’t, we recommend listening to that episode as well because we give you a guide on how to partner with providers to self lead-gen! One thing we didn’t go over during that episode was how to get a meeting with the decision maker in the office. You’ll likely come across a receptionist or an office manager (we will call these people the gatekeeper) before you ever get in front of the dentist, provider or pharmacist so it’s important to have a game plan for how to capture the gatekeepers attention and push them to allow you to talk to the decision maker.

Jessica: Getting past the gatekeeper is one of the most crucial parts of your grassroots marketing efforts. A gatekeeper is any person you encounter who controls access to your prospect. In order to reach your prospect, it is important for you to have a plan for how to get through this person. 

Sarah: Understand that gatekeepers are typically told by their superiors to keep sales people out. If they let sales people in, they sometimes can look bad. So even if you have a great pitch planned, they will do whatever they can to keep you out even before they have heard any details about what you are offering. They will be the toughest opposition in your marketing efforts process. 

Jessica: The first step in getting past gatekeepers is to understand who they are and what their objective is. The most likely types of gatekeeper you will encounter during your initial office visits are office receptionists or other office support staff. The office support staff spend much of their time answering heavy phone traffic and assisting with other office activities. They can be incredibly busy so you must be mindful of their time. Because they are busy, they will typically spend no more than 30 seconds listening to your opening pitch to determine whether they want to let you through to the provider or not. Your introduction is incredibly important. This is why first impressions are so crucial.

Sarah: Let’s go over some sales tips for getting past gatekeepers.

  • Sales Tip #1: Build rapport. You want to be friendly and build rapport with the gatekeeper. You want to make them feel comfortable and give off positive vibes. A gatekeeper is more likely to pass you through if they like you and enjoy speaking with you. 
  • Sales Tip #2: Be real with them. Another tactic you can use is to let them know you understand their objective. You know they are instructed to keep you out but if they give you just a few minutes to show why this provider would really want to meet with you, it’s going to be worth their while.

Jessica:

  • Sales Tip #3: Treat the gatekeeper like your prospect. Gatekeepers generally have basic knowledge regarding the company they work for and some may have more knowledge than you might think. Use that to your advantage. Start by giving them your elevator pitch and ask them a few probing questions to see if they give you any pre-qualifying information, specifically you’re looking for the name of the individual you REALLY want to talk to AKA the decision maker. Many of them will answer your questions if they have the answers. Sometimes it can be good to ask a question that you know they will not have the answer to because they will be more likely to pass you along to the person you really want to speak with. 

Sarah: 

  • Sales Tip #4: Use short responses and the assumptive technique. If you’re calling in to try and set up an appointment before going into the office, try and act like a customer as long as possible. Again, receptionists are basically told to do whatever you can to keep sales people out. When they ask what you’re calling about say you’re a local business owner looking to potentially partner to help each other out. Make this informal and do your best to get the name of your actual prospect (the decision maker). Once you know the name of the decision maker, ask if they are in the office. If the gatekeeper responds with yes but he’s not available right now you could say something like “Oh I’ll hold thanks!” This may catch them off guard and push  them to at least go check to see if the decision maker would get on the phone to set up a meeting. In this case you’re using the assumptive sales technique. You’re assuming that they’re going to do what you want them to do before they actually do it. Even if they go and look for the person come back to tell you no, you can still ask what time you should call back in ord er to get in touch with the decision maker. Now when you call back you can say “Hey just calling back for so and so” which makes it sound like you just got off the phone with them. More likely than not, you can get through. At that point you can ask the gatekeeper how if you can set up an appointment for a future date or speak with the provider on the spot. 

Sarah: It is inevitable that you will run into objections from the gatekeeper. Don’t take it personally if they try to shut you down. Be vigilant and try your best to convince them to let you through to your prospect. Here are some helpful sales tips on how to deal with objections from gatekeepers:

Jessica: Sales Tips on how to Overcome Objections from Gatekeepers:

  • We are not interested. This is the most likely objection you will encounter. Many times a gatekeeper will use this line even before they have heard your elevator pitch. 
    • Try to explain your value proposition briefly and say you think if they allow you to give them a little more information, they would be . Then ask a few probing questions to see if they give you any pre-qualifying information. 
  • Give me your information and I’ll pass it along
    • Do your best to set up a meeting right then and there. Just like any other sale, you are more likely to seal the deal right then and there. But if they still push back, here’s some things you can do: 
    • Leave your business card. They likely won’t pass it along and even if they do, you may never receive a response. This is why it is important to also have detailed leave-behinds and marketing materials that will catch their eye and peak their curiosity. Then set up a time to follow-up with them regarding the information you leave behind. 
    • Let the gatekeeper know you have a ton of info to give to them and you want to make sure you only give them the information that would best suit their needs. And then ask a few pre-qualifying questions to gain some insight into the practice for when you follow-up. 

