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Agent Sales News
Florida Blue corporate holiday schedule
December 22, 2014
Please mark your calendars to note the upcoming nationally recognized holidays. Florida Blue corporate offices will be closed on the following days:
- Thursday and Friday, December 25 and 26: Christmas
- Thursday, January 1: New Year’s Day
We are pending Agent News articles until after the New Year. Happy Holidays to you and your family!
Getting past gatekeepers
December 15, 2014
Selling insurance—or any other product or service—comes with its own challenges when the prospect is a small or medium-sized business. Unlike the comfy waiting rooms and receptionists found in large corporations, most small businesses are not set up to accommodate a stream of eager sales professionals, in person or on the phone, and they usually lack a professional receptionist.
At a small business, the person you want to connect with is focused on running the business. And the other employees, who often double as gatekeepers, are focused on their own work.
Result: small and medium-sized business owners are really hard to connect with at first. In this situation, one key to sales success involves reassessing your relationship with the gatekeeper.
A gatekeeper can become your unintentional ally, providing information you can use to serve the prospect better. Consider these tips for establishing and nurturing relationships with small-business gatekeepers:
- Ask if they can help you. Don’t assume. If they’re not the person you should be talking to, they’ll be more likely to point you in the right direction, which saves you both some time.
- Say why you’re reaching out to the business. Follow up with a question the decision maker can answer. How’s that promotion performing?
- Build a relationship, making sure you get the gatekeeper’s name right. As you demonstrate a genuine interest, you’ll slowly convert the gatekeeper into an ally.
- Ask about their busiest time of the day. Follow up by asking what’s the best time to reach the decision maker. Use the opportunity to convey why it’s so important for you to connect with your target.
- Ask about their busy season. Leverage this information to ask about the company’s sales cycle or its seasonal marketing efforts. You’ll get useful data that will come in handy when you do connect with the decision maker.
- Ask about their marketing and/or their social media. This can yield useful data, too.
Stick with these techniques, consistently and with sincerity, and you’ll have an easier time meeting with the decision maker—and when you do, you’ll be armed with a wealth of information you can use to close your sale.
Employers exploring ways to reduce health care costs
December 15, 2014
To combat the expectation of rising health insurance costs in 2015 and beyond, many employers are considering a wide range of proactive changes in plan designs and operational strategies. That’s according to a survey by Towers Watson, which analyzed data from 379 mid-size to large companies in the U.S.
Employer expectations for 2015 included:
- Costs will probably rise by 4 percent a result of planned changes—significantly lower than the 5.2 percent rise they originally projected if no changes were made.
- The total health care cost for each employee will likely average $13,037. About 78.5 percent of this amount, $10,233, will be paid by employers.
The report also noted a number of trends in companies’ strategies for dealing with higher health care costs:
- Spouses and families: There is greater interest in ways to reduce costs associated with covering spouses and families. Many companies are considering spousal exclusions and surcharges in cases where the spouse can obtain coverage separately. Reducing spousal subsidies is also on the table.
- Engagement: Many are focusing more on outcome-based incentives to engage employees. Accountability-based enrollment and defined-contribution arrangements are gaining attention, along with telemedicine alternatives.
- Technology: Employers expect to rely more on technical solutions to improve access and engagement. Technologies under consideration include mobile apps and fitness wearables to track activities and nutrition.
- Public exchanges: Employers may lack confidence in Marketplace-based solutions as an alternative to providing employer-based coverage.
- Pharmacy: Strategies to reduce pharmacy costs are gaining traction. These include restrictions on eligibility, utilization and coverage for specialty pharmacies.
- Private exchanges: Despite a rise in interest, many companies remain unconvinced of the value of switching to a private exchange, as opposed to a traditional self-managed program, in the short term. As more companies research this topic, interest in switching is likely to increase.
Additional findings point to a continued commitment to providing health care insurance for workers: 87 percent of companies expect health care benefits to remain an essential element in their employee value proposition for 2015, and 91 percent of employers that currently offer insurance to part-time employees expect to continue to do so.
