Monday, October 25

Just like a movie cliche

Imagine you’re watching a movie about a Hollywood mogul or Silicon Valley tycoon or other filthy rich person.  There’s a view of his house, and it shows a large modern structure with a circular driveway.  There’s a fountain in the middle of the circular driveway, a Rolls Royce parked off to the side, and a large window over the front door shows an enormous chandelier hanging from the 25-foot-high foyer ceiling.  You would laugh at such a cliched scene.  There’s no way such a stereotyped house would exist in real life.

Think again.  I spent the afternoon canvassing with another agent in a community in central-eastern Suffolk County.  It’s farther west than my usual territory, which is fine and dandy with me because it’s also closer to home.  We were calling on lapsed customers, which again is a change from my usual routine.  The other agent explained his preference for calling on lapsed vs. active customers, and I must say that it makes sense.  Let’s say that you’re trying to sell a policy costing $50 per month.  A lapsed customer who’s now paying nothing is more likely to buy this policy, yielding a total outlay of $50 per month, than is an existing customer who’s already paying $50 per month for a different type of policy, who would be paying $100 per month after adding the new one.  In other words, going from zero to $50 is more tolerable for most people than is going from $50 to $100.  Also, so long as the lapsed customer has been lapsed for at least a year, he or she will be treated as a new customer and the commission rate for most policy types will be substantially higher than for a sale to an existing customer.

In any event, we used the other agent’s GPS to find an address in a newer subdivision near the edge of town.  I could tell that the subdivision had been built on an old farm field, as none of the trees were taller than about twenty feet.  We followed the vaguely annoying synthesized voice (“Turn left in 500 feet”) to the address … and saw before us a massive house that fit exactly with the description above.  Circular driveway, check.  Fountain, check.  Rolls Royce (albeit not a new model), check.  Gigantic chandelier, check.  Now, keep in mind that ABC Insurance’s products are aimed primarily at working class people.  We don’t sell the sort of high-end stuff that appeals to investment bankers and hedge fund managers.  Clearly, this former customer (his policy had lapsed about six months ago) was an exception to the usual working-class rule.  I headed to the front door with the other agent, concerned that I might violate some sort of unwritten protocol governing interactions with the very rich.  Not that I found out, because no one was home.  We were half expecting a tuxedo’ed English butler to answer the door, but that did not transpire.

In any event, the lapsed-customer canvassing went about as well as could be expected, no on-the-spot sales but two appointments for sales calls later in the week.  The other agent and I will be working together at least a couple days a week from now on.  There are six agents in our managerial group, and four of them have many years’ experience.  As the only two newcomers, we figure that we’ll do better together than working singly.  In fact we’re going to do some business canvassing starting at noon tomorrow, to be followed by more lapsed-customer canvassing.

I was really bedraggled and run-down for much of the day, in fact when I got to the office at nine in the morning for the regular weekly meeting another agent said I looked as if I’d just finished a long workday.  By the afternoon, and the start of the canvassing, I was more energetic, but still not quite ready to consider going to the gym today.

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Published in: on October 26, 2010 at 4:06 am  Leave a Comment  

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