Saturday, August 28/Sunday, August 29

Any hopes that Saturday’s sale appointment might finally break my week-long dry spell quickly came to a crashing end.  I’ve been trying to be more perceptive of “buy signals,” though it’ll take months if not years until I get the hang of it.  My inexperience notwithstanding, I got a bad sense right at the beginning of the appointment, when the prospect had me stand at a very cluttered workbench in his business rather than sit at a table.  It’s not that there’s any actual need to sit at a table, and it wasn’t that the prospect was being discourteous or anything, but something just didn’t feel right.  He then talked for a few minutes about how his worker’s compensation premiums were such a burden and how he’d like to be able to drop it in favor of a disability policy.  I proceeded to point out the highlights of ABC Insurance’s disability product, in particular how it covers disabilities resulting from off-the-job injuries and from illnesses (worker’s comp is of course limited to on-the-job injuries).  We went over the cost of coverage, which in this case would be quite low.  Unlike the case with life insurance, customers can only get enough disability insurance to cover a specific percentage of their gross income that should reasonably approximate their take-home pay.  Were this not the case, if for example a person taking home $3,000 a month could get a disability policy paying (tax-free) benefits of $4,000 a month, everyone would claim to be disabled!  Today’s prospect was earning a relatively modest amount from his business, so he would qualify for only a small policy with a small premium.  That would mean a fairly small commission for me, but what with this dry spell I wasn’t about to complain.

My misgivings about this appointment were confirmed when I asked the prospect if he’d like to fill out an application.  He replied that he wanted to see how the cost of the disability policy would compare to his worker’s comp premiums.  That normally would make sense …. but for the fact that he had been complaining all along about his premiums.  In other words, he already knew how much he was paying, and I had just told him how much a disability policy would cost – he already had all the information he would need to make a decision.  If he needed more time to “think about it,” ugh I hate that expression, he certainly would have just told me so.  Whatever the case, I walked away empty-handed, officially with zero sales for the week.  I’m hoping next week shapes up better.  It certainly couldn’t be worse.

Gym: got back to leg work on Saturday.  I started with trap bar deadlifts, 5 x 6 x 225.  Between sets I did some neutral grip pull-ups, a total of 1 x 4, 4 x 3.  Next came seated calf raises, 3 x 10 x 145, followed by Life Fitness seated leg curls, 4 x 8 x 185, and finishing with Precor seated leg extensions, 4 x 8 x 190.

On Sunday, I ran one mile on the treadmill at 5.0 mph, did 20 minutes on the stationary cycle at 19.1 mph, and did some neutral grip pull-ups, 3 x 4, 2 x 3.

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Published in: on August 30, 2010 at 11:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday, August 27

Other responsibilities meant that I wasn’t able to do any work-related activities today.  Given the very long dry spell I’ve been experiencing, day off isn’t a totally bad idea.  In the evening I went to the gym and ran two miles on the treadmill at 5.0 mph.  Yeah, I know, that’s a slow pace.  So what.

Published in: on August 29, 2010 at 3:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, August 26

Two responses

I spent most of the day canvassing for appointments in a relatively small town in central-eastern Suffolk County.  It’s in that nether region beyond the farthest edge of  continuous suburban development but not as far as the more populous East End.  Despite the town’s smallish size I have a big stack of active and lapsed lead cards.  During the course of the day I made a lot of stops and managed to set a couple of appointments, one on a lapsed lead and one on an active. Both of these were at businesses with two or three policies, so with any luck – a commodity in notably short supply this week – the appointments could lead to several sales.

At two of my stops I spoke to people who emphasized how busy they were.  In another respect, however, their responses to my appointment requests were greatly different.  Response A: “I am so crazy busy, I’ve got no idea when I’ll be able to meet with you.  Let me take your card, I’ll call you.”  Response B: “I’m going to be really busy for the next couple of weeks, what with back-to-school and everything.  How about Monday, September 13, I’ll be free around 3 in the afternoon.”

Okay, which person do you think was genuinely interested in hearing about ABC Insurance, and which one had no such interest but was too cowardly to say so in my face?  Yep, you’ve got it.

Gym: back to weights tonight, after too long away.  Bench press: 6 x 135, 4 x 185, 4 x 205, 10 x 2 x 225, 6 x 185.  Didn’t lose as much ground as I’d feared.  Neutral grip pull-ups: 1 x 4, 3 x 3, 2 x 2.  These were more of a struggle, I’ll work my way back.