Source: Employee Benefit news
Florida Blue website adds value-based health care page
December 08, 2014
Reflecting Florida Blue’s commitment to innovative health care models, the company has launched a new Value-Based Health Care page at FloridaBlue.com. Accessible from the agent home page, it provides links to important background information on the programs, including Frequently Asked Questions, an eBooklet and an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) video.
The value-based programs—which include ACOs, Patient-Centered Medical Homes and Bundled Payment Arrangements—test and refine new relationship models with physicians and other providers. They’re designed, each in its own way, to improve the coordination and quality of care for members by reimbursing providers who work together to keep patients healthy.
This information is also available in Agent Bulletin #A14-318.
4 tips for stand-out customer service
December 08, 2014
Any solid business knows it’s not about getting customers––it’s about keeping them. Competition can be stiff, so customer loyalty can really make or break a business. Great customer service is always well worth the effort.
Here are some tried and true ways to keep your clients coming back for more.
Get to know your clients.
Building personal relationships with customers is the key to letting them know that you’re committed to their business needs. Communicating with and listening to your customers, whether in person or via email, phone, or social media. makes them feel like they are dealing with a real person rather than a brand.
Engage with your clients via social media.
Facebook and Twitter are just two of dozens of social media platforms that can help you to engage with your customers. Via social media, you can hang out with your clients in a place that they feel comfortable. It’s a far more neutral space than your website or blog. Actively communicating with customers not only humanizes your product or service, it also gives them a reason to feel more connected to your company. Whether positive or negative, you should always respond to your customers’ comments. It’ll show that your company feels accountable for its product.
It’s all about the extras.
When it comes to service, it’s really the little things that count. Handwritten thank you notes, special offers on birthdays, silly packaging details that show you’re human––this is the stuff of great customer care. By going the extra mile, you set your company apart from your competition.
Ask for feedback.
You may have a great product, but it never hurts to ask your clients how you can improve it. Their input not only helps you to offer better goods and services, but also helps them to feel more invested in your product. It’s a win-win.
Source: The Globe and Mail
Expanded coverage for smoking cessation starts January 1
December 01, 2014
Responding to federal recommendations and clarifications, Florida Blue will offer expanded coverage for products that support smoking cessation beginning Jan. 1, 2015.
The new coverage will include:
- Generic nicotine patch products
- Generic nicotine gum
These join generic Zyban (buproprion XR), which is already covered. These preventive products will be listed in the Medication Guide, along with quantity limits.
The expanded coverage applies to all commercial lines of business (individual under 65, small and large group), both grandfathered and non-grandfathered, as an expansion of the smoking cessation category. Rates will not be adjusted based on this change. Large ASO groups that want to opt out of this expansion will need to do so through the special product request process.
In addition, members will continue to have access to tobacco counseling cessation services through their physicians, Better You from Blue (for members residing in Florida) and Health Dialog (for members residing outside Florida).
This information is also contained in Agent Bulletin #A14-256.
Better benefits education needed to increase employee satisfaction
December 01, 2014
A recent Harris Poll study has determined that employee satisfaction stands at its lowest point since 2008. The research examines the relationships between worker satisfaction with benefit packages, benefit education, and the workplace as a whole.
Specific findings included:
About half of U.S. workers (49 percent) rate their employer as an excellent or very good place to work.
Less than half (47 percent) of employees whose employers offer benefits give the benefits a good or excellent rating—the lowest level on this question in six years.
One third of employees rated benefits education in the good or excellent range. In contrast, 28 percent rated benefits education as fair or poor.
Better benefit education is critical, according to Bill Dalicandro, vice president at Unum, who commissioned the study, especially in light of the sheer amount of new information employees must digest in the age of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Employees’ satisfaction levels with their benefits—and education about those benefits—closely correlate with overall satisfaction with their employer:
More than three quarters (77 percent) of workers who rate their benefits package as excellent or very good give the same overall ratings to the employer.
