Selling Insurance Based On Value, Not Price

When it comes to selling insurance, the number one concern of customers is often something you don’t have much control over: price. Insurance companies set their prices, and you can only do so much to find an affordable plan for a customer. However, a skilled agent can make a sale by refocusing the conversation on value instead of cost. Connecting with customers on a deeper level and helping them understand the value of insurance can lead to more sales.

man and woman sitting across from each other with the man in front of a laptop
Figure out what your customer needs by listening.

Know Your Customers

The first step in selling insurance is to know your buyers. Some care only about price, but many want to find the right coverage, which is more valuable to them. These customers do not necessarily want the lowest-priced policy, they want the policy with the biggest bang for their buck. They may be willing to pay a little more for a policy that meets their exact needs. Let them tell you what they are looking for, and then help them identify the difference in plans, the risks, and coverage gaps. This will help both of you to figure out how to give them the most value for money.

Explain The Claims Process

If a potential customer comes to you with concerns about price, remind them of the value of the plan and how it will benefit them. In order to help them understand what they are getting for their money, explain the claims process. If they see concrete examples of how much they will pay out-of-pocket versus how much the insurance company will pay, then they can make a more informed decision. They may see the value in choosing a more comprehensive plan when they see the hefty bills that they could be facing with a basic plan.

Educate Your Prospects

Some potential clients may also come to you with a limited understanding of how insurance actually works. It is your job to find ways to explain the ins and outs of different policies in ways that are easy for them to understand. After all, that’s why they’re coming to you, the professional:  they are looking to you for communication  and information. Take the time to make them feel comfortable about their policy, as well as to explain any terminology and answer any questions they might have. 

two sets of hand, both with a pen in their hands pointing at paperwork.

One of the most important things you can educate your potential customers on is the risk and possible costs of not having insurance. Customers will have a better understanding of the value of insurance when they are met with the reality of what it  can cost  not to have it. Compare how much money they would save when having a policy versus how much they can potentially lose when they do not have one, or one that doesn’t offer them enough coverage. For example, explain to a customer that while they might save $30 a month by not purchasing a more comprehensive policy, they would stand to lose way more if they were in an accident or were facing a serious illness with either no insurance, or a plan that covers only the basics. 

Compare Insurance Policies

As we have pointed out, some customers’ first instinct will be to choose  an insurance plan that offers the bare minimum or basic essential benefits, simply because it’s the cheapest. But it is important to help them see that the cheapest plan is not always the best option for some people, especially those with families or health conditions. Offer to compare different policies and explain to them which plan is best for their needs, but also make sure it fits their budget. Again, know your customer. If the plans you come up with are  too expensive for them, they will be turned off and avoid doing business with you. It’s all about offering the best value for their money.

Selling to seniors via video conferencing

The unaddressed truth behind Covid-19 is that until we get a vaccine, those of us who have an increased risk of serious health problems are going to need to remain socially distant even after the spike subsides.  While a therapy for the virus could be found as early as June, a vaccine is much further away, with most experts looking at the end of 2020.

Adjusting to the times

For a variety of reasons, many of you prefer to sell face to face, and right now you can’t, for the safety of yourself and your clients.

You are left with one of three choices:

  • Stop selling
  • Sell over the phone
  • Sell over video

Why Video Conferencing

Seniors are not as tech-illiterate as many people think.  In a study done by Amwell Health Solutions, data showed that 45% of American seniors have participated in video calls using FaceTime, Skype, and/or Google Hangout.  Some seniors are even catching up to the new Zoom movement, using it to talk to their family and friends.

73% of seniors claim that faster health related services, such as insurance consultation, are the driving reason for their willingness to use video conferencing.  Seniors have the will to participate, you just have to add this to your toolkit.

While calling could get the job done, you are missing an important layer – the visual cues.  With phone calls we miss 50% of the conversation because you can’t see how the person you are talking to is responding.  Video conferencing eliminates that limitation.

How do you do it?

So, how do you get seniors on the screen, not just on the phone?  The first secret is that you have to make it easy.  Best practice is to just have them click on a link you emailed them.  You’ll probably need to include instructions on how to find the link, but the more simple you make the process, the more success you will have.

Ask the senior if they have used to using Hangouts, FaceTime or Skype.  These popular systems are the most common, and you should adapt to their preferences.  By adapting to their preference, the success rate of your calls will be significantly higher.  While this may involve more flexibility on your end, it will undoubtedly benefit you in the long run.

The question “why you are taking meetings this way?” will come up, and be honest with them. Tell them it is to keep them safe in today’s environment.  This expresses that you care about them as a person, not just a client, helping your overall rapport.

