5 Mistakes Medicare Agents Make

A good agent knows that they can only succeed with the help of their customers. Customers look to agents for help finding a plan that meets their needs without breaking the bank, and that is what you aim to do. But your work doesn’t stop there: you need to be constantly learning and educating, as well as connecting with your clients. Here are 5 costly mistakes to avoid, along with tips to keep you at the top of your game.

picture of caucasian hands on a laptop keyboard with "never stop learning" on the screen
It is important to never stop learning because Medicare is always evolving, and you need to be able to provide accurate information to your customers.

1. You Stop Learning/Training

When you’re an agent, there is no such thing as knowing too much about a product, and that includes Medicare. Medicare is always evolving, and you need to be able to provide accurate information to your customers. Plans can change, or even disappear, while new ones emerge. For example, Plan F, High-Deductible Plan F, and Plan C all disappeared this year, while High-Deductible Plan G was introduced to replace them. If you do not keep on top of information like this, then you won’t be able to properly sell your product. Work towards becoming an expert in your field by constantly learning with online courses and training webinars.

Even when you do become an expert in this field, you still need to keep up with company notices. If there are any changes such as rate increases, then you need to notify your customers on how they will be impacted.

2. Failing To Educate Your Customers

Your job is to help customers completely understand their insurance plan. The whole process of choosing and signing up for a plan can be confusing, so explain everything  as simply as you can. Go over what is covered, what is not, and how Medicare Supplement Plans work with Original Medicare. Don’t assume they know as much about everything as you do! The more you educate them on how the system works, the more likely they will be to spot an issue on a bill or handle a problem on their own. Educated customers are happy customers –  ones who will continue to use your services as well as refer you to others.

3. Not Following The Rules

caucasian man writing "know the rules" on a piece of paper pinned against the wall.

If you do not follow the rules that the CMS has set for agents, then you could lose your license to sell Medicare Supplement Plans. The CMS is very serious about monitoring agents and will monitor agents to make sure that they are being helpful to Medicare customers and not taking advantage of anyone. Breaking their rules could even mean facing jail time.

4. Not Knowing Guidelines 

CMS is strict about agents complying with rules and regulations, and so are the  carriers you work with. Carriers have additional guidelines that you have to follow, and if you fail to comply, then you can lose your business with them. Make sure you stay on top of the guidelines of all the carriers you work with.

green price tag with money symbol on it.
If you focus too much on price, and not your customers’ needs, you could end up losing sales.

5. You Focus Too Much On Price

If you focus too much on price, and not your customers’ needs, you could end up losing sales. Sell based on value, not price. Teach your customers the value of a Medicare Supplement Plan, and ask questions about what they are looking for. Ask questions and answer any of theirs that may come up. And always check on your customers to make sure they are happy with their plan, or if they might be interested in finding a different Supplement Plan.

Understanding a Customer’s Needs

The marketing world runs on its customers. After all, without the customers, there’d be no income. For insurance agents selling policies, you are not exempt from the overall push to satisfy your customer’s needs. Doing so in a smart way will net you more than just a sale, it’ll get you positive reviews which increases the chance of future sales.

Talking about it is easier than doing it. Any sales rep will tell you it’s hard to teach good salesmanship. However, we’ve found a few solid tips that, if practiced, will sharpen your skills. They all fall under acknowledging what a customer wants and needs.

customer wearing an earpiece to search for insurance
Anyone you work with deserves to know that you care. That’s the first step towards understanding.

Research What People Are Looking For

It helps to start on the right foot, and that comes from insight using research tools. There are search engines available online that comb through the questions people ask about your industry. Taking the time to see what people are looking for can give you a leg-up when it comes to the first conversation.

Answering those questions before a customer even asks can surprise and delight them. It puts you in a knowledgeable position and builds trust that they can rely on you for solid information. People want to know that they’re placing their time and money in the right hands.