Meanwhile, just 17 percent who give their benefits a fair or poor rating also rate the employer as excellent or very good.
The same pattern exists when benefit education is compared with workplace satisfaction: just 30 percent of employees giving low marks to benefit education also gave high marks to the workplace in general.
The takeaway, Dalicandro said, is clear: “This research underscores the value of an effective benefits education plan… when an employee understands their benefits, they tend to value them more and, in turn, may then value their employers more for providing access to them.”
Source: LifeHealth Pro
Thanksgiving holiday schedule
November 24, 2014
Thanksgiving is almost here! In observance of the holiday, we’ll be pending publication of Agent News articles this week—and our offices will be closed Thursday and Friday, November 27 and 28.
See you next week and have a Happy Thanksgiving!
November is National Epilepsy Month––take part
November 17, 2014
Epilepsy affects over two million Americans with 150,000 new cases detected each year. Perceived as a condition that affects young people, epilepsy can affect anyone at any age.
Take part in promoting awareness this November, which is National Epilepsy Awareness Month. The nation’s fourth most common neurological disorder after migraine, stroke and Alzheimer’s*, one in 26 people will develop epilepsy in their lifetime.1
While epilepsy is not uncommon, the public’s understanding of the disorder is limited.
Epilepsy is a brain disorder characterized by brief disturbances in the brain’s normal electrical functions, a kind of occasional glitch in the amazing electrical system, which controls everything we feel and do. These brief malfunctions (called seizures) may temporarily block awareness. They can also cause uncontrollable shaking, convulsions, confusion, or affect the senses.
Anyone, at any age, can have a seizure if the brain is stressed sufficiently by injury or disease. A single seizure isn't epilepsy, although the symptoms are the same. Epilepsy is the name given to seizures that occur more than once because of an underlying condition in the brain.
It’s important to be aware of seizures as people age, because they may have odd or strange experiences such as confusion, lost time, or suspended awareness. They, or their loved ones, may assume it’s just a part of the aging process––but it could be epilepsy, which can often be successfully treated.
To find out more about epilepsy, visit epilepsy.com or the Epilepsy Foundation’s Facebook and Twitter pages to get involved and help spread the word.
Sources: Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine
Care consultants help close the gap
November 17, 2014
The Florida Blue care consultant team (CCT) provides a wide range of services to assist our customers seeking care. This service strengthens relationships between Florida Blue and its diverse membership base.
The team recently added 12 bilingual benefit specialists, based in Miami, so Spanish-speaking members can access CCT services more easily. Because the service supports member satisfaction, retention and cost reduction, it’s a good idea to underscore the CCT team in discussions with your customers.
When members contact the CCT they can expect help in:
- finding the lowest cost on prescription drugs—and comparing specific drug prices at individual pharmacies
- accessing member discounts on selected everyday products and services
- shopping around for the best value on medical and diagnostic procedures
- navigating the self-service tools and other features on FloridaBlue.com
- triaging chronic conditions with Florida Blue’s various care programs
- tailoring benefits to their specific needs
- locating and accessing wellness programs
- making financial choices that align with their needs
- accessing local resources for necessities
“The CCT bilingual team will help close a key gap for our company, providing guidance and care coordination for our Spanish members that will help them maximize the value of their health plan, and live happy and health lives,” explained Sherri Mikell, Vice President, Contact Services. “We are finally able to bring the value of the care coordination process to all our members.”
To access the CCT, members can call 1-888-476-2227 or visit any Florida Blue Center.
Health care costs to rise in 2015; money-saving strategies
November 10, 2014
According to a recent report from the Health Research Institute (HRI), a division of PriceWaterhouseCooper, overall health care costs are expected to rise by 6.8 percent in 2015. Some of the factors driving the increase include:
- greater use of medical resources as people seek care for previously untreated conditions
- investments in new medical technology
- cost of specialty drugs for conditions like multiple sclerosis and hepatitis C
Much of this increase will be reflected in higher premiums. In response, many employers are moving toward high-deductible plans that shift more of the cost to employees. In fact, the HRI report notes that high deductible health plan enrollment has tripled in the last five years; among employers not currently offering them, 44 percent are considering them.
