Are you considering holding a marketing event to get the attention of more Medicare clients? You’ll need to follow CMS’ rules for hosting sales events.

Check out our streamlined version of the Medicare Marketing Guidelines (MMG) for sales events below.

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Establishing Your Event

First and foremost, you must determine which type of marketing event you’d like to hold. There are two types of sales events: formal and informal. Here’s what sets them apart:

  • Formal Sales Events: Agent presents plan-specific information to an audience invited to the occasion.
  • Informal Sales Events: Agent offers plan info upon request only while at a table, booth, kiosk, or RV.

After you do that, you should decide on the when and where. You must register sales events with the proper parties and hold them in a public setting where individuals do not receive, or wait to receive, health care services. Note, you may carry out sales activities in common areas of health care settings, including common entryways, vestibules, hospital or nursing home cafeterias, and community, recreational, or conference rooms. Avoid doing them at health fairs or expos where health screening is being provided to avoid the risk of being perceived as engaging in “cherry picking.”

To meet these fundamental requirements, be sure to schedule your event far enough in advance to reserve a suitable space and let everyone know about it.

Registering Your Event

How do you register sales events? Exact reporting deadlines and requirements vary from carrier to carrier, but you must register your event with all carriers whose products you’ll market during your presentation.

CMS requires Plans and Part D sponsors to maintain accurate records of all educational events and informal and formal sales events. The earlier you submit your events to carriers, the sooner you’ll be able to start advertising them.

Getting to know all your carriers’ reporting requirements is important. Not registering an event in time with one of them will force you to reschedule it. Furthermore, if you fail to register an event with a carrier, you could lose out on sales commission and have your contract revoked.

Note: Any event not advertised as “educational” can be viewed as a marketing event and should be registered as one.

Marketing Your Event

While just putting out a flyer with your sales seminar or workshop’s information on it seems nice, it’s unacceptable. You must adhere to certain regulations for marketing your sales event.

When creating ads or invites, you cannot require potential attendees to provide contact information to RSVP for the event.

While you may plan to educate attendees on Medicare programs during your presentation, you cannot say your event is “educational.” You must disclose the products you plan on reviewing.

Additionally, you must include the following two disclaimers on all advertisements and invitations for your event:

  • “A sales person will be present with information and applications.”
  • “For accommodation of persons with special needs at sales meetings call .”

You can promote your gathering online, via direct mailers and flyers, or through other forms of media. However, if you cancel the event at least two days in advance, it’s a good practice to notify potential attendees via the same advertising channels you used to promote the event.

Giving Your Presentation

Sales events allow agents to try to direct potential enrollees toward a plan or set of plans. Many marketing and lead-generating activities are allowed, but there are rules regarding the information you can collect. See what you can and cannot do at sales events below.

Sales Event Do’s and Don’ts

Do’s Don’ts
Let beneficiaries approach you first at informal events Hold a sales event right after one of your educational events in the same general area (e.g., same building)
Use sign-in sheets that clearly indicate providing contact information is optional Offer health screenings or similar activities that could seem like “cherry picking”
Name all products and plan types you’ll cover before starting Require attendees to use a sign-in sheet
Use only carrier- and CMS-approved sales scripts, presentations, and talking points Compare one carrier’s plan to other carriers’ plans by name without getting written consent from all carriers involved in the comparison
Distribute giveaways with your contact information on it1 Discuss or cross-sell non-health care related products (e.g., annuities, life insurance)
Give away promotional items that include plan name, logo, toll-free number, and/or carrier website2 Use absolute or qualified superlatives
Provide refreshments or light snacks (e.g., coffee, soda, fruit, crackers)3 Use contact information obtained to let an attendee know if they won a giveaway for any other purpose
Hand out objective educational materials on Medicare Advantage, Part D, and other Medicare programs Give away money, gift certificates, or gift cards
Distribute Star Ratings information, Summary of Benefits, and the Multi-Language Insert with any enrollment form Offer or subsidize meals or a combination of foods and beverages that could make it seem like you’re offering meals
Collect lead cards, business reply cards, and signed Scope of Appointments4 Require attendees to fill out a Scope of Appointment form or enrollment forms
Collect enrollment applications during the Annual Enrollment Period or from beneficiaries who have a Special Enrollment Period Collect enrollment applications outside the Annual Enrollment Period, unless beneficiaries have a Special Enrollment Period
Freely give out your business card to any attendee  
Feel free to answer questions beyond what attendees ask  
Arrange follow-up appointments  

1,2,3Items must comply with CMS’ nominal gifts ordinances.
4You must submit business reply cards that are separate and independent from a marketing piece to the carrier if they are used as an agreement to be contacted, a confirmation of attendance to a sales event, or a request for more details. Business reply cards should state that returning this card may result in a sales person calling the beneficiary.

Cancellations

Not everything goes as planned. Sometimes you may have to cancel your sales event.

While the MMG no longer require you to submit sales event cancellations in HPMS, you should follow the best practices below and any policies set forth by your carriers.

Best Practices for Canceling a Sales Event

If you cancel the event… You should…
Within 48 hours of its originally scheduled date and time for any reason (including zero attendance) Submit the event cancellation to all carriers involved or your upline
Let the venue know
Be present, or have a plan representative present, on site at the original start time to let potential attendees know about the cancellation and provide them with plan information (unless the cancellation is due to inclement weather)
Remain, or have the plan representative remain, on site at least 15 minutes after the original start time
At least 48 hours in advance of its originally scheduled date and time Submit the event cancellation to all carriers involved or your upline
Let the venue know
Tell potential attendees about the canceled event the same way you let them know about it (If you cannot, you must provide proof substantiating that to all carriers involved)

The Importance of Staying Compliant

All those reasons we previously covered on why it’s important to stay compliant while holding an educational event? They fit here as well.

Don’t forget, during your event, you may unknowingly speak with a secret shopper. By treating all attendees with respect and following the rules, you can ensure a secret shopper will only have good things to report.

Conducting a compliant Medicare sales event can seem intimidating, however, you shouldn’t let that stop you from adding them to your list of strategies to grow your insurance business. Remember, we’re always here to help with any questions, so you have nothing to fear.