In conclusion

By incorporating live video into your sales process you’ll be able to:

  • See your customer’s visual cues
  • Share and go over your quality presentation materials
  • Build a deeper relationship with your customer
  • Make more sales!

And if you need help matching with Medicare insurance prospects, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 866-368-0377.

What the Payroll Protection Program means for insurance agents

 

Congress recently signed the CARES Act to help relieve Americans of the economic impact COVID-19 has had in the US.  As part of this stimulus package, there has been a Small Business package included.  This $350 billion dollar program is called the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), and independent contractors can begin applying on Friday April 10th!

We put together this video and article to help guide you understand what this program is.

Are you qualified?

Most insurance agents in the US are paid as independent contractors.  You’ll know if you are one if you are given a 1099 each year or a W-2.  If you were receiving 1099’s, you are an independent contractor and are eligible under this program. 

If you are paid by a W-2, your employer, if they have less than 500 employees, can apply and pay you an average of what you earned in commissions over the last 12 months.

Here are the important details of the PPP:

  1. The maximum amount of the loan is 8 weeks of your average previous 12 months earnings (up to 100k), plus expenses for rent, mortgage interest and utility costs – which are no more than 25% of your 8 weeks earnings.
  2. You have to certify that you need the loan due to the impact of the Coronavirus.
  3. The interest rate is 1% and payments are deferred for 6 months.
  4. The loan can be forgiven based on how much you pay yourself plus your actual expenses
  5. There are no personal guarantees or collateral requirements
  6. Whatever isn’t forgiven has to be paid within 2 years

To apply for a PPP loan, you need to contact your bank.  Make sure they are a Small Business Association lender, or a SBA lender for short.  The SBA is the only association that will be writing the approval for these loans through member banks.  The total amount of these loans are limited to $350B, and while that sounds like a lot, it is expected to run out quickly.  This means you will want to take advantage of the Payroll Protection Program quickly.

5 Outbound Sales Cadence Insights Every Insurance Agent Should Know

5 Outbound Sales Cadence Insights Every Insurance Agent Should Know

Sales cadences are about more than just the frequency and content of your emails, they’re about engaging your prospects enough to begin a valuable conversation. How you interact with your leads should vary from segment to segment to maximize effectiveness. A good sales cadence filters out any undesirable prospects, but a great sales cadence will get meetings. One of the biggest differentiators between the two is our first insight: The importance of a timely follow up.

The Art of the Follow Up

The speed of your first response to a prospect is crucial to converting smaller opportunities into revenue. The Harvard Business Review found that businesses that attempted to reach leads within an hour were nearly seven times likelier to have meaningful conversations with decision makers than those who waited even an hour.¹ If you can follow-up directly after a prospect engages your cadence, you’ve got the best chance to move them further through your pipeline while they’ve still got you at the top of their mind.

If your prospects are in the market, they’re already eyeing the competition and likely reaching out to them as well. The longer you wait to follow up after a response, the more likely someone else is to. Conversely, the shorter your response time is, the faster you can get through the opening stages of your funnel to qualify a prospect because a quick response every time makes the sales process easier for your customer. Staying on top of your follow-ups doesn’t only create more conversions more quickly, it creates happy customers.

Don’t Lose Sight of the Big Picture

This tip may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to get lost in the process of following a sales cadence. The point of the cadence is assuming that the prospect has not seen the previous contact, the only goal is to elicit a response. Each new touch point should be treated like a cold call or email: Stay consistent with the frequency and content of your touch points to make sure you’re being seen.

Sales cadences work to organize your outreach attempts to enable you to reach a higher volume of leads without getting disorganized. That being said, it’s your job to be using all the relevant platforms available to engage your prospects and improve the quality of your outreach. Your goal is to make contact, use all the methods available to get your prospect’s attention. Sales development reps who didn’t engage their prospects on social media only filled their pipelines 47% of the time, compared to 65% of the time for salespeople who use social selling.²

As time goes on you should also be creating new cadences to succeed where others have failed. You’ll learn more about your audience through both your positive and negative responses as you keep track of what brings the most success over time and form valuable insights into your sales process.

Know How to Switch It Up

If you’re executing a sales cadence correctly, your leads will have to at least see your efforts, so avoid being boring and using the exact same approach every time. Sales cadences are still cold outreach attempts and need to have variation to maximize your chances of engagement. Thanks to the internet, the biggest obstacle for many cold calls and emails is providing value. Buyers do their own research now and are already at least somewhat informed on your offering as well as your competitors.

