Admit it. You’ve thought about retiring early in the middle of November.
Open enrollment can be a battlefield, and we want to give you the armor and shield you need to make it out alive.
Our 2019/2020 AEP strategy is different based on how many clients you have. If you have less than 250 or so, we recommend a more intimate approach. But if you have 250 or more, we are going to recommend an entirely different strategy.
We’ve split up this AEP advice article to reflect your book’s size, so let’s get into it!
Less than 250 Clients
The best approach is a small, intimate approach. And the best part about having less than 250 clients is that you can manage that.
Now, 250 this is just a ballpark range — some may feel they can give an intimate approach up to 50 clients, while some can manage 300 or more. As soon as you start feeling overwhelmed, we recommend you try some of the tactics we’ll explain in the next section.
Here are a few things agents will do:
Laura: “Last year, I had the office assistant print off a list of all my active, existing clients. I went through and personally connected with all of those folks.”
Chase: “I had the office assistant send out a postcard to all my current clients saying, ‘Hey, it’s AEP season, if you want me to reevaluate your drug plan, contact me.’ I had an excel sheet, and I marked off who I contacted and just made sure I at least reached out to everyone once or twice throughout the season.”
Being able to personally handle each and every client is a great way to nurture that relationship and ward off any other agents who might try to steal your business from you.
More than 250 Clients
Once you reach the 250-ish mark or you feel really stressed out, you have to adjust your game plan to be a bit more strategic. You need to make sure that your plan is manageable. Here are a few suggestions based off of what has worked for us in the past.
Lighten your load in September
I hate drama, I don’t like to be dramatic, and I’m not the type of person that gets easily stressed out.
But I’m being very serious when I say that I try not to do much of anything the month before. I don’t want a huge load of renewal appointments in September. I need that calm before the storm.
Hire seasonal help
We have 2-3 helpers every year that run drug comparisons and man the phones. We call them Agent Contact Representatives (ACRs).
In essence, they answer the phones, gather the information needed to run the drug comparison, and we’d train them to go ahead and run the actual comparisons.
Then, I’d call the client back and share the results with them.
A lot of people want to talk to their agent, but having that assistant gather the necessary information up front saves a tremendous amount of time. I wasn’t spending that time going back and forth with my client.
As far as finding the help, we use our local university – Millikin University – and they send us interns. There’s a deal there where they chip in $5 an hour, and we chip in $5 an hour. It’s worth contacting your local college to see if there’s a similar internship program.
Mail out a DIY Part D tutorial
Now that seniors are becoming more and more comfortable with technology, we feel that it’s time to give them the information they need to run their own comparison.
We created a “Part D Cheat Sheet” that walks you through each step of the process (screenshots and pointers included).
This must be done with a very light touch — you don’t want your clients to think you’re neglecting them, but you also want to save yourself from being barricaded with work.
What we've found is that more seniors want the ability to run their own comparisons – they like having that power as long as they understand how to do it.
You can grab the cheat sheet here, and yes – it's updated with the new 2019 Plan Finder information:
Adopt a CRM
I’m not usually one to push technology, but having a database of my clients has made a huge difference. We use AgencyBloc, which is a database where I can run a report right now on anything.
For example, I can run a report on clients with a certain carrier, and if that carrier has a rate increase, I can know exactly who I need to contact.
I can be proactive, which makes my job a lot easier.
While we use AgencyBloc, our team has put together an article that explains some other CRMs out there, so take a look at that if you want to weigh your options.
What Hasn’t Worked
If you have a big book of business, don’t send out postcards. It’s definitely a proactive approach, but the response rate can be incredibly overwhelming.
One year, I sent out postcards to all of my active clients, and in essence, it said this: “No need to call in — simply send us your prescription drug information and we will run a comparison for you. We will then call you with our drug plan recommendation.”
Well, what happened is that we got a lot more people coming to us for help than we probably ever would have because we were being proactive. It was probably the right thing to do, but it became so overwhelming that my wife bought me a treadmill in the middle of open enrollment season to keep me sane.
To wrap it up, here’s your to-do list.
If you have less than 250-ish clients:
- Print a list of all your active clients
- Personally call each client and ask if they need help with their drug plan
- Consider sending out a postcard with key points about AEP
- Consider adopting a CRM to make running reports easier
If you have more than 250-ish clients:
- Take it easy in September by not scheduling many renewal appointments
- Hire an ACR to make calls for you
- Send the Part D Tutorial to your clients
- Adopt a CRM to run reports easily
If you have any other suggestions for making AEP season more bearable, put it in the comments below!
Note: This article was originally published in August 2017. It has been updated and revised for the 2019/2020 AEP season.