Whether it’s your first AEP, or you’ve been at it for years, it’s always good to start on the right foot.

Keep these tips in mind to get the most out of your time this Annual Enrollment Period.

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1. Time is Your Most Valuable Resource

54 days. That’s how long AEP lasts. Once you factor in days when it’ll be difficult to meet with clients, like Thanksgiving and weekends, your window of opportunity shrinks even smaller.

It’s essential to stay organized from the start. Reach out to your clients as soon as you can on October 1 to start scheduling annual plan reviews. If you anticipate a client may want to change plans, make sure to convey that message.

Also, be sure to get any call lists or leads in order before AEP. If you’re scrambling for leads during AEP, you’re taking away from your selling time!

2. AEP Preparation is Key

Laying a solid foundation is essential to getting the most out of AEP. That means having all contracting and certifications complete prior to October 15.

From July to September, carriers and AHIP release their annual certification courses for selling Medicare Advantage and Part D plans.

From August to October, carriers will release details of next year’s plans to licensed agents. This gives you time to map out your selling strategy and decide which carriers will be your main players. Going into AEP knowing which plans will be strongest – and which products clients will ask for – allows you to be more prepared when conducting plan reviews.

3. Focus on Client Retention

Contact all of your current clients, even if there are no changes to their current plans. It’s easy to get caught up in worrying about losing clients whose plans may have changes, but don’t forget that your clients are another agent’s prospects!

Don’t forget that your clients are another agent’s prospects!

This process might sound time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be. Create a letter that you can send to your clients, letting them know you will be reviewing their plans as information becomes available regarding any changes in the market and will be in touch after October 1 to discuss any changes that may affect their current coverage. Provide an opportunity to pre-schedule an appointment with you during AEP if they have had any major changes in their lives, like new doctors, new meds, or even if they may be moving.

4. Don’t Leave Money on the Table

Make sure you don’t let potential cross-sales go unexplored. Any time you’re in front of your clients, you should be asking questions that could unearth additional coverage needs. For example, asking a client if they have a family history of cancer could lead to a supplemental cancer policy sale.

Remember, sales don’t have to be made right then and there. And in some cases, they can’t be because of CMS regulations. Help your client get their primary coverage first, then schedule a follow-up meeting to make sure everything went smoothly with their enrollment. While you still have their attention, use the opportunity to discuss any ancillary products that could provide additional protection.

5. Think Like a Marketer

While providing a high level of service for your clients is your first priority, marketing yourself should be a not-too-distant second.

While serving your clients is your first priority, marketing yourself should be a close second.

Make sure your clients know that you are there to help them with their questions and needs throughout the year. Reach out to your clients regularly with birthday cards, newsletters, or quarterly emails/mailers. That way they’ll think of you if a friend has questions about insurance. Follow up with your clients once their plans go into effect and make sure they have received their enrollment materials and understand how their plan works. Your clients are your most important assets. Provide them with the care, respect, and understanding that they expect.

Follow these simple tips, and watch as your busiest season becomes a stroll in the park.