Published in: on August 29, 2010 at 1:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, August 25

Human extinction = a worthy goal

Today began with high expectations.  After two days of zero sales, I figured that today would prove much better.  On this, my final day going around with the manager, there were four scheduled appointments, and all of them had been scheduled or confirmed within the past 48 hours.  After a regular training session in the office, I headed off by myself to one appointment not far away.  I knocked on the door, and waited … and waited … and waited.  After a few minutes I threw in the towel and left.  Either the prospect hadn’t shown up, or she was home but wouldn’t open the door (“porching”).  She had definitely been on the strange side when I had called her on Monday to schedule the appointment, so it didn’t totally surprise me that she failed to keep the appointment.  Later during the day the manager got her on the phone and said she was barely coherent.  I’m not even going to try to reschedule.

After meeting up with the manager I found out that the day’s second appointment had been canceled at the prospect’s request.  At least the prospect had had the courtesy to call and cancel, though he did not give a reason for canceling and did not want to set another date.  Count this one as another lost sale.  We then headed off to an appointment in western Suffolk.  In this case, the prospect was looking for life insurance, which was good to hear because the premiums and hence the commissions for that type of insurance can be fairly high.  We got to the house, rang the doorbell, and waited for over a minute before a teenage boy opened the door.  With an almost comically sullen attitude he told us that his father (the prospect) had left sometime earlier, and he had no idea when he would return.  Keep in mind that the manager had confirmed the date and time less than 24 hours earlier.  During the course of the day both the manager and I tried to call the prospect, and of course got voicemailed each time.  Three out of four appointments down the drain.

Our fourth and final appointment was in central Suffolk at the unusually late hour of 8:30.  We spent a few hours calling on some existing customers to see if any were interested in upgrading their coverage.  One person was interested but had no money, another was angry that we had contacted her, and another said that the three weeks she had been considering our new policy wasn’t enough for her to decide, could we call her back in March?  I will add that in the last case, the policy that will require more than six months’ consideration costs less than four dollars a week.  Back to the 8:30 appointment.  We were meeting so late at the prospect’s insistence, he had said there was no other free time.  Hey, he was looking for a sizable disability policy, with a premium and commission that would make working so late very much worth my while.  When we arrived at the house, the prospect came to the door with a distinctly unfriendly look on his face.  He told us in a condescending manner that he had company over and couldn’t meet with us.  I found myself completely at a loss for words.  The manager spoke up, telling the prospect in no certain terms that we had agreed to come so late at his insistence, that they had confirmed the appointment just the day before, and finally that company notwithstanding the prospect should have the decency to meet with us.  No luck.  I was taken completely aback at the prospect’s rude attitude.

So that was my day.  Four appointments fallen through, zero sales, and whatever lingering beliefs I might have had in the basic decency of the human race have vanished like snow in June.  As I’m doing field canvassing tomorrow and will be involved in non-work activities on Friday, the chances are all too high that I’ll finish the week with no sales and no commissions at all.  My sole income for the week will be my meager training salary.  I have an appointment on Saturday, which counts as part of this week, so there’s still a possibility that I’ll have one sale.  But this is definitely going to be a week to forget.  It’s really almost comical, how everything can go so utterly wrong at times.

What with the late (non)appointment, I wasn’t able to go to the gym, the third day in a row that I’ve missed.  So wonderful.

Published in: on August 27, 2010 at 4:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, August 24

Notepad = doom

It wasn’t my fault.  Not by any means.  Today began with canvassing for appointments, in person in the one-stoplight town in eastern Suffolk where I’ve been spending time lately, and then on the telephone.  Not much luck to report from either method.  In the early evening the manager and I went to an appointment at a condominium development in central Suffolk.  We met with a 50ish couple who wanted information on disability insurance.  I did all of the presentation, with the manager observing but not saying much.  The husband was interested in a policy, and while the wife already had coverage she said she might switch if ABC Insurance’s product seemed better than the one she had.  I spent over an hour explaining the ins and outs of the disability policy, with both of the customers asking many questions and the wife constantly writing things down on a notepad.  When I said pretty much all that had to be said, I asked the husband if he were ready to start an application.  He immediately said that he wanted to wait to see what might be offered through his union, and for her part the wife said she wanted to see how her existing policy compared.  Both basically gave us the “don’t call us, we’ll call you” line, and the manager and I left with nothing.