These dynamics create opportunities for insurance professionals to add value and differentiate themselves from competitors. Employees and consumers will need counseling from experts on how to choose wisely among their options and save money.
Some money-saving strategies include:
- Assess insurance needs next year. Younger, healthier consumers may prefer to purchase less coverage with higher out-of-pocket costs—especially with preventive services covered at 100 percent under the ACA. Consumers expecting to start families and those with chronic conditions might need more coverage.
- Examine provider invoices carefully. Check for inadvertent double-billing, erroneous charges for appointments that were rescheduled, and other inaccuracies.
- Consider employer contributions. Some companies contribute more toward the employee’s coverage, with a lower contribution (or none at all) for family members. Under some circumstances it may save money to enroll family members through the appropriate Marketplace.
- Save on prescriptions by using generics whenever possible and asking physicians about lower-cost alternatives.
- Consider opening a tax-deductible Health Savings Account. If they have a high deductible plan they should consider a HSA. It works like an IRA for medical expenses, and unused funds can roll over to the next year.
- Shop wisely for health care services. Florida Blue has a team of Care Consultants who help members compare costs for procedures from different in-network providers.
Viewed in this light, the rise in health care costs can provide a perfect opening for you to earn trust and build your client base.
Source: U.S. News & World Report
Give thanks at Thanksgiving
November 10, 2014
With the holidays approaching, remember that your cards and gifts will have to compete with others from the recipient’s friends and family members and might get overlooked.
Now is a perfect time to send year-end thank you cards to clients, customers and vendors. Enclose a gift card to a local bookstore or restaurant to keep the dollars spent in your community. If your clients are geographically widespread, gift cards to online gourmet gift shops are a great idea.
If you send an actual gift, it doesn't have to be expensive. Buy cookies shaped as turkeys or pumpkins, wrap each in a cellophane bag and then in bubble wrap. Then box them up to distribute to your most loyal customers.
Your thanks is sure to stand out when it’s before the Christmas gift-giving season.
New Skillsoft eLearning courses for 2015
November 03, 2014
In preparation for 2015, Florida Blue will be releasing a variety of new eLearning courses to keep agents informed about critical health care topics that affect the Florida market.
Agents can access all available eLearning courses through Skillsoft, Florida Blue's learning management system. Find the Skillsoft link on the front page of accessBlue in the “Sales & Training Support” section, along with a Skillsoft External Job Aid that includes:
- technical support;
- troubleshooting information;
- step-by-step log in instructions; and
- a guide to help agents navigate the tool.
Skillsoft is available exclusively to agents; delegates do not have access. Future announcements will be made as new eLearning courses are released. For questions, email CommercialMarketsTrainingEvents2@floridablue.com. This information can also be found in Agent Bulletin #A14-235.
Many uninsured remain unaware of the ACA
November 03, 2014
Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has reduced the number of people who lack health insurance, the remaining uninsured (13.4 percent of Americans, an all-time low) will prove harder to reach. That’s one of the conclusions in a Harris Poll survey for the nonprofit Transamerica Center for Health Studies.
Clearly, awareness is an issue. Almost half of the uninsured—46 percent—said they were unaware of the ACA’s mandate to purchase health insurance. Nearly the same number, 43 percent, said they were unaware of the federal and state Marketplace exchanges where they could have purchased coverage. Another 22 percent missed the deadline last year because they said they were unaware of it.
The report lists other reasons for remaining uninsured. Eleven percent of uninsured said insurance was too expensive, and 27 percent said they thought it would be less expensive to pay the penalty and the full amount of their health care costs. The penalty for failing to have a Qualified Health Plan, $995 or one percent of taxable income in the current fiscal year, will rise significantly in 2015.