Two 2018 studies have found not only that 70% of B2B and 79% of B2C customers in the US do research online before they make a purchase, but also that 44% of B2B buyers prefer to identify potential solutions themselves before reaching out to sales.³,⁴ As such, the job of the insurance agent has evolved into one more similar to an advisor in order to address the questions and needs of more informed buyers. In order to separate yourself from the rest you need to really understand the problems of your leads and provide the buyer with the solution they’re looking for.

By centering your target customers’ pain points in your outreach, you’ll retain relevance no matter how many times you pivot topics or approaches. Your subjects will stay fresh as you approach leads with different topics, but your focus will remain consistent as each topic will be related by what’s most important: the customer’s needs. Instead of putting your whole value proposition in an email, break it down to create a concise sequence of attention grabbing topics. With a well crafted cadence, you’ll be able to not only generate opportunities, but also gain insight into which topics get the most engagement.

No One is as Productive as They Think

In a survey of how much sales reps thought they engaged prospects, the average number of perceived touch points per lead was 15.⁵ However, most reps actually only use 8 touch points per outbound sales prospect. Even top performers only use as many as 12 per prospect,⁶ meaning that it’s very easy to lose track of your relationships with each lead. The beauty of a well planned cadence is its ability to create a schedule for your messaging and keep your outbound prospecting efforts organized. Equipped with a strong cadence, a good insurance agent will be chugging through their pre-organized tasks each day as they go through their schedule, but even that can only go so far.

Besides minimizing distractions, one of the best ways to increase productivity is to improve the efficiency of how you spend the most time: working. To accomplish this, the average sales rep will use an average of 6 tools to help manage their load: A CRM, a data-list feed, a tool for social prospecting, an email engagement tool, and a tool for their sales cadence.⁷ Insurance agents typically don’t have such a busy sales stack, but they can learn a thing or two from these savvy inside sales reps about sales tools and automation.

Choose the Right Tools for the Job

When you’ve hit a wall in your productivity, utilizing a tool to help automate your workflow can take you to the next level. But between sending emails, making calls, creating and assigning buyer personas, and keeping track of your performance and tasks, the consistency and organization of a sales cadence can come at a cost of the time invested into upkeep. Without the proper tool or service, you would need to do lists and excel sheets to manage your cadences with various leads and incorporate them into your busy workflow.

Of course every insurance producer has tools at their disposal, but while your CRM may help you keep track of your prospects and your emailing tool will help cut the number of emails you need to write, the best tool for managing your cadences is a sales engagement platform like 20 Miles. Most sales engagement platforms manage workflow sequences, automate and track emails, create buyer personas, integrate with your CRM, and analyze data on the whole process to optimize, but 20 Miles takes it a step further: In addition to a feature-packed platform and award winning integrations, With robust analytics and a suite of sales tools, 20 Miles lets you get more work done while providing the data you need to perfect your process.

Takeaways

The usefulness of a sales cadence goes so much further than organizing your workflow or helping to ensure continued follow through on your outreach attempts. With the right approach, your cadences can become sources of data on your prospects and help to build loyalty with them through reliability; With the right tools, you can increase productivity and separate yourself from the rest. As you prepare to prospect your next group of leads, consider these insights to take your sales cadences to the next level.

Sources:
The Harvard Business Review: The Short Life of Online Sales Leads
Sales for Life: Social Selling 2017 Trends Report [Via Hubspot]
CSO Insights: 2018 Buyer Preferences Study
Netsertive: 2018 Local Consumer Survey
InsideSales: How to Build a Sales Cadence to Rule Them All
The Bridge Group: SDR Metrics and Compensation Report [Via Sales for Life]
InsideSales: How 900 Companies Build and Execute Successful Sales Development Teams [In partnership with Sales for Life and others]

Captive Agent Vs Independent Agent, Which Is The Right Path For Your Career?

As you embark on a new job in your life as an agent, there might be some questions regarding whether you should be independent or captive. These two kinds of agents differ in how they get clients. Independent agents generally generate their own leads, and work harder than captive agents. Captive agents are trained and given leads/clients to work with. It may seem tempting to become a captive agent because they are given the tools needed, but they make less commission than an independent agent.

silver scale with a question mark on each side.
There is a difference between a captive agent and an independent agent. Do you want to generate your own leads, or work for a company that provides leads?

Captive Agents

As a captive agent, you sell the company’s insurance products, and are limited to one specific insurance carrier- the one that pays you. Leads are given to you, and unlike an independent agent, you do not have to take a risk of spending your own money to generate these leads. Your company will provide you with leads, so you get to benefit from their marketing department without searching for clients on your own.