Needless to say, I was very much displeased.  The husband had been looking at a fairly large policy, and combined with his relatively advanced age (not too far from the maximum age of 59 for policy issuance) and high-risk occupation, the premium would have been high enough to have given me a very nice commission and triggered a bonus.   Had the wife gone for a policy too, we’re talking a total commission and bonus well into the four figures, with the first of those figures not being a one.  Pretty decent for an evening’s work.  Instead, of course, I earned a goose egg.  I was convinced that I had done something wrong and blown the sale.  The manager told me that I had handled it very well.  There are certain gestures and expressions and voice tones that together constitute “buy signals,” in other words an indication that a prospect is ready to buy.  Recognizing buy signals is something that only comes with experience.  The manager, who has many years’ experience, said that neither the husband nor the wife had given any buy signals whatsoever at any point during the hour-long presentation.  Put differently, I had no chance at all to make a sale.  He said that the wife’s constant writing in a notepad was a very bad sign, as prospects who do that almost never will buy anything.  If only I’d known earlier.  At least I was pleased that I hadn’t blown the sale, though the lack of any commission still rankles me.

It was past nine by the time I got home, and I was just too worn out for the gym.

Published in: on August 26, 2010 at 4:20 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, August 23

Attitudes vs. eligibility

Another no-sale day, unfortunately.  It wasn’t a total loss as I made a couple of appointments for later in the week.  One in particular seems reasonably promising.  It wasn’t a particularly long workday, starting at 9 and being done shortly after 6, and was about evenly split between office and field work.  All of the field work took place in a relatively small geographic area in central-eastern Suffolk, so at least I didn’t spend a fortune on gasoline.

In the mid-afternoon I made a sales call on a woman who had inquired about life insurance.  That sounded fine to me, as next to disability policies life policies tend to have the highest premiums and hence the largest commissions.  In sharp contrast to so many prospects, this woman was very pleasant and appreciative.  The bad news is that I quickly found out she was ineligible for life insurance, on multiple different grounds.  She wants me to call her next week about some other policies for family members, so the visit might not be a total loss, even so it’s amusing in a way that a person with such a pleasant attitude turns out to be ineligible.  Can’t win.

Other things intervened, so no gym tonight.

Published in: on August 24, 2010 at 1:16 pm  Comments (2)  

Saturday, August 21/Sunday, August 22

Some telephone work on Saturday, I actually was able to break through the voicemail trap and talk to some real people.  Didn’t get any appointments, unfortunately.  All of the people I spoke to had lapsed policies, and all of them had let the policies lapse for various reasons. None were interested in new policies.  Next week I’ll try working some active leads, in other words people with older existing policies.  They m.ight be interested in upgrading, and of course because they have current policies I can call without having to check to see if they’re on the Do Not Call registry

Thirty minutes on the stationary cycle on Saturday, at a very nice pace of 20.1 mph.  For the first time in too long I ran on the treadmill on Sunday.  I can’t say exactly how long I ran because the first treadmill shut down suddenly, and I had covered the time and distance display with my gym towel.  As far as I could tell I had been on it for somewhere between a half and three-quarters mile at 5.0 mph.  I switched to another treadmill and did 1.2 miles at 5.0 mph, so in total I probably did around 1.75 to 1.9 miles.

Published in: on August 22, 2010 at 10:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday, August 20

Can’t you at least tell me in person?

No sales today, which is what I expected.  It wasn’t a complete loss, however, as I set a couple of appointments for next week, and one in particular sounds reasonably promising.  I spent several hours driving around the East End, including a foray into Range Rover Land, calling on policyholders in person.  When no one was home I left “door hanger” notices along with my business card.  Some other agents have said this works quite well for them, I’ll have to see.  There was one major setback, when I called on a business for which ABC Insurance has written nine or ten employee policies.  Some of the policies have lapsed and the existing ones no longer have up-to-date benefit levels, so I figured that it was a very promising stop.  It could well lead to several new policies with nice commissions.  I’ve been past the business a number of times, and a large new addition to the building is evidence that it’s doing well.

