If you run a sales operation, you know and love the challenge of devising plans to achieve a business goal in the midst of numerous competing factors. While some people shy away from being in the “hot seat”, exceptional sales leaders welcome it.
Those who work in healthcare know all too well the intensity of the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). Close to 50% of the annual sales are obtained in about 8 weeks.
Many healthcare sales and marketing executives spend the better part of the 1st and 2nd quarter reviewing data, analyzing losses and gains. They pull together actuarial, underwriting, legal and other teams across departments to understand the market conditions and health of the products before building sales and marketing strategies. Plus, they need to develop retention plans to maintain their current membership.
To add to the pressure, products are approved by government agencies only a few weeks ahead of the selling window. So the company doesn’t know the competitive landscape until the last moment. Few industries grapple with this level of variable factors as the healthcare industry does.
Combating Declining Sales.
Given these inherent complexities, it raises the question: how can we consistently boost sales results when consulting with our healthcare clients who face these challenges annually? Here is where course correction has made all the difference.
Some years back, a client engaged us to help their organization reverse a four-year trend of declining sales and repeatedly failing to meet their goal. Using rapid ethnography, we were able to identify the largest barriers and how to correct them.
We had less than 120 days until the start of AEP to make massive changes in practically every corner of the operation. Once AEP started, we vigilantly analyzed daily sales data. Midway through we knew that while the numbers were trending higher than in previous years, at the current rate we would not meet the sales goal. Unacceptable!
Consider Blowing Up Your Plans.
Enter the 11th-hour-course correction. We took a calculated chance that was inspired by how people shop. During the holidays when most supermarkets are closed, there is always one store that remains open. With no other available option, consumers will flock to that store. Applying this to healthcare, we recommended having the contact center remain open until Midnight for the last few days of AEP. During those hours the competitors would be sleeping. Literally!
The result? It worked. In the final three days of AEP, the phone lines were jammed well into 1:00 AM. The extended hours equaled one additional business day, allowing the client to exceed their sales goal for the first time in years. Years later, this technique is commonplace.
While companies may spend months planning for the future, if devised strategies and tactics are not heading in the right direction, you might need to blow up your well-conceived plan. Sure, taking a risk to course correct at the 11th takes some nerve, but in the end, it may be well worth it.