Exploring Sales Techniques – Assumptive Close – Ep. 3

In Episode 3, we discuss some of the changes to the Medicare Communications and Marketing Guidelines for 2019. CMS now differentiates between what is considered communication and what is considered marketing and it’s important that you understand the difference.

There are many sales techniques you can use when selling a product. Many of our podcast episodes will explore different sales techniques and today we also go over the Assumptive Close! Feel like you’re having trouble closing the sale? Try the Assumptive Close technique. If done correctly, it’s one of the best sales techniques in the insurance industry! Our very own Keith Hinson joins us to break down what the Assumptive Close technique is, why and when to use it, and most importantly, how to use it! We also touch on overcoming objections in the field. If you want an in-depth podcast on this topic, make sure to listen to Episode 4: Overcoming Objections!

And finally, Keith closes out this episode out with an awesome story about perseverance that will leave you feeling inspired. You don’t want to miss it! Want to be featured on the podcast? Look for the button at the top of your screen titled “Share Your Story” and send us your motivational stories Happy listening!

Podcast Episode 3: Exploring Sales Techniques – Assumptive Close Transcript

Sarah: Welcome to Episode 3 of Selling SMART with Sarah Smith….

Jessica: And Jessica Vara!

Sarah: In today’s episode, we are going to do a review of some of the key updates to the Medicare Communications & Marketing Guidelines for 2019, we’ll go over the sales technique Assumptive Close, and we will end with a motivational story!    

Jessica: We are excited to have our first guest on the podcast.. our very own Keith Hinson to talk about one of his favorite sales techniques! Keith can you tell everyone a bit about what you do at SMA and your background in the insurance industry.

Keith: Jessica, thank you. Like she said my name is Keith Hinson, I’m the Vice President of Life and Ancillary Sales here at Senior Market Advisors. And for the most part im responsible for helping to grow out anything related to life sales and any ancillary products throughout the United States. A little bit about me. My education was an engineer, managed to do that for about 2 year and decided that was not the career for me so starting in the late 90s I jumped in feet first into the insurance space and been working in some aspect – anything from individual financial planning to group benefits to P&C ever since. 

Sarah: Thanks Keith! We are excited to have you and have your insight here on the podcast. So before we dive into some sales techniques with Keith, we wanted to go over some of the updates to the Medicare Communications & Marketing Guidelines for 2019.

Disruptive Waves:

Sarah: Medicare Communications & Marketing Guidelines Updates for 2019

Now this isn’t exactly new information, they’ve been out for a while now, but we just want to review and make sure you understand some of the updates that CMS made to the Medicare Communications & Marketing Guidelines for 2019, this is something really important to make sure you understand. 

If you notice, the name of these guidelines changed. They used to be known as the “Medicare Marketing Guidelines” but have been renamed to include Communications. The biggest difference is that there is now a distinction between what is considered marketing and what are considered communication materials. 

The biggest thing to note about this change is that materials that fall under the category of communications are not subject to CMS review. The difference between marketing and communication depends on intent.

Jessica: Let’s get back to the basics. What exactly is considered marketing by    CMS? 

  • Any use of materials with intent to draw attention to a plan or plans
  • Or intent to influence a beneficiary’s decision-making process
  • Contains information about plan’s benefit structure, cost sharing, measuring or ranking standards

An example: “Get _____ plan with a $0 copay!” This is a clear example of pointing a beneficiary to a specific plan and discussing a plan benefit as well.

What does CMS consider communications?

  • This includes materials intended to provide information
  • And includes all activities and materials aimed at prospective and current enrollees, including caregivers and other decision makers

An example: “Have you gotten your flu shot yet?” This is providing information about flu shots but is not intending to influence a beneficiary’s decision making process or pointing to any specific plan or plan benefits.

Sarah: There is also a change in the Anti-Discrimination section.

  • There’s no change on factors you can’t discriminate based on. This includes things like:
    • Race
    • Ethnicity
    • Gender
    • Mental or physical disability
    • Medical history
    • Evidence of insurability
  • But, new for 2019, you cannot target potential enrollees from higher income areas, state or imply that plans are only available to seniors rather than to all Medicare beneficiaries, or state or imply that plans are only available to Medicaid beneficiaries unless the plan is a Dual Eligible Special Needs Plan (D-SNP) or MMP.

Those are just a few of the updates to the Medicare Communications & Marketing Guidelines for 2019.

All Aboard the Knowledge Train:

Sarah: Alright so as we mentioned earlier, we have Keith Hinson with us today to go one of his favorite sales techniques called Assumptive Close. So let’s get right to it!

Sarah: What is an assumptive close?

  • Keith: An assumptive close is just that, a close where you “assume” the prospect is going to buy.  In traditional closing methods, there is a bridge question where the person commits to buying the product you are discussing.  As an example, the “final choice” close ask a final question such as “Will you be paying by bank draft or check?” Thus requiring a decision to move forward or not.  With an assumptive close, through the use of trial closing questions, body language, and verbal cues, you “assume” the individual is going to buy. Hence, at the end of the interview you simply begin the application.    

Jessica: There are a lot of sales techniques to choose from, why use the assumptive close technique?

  • Keith: The goal of any closing technique is to limit the opportunity for a client to select a non positive outcome.  By using the “assumptive close”, you are taking that option away all together in favor of completing the sale. If done correctly, it is one of the best closes in the industry.

Sarah: How would you know when to use assumptive close?

  • Keith: Assumptive closes are a great fit for Medicare and any situation where the individual may have difficulty in making a complicated decision on their own. Like a patient depends on a doctor or a client depends on their attorney, the insurance agent is the expert and should advise the client what is in their best interest.  A physician would never ask if you want knee surgery, he tells you you need the procedure then sets up a time for the operation. A similar dynamic takes place.   