I stopped in explained my business to the receptionist.  She took my card and went to speak with the office manager.  A few minutes later, the receptionist came back and said that the office manager was not interested, but that she’d keep my card in case things changed.  Now, I can fully understand that the business might not be interested in getting any new policies.  They might have spent so much money on the addition that there are no extra funds for insurance, a competitor (quack quack!) might be servicing them, or they simply don’t want to offer this type of benefit for employees any longer.  What annoyed me no end is that the office manager did not deign to come out and tell me herself, instead letting the receptionist do the dirty work.  Either she’s too cowardly to face me, or too lazy, whatever the case it reflects very poorly on her.  Of course it’s me who doesn’t end up making any money on the call. 

Gym: I ellipted tonight for a change, a fast pace for 40 minutes at moderate resistance.

Published in: on August 22, 2010 at 10:02 pm  Comments (1)  

Thursday, August 19

Driving in circles

One would think that spending several hours driving around the eastern part of Suffolk County calling on lapsed policyholders would yield something. Right?  Try “wrong” instead.  It was a complete exercise in frustration, not resulting in any appointments let alone sales.  To some extent I was driving in circles, for example passing one landmark (two pedestal-mounted military jets near a former aircraft factory in Calverton) three times.  Frustrating days like this are to be expected in the insurance industry, of course, and one day’s  lack of results has no bearing on the next day.  If I don’t make any sales tomorrow, there is one relatively small sale that might come through if the stars align correctly, I will finish this week with about one-third of the income I earned last week.  That may sound dreadful, but keep in mind that last week was nothing short of spectacular.  If I can consistently make what I will have made this week, I will be earning a decent if unspectacular middle-class living.  That’s tolerable. 

Some other things intervened, so no gym tonight.

Published in: on August 20, 2010 at 3:57 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, August 18

Seeing more of the East End

Today’s travels took me to Riverhead, the seat of Suffolk County and the largest city in the eastern part of the county.  It’s the site of an enormous outlet mall and has a heavily attended fair each October.  One thing I’d never really noticed is the unusual nature of downtown Riverhead.  It’s a nicely preserved downtown, lined with well-maintained brick building that probably date to the 1880-1920 period for the most part.  That in itself is not so unusual.  What is unusual is that the area is not at all quaint or cutesy.  At least in the Northeast, most preserved older downtowns have (too many) expensive boutiques, gourmet cupcake parlors, too-trendy independent coffee shops, Reiki practitioners, you name it.  As best I could tell downtown Riverhead has little or nothing of that sort.  The downside, as you might guess, is that there are quite a few vacant storefronts, though most of the buildings are in decent shape.  So far. 

My appointment in Riverhead turned out to be better than expected, but not as good as it could have been.  As originally planned I was just supposed to pick up a check from a sale that the manager had done yesterday as part of a company training program.  I hadn’t been there yesterday and wasn’t going to get any of the commission, I had agreed to pick up the check because I was going to be in the area anyway.  The policy had been for a married couple, and while the husband was at work today the wife was able to meet me to give me the check.  While talking to her, I found out that she was ineligible for the type of policy in question – from what I can gather, the husband did not tell the manager of his wife’s ineligibility at yesterday’s sale, this being a simple, non-blameworthy omission and not something at all unusal.  I had to rip up the policy and write a new one for the husband alone.  Although he wasn’t present, his wife was able to sign on his behalf.  What this meant is that I got the commission for the sale.  Granted, it is nothing huge, but it’s better than the goose egg I otherwise would have gotten.  While I was preparing the new policy the woman said that she’d like to pay for a life insurance policy on her adult son.  That would mean another commission for me, one quite a bit larger than the one for the new policy on the husband.  Unfortunately, I found out that the son was ineligible for any policies, for the same reason as his mother.  I ended up leaving with a larger commission than I had been expecting – okay, that’s not saying much seeing as how I’d been expecting nothing – but not as much as I could have gotten had I written the son’s policy.  I did more canvassing in the same town as yesterday, setting up a very promising-looking appointment for a week from Saturday (I know, chickens, eggs, counting, all that), and later in the afternoon sold a policy not too far from where I live for a very nice commission.  I don’t yet know what Thursday and Friday will bring, but so far this week’s earnings are at a solidly middle-class level if not like last week’s bonanza.  I should be able to get a small bonus, making this the third bonus week in a row.

Gym: still just doing the stationary cycle, this time for 40 minutes at 19.5 mph.  Next week my schedule should be more regular and I’ll be able to get back to weights.

Published in: on August 19, 2010 at 5:18 am  Leave a Comment