We don’t have to tell you that this past AEP was an unusual one with unusual challenges. We surveyed our agents to find out how successful their AEP sales were and what they encountered on the way.
After analyzing the results, one thing became clear. The agents who reported a successful AEP were usually the agents who reported doing more of their sales remotely.
Agents Who Adapted Early Found the Most Success
We asked how busy agents were this AEP. We also asked about remote sales. The results paint a pretty clear picture of what constituted success: adaptability.
1. How busy was your schedule this AEP?
2. About how many of your sales this AEP were entirely remote with no in-person contact?
These are interesting numbers on their own, but look what happens when we compare how agents responded to both questions:
How agents with fewer appointments than usual conducted sales in AEP 2021
How agents with the same or busier schedules conducted sales in AEP 2021
There’s a pretty clear correlation here between the willingness to sell remotely and the ability to book appointments in the current climate. Agents who embraced remote sales were able to keep their schedules full, while those who didn’t weren’t able to even get a foot in the door.
We found a similar trend when looking at how successful agents were at meeting their AEP goals.
3. How successful were you at meeting your goals this AEP?
Nearly 50% of agents told us they didn’t meet their AEP goals, but a large portion reported meeting or exceeding them. Now let’s look at how that compares to remote sales.
How agents who didn't meet their AEP goals conducted sales in AEP 2021
How agents who met or exceeded their AEP goals conducted sales in AEP 2021
Again, the blue and gray bars switch places. It’s clear that willingness and ability to sell remotely made a huge difference in an agent’s success this AEP.
It’s important to understand these trends. We’re heading into OEP soon and the world hasn’t changed significantly. For the time being, selling remotely is the best way to keep your income flowing.
Understanding the Challenges of Remote Sales
Technology isn’t new, and now that remote sales options are the norm they won’t be going away even when in-person appointments return. A few agents may be sticking to traditional techniques out of stubbornness, but we suspected it was more complex than that.
4. What challenges did you run into when selling remotely?
Clients are uncomfortable with the technology aspect of remote enrollment. – 62.5%
I’m not as comfortable selling over the phone as I am in person. – 25%
Clients are uncomfortable discussing their health care needs over the phone. – 20.45%
The available technology is difficult to use. – 15.91%
I have not attempted to sell remotely. – 13.64%
The available technology isn’t up to the task. – 12.50%
As you can see, an overwhelming number of agents reported that clients aren’t comfortable with the technology aspect of remote enrollment. This response doesn’t change significantly based on how agents performed during AEP, so there’s clearly something there.
5. Have your clients accepted remote enrollment?
My clients don’t have the technology needed to enroll remotely. – 33%
They’ve been hesitant, but I’ve overcome it. – 26%
Yes, they’ve fully embraced it. – 22%
They’ve been hesitant, and it’s negatively affected my sales. – 11%
My clients have been completely resistant to remote enrollment. – 8%
We see from these responses that a full third of agents report clients not having the proper technology. Clients who do, however, seem receptive, if hesitant at first. Agents who had the most successful AEPs this year are the ones who managed to overcome their clients’ hesitation.
6. If you avoid remote sales, what might make you change your mind?
I’m already embracing remote sales options. – 48.84%
More or better remote sales technology available. – 31.40%
Training on how to tailor my sales techniques. – 23.26%
Better training on remote sales technology. – 22.09%
I’ll never feel positive about selling remotely. 10.47%
Other. – 8.14%
Respondents were able to select multiple options for this question, and again we see the signs pointing to technology.
It’s possible the technology truly isn’t up to the task, but we’ve personally spoken with many agents who find remote enrollment easy to use and to explain to clients. More research would be needed to be certain, but many on the NCC team suspect that the issue is more about awareness of the remote sales options.
The Biggest AEP 2021 Challenges
We asked a few questions about ancillary sales but we’ll discuss that in a later post. For now, let’s end on something that isn’t likely to surprise anyone in the Medicare industry.
7. Overall, what was your biggest challenge this AEP? Check all that apply.
Telemarketers bombarded my clients with phone calls. – 78.57%
TV ads were misleading my clients. – 71.43%
Clients hesitated to make appointments due to the pandemic. – 28.57%
Clients postponed appointments or decisions due to the political climate. 14.29%
Other. – 4.76%
Telemarketers and TV ads were out in force this AEP. As one agent put it, “I wanted to throw something at the TV every time a commercial was airing!” Several agents also mentioned a particular ad in which a popular sports figure was “offering free meals.”
If selling in the current climate has become a stumbling block to your success, please reach out to a Marketing Specialist at 800-695-0280. Our marketing team has been giving one-on-one support and remote sales training this AEP, and our agents are seeing the difference in their sales.