Sarah: On Episode 4 of the podcast we discussed how to overcome objections in the field and many of those can also be applied here, so make sure to listen to that episode for more tips on overcoming objections!

Jessica: Getting past gatekeepers is one of the most crucial parts of your marketing efforts and can be the deciding factor in whether you gain a partnership or not. You must practice these tactics because if you can’t get past the gatekeeper, you’ve lost an opportunity. Using a few of the tricks   we’ve mentioned earlier should help you get through to your prospect. Good luck!

Ending on a Positive Note:

Jessica: Alright I am here with our very own Taylor MacLeod. She’s going to talk to us a little bit about some things she’s gone through and how she’s had to roll with the punches throughout her life and take some things that were negative and turn them into something positive and motivational. So Taylor do you want to go ahead and tell us a bit about that?

Taylor: Hi, yeah thanks so much for having me on the podcast. I am really excited!

Jessica: We are excited to have you!

Taylor: So I was lucky enough to get a job right out of college, not everyone is, so I was very blessed in that area. But after being there for a little over two years, I was let go because the company was moving in a different direction. And it was kind of a blessing in disguise because at the time I was doing so many things in marketing and it just really helped me figure out what I really wanted to do as far as my career in marketing and where I saw myself going. So I sat down and i researched a bunch of different marketing jobs and i compared them to what i liked doing at my previous job. And then I sat down and made a resume. It really helped me become goal oriented and career driven prior to the job and experience that I had. I’m very thankful for that job. It helped me grow as a person and as an adult. 

Jessica: Also i believe you had mentioned that this was not the first time this had happened. This happened multiple times right?

Taylor: It did. So after I left that job, I was hired about a month later at a different company doing sales. I realized very quickly that it wasn’t what I wanted to do . I liked the company and the people I worked with and I believed in the product we were selling, I just realized that I was more of a behind the scenes person in marketing. So I left that job and got another job where I was in the marketing department doing direct mail and social media. I realized that I really loved that and I wanted to stick with itt. And about a week after Thanksgiving they came to me and told me it was my last week. So I updated my resume very quickly, put it out there, and realized that while this had happened to me again, it wasn’t the end of the world because there’s always more opportunity out there to grow. It’s kind of like baseball because when you’re pitched an outside pitch, you want to extend and go get it. And so what I did was flex all the marketing muscles that i had to go out and get the best job possible and that’s what landed me here at SMA!

Jessica: Aw I like this story!

Taylor: It does have a happy ending.

Jessica: Yes and I think that is really great because it’s a common thing that everyone deals with. Agents go through a lot to – like not getting the sale you want. I actually saw something recently that made me think of this. I heard somebody talking about how you can look like negativity like a seed or a plant. You can decide to water that plant or you can decide to go off and water the other plants of positivity. So the idea is that there’s always going to be those negative things in life but YOU have control how much power you give it. And I think you did a really good job of not giving that power and coming out on the other side, happy and at SMA!

Taylor: Yeah definitely!

Jessica: Thank you so much for sharing that story with us!

Taylor: Thanks for having me!

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! 

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Jessica: We appreciate you joining us this week on Selling SMART 
Sarah: with Senior Market Advisors!

3-30-60-90 – A Guide to Client Retention – Ep. 13

In Episode 13, we analyze the challenges new technology can bring to healthcare. We discuss why some people say Amazon’s Alexa’s bedside manners are bad for the healthcare industry. There are pros and cons to all new developments and this episode we focus on some of the criticisms and concerns of new devices. 

Later in the episode, Sarah and Jessica also go over how to maintain successful relationships with your clients using the 3-30-60-90 method, because what you do AFTER the sale is just as important as the sale itself! Listen as Sarah and Jessica role-play through our step-by-step phone conversation guide. You’ll learn how staying in touch can help you retain your clients. The guide begins with the follow-up call around 3 days after the sale. Then you’ll learn what a phone conversation should sound like after 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days after the sale. Each conversation is different, but all conversations focus around one main principle: putting the client first.

Remember, closing the sale is important, but maintaining a close relationship with your clients builds trust. You can be so much more than an insurance agent. To build relationships, strive to be your client’s resource for everything Medicare!

Like what you heard on today’s podcast and want to download the our 3-30-60-90 whitepaper? DOWNLOAD HERE.

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

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Understanding Power of Attorney – Ep. 11

In Episode 11, we continue our deep dive into a few disruptive technologies in the healthcare space. This week we discuss rideshare apps and how they are changing the way people get to and from their healthcare appointments.

Then we talk about the importance of understanding Power of Attorney in the Medicare sales space. As an agent, you will encounter situations involving Power of Attorney more often than you may think. We go over the different types of Power of Attorney, when you might encounter them and what to do if the beneficiary you are working with has a Power of Attorney.

