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What If the COVID-19 Vaccine Was Sold Like Insurance?

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What You Need to Know

  • Family doctors could act like the insurance agent.
  • Vaccine campaign managers could sell the benefits, not the features.
  • Generate referral business.

Have you gotten the vaccine yet? How about your friends? Was it easy or hard? Now think about your own job as an insurance agent. How are you motivated and compensated? Suppose the vaccine rollout was done with the same sales techniques you and your office use to sell insurance?

Start my imagining the family medical practice you visit for your annual physical was run like the insurance agency where you work!

1. New point of contact.

Mass vaccination centers came first. Gradually hospitals and local pharmacies were added. It appeared family doctors were out of the loop. Suppose your family doctor was the initial point of contact? They “sold” to you, much like the insurance agent anticipates news and brings it to your attention. They would direct you to a facility, get you on a list and follow up.

2. Great news! You qualify!

The vaccine was initially in short supply. People were grouped into tiers based on age and medical condition. It might vary a bit by state. People were unsure if they qualified. If your family doctor acted like your insurance agent, they would call with the great news you were at the top of the list. You should take advantage of this opportunity.

3. Multiple communication channels.

People found lout about vaccine centers by doing Internet research or listening to TV news. They had to do the work. If vaccine distribution were done like insurance sales, messages would go out to everyone eligible via multiple channels. Your family physician’s office would text, e-mail and call. It would be on their website. They would hire temporary employees for that purpose.

4. Make it easy.

People initially found out about websites for booking appointments. Often by that time, none were available. Other times they got them, then showed up to find there was a computer glitch, the line was long or the vaccine supply ran out. If it were sold like insurance, your family doctor’s office would book you in at a mass vaccination center, hospital, pharmacy or their office. You would come in and be taken immediately.

5. Goals would be set.

If “herd immunity” is reached at 70%, every point of distribution would have targets to hit. They would work with family physicians, letting them know through a central system where there was excess supply of appointments available.

6. Best practices.

Some states, counties and cities had better results than others. There would be tracking of volume of vaccinations done. Better performers would be contacted and asked to share how they were able to get better results. This research would be shared with other vaccine points of distribution.

7. Selling the firm.

Three vaccines have been in distribution across the country. Some people have preferred one over another and were prepared to wait. The point of contact with the patient, probably the family physician’s office, would explain why the vaccine they have available meets the patients needs adequately.

8. Sell benefits, not features.

People talk about the percentage of effectiveness or the lack of side effects. If the vaccine were promoted like insurance, they would talk about protection and peace of mind. They would talk about all the activities you could resume once the majority of people got their shots.

9. Bonuses would be paid.

Administering injections was likely approached as task to be completed swiftly and safely. If the rollout was done like insurance sales, the objective would be to end each day with no unused vaccine left. The distribution centers that consistently exceeded their goals would be rewarded.

10. Work Nights.

If people make the effort to show up, they don’t want to be turned away. If the vaccine distribution process was modelled on insurance sales, there would be lots of worknights. If there were people waiting and the vaccine was available, the location would stay open until there was no line or all the supply was used up.

11. Pricing changes.

The vaccine is free, or more accurate, it’s paid for by the government. In the insurance industry, a change in rate encourages people to act before the deadline. The vaccine might be free now, but, if you wait until July 1, you could still get it, but you would need to pay something out of pocket. You would need to act immediately to lock in the best deal.

12. Objection clinics.

People have all sorts of reasons for vaccine reluctance. In the insurance industry, agents attend objection clinics. The point of contact who reached out to each eligible person would have answers ready in case they were unsure about getting the vaccine.

13. Seminars.

Agents visit community centers and present to assembled audiences. Why couldn’t vaccine distribution be done the same way? Following the insurance model, the distribution center would have a system whereby a community organization could assemble a crowd at a given date and time. The vaccine would be brought in and administered.

14. Everyone would be urged to tell their friends.

There are people who are reluctant to get the vaccine. They might not have travel plans. Borrowing the insurance industry’s focus on referrals, everyone who was vaccinated would be encouraged to tell their friends about the experience, how easy it was and how they could easily get the vaccine themselves.

15. Availability would be promoted.

Some places have supply. Others done. Ditto length of lines. A system would be developed that would let members of then public enter their zip code and see vaccine centers near them and the availability of appointments.

16. Getting into the club.

People like to belong, especially if they get benefits. Insurance agents who are successful are welcomed into a tiered recognition system run by their firm. People who get the vaccine would be recognized as “joining the club.” A list of benefits they could enjoy would be included.

There are lots of reasons why mass vaccination can’t always be “sold” like a product. But, over time several of these strategies have already been adopted by distribution centers. There are lessons to be learned from an industry with a highly motivated sales force.

(Image: lakshmiprasada S/Shutterstock)


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