This same concept can be applied to data collection in general. Once you start a database(Customer Relationships Management System or CRM), you can stock up on important info that your client base is searching for. This way, you can keep tabs on how questions evolve in your industry, plus you can see which patterns come out of it. Are people talking more about purchasing a policy during January? Does this correlate with anything else like perhaps sales in your area, or real estate pushes?

See From Their Perspective

The easiest way to gain perspective is to stand in someone else’s shoes. Think about what you would want if you were in their position.

This can be done by building a customer model. You can use the CRM we talked about earlier (which would be a great use of the tool) or simply grab a notepad and jot down ideas. These are some questions to get you started:

  • Why is this person contacting me?
  • What are they trying to protect? (What’s actually important to them?)
  • How would I want to be treated?
  • What would I expect in this situation?

After answering these questions, you’ll have a better idea of what you should do when interacting with a customer. The best rule is this: act with integrity and transparency. The majority of people will react positively to this type of interaction.

Ask for Reviews

Do you already have an established customer base? Are they satisfied? Great, then you have an amazing source to get information from to improve your communication. Ask these happy customers what you did that satisfied them, and what you could do to improve for the future.

customer talking on the phone
People need insurance to protect what they care about. It’s not about selling insurance; it’s about selling protection.

This can come in the form of surveys, polls, or simple conversation. Pay attention to the areas that people focus on, for that is where you’ll find the most insight. If the majority of your customers talk about your office and how nice it was, then that can be telling of a few things. 

Perhaps people in your area prefer a calm environment. It puts them at ease. So, using this knowledge, a welcoming office is an excellent asset to invest in.

When you start down this path, be prepared to make changes (even if they’re uncomfortable at first) to your conversation style or even your surroundings. When your customers see you taking the time to make them feel welcome, and you’re attentive to their needs, it sparks a realization for them. That you want to help them, and this is the most powerful tool in your arsenal. 

 

Why Become an Insurance Agent?

Any skill is marketable, but none more so than an expert salesman. In America today, the insurance industry is the choice for anyone looking to make a solid income, plus a little extra. But why do most people want to become an agent, and what are the pros of becoming one? Besides being one of the most lucrative industries out there, becoming an insurance agent has its own perks.

insurance agents having a meeting in their office
Unlike some industries, you can choose between working solo or being part of an office.

With how stable the industry is, you are almost guaranteed a job. Somewhere in the hundreds of companies out there is a spot for you. The same goes for gainful employment. While many are put off by the starting work, if you pull through and try your best, you could be looking at stable employment for the rest of your life.

An agent has flexibility in their industry. You could start in one company, one insurance type, and one agent type, then move to a different one. The only limits you have are ones that you place on yourself.

This means that there aren’t any hard lines drawn around you once you’re established. If you have a fair amount of clients and know your stuff, you could even start your own agency! Just make sure you keep up to date with licensing.

insurance agent pointing at a chart on a computer
One of the best parts about this career path is how much support you’ll get.

One thing many people take for granted is paid training. Licenses aren’t cheap, but most companies will help you out with resources, meetings, and even conventions to learn the best industry skills. Once you’re licensed, you can grow your skillset within your company, or by yourself, if you’re independent.

When you sell insurance, policies are often renewed by the clients. A great benefit to this process is extra commission can come your way when renewals are paid for. Want extra money on top of your base pay? The more policies you sign, the sweeter this can get. Compared to other industries, insurance commissions are the most lucrative out there.

You have Benepath to help you! With high-quality leads like ours, sales will be a breeze. You don’t want to waste your time looking around for people, or worse, cold calling. Instead, our lead generation process places warm, interested leads in the palm of your hand. With Benepath, we lead, and you sell.

2020 Guide to an Agent’s License

So, you want to be an agent? Congrats on choosing a stable, respected career!  Becoming one is fairly simple, and the process can be completed in under a month. You just need a set of educational hours and a license under your belt, then you can start practicing on your own as an independent agent, or you could apply to a local agency to join a team.