You will either make a set salary, or work on salary plus commission as a captive agent.

The Pros:

  • Captive agents are provided with financial support to help get their business on the rise. 
  • You are provided with resources, and guided towards clients and referrals, product training, marketing and advertising tools.
  • You have a more reliable source of income pad from the company you work for.
  • More knowledge on the products you are selling.

    group of men and women in an office space.
    Captive agents are provided with resources and guided towards clients and referrals, product training, marketing and advertising tools.

The Cons

  • You are limited to the products you sell, whichever the company provides you to sell. 
  • You will have to meet a certain sales quota.
  • If your company stops selling certain lines or increases rates, then you can lose clients.

Independent Agents

Independent agents have no limitations as to what they can sell, and which companies they can work with. They can cross sell from other carriers, mixing and matching to create a custom plan for clients. This is an advantage over captive agents. Essentially, you are your own boss, and do not have to share your leads or sales with a company, which means more money in your wallet. However, the caveat is that you have to generate your own leads.  

dice that says "profit," "loss," and "risk"
Independent agents must start their own business with some risk and loss. But overall, they make a great profit working for themselves.

In order to get leads, you will have to invest your own money, which is always a risk. You will have to be motivated in order to be successful. You can work for an independent agency, or on your own, and will only be paid on commission.

Pros:

  • You make a higher percentage of commission than a captive agent.
  • More freedom than working under a company.
  • Ability to cross-sell insurance, and being independent from all carriers.

Cons:

  • You will pay for your own expenses to start your own business.
  • Only commission based, so there is no guarantee of an income.
  • No support, resources, or guidance from a company or other agents.
  • Build your own customer base/list.
  • Profits from sales are generally put back into the business for the first year—to help offset startup costs and lead generation.

Which Is Right For You?

When you take on the role of an insurance agent, there are different factors to consider on whether you should be an independent or captive agent. Do you feel like you are motivated enough to build your own business and create your own client base? Or do you want to work for a company that offers the resources you need and offers a salary? These are important questions that you need to think about before diving into the field. 

You can become your own boss and build a network, or you can work for someone and become a part of a network. Either way, there is success in both of these kinds of agents, it just depends on how much work you want to put in.

Get Ready For The 2020 Health Insurance Tax

Insurers were given a pass in 2019 by Congress regarding their annual health insurance tax. The reason was that the government was concerned about consumers’ out-of-pocket costs. However, if the ACA’s health insurance tax resumes as planned, this ‘free pass’ might be over and insurers will face a $15.5 billion tax bill in 2020. The health insurance tax was created to fund the implementation of the ACA’s marketplace exchanges. For consumers, this means that insurers will raise premiums by more than 2% if the tax is implemented by the IRS.

Health Insurance Tax Over The Years

Oliver Wyman Actuarial Consulting recently analyzed the projected impact of the health insurance tax on health insurer premiums over the next 10 years. They found that premiums are likely to increase by 2.2% in 2020. 

The tax started at $8 billion in 2014, increased to $11.3 billion for 2015-2016, and had a suspension in 2017. The tax was then reinstated at $14.3 billion in 2018, and then given another suspension for the year of 2019.

Who It Applies To

A fully-insured health plan is the more traditional way to structure an employer-sponsored health plan. With a fully-insured health plan: The company pays a premium to the insurance carrier. The health insurance tax applies to all insurers offering fully-insured coverage. This goes for :

  • on-exchange and off-exchange individual markets
  • large and small group markets
  • insured public programs such as Medicare and Medicaid

The Rise In Premiums

Premium increases will vary by state. However, premiums are expected to increase annually anywhere from $154 to $479. A person in the individual market can face a $196 increase. A person in the small group market can expect a $154 increase, while a family of 4 faces a $479 increase. As for families in the large group market, the increase for an individual will be about $158, while a family faces a $458 increase. 

The Outcome Following The Tax

If the tax is implemented and is as high as almost $16 billion, then increased tax burdens on small employers will follow. Fully-insured small employers will face the repercussions, while private and self-insured public employers will not. Employers are not the only ones who will have to pay for the tax increase. State taxes will go up for everyone in order to cover the increased tax on Medicaid. 

More importantly, many people might opt out of insurance due to the increase in premium costs. Healthier individuals opting-out will cause an imbalance in the risk pool, meaning higher premiums for the (less healthy) people who are insured. 

As of now, there is no definitive answer if the tax will be implemented in 2020. Congress is considering bipartisan legislation that would suspend the tax through 2021, but it is not a guarantee. If the health insurance tax is implemented, insurance rates and premiums will be more expensive than it already is. 

Lead Types

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