Among the other findings about currently uninsured Americans:
- 44 percent are between ages 18 and 34
- 33 percent are Latino
- 40 percent have not gathered information about their personal health, health insurance and the health care system in the past 12 months
- 42 percent could afford health monthly insurance premiums of $100
- 22 percent can afford routine health expenses
- 5 percent are currently saving for future health care expenses
The number of uninsured Americans has added relevance as the next Open Enrollment period for individuals under 65 begins November 15.
HHS report notes more issuers for 2015
October 27, 2014
A recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says consumers will have more choices in the Marketplace during the 2015 open enrollment period that begins November 15.
The report, dated Sept. 23, 2014, notes a net increase of 25 percent in the number of issuers offering Marketplace coverage in 2015. At the national level, 77 new issuers will offer Marketplace coverage; in Florida, one insurer is exiting the Marketplace, while four are entering, resulting in a net gain of three insurers.
The report examines preliminary data from 44 states: 36 that rely on the federally operated Marketplace plus eight that operate their own Marketplaces. Some of the report’s specific findings include:
- Among the 44 states in the report, 77 issuers will be newly offering coverage in 2015.
- Of these states, 36 will have at least one new issuer next year.
- The 36 federal Marketplace states alone will have 57 more issuers in 2015—a 30 percent net increase over 2014.
- In four of these states, the number of participating issuers will be at least double the current number.
- In the eight states that have their own Marketplaces, a total of six more issuers will be participating next year, a 10 percent net increase.
- Some of the nation’s largest insurance companies will be offering coverage in more than a dozen new states, joining the hundreds of insurance companies already participating in the Marketplace.
The higher number of insurers doesn’t necessarily translate to a higher number of plans available to consumers. In some individual counties, if 2014 insurers either leave the market or reduce the number of plans available, then consumer choice may actually decrease.
View the full report.
Electronic ID cards available for most dental PPO plans
October 27, 2014
Florida Blue has added convenient new servicing features that benefit members with most dental PPO plans. Now it’s possible for agents—and members themselves—to generate an electronic ID card and request a replacement card or benefit booklet.
The new capability applies to group and consumer members who have a Florida Blue/Florida Combined Life dental product. But it does not apply to those with prepaid and integrated health and dental products. Eligible plans include:
- BlueDental Choice, Choice Plus, Choice Copayment, Freedom
Individual qualified plans
- BlueDental Choice Q and QF
- BlueDental Copayment Q and QF
Individual consumer plans (no longer sold)
- BlueDental Choice Plus
- BlueDental Choice Copayment
Additional updates being made to accessBlue:
- The ability to print and/or save eligible dental electronic IDs at an individual or group level.
- Order replacement ID cards or benefit booklets for eligible dental products.
- Find group and individual members by contract number, Social Security number and date of birth, or name and date of birth.
- For groups: search by group number or group name.
- To order at the group level, you must be the agent of record.
In addition, group benefit administrators can also generate an electronic dental ID card for members in groups with health and a PPO dental product. Benefit administrators of dental-only groups cannot access an electronic ID card in BlueBiz and should call Enrollment Membership & Billing to receive one. An email with details is being sent to group benefit administrators.
For details on these new capabilities, please refer to Agent Bulletin #A14-237, which also has a copy of the email to group benefits administrators and step-by-step instructions for accessing ID cards in BlueBiz.
Study shows millennials lack insurance across the board
October 20, 2014
Despite the health insurance mandate contained in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), nearly a quarter of millennials (ages 18 to 29) lack health insurance, according to a survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. That’s significantly more than the 16 percent of Americans overall—in all age groups—who lack health insurance.
Millennials usually enjoy lower premiums for health insurance and are often more likely to receive government subsidies than Americans in other age groups. Their choice to opt out of health insurance in greater numbers than the general population could be related to a sense of invincibility associated with their age group.
