It was during the busy holiday season when we were working with a healthcare client. After a long day at the vendor’s site, Sharon (our Principal) was daydreaming on the drive back to the hotel. She reflected on all those people hitting the malls on the days leading up to Christmas and the battles that often ensued for the last doll on the shelves. She wondered why the same pattern happened in buying health insurance? Why did it seem that a huge percentage of the population would wait until the deadline to pick a health insurance plan? And could we leverage that information to impact sales for our client? We did just that. Read on to learn how we brought in thousands of dollars in the final days of AEP for a health insurance company.
Why Do We Procrastinate?
So many people wait until the last minute to make decisions. Students wait until Sunday night to do homework due Monday, salespeople put off cold calling, and managers delay writing reports until week’s end. Something about not accomplishing tasks until absolutely necessary is just so tantalizing. Is this simply human nature to delay the inevitable or do we procrastinate because the last minute seems to be the moment of earliest convenience?
A recent study found that just over 20% of people classify themselves as “chronic procrastinators”. Some even claim that they do better under pressure (although numerous researchers have show that the opposite is true).
Dr. Joseph Ferrari, PhD, author of Still Procrastinating? The No Regrets Guide to Getting It Done, separated procrastinators into three categories.
- Arousal types, or thrill seekers, wait until the last minute for the euphoric rush.
- Avoiders tend to avoid fear of failure or even of success, but in either case are very concerned with what others think of them (for example, they would rather have people think they lack effort than ability).
- Decisional procrastinators simply can’t make a decision.
In the earlier health insurance example, we could see that most people were decisional procrastinators, afflicted with “decision paralysis” from TMI. Health insurance is just too complex and too confusing that people couldn’t make a decision and instead waited until the final deadline, the point of no return.
How to Leverage “Procrastination Polly’s” to Increase Sales
Rather than try to rehabilitate the entire population of health insurance purchasers we figured if you can’t beat them, join ‘em. We decided to extend the health insurance shopping hours for the last three days of AEP. When all other health insurers were closed, our client’s doors were open. This extension allowed more people to select a plan and brought in the equivalent of an additional day of business.
Procrastination is such a universal vice that it’s surprising that more businesses don’t align their strategies to compensate for it from the beginning. It is something that absolutely has to be taken into account when selling a complex product. With a wealth of options and information comes doubt and, sometimes, procrastination. This rings doubly true for health insurance, because of its complexity and convolutedness! So when you can’t change the masses, adapt. Embrace the procrastinators. And then make your business conform to their natural ways of purchasing.
SBR has always come through in facing our client’s business challenges. Creative solutions for unique organizational problems are our specialty here at SBR. If your business needs a push, the call is free.