Saturday, September 4 – Monday, September 6

No work-related activities this Labor Day weekend, though it looks as if next week will be reasonably busy.  And, I hope, financially productive.  Saturday was Leg Day at the gym.  I did the same exercises as the previous week but boosted the weights a bit.  Trap bar deadlifts: 4 x 6 x 245.  Seated calf raises: 3 x 10 x 150.  Life Fitness seated leg curls: 4 x 8 x 190.  Precor seated leg extensions: 4 x 8 x 195.  Neutral grip pull-ups: 4 x 4.  On Sunday I had a bench press session: 6 x 135, 4 x 185, 4 x 205, 4 x 225, 3 x 235, 2 x 245, 1 x 255, 4 x 225, 2 x 3 x 225.  On Monday, the gym was open only until noon (grumble …), and I  simply didn’t have the energy to go at such a ghastly early hour.

Published in: on September 6, 2010 at 10:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday, September 3

One of them, I never would have suspected

Today got off to a rather bad start when I called ABC Insurance’s underwriting department to check the status of two disability policies I’d written a few weeks ago. Insurance agents and underwriters may work for the same companies, but their relationship can be a complicated and difficult one.  When an underwriter rejects a policy application, it deprives the agent of some commission revenue but is no skin off the underwriter’s teeth, so to speak.  From an agent’s standpoint, there’s also a major imbalance of power, as once an application goes to underwriting there is basically nothing further for the agent to do.  In any event, I found that underwriting had just rejected these two applications.  One of them was due to medical information on file from a prior policy application.  Underwriting does not provide any further details.  The manager had indirectly known this applicant, so he’ll try to see if anything can be done.  Chances are very slim that there’ll be anything.  The second rejection was much stranger.  According to underwriting, the rejection was based on information the applicant had provided during a routine telephone interview.  Back when I took the application the applicant hadn’t said anything that would even hint at his being ineligible.  He said that he was in good health with a steady verifiable income.  The only slight question mark was that he had been undergoing a couple of physical therapy sessions for a minor neck injury, but that wouldn’t remotely be something that would lead underwriting to reject the application.  At the very worst they would have added a policy rider, which would deny benefits for any disability caused by the neck injury, and even that would be highly unlikely.  I discussed the case with my manager, who was just as mystified as I was.  He suggested that I call underwriting after the holiday weekend and see what if any alternative products I might be able to sell to the applicant.  Whether the applicant will be interested, or whether he’ll be too disgusted with ABC Insurance to want to do any business with us, remains to be seen.

I did a few hours’ worth of solicitation, getting another appointment lined up for next week.  One customer who had been planning to meet with me today asked if he could wait until Tuesday morning.  That’s fine with me, as even if I made a sale this afternoon the commission wouldn’t be booked until next week, and having the appointment will enable me to get out of the weekly agents’ meeting a bit early 🙂

Gym: a 1.5-mile run on the treadmill at 5.0 mph, followed by 20 minutes’ ellipting.

Published in: on September 5, 2010 at 5:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, September 2

I’m getting to at least tolerate meetings

Not much actual selling activity today, as there was a relatively lengthy meeting in the morning.  One thing I found out is that other agents are experiencing a recent sales slump just like mine.  It may be a seasonal factor, as the last few weeks of summer are generally not particularly good for anyone.  What’s good is that I started the day with seven appointments scheduled for the next two weeks and added another appointment today.  That should give me at least a few decent sales right after Labor Day and boost my commission earnings.  I also found out that my August sales were enough to earn me a second-level sales award, which is a nice boost to one’s ego even if it doesn’t come with any commissions attached.  Once the meeting was done I did a few hours of field prospecting, and as noted above set another appointment.  As far as I can tell I’ve gotten about halfway to two-thirds of the way through the stack of active and lapsed lead cards for the smallish central-eastern Suffolk town where I’ve been prospecting. In another week or so I should be ready for cards from another town.  One of the ones whose cards haven’t yet been distributed is Shelter Island, which is reachable only by a (very short) ferry ride.  But not a cheap ferry ride; a one-way trip with a car is an exorbitant nine dollars, keep in mind that this is for no more than a few minutes, on a “boat” that’s really just a powered raft.  What a horrible deal.  If I end with the Shelter Island cards I’ll see if I can get an expense reimbursement.