The trend is not limited to health insurance. The survey’s findings, based on responses from 1,003 adults in the continental U.S., reveals that millennials are foregoing other kinds of insurance, too. They appear to be underinsured across all insurance lines—including auto, life, homeowner’s, renter’s and disability. Still, the study notes, 60 percent of millennials are confident they are prepared for the financial consequences of being uninsured or underinsured.
What this translates to for agents? A selling opportunity. Prospects need to be informed about the ACA rules allowing coverage under parental policies until age 26. Those who don’t qualify under that ruling should be aware that going without insurance means they’ll pay their total cost of medical care, plus the government fee––2 percent of total household income for 2015 or $325 per adult and $162.50 per child––whichever is higher.
Source: Insurance Networking News
Florida Blue e-News fall issue now available
October 20, 2014
Turn over a new leaf for fall. Test your flu I.Q, support national health awareness months, take part in the Great American Smokeout and much more. It’s all inside the new issue of the Florida Blue member newsletter.
The quarterly online member publication also features a special teen section: vaccinations to remember, unplugging from social media and cell phones, and getting involved in the community.
Individual and group members receive the newsletter via email (excluding ASO groups) and it’s accessible from the member page of the Florida Blue website.
Overcoming 3 common objections in sales
October 13, 2014
In a sales-focused world, objections are a fact of life, a core feature of the environment. As insurance sales professionals, you’re trained to recognize and overcome objections, yet some are easier to handle than others. Consider these insights on handling three of the thorniest—the ones that sales people struggle with most often because they seem unassailable. Master these and you can boost your numbers significantly.
- “I’m too busy right now.” Ask when they’d like you to call back. If they give you a reasonable callback date and time, try going a little further: “Why is that a good time for you?” You just might gain some information you can use to your advantage. And it often opens the door for you to share some impressive results you’ve obtained by working with other clients.
- “I’m working with someone else.” If this tactic is true (a big if: it may just be a convenient excuse for getting rid of you), the prospect assumes your agency is too similar to the one they’re working with. Rather than probe for dissatisfaction with the competitor, try focusing on the prospect’s insurance coverage goals as a launch pad for your own expertise: “We use a “plan check-up” strategy that works well for my other clients. Perhaps we could discuss it further…”
- “I’m not interested.” This response is designed to shut you down, and you may be tempted to just move on. Before you do, though, try this parry: Ask the prospect to elaborate. “Why’s that? My agency will want to know why you said no, given your qualifications, our compelling offer and the benefits of working with our agency.” The prospect will hand you more concrete objections—the kind you can work with.
It’s really just a matter of persistence. Not every prospect will end up doing business with you. But by digging a little deeper, you can often turn the toughest objections into added relationships that benefit everyone.
Source: Globe and Mail
October: National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October 13, 2014
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) is a chance to raise awareness about the importance of screening and the early detection of breast cancer.
- About 1 in 8 women born today in the United States will get breast cancer at some point during her life.
- After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common kind of cancer in women.
- Many women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early.
- A mammogram—the screening test for breast cancer—can help find breast cancer early.
Information to share with clients and members
American Cancer Society (ACS) guidelines for the early detection of breast cancer vary depending on a woman’s age, and include mammography and breast exam, plus an MRI for women at high risk.
According to the ACS in a 2012 report, about 2,140 cases of breast cancer were expected to occur among men, accounting for about one percent of all breast cancers; and approximately 450 men were expected to die from breast cancer.
Breast cancer doesn’t only affect women. Here are some known risk factors that can’t be changed:
- family history
- early menarche
- late menopause
Risk factors that can be changed:
- postmenopausal obesity
- use of combined estrogen and progestin menopausal hormones
- alcohol consumption
- physical inactivity
For more information and how you can help, visit: breastcancerwellness.org, breastcancer.org. nationalbreastcancer.org, ww5.komen.org.