Jessica: Should you only use sales techniques like this for certain products or does it work with selling any product?

  • Keith: No, not really.  In any sales situation, we don’t sell in the close, we close after we sold.  So, what we are selling is really not relevant to the close, which is simply the bridge to the application.

Sarah: What are the signs that the beneficiary gives you that let you know that they are moving forward and ready to enroll.

  • Keith: Positive response to trial close throughout the presentation.  As an example, if this product would solve this problem for you in your family, that would be a great idea wouldn’t it?  Remember, trial closing questions only ask for opinions. The final close requires a decision.
  • Watch their body language, are they engaged?  Leaning forward, leaning back, open posture, closed posture, arms crossed, all will give you an indication of whether or not the client is ready to move forward.
  • Watch for subtle speech patterns.  When they move from talking about you to we, it is a good indication that they are ready to move forward.  If they describe the product in a positive light or use phrases like when I use x benefit, it likely means they are ready to move forward. If they offer a referral before the end of the meeting, they are ready to move forward. There’s many more and it’s something you’ll need to practice but these three should get you started.

Jessica: This all sounds like it would work great. But what do you do if the beneficiary stops you and they have objections?

  • Keith: Understand that objections are perfectly normal. A lot of times in the sales world, especially if you’re new, objections tend to freeze people in their tracks. Expect it. It’s okay, an objection usually means they’re actually interested in what your talking about so take it as a positive. Do pay attention though, if you do get objections, in a lot of instances, it usually means that you didn’t spend enough time in the middle part of presentation and ask enough questions because if you do it correctly you should have already answered those objections earlier in your conversation. So, the first goal is to determine why they stopped you or uncover the objection.  In my experience, I have found very helpful the phrase, “Interesting, why do you feel that way?” This will accomplish two things. One, it will give you time to think to determine what needs to come next, and two, it forces the client to talk about what that objection may be about. However, overcoming objections is another conversation. There’s a lot more to cover but that’s a whole other conversation that we probably don’t have time for today.  

Jessica: Alright now that we know what the assumptive close is and how to use it, let’s go ahead and do a quick role play so you can get a better idea of what an assumptive close actually sounds like.

Keith: The funny part about an assumptive close there is not much to role play, because the premise of an “assumptive close” is you have already closed the client.  Hence, the wrap up should sound something like this…

Ms. Prospect, based on what we talked about, the best fit for you will be the Anthem MA plan.  Your plan will become effective March 1st. Currently, Do you have any appointments scheduled? Great! Any visits use your old insurance card until March 1st.  Following, use your new card. Do you need any help setting up any future appointments? Be expecting a welcome call a few days from now and your cards and packet should arrive in 10 – 14 days.  In addition, I will be reaching out in a few weeks to make sure everything is going well and to ensure you understand how to use your benefits. Is there anything else I can do for you before I leave?

Wonderful, have a great day!  

Jessica: Before we move on, Keith can you do a quick wrap-up of the Assumptive Close and go over the Key Factors to Make Assumptive Close Work?

  • That would be really easy. To make an assumptive close work, the two most important things you can do an agent first off is your attitude. You have to go into the house, you have to be supremely confident, not only in yourself but also what you’re telling that client. If there is any vacillation in what your telling them and you’re stuttering a little bit it’s going to come across as shady and they will not trust you. In this case the assumptive close will not work. One of the best ways to get that confidence is to know your products. Do not go in there half-educated. Be able to talk confidently about absolutely every aspect that you’re talking to them about because if not, it’s not going to work.  

Jessica: Thank you Keith, this information has been incredibly helpful. The more sales techniques you have in your back pocket, the better off you’ll be out in the field.

Ending On a Positive Note:

Jessica: Okay Keith since we have you here, we’d love to hear a motivational story from your time out in the field. You must have a lot of feel-good stories to share!

Keith: Well I tell you what. Let’s talk about perseverance. This was about a specifically difficult client I had. I called him pretty much every day for months before I finally got a meeting. I was really jazzed. So I went out there and I put together a great presentation and had some good products in mind. I was new in the insurance industry, so I was really excited. I thought I was going to go home and some point have some money in my bank account. He called us, and told us that he talked to a friend of his and decided he was going to go another route and we got him to share with us the details of that decision. It was not a good decision and we laid out all the reasons that he was making a bad decision. But he chose to go the other route and that was fairly devastating because at the time it was going to be a significant client. But being the persevering agent that I was, I just couldn’t leave well enough alone. Not even a week went by and I actually faxed over a client satisfaction survey of the company I worked for and at the time they were the 98th percentile in customer satisfaction. And ultimately it was just passive aggressive because I just wanted to get mine but he called me back and stated that he had made a terrible mistake. So we went back out there, sat down with him and managed to switch all that business over to us and it made a significant difference, specifically to me monetarily. So all this goes to say that there is no bigger gift that an agent can have than is to always persevere. Every day is a new day and to always keep that attitude great.

Sarah: That’s going to do it for today’s episode. As we mentioned earlier in the podcast, tune in next time where we discuss how to overcome objections and close the sale! Thanks again Keith for taking the time to go over the Assumptive Close with us today. We really appreciate it!

Jessica: We appreciate you joining us today on Selling SMART with Senior Market Advisors! Want to be featured in Ending on a Positive Note? Visit us online at www.seniormarketadvisors.com/podcast. Interested in learning more about Senior Market Advisors? Give us a call at 844-334-6066.

Sarah: We appreciate you joining us today on Selling SMART with Senior Market Advisors! 

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