Gym: back work tonight.  Deadlifts: 4 x 6 x 225.  Neutral grip pull-ups: 6 x 4.

Published in: on September 4, 2010 at 2:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, September 1

I really thought I blew the sale

You may recall my unsuccessful attempt at selling a disability policy last Saturday.  The customer had spent twenty minutes telling me how burdensome his workers’ compensation premiums had become, and as he was self-employed he was considering dropping compensation in favor of a disability policy from ABC Insurance.  After I pointed out the features of our policies and gave him the price, he declined to fill out an application and said that he wanted to compare the cost of his workers’ compensation insurance with the disability policy.  That had made no sense, as he already knew how much he was paying for compensation – he’d been complaining nonstop about how expensive it had become – and I had clearly stated the cost of the disability policy.

This morning began with the weekly new agents’ meeting, and during the discussion session I brought up what had happened on Saturday and asked for advice.  An experienced agent who was present suggested that I try to take charge of the situation and point out to the customer that there was no need for any prolonged comparisons.  Armed with this suggestion I called the customer in the early afternoon and asked if he had come to a decision.  When he said that he hadn’t been able to get around to comparing the costs, I politely but firmly told him that what he was saying really didn’t make sense, given that he knew all the relevant costs.  Only afterward did I realize that I probably sounded a bit condescending.  He certainly wasn’t expecting to hear anything like that, as he sort of stumbled over his words while saying that he’d been really busy, especially with the storm coming (why?), and that he’d call me next week (yeah, right).  He really wanted to get off the phone ASAP.

My immediate reaction was Oh, no.  I regretted having questioned the customer’s indecision, and was sure that I had just blown any chances of making the sale. No one wants to hear stern and skeptical talk from a salesman.  I’d come off like a teacher questioning a student’s excuse for not completing an assignment.  What with my recent sales slump, it’s not as if I can afford to blow any sales.  Fortunately, I later was able to speak to another experienced salesman, and after I related what I’d done he told me that I had done nothing wrong.  In his judgment the prospect was for some reason not really interested in buying the policy, and nothing that I said would have any effect one way or another.  Whew.  It was good to hear that.  Well, not good in the sense that this almost certainly won’t result in a sale, but good in the sense that I can’t blame myself for losing it.

For the most part I spent the day doing more in-person prospecting.  It came out fairly well as I set a couple more appointments.  One of my stops was at a business whose proprietor was a long-time policy holder, and as things turned out he was just about to make a claim with ABC Insurance for some medical benefits.  I spent about 30 minutes getting more details on the payment he should expect and assisted him in filling out the claim form.  I took the opportunity to outline one of our more recent policy types and suggested that he consider taking some inexpensive policies out on his employees as a sort of Thank You gesture.  He seemed quite receptive to the idea, and next week I’ll stop in again to see if he’s interested.  Getting business accounts of this sort is an excellent way of building a customer base and earning some decent commissions.  On a less happy note, my attempts at prospecting another, larger business in town are getting nowhere.  This other business, which by the looks of things seems to be thriving, had almost 15 employee policies in effect less that a year ago, but all of them have lapsed.  This could provide an excellent opportunity to write some volume business.  Unfortunately, each of the two times I’ve stopped in to speak to the vice president who is the listed contact person, she has “just gone into a meeting.”  Sure.  I’ve tried calling her, but of course I’ve gotten voicemailed.  As a last-ditch idea before giving up on the account I’ll speak to the agent who used to work this territory and who had written these policies several years ago.  He might be able to get through to the vice president when I cannot.  The downside is that he’ll want at least half of the commissions on any new policies we write.  Still, half a commission is better than nothing.