Sources: Healthfinder.gov; Cancer.org
Patient Centered Medical Home model raises patient satisfaction
October 06, 2014
A recent survey documents what Florida Blue has long believed: The Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) model is helping to produce higher rates of patient satisfaction than traditional care.
The difference is that PCMH physicians “focus on the patient as a whole,” according to Barbara Haasis, RN, CCRN, and senior clinical lead of Florida Blue’s Value-Based Programs. “Providing increased access, education and care coordination has increased our member satisfaction across the board for members utilizing our PCMH physicians.”
The survey sought feedback from 55,000 members who experienced care through one of Florida Blue’s 200-plus PCMHs. About 7,000 of these members responded, providing important data about access to care, communication provided by providers, support by the office staff, the overall rating of the health care provided, and the overall rating of the provider or physician(s).
Additional questions covered self-management and staying healthy, behavioral and mental health support, shared decision-making and other topics.
PCMHs provide comprehensive primary care that facilitates partnerships between individual patients, their personal doctors, and, when appropriate, the patient’s family. The PCMH program’s goal is to allow better access to health care, increase satisfaction with care and improve overall health. PCMHs put the patient at the center of a physician-led team that transforms the doctor's office into a safe and trusted “medical home.”
Florida Blue has the nation’s third largest PCMH program, with more than 2,400 physicians currently participating. The survey, named Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS), serves as an industry standard and is required by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) for plan accreditation.
“Achieving the goals and principles of a PCMH model requires significant support and dedication throughout an entire practice,” Haasis said. “It is no longer business as usual.”
Avoid superficial personalization in marketing
October 06, 2014
Straight out of Sales 101, insurance agents and other sales professionals are told, everyone likes to see and hear their name mentioned.
The technique works. Personalization has become so successful that sophisticated new database tools can insert a recipient’s name automatically into all kinds of communication. And that’s just the beginning. You can insert lots of other known data, too: the group’s name, or where the person works, their job title, purchase behavior, location, birthdate and much more.
Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you always should. Like any successful technique, this one is subject to overuse. In fact, two research projects suggest that superficial personalization has become stale—and possibly even counterproductive.
In one survey, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) asked consumers about personalization. Their findings reveal:
- More than 70 percent of respondents have noticed an increase in personalization by marketers.
- A full 70 percent said over-personalizing was annoying because it’s seen as superficial.
- Sixty three percent say they’ve grown numb to the technique.
- Only 22 percent say personalization makes them more likely to respond to an offer.
The second study from the CEB Marketing Leadership Council, reached similar conclusions on various personalization elements:
- Name: 34 percent say use of their name in a marketing piece makes no difference; another 13 percent prefer their names not be used at all.
- Purchase history: 29 percent say it makes no difference; 22 percent prefer not to see it.
- Birthdays and other life events: 35 percent say it makes no difference; 17 percent prefer not to see it.
The takeaway for insurance agents is clear: Use personalization sparingly in all your communication with prospects and existing clients. When you do, it should be contextually relevant—and never perceived as superficial.
Not just any hospital: a Blue Distinction Center hospital
September 29, 2014
When quality is a priority, it’s smart to rely on data that’s accurate, objective and relevant. That’s the thinking behind the Blue Distinction Specialty Care Program. Started in 2006 by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), the program uses an evidence-based approach to help people choose a medical facility for six key types of care:
- bariatric surgery
- cardiac care
- complex and rare cancers
- knee and hip replacement
- spine surgery
Together, these types of care comprise more than 30 percent of today’s total inpatient hospital expenditures. The program is a significant differentiator for Florida Blue and serves as a positive example of the company’s commitment to help members and employers identify high-quality providers based on empirical data.
Blue Distinction designations rely on objective, nationally consistent selection criteria to identify high-performing specialty care facilities that can help support a smooth recovery for members to regain health and productivity. Facilities that earn the designations have a proven track record for delivering better results—including fewer complications and re-admissions—than hospitals without these recognitions.
There are two types of Blue Distinction Center designations:
- Blue Distinction Centers (BDCs) demonstrate expertise in delivering specialty care.