Whether you seek to work in a company or go solo, what separates the wanna-be’s from the success stories is a license. Insurance is a complicated subject, and the boards that watch over the industry don’t want amateurs selling policies. Therefore, licenses are there for people’s protection.

person with notebook and document studying to get an insurance agent license
Study, study, study. Like any good exam, it’s only there to prepare you for the job. Make sure you know your stuff!

If you want to get a license yourself, we have detailed the steps, so you can get yours quickly and efficiently.  Remember that each state has its own requirements, so you’ll have to take a look at what your specific location’s Insurance Board says. The basic requirement is passing an exam, but each location has different ways to go about it.

For example, in Texas, there is a short process to follow:

  1.  You have to take a course (which can be online) to learn the basics of the industry.
  2.  Afterward, you find a testing facility and take the exam. The test ranges about 100 questions and usually takes about 2 hours to finish.

After passing, you are required to submit fingerprints. Then, you can apply for a license. The entire process is fairly straightforward.

While acquiring a license needs a passing score, one underlying requirement is continuing education. The industry you select could have a wide array of factors that play into selling policies in it. To keep your license, you’ll have to take more courses on top of the first exam.

Licensing, exams, and everything else can seem like a big group of obstacles. However, the upward climb to becoming a full agent, like anything worth doing, takes a bit of time. Just plan to study, get web-savvy, and pour your passion into it. After you check off everything on your list, you’ll be celebrating your new agent license!

 

How to Become an Insurance Agent the Right Way

Joining the market as an agent can be super easy, and an amazing opportunity. Anyone has time to do it, but to do it the right way requires self-knowledge, research, finesse, and, of course, a license.

We’ll talk more about licenses over later. Acquiring one properly should only take a few weeks, after that, the wide world of insurance opens up for you! It can be daunting without a good starting point.

people working hard in an office with a laptop and notepad to become an agent
Want to work in an agency or on your own? You get to decide going in what you’d like!

Self-Knowledge

Why do you want to become an agent? This should be the first question you ask yourself. Your answer can range from “helping people protect their property” to “gainful employment.” There is no shame in seeking a job for the money, and this industry can pay well.

After that, you should ask yourself if you have what it takes. An agent is the persuasive face of the company, driving profits by being an expert salesperson. If you’re extroverted, thrive in competitive environments, and are goal-oriented, then half the battle is won.

Research

Before you begin your journey, research the industry thoroughly so you know where you’re going and how to get there.

The first decision is your preferred type of agent. You can become either captive or independent, but as you look, you’ll see even those terms can intertwine. A captive agent is one hired by one agency to sell their specific insurance whereas an independent agent has more independence. 

Basically, this step can narrow down which licenses you’ll look for and which jobs you can apply for. For example, if you choose captive, then you should look into which companies in your area are hiring for new agents.

After this, looking into each insurance is a must. Commercial insurance is a popular choice with many coverage types to learn about. Try to focus on one. The more knowledgeable you are about something, the more people are inclined to trust you.

Special note: Each state has its own requirements, so make sure to check your location’s specific regulations.

Finesse

An agent is a salesperson. So, one skillset to build even before you begin the licensing journey is how to market well. This includes more than just in-person conversation. For a new industry agent, learning how to market well online is a top-dollar skill. Acquiring a college education in finance or sales can help you here.

target with dart in it displaying how accurate it is to become an agent
It’s easy to hit the target once you’re pointed in the right direction.

If you add brand awareness, social media marketing, and other web-based marketing platforms to your resume, your appeal as a candidate will grow. Insurance companies will be on the lookout for people that are not only good at closing deals but also bringing in new people.

Your journey as an agent can be a simple process. Many courses online offer free advice on building your market, apply those to your passions, stay consistent, and build your knowledge base, then you’ll become the next top agent on the market.

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