My last stop of the day provided a bit of amusement.  It also was a lapsed lead, the policy having lapsed just a couple months ago. I rang the doorbell, and a young woman (probably the policy holder’s wife) answered.  When I asked for the policy holder, she told me that he didn’t live there anymore.  As I turned to leave, she asked me where I was from, and I replied that I was from ABC Insurance and gave her my card.  Her attitude visibly brightened and she told me that he actually did live there, the reason for her initial wariness was that she thought I was a debt collector. We laughed a bit about that piece of mistaken identity and she told me when would be the best time to reach the policy holder.  I figured that was helpful … until it dawned on me that if he’s hiding from bill collectors, he’s probably not a very good sales prospect.

Other things intervened, so no gym tonight.

Published in: on September 3, 2010 at 5:36 am  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, August 31

Running around

I probably set some sort of record today for most mileage driven in a small radius.  What happened was that I spent several hours driving around a smallish town in central-eastern Suffolk (not the one-stoplight town where I spent time last week, but a somewhat larger community a short distance to its west) calling on existing and lapsed customers.  This town is not big in geographical terms, probably not more than five to ten square miles, but nonetheless I managed to use up about a third of a tank of gasoline driving around town.  Given my car’s tank size and average mpg that translates into more than 100 miles.  I made an hour-long presentation to a local business owner who is interested in taking out small policies for several workers.  While none of the policies are particularly large by themselves, added together they would yield a decent commission.  He wants me to check back next week after he’s had a chance to run the idea past a relative who is semi-retired but still involved with consulting for the business.  As best I can tell the owner seemed receptive to my proposal.  Even if he doesn’t go with policies for the workers I should be able to sell something to him and his wife.  I also set two more appointments, one for next week and one for the following week.  While I’m still on a sales slump, at least my appointment book is filling up nicely.

Gym: I went late, and just did 30 minutes on the stationary cycle at a decent pace of 19.1 mph.

Published in: on September 2, 2010 at 3:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Monday, August 30

I guess this counts as progress

Today started out with the normal weekly agents’ meeting at the office.  I arrived 15 minutes late, something I hate to do, the result of heavy Expressway traffic that forced me to use the service road (on which all the lights were red, of course).  We had been told that any agents who did not have a specific number of appointments lined up for the week would be required to stay in the office for a couple of hours after the meeting, making calls to prospects.  I knew that I’d be staying.  It was a slight relief that almost all the other agents had to do the same.  Even though it’s fiendishly difficult to get people on the telephone I actually managed to make a couple of appointments. I then went home for a couple of hours and later on made some evening residential calls on prospects in a couple of nearby communities.  Going to peoples’ houses in the evening has its advantages and disadvantages.  It’s just about the only viable means of contacting people who for whatever reason cannot be contacted at work, what with voice mail being such an issue.  In addition, it is more difficult for a prospect to use the “my schedule is totally crazy” line when you’re actually facing the person.  The more impersonal nature of the telephone makes it easier to use a line that’s the insurance equivalent of The Dog Ate My Homework.  I haven’t been in this business long enough to estimate any percentages, but I’d say that a face-to-face contact is far more likely to lead to an appointment than is a telephone contact.  On the downside, the time window for evening residential calls is quite short.  It makes little sense to start much before 6 pm because people may not be home from work any earlier, and about 8:30 is the latest that would be appropriate.

Gym: I made a late visit, less than an hour prior to the 11 pm closing time, but still managed to have a nice bench press session.  6 x 135, 4 x 185. 4 x 205, 10 x 3 x 225, 6 x 185.  It was a good feeling to get back to the ten sets of three at 225.

Published in: on September 1, 2010 at 5:25 am  Leave a Comment