- Blue Distinction Centers+ (BDC+) demonstrate both expertise plus cost-efficiency in delivering specialty care.
BDC and BDC+ information is integrated into the existing BCBSA national provider directory. Florida Blue members can look for the distinctive icons next to the hospital facility name on the Florida Blue provider directory. The information is also available through the Blue Distinction Center Finder, a web tool that helps national consumers and their physicians find Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ nationwide.
5 ways to improve sales perfomance
September 29, 2014
If you sell insurance products, chances are you’ve made your share of missteps—and learned from them. If you supervise salespeople, chances are they’ve done the same. Instead of everyone learning the same lessons the hard way for themselves, here are five of the most common learning opportunities that can be taken to heart without actually suffering the consequences. Learn these techniques now and you and your team can avoid confusing, alienating or losing customers.
- Be authentic, always. Relationships are built on trust. If there’s a gap between your product’s features and your client’s needs, acknowledge it. Look for ways to work out the differences. If the gap is minor, find ways to illustrate how insignificant it is. But never ever sell dishonestly; take advantage of someone’s ignorance, or dismiss a prospect’s sincere or well-founded concerns.
- Know when to move on: Nobody can sell everything to everybody. Not every prospect is a good fit. Learn to prioritize your sales effort. Recognize when you’re barking up the wrong tree, make the best of it and move on to the next prospect. That requires integrity, honesty and a positive attitude. That prospect who didn’t buy may be able to steer you toward someone who will.
- Talk less, listen more: Lots of sales professionals spend 90 percent of their selling time talking. After all, you’ve got a great product to sell, with lots of advantages. Better to re-allocate that ratio in the client’s favor. Spend about 70 percent of your face time listening. And the 30 percent left over for talking should be focused on asking questions. This is especially true for first-time encounters with prospects whose priorities and businesses are unfamiliar to you.
- Be the expert in the room: Prospects often enter problem-solving mode without knowing the landscape, the available options or the real reasons for their issues. They just want it fixed. As the sales person, you’re the expert. You’ve got the knowledge about the industry and the marketplace. You’re the one who can spot potential pitfalls and identify options the client may be unaware of. Deploy that expertise in ways that add value to your relationship. This technique is useful in any scenario, and particularly when interacting with existing clients who already have some degree of trust in you and your agency.
- Leave consulting to consultants: You’re there to sell. Not consult. So temper the advice to be the expert with sensible limits. If you’ve got a prospect who clearly has no interest in buying, you’re under no obligation to keep sharing your hard-earned knowledge. Be selective about who’s allowed to pick your brain for free. That way you can focus your energy on prospects who are really prospects.
With a little reflection you can see these are common techniques that often get overlooked—by sales rookies and veterans alike. Keep them in mind, and encourage your team to do the same, and see if your numbers don’t improve.
Use BluesEnroll to benefit your group customers
September 22, 2014
Make the most of your experience with BluesEnroll, Florida Blue’s online enrollment tool. A few helpful tips:
- Accuracy: Make sure the member’s information is correct. That goes for hire date, social security number, date of birth, and other critical details. Accurate member information helps avoid claims discrepancies, and other potential coverage issues. If you do catch a mistake after submitting information, contact the Agent Service Center at (800) 267-3156 as soon as possible to have it corrected.
- Enable employee self-service by emailing BluesEnrollMigration@floridablue.com. This feature lets you keep all your administrative capabilities for a particular group while it reduces the pressure on open enrollment. With self-service enabled, employees can
- use single sign-on from the Florida Blue member website
- enroll for benefits
- update personal information
- obtain their own history tracking report or changes
- view and print a list of current benefit elections
- Training resources: Check out the training videos at the start page of the BluesEnroll website. Topics include adding new employees, initiating enrollment, adding life events, handling terminations and more. You can also sign up for online training courses.
Following these easy tips will ensure you get the most from BlueEnroll.
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SAL ASN 001 062014