Sarah and Jessica conclude the episode by talking about a recent interview with Mark Cuban on YouTube. If you don’t know Mark Cuban, he is a successful entrepreneur who went from rags to riches by working hard and selling smart. He’s got some amazing advice for all entrepreneurs and Sarah breaks down what she learned from the video. Sarah and Jessica discuss to give you some inspiration for your day!


Why Sell Medicare Supplement Plans – Ep. 10

In Episode 10, Sarah and Jessica focus on Amazon’s Alexa, and how voice assistants are disrupting the healthcare industry. While there are many ways Amazon’s Alexa can help beneficiaries with their healthcare needs now and in the future, there are also privacy and data breach concerns. We break down the good, the bad, and the inevitable.

We also bring on SMA’s Andy Watkins, VP of Sales and Business Development to share his expertise on Medicare Supplement Plans. Andy and Sarah discuss what Medicare Supplement plans are, break down some of the plan types, and compare Medicare Supplements to Medicare Advantage. Andy also goes over Medicare Supplement enrollment periods, compliance concerns surrounding Medicare Supplements, the commission rates, and why new agents should start out selling Medicare Supplement Plans!

We conclude this episode with a story from Andy about how Medicare Supplement Plans have benefited him and his family directly, giving you one more reason to want to sell Medicare Supplements AND smile! Want to be featured on the podcast? Share your story with us at www.seniormarketadvisors.com/podcast.

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

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Twitter: @SeniorMarketAdv



Why Sell Medicare Advantage – Ep. 9

In Episode 9, we talk about all the benefits of Medicare Advantage and why you should be selling it. We start by discussing the lack of dental coverage across the Medicare-eligible population. Since Original Medicare does not cover dental, many beneficiaries go without coverage. This includes over two-thirds of all Medicare beneficiaries! One way these beneficiaries could gain access to dental coverage is by enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan.

While not all Medicare Advantage plans offer dental coverage, some do. We brought on one of our agents, Simone Cohen, to discuss all the reasons she loves selling Medicare Advantage. Simone loves selling MA plans because the Medicare-eligible population is growing, many Medicare Advantage plans offer great benefits not covered by Original Medicare, she gets to help people in need, and of course, they offer great commission rates! Finally, Simone sticks around with us to share a motivational story. Want to be featured on the podcast? Share your story with us at www.seniormarketadvisors.com/podcast.  

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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Twitter: @SeniorMarketAdv

Setting Up a Sales Event – Ep. 8

In Episode 8, Sarah and Jessica talk about recent insulin price increases and its effect on Medicare beneficiaries. Insulin prices have continued to rise, and many Medicare beneficiaries struggle to pay for their out-of-pocket costs. It’s important to understand the price increases so you can inform beneficiaries of the benefits of Part D and ultimately make a sale. If you want to learn more about insulin price increases, you can read our blog: https://seniormarketadvisors.com/blog/insulin-price-increase-and-impacts-on-beneficiaries/

We also bring on our VP of Sales, Carla Woodward to explain the process of how to set up an event to generate leads. There are different types of events and each has its own compliance concerns. Carla breaks down the process for how one would set up an event whether it be an educational event or a sales event and goes over the CMS guidelines to keep you compliant! We discuss why you should set up events to generate leads, compliance concerns, how to choose an event type and venue, event preparation, how to be successful at your event, and what to do after the event.

Finally, Carla sticks around with us to share a motivational story. Want to be featured on the podcast? Share your story with us at www.seniormarketadvisors.com/podcast.

How to Generate Leads: Partnering with Providers – Ep. 7

Episode 7 is all about how to generate leads by partnering with providers! Generating your own leads can seem like a daunting task; and once AEP ends, it can be difficult to make sales. We talk about some of the ways you can continue selling outside of Annual Enrollment like selling Medicare Supplement Plans and utilizing the Special Enrollment Period. Want more information? Read our blog at https://seniormarketadvisors.com/blog/how-to-sell-medicare-outside-of-aep/

Next, Jessica and Sarah go through the SMA Building Your Business video series, How to Partner with Dental Offices, to give you some tips on how to generate leads. This includes why you should partner with dental offices, how to make a good first impression, and crafting your pitch. If you’re thinking about partnering with a provider, but aren’t sure where to start, this episode will walk you through the process.

If you’d like to get free access to the entire Building Your Business video series plus all the included worksheets and leave-behinds, contract with Senior Market Advisors today at www.agentcontract.com. Want more information? Give us a call at 844-452-5020.
Finally, Sarah and Jessica talk about how to redefine the way you think about fear and that failure isn’t always a bad thing. Want to be featured on the podcast? Share your story with us at www.seniormarketadvisors.com/podcast.