When we surveyed agents after last year’s AEP, many weren’t feeling great about how the past few months had gone. The pandemic had brought about a surge in remote sales, requiring agents to learn new technologies. Meanwhile, TV ads making unreasonable promises seemed to be everywhere.
This year, we surveyed agents before AEP to find out the mood going into October and what kind of support agents are looking for most. We discovered that unlike last year most agents – even those new to the business – feel at least somewhat prepared. We also found some interesting statistics about how agents’ needs change as their careers advance.
Question: How Long Have You Been Selling Medicare?
The majority of respondents – nearly 50% – had been selling Medicare for 1-5 years. 23% were new to the industry, with veteran agents rounding out the other 27%.
Question: About how many active clients do you currently have?
While it stands to reason that an agent’s book of business will grow as they advance their careers, by comparing responses to the previous two questions we can get a picture of what kind of growth a newer agent might expect.
Client Numbers by Experience
Some interesting milestones here include:
- Within the first 5 years, agents should expect to grow their books to at least 250 clients, with almost 40% reporting 250-500 beneficiaries signed up.
- Over the next 5 years, those agents will likely be seeing those numbers top 500 clients and head toward 1000.
- By the 10 year point, 35% of agents report having more than 1,000 clients.
So aside from that one joker (we certainly hope they were joking) who claims to have no clients after 10 years, it looks like most Medicare agents can expect consistent growth as their careers advance.
Could Ancillary Sales Actually Increase Client Numbers?
We’ve been telling every agent who will listen for years that ancillaries can not only increase your commissions per client but actually encourage long-term retention. Now we have some numbers to put behind it.
We asked survey respondents about what products they sold in addition to Medicare. Then we compared those results to the number of clients agents currently have. We saw no significant difference in client numbers for agents who sold life insurance, group policies, or other forms of insurance. Then we looked at ancillaries.
What insurance products do you sell in addition to Medicare?
The numbers may not be earth-shattering, but they do show a pretty clear correlation. Agents who sell ancillaries report having more clients overall. In fact, not a single agent who only sells Medicare reported having more than 1,000 clients.
Agent Training & Communication Needs Over Time
We were also curious about training. We wondered not only what type of training agents want, but how that might change over their careers. Some key takeaways include:
- In the first year, agents are most concerned with learning how to generate leads. By years 2-5, they become almost equally interested in converting those leads.
- Around the 5-10 year mark, the focus starts to shift. Agents at this point in their careers are still focused on generating and converting leads but are also increasingly interested in general Medicare and compliance topics.
- After a decade in Medicare sales, agents have more practical training needs. They want to use their time effectively and understand the available technology. Agents also seem to become more interested in selling ancillaries at this point in their careers.
Overall, Agents Feel Prepared for AEP
Unlike last year’s hectic rush to learn new remote techniques and technologies, agents are more confident this year. While a handful of agents didn’t feel they even knew how to get ready for AEP, the vast majority felt at least somewhat prepared.
If you’re one of the agents who doesn’t feel prepared or doesn’t know where to start, don’t worry. NCC’s Marketing Specialists are ready to offer whatever guidance and support you need for a successful AEP. Call 800-695-0280 to be connected with a marketer experienced in your area.