The Independent Agent's Guide to Prospecting at Local Pharmacies

NH-The-Independent-Agents-Guide-to-Prospecting-at-Local-Pharmacies
July 15, 2019

I know that manning a station at a local pharmacy can be quite a controversial subject. Many agents report wasting upwards of 20 hours per week for... well, for $0 in sales.

What I'm sharing with you today is a very different outline for success in your local pharmacies.

It's what we've done in our local agency, and while every appointment isn't a home run, some of my best clients have started out as clients I met in a pharmacy.

In fact, my largest sale to date was an $850,000 annuity, and believe it or not, that was a client from a little mom and pop pharmacy.

While finding leads at the pharmacy may not be for everyone, it can definitely be lucrative if you have a plan in place.

Learn tips like this and more in the All-Star Program


Finding a Pharmacy to Partner With

For starters, the big pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart... I just don't believe you're going to be able to get into those.

Yes, Walmart has a Humana rep that'll allow you to go in there, but that's an entirely different ordeal with its own compliance headaches.

In our experience, the family-owned mom and pop shops are ideal. It's a beautiful partnership, because the big pharmacies are doing everything they can to make it difficult for the mom and pop shops to survive.

Many people buy their drug plans through the mail or online, and they're notified by the plan that they can get a better deal if they go to a different pharmacy. These people already like the pharmacy they're going to – they like the service they get there, but they feel like they have to leave to get the best deal.

For that small pharmacy, having an agent available during AEP is a great service. The agent can give the clients the best plan available, and the pharmacy gets to promote that as a value-add. Plus, they're better able to retain their customers.

Approaching the Pharmacy

Once you've identified the smaller, family-owned pharmacies in your area, you'll want to approach them about you coming in to help their clients.

Ideally, you want to get in touch with the owners of that pharmacy to see if it's something they can do.

When you get on the phone with the decision maker, there is a set list of things I'd recommend you to say, so I've put this into a little script you can copy and paste if need be.

Obviously introduce yourself first, but once the formalities are out the way, you can say something like this:

A lot of times, people are being pulled towards other pharmacies, and they're leaving you when they don't really want to. To be able to say you have a Medicare expert that can help you find the best plan that still allows you to stay at this pharmacy... no one else does that. And if someone does, they'll be a rep for one company, so they won't be able to offer all the plans. I believe I can offer a great service to your clients, and if you're on board, I'd love to set up a weekly schedule with you.

Which leads us to an important point – you're not going to just show up and hope that people come to you. That's how you end up wasting loads of time.

Instead, you're going to make sure you have appointments.

Scheduling Appointments at the Pharmacy

I personally only go to the pharmacy when they have a full schedule.

When we first started doing this, there were times early on when you only had 2 appointments in a day. However, if you go to the pharmacy once per week, and they fill up that schedule, you just list the day you'll be there and the pharmacy will advertise it for you.

Or, I should say that they should advertise it for you. We'll get to that shortly.

So really, you just make up a little schedule for yourself and say that every Wednesday during AEP, you'll be in their pharmacy.

Appointments should be scheduled every 30-45 minutes. I personally do it every 30 minutes, but if you get a couple, you're really hustling. Keep in mind, I'm well-versed in this. For most, 45 minutes is about ideal.

Get the Pharmacist on Board

You have to get the pharmacist to feel comfortable recommending their customers to sign up and meet with you. The pharmacist sees these customers every month, so they trust her.

If that pharmacist recommends you, they'll sign up.

That pharmacist really is the key to your success, because if they're not advertising this service for you, you won't have a full schedule.

What you really need is a little script that the pharmacist can become familiar with. Even a few bullets to guide them can help:

  • Every [Wednesday], a Medicare expert will be here
  • They will run a free Part D drug comparison for you
  • You get to choose the best plan for your prescriptions
  • Your plan will still allow you to come here
  • There is no obligation whatsoever
  • Schedule an appointment to reserve your free comparison

The pharmacy we work with has even started running a report of anyone that's within 6 months of turning 65. For those individuals, they put a little flyer in their pharmacy bag.

A Good Pharmacy Drug Comparison Setup

The devil's in the details sometimes, so I wanted to share something really small and simple, but perhaps important to you if you've never done this before.

In general, I'm going to recommend that you bring your own laptop computer. Some pharmacies had computers I could use, but it became an issue, because I'd print the record off, give it to the client, they lost it, and I had nothing.

If I use my own laptop and save the information, they can call me later on and say they lost everything, and I can go straight to their information and find their confirmation number.

You could also do it on an iPad – one of the younger agents in our crew does that – but a laptop is probably the best way to go.

To Get Contracted Or to Not Get Contracted?

I'm going to be completely open, honest, and transparent here.

I don't personally get certified to sell Part D – I do all of this as a free service. The big reason is compliance issues. When I was certified, I could get in trouble.

It seemed like if I did one thing wrong – no matter how innocent – the commission could be withheld from me, or worse, I'd be fined. There's nothing worse than taking the AHIP, getting certified with the carriers, writing a ton of that business, and then not getting paid for it.

I personally just do it as a free service by helping people sign up online from Medicare's website. When they pick their plan, I check the box that I'm simply assisting them.

I'm a believer in giving up the Part D commission, because of the fruit that comes from the pharmacy – like my biggest annuity – there's so much more fruit there!

People want leads all the time, and this is the best lead generator you'll ever have. You'll win people over with the service you're providing.

That's not to say that getting certified and earning commission off of that Part D business is a bad way to go. It's not – you just have to make sure you're following the guidelines closely.

PDP Compliance Guidelines

With that said, if you do decide to get certified to sell Part D, you'll need to follow the Medicare Communications and Marketing Guidelines (MCMG).

Here are some important guidelines to be aware of:

  • You cannot do any marketing at the pharmacy counter area where patients interact with providers to get medications
  • Scope of Appointment (SOA) parameters and documentation are required for one-on-one appointments, and they must be secured and documented prior to meeting with potential enrollees
  • Your discussions may only concern plan products documented in the SOA, and may only market health-related products – not life insurance or annuities
  • You can't do any of this prior to October 1
  • You can't use the word "free" to describe a zero-dollar premium

Let Us Know How It Goes!

I encourage you to get all of this set up prior to October 1st so you're ready to hit the ground running.

Let us know how it goes by commenting in the comment section below!

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