For most Medicare agents, AEP is the most stressful time of year. You're trying to service your entire book of business in less than 8 weeks, all while managing to keep some sort of work-life balance.
No matter how many clients you have, if you feel overwhelmed during AEP, here are some ideas to lighten your load, automate some tasks, and ensure you service all your clients during the fall enrollment season.
Tip #1: Personalize Your Approach (If You Can)
If you have a smaller book of business – say 250 clients or less – I'd recommend a more intimate approach. A few hundred clients are still manageable, so you can keep things personalized without needing to schedule spa appointments to keep your head on your shoulders.
Keep in mind that 250 clients is just an estimate. Some agents feel more comfortable with 50 clients, and beyond that, they need some strategies for scaling up and automating some of their processes.
Other agents are perfectly comfortable handling 500 clients or more without any extra help. Agents who can handle that many with no support are pretty rare, but it happens!
Here are a few things agents with smaller books of business do to offer personalized service before and during AEP:
Laura: “A few years ago, 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: “When my book of business was smaller, 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 your relationship and ward off any other agents who might try to steal your business from you.
Tip #2: Start Communicating in September
I like using the last half of September and the beginning of October to communicate with my clients. I encourage them to create a myMedicare.gov account if they haven't already. That makes running accurate, quick drug comparisons a lot faster.
Having the name of their current drug plan and medication list (available in their myMedicare account) increases our efficiency tenfold.
I've even seen some agencies require their clients to have a myMedicare.gov in order to receive service.
It's up to you how strict you want to be, but being efficient during AEP is critical, and having your clients do a little prep can go a long way.
During September, I also lighten my load a bit. October and November are going to be very busy, so it helps my mental state to scale down how many renewal appointments I'm doing. I need that calm before the storm. It helps.
Tip #3: Hire seasonal help/interns
At our local agency, we have 2-3 interns every year that run drug comparisons and man the phones. We call them Agent Contact Representatives (ACRs).
Their help is critical during AEP because they do a lot of the heavy lifting related to Part D comparisons. They'll call the client, gather the information needed to run a drug comparison, and we train them to go ahead and run that drug comparison on Medicare.gov.
If you are AHIP certified and are planning on taking commissions for Part D, I recommend calling the client back to share the comparison results with them. Whether it's staying in their current plan or moving forward with a new enrollment, you can assist them from then on.
If you're interested in hiring seasonal help or interns, check out our full guide: Level Up: Medicare Agent Internship Guide (Call Scripts Included)
Tip #4: Use a CRM
I personally use AgencyBloc for my CRM, which makes it easy to access information about my clients. I can run a report on anything!
Say a certain drug plan is having a big change this fall and a lot of clients are going to have a much higher premium. I can easily run a report to single out all of these clients.
If you're in the market for a CRM, I highly recommend AgencyBloc as it's tailored to our industry, and it has a lot of functionality.
Check out this article from AgencyBloc for more AEP tips: How to Save 100+ Hours This OEP/AEP Season
You can also utilize the CRM in MedicareCENTER, which is free to contracted agents here at New Horizons. It doesn't have all the robust features of AgencyBloc, but you can still do a lot, including the most important part – storing client information!
To streamline your tasks, you can also set reminders to ensure nothing falls through the cracks during AEP.
Tip #5: Look Into a Voice Recording
We all know having a systematic approach for communicating with clients is critical. A lot of agents send out a letter, but another option is a voice recording.
Last year, I did this, and what's nice is it's your voice, and you can reach a lot of people at the same time. Plus, when you talk about sending mail and the cost of postage, a voice recording is a lot cheaper.
- Sending 1,000 stamped letters: $580 plus the cost of envelopes, paper, and ink
- Sending 1,000 messages: $59
I used Call Multiplier, but there are many options out there.
Disclaimer: It has recently come to our attention that there may be compliance concerns with this method of communication. You can learn more in this article: Ringless Voicemail Compliance
Tip #6: Prep for AEP All Year Long
AEP is all about service – it's ensuring your clients are in the best plan for the following year. However, over the years, I've noticed some clients feel like I'm just trying to sell them something new during AEP.
I don't want to spend a ton of time making phone calls with clients who would prefer to be left alone.
To avoid this, I tell everyone during our renewal calls to mark their calendar for AEP. I leave it up to my clients to reach out to me so that I only help people who want to be helped.
Tip #7: Use MedicareCENTER For Your SOAs
During AEP, you need to have a system for your Scope of Appointments (SOAs).
In MedicareCENTER, you can text, email, or print the SOA for a wet signature.
Example of the text a client gets when you send a scope through MedicareCENTER
I would recommend the text or email option since MedicareCENTER will store it for you indefinitely.
Either way, ensure you have a systematic approach for handling your scopes!
Tip #8: Consider an Online Scheduling System
If it makes sense for your business, consider giving your clients the chance to schedule their own appointment with you online.
You can integrate it with your calendar to ensure you're available at the listed times. This can save you a lot of time and give clients an easier way to get their appointment on the schedule.
Tip #9: Use Pre-Created Marketing Materials
Take advantage of marketing materials that have already been created!
The marketing team here at New Horizons created an AEP Marketing Kit that includes social media posts and email templates you can use (all are cross-checked for compliance, too).
I also recommend identifying which Part D and Medicare Advantage carriers are generally the most competitive in your area and see what marketing materials they have available.
Most carriers will have easy-to-use marketing materials for you, including social media posts, flyers, and postcards. With several large carriers, you can even customize and order printed materials directly from the agent portal.
Tip #10: Get Some Exercise!
My last tip is to try to stay active during AEP.
A few years ago, I was so overwhelmed during AEP that my wife ended up buying me a treadmill so I wouldn't rip my hair out. It helped!
I'm no doctor, but the Mayo Clinic explains exercise increases endorphins, the feel-good neurotransmitter. In turn, physical activity helps you feel less stressed and can improve your mood.
Even if it's just a 20-minute walk in the middle of the day, try to get some exercise in during AEP.
AEP can be stressful, but I've found that every year, it gets better for me. I get through it and come up with new ways to improve for the following year.
For a couple more sales-related tips leading up to AEP, be sure to check out John's article and video: 2 Tips to Help You Through AEP