Monday, November 15

Nothing for today

Other things intervened today, so I didn’t do much in the line of work and wasn’t able to go to the gym.  Back to normal tomorrow.

Published in: on November 17, 2010 at 5:29 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, November 13/Sunday, November 14

Saturday began with Friday’s postponed sales call.  The customer showed some interest but wasn’t ready to give an answer just yet, however she said by the middle of next week she’d know.  This is more tolerable than the typical “let me think about it” nonsense.  I’m not particularly concerned with her eventual decision as given the type and size of the policy under consideration my commission would be minimal.  Later in the afternoon I went to the gym and did 30 minutes on the stair climber machine.  I’m definitely impressed with how tough this machine is, it’s definitely the equivalent of running on the treadmill but less boring.

Sunday was Leg Day, unfortunately some back soreness obliged me to do less than planned.  Trap bar deadlifts: 4 x 6 x 265.  It was just too painful to do five sets.  Seated calf raises: 3 x 12 x 145.  Life Fitness seated leg curls: 4 x 8 x 192.5.  Precor leg extensions: 3 x 8 x 200.  I decided to skip the kettlebell swings as they are fairly tough on the back.

Published in: on November 16, 2010 at 3:25 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, November 12

For once, I didn’t mind missing the gym

Today was one of those all-too-uncommon days when thing go perfectly.  As I had a couple of evening sales calls, I didn’t do much during the first part of the day except some telephone work.  In the early afternoon I went into the office to file the paperwork from the week’s other sales and restock my forms supply.  There are about 20 to 25 forms and brochures that I carry around in my car, everything needed to make a presentation and sale for every product we sell, and it is very important to make sure that I have enough of everything.  It’s not as if I can come back another time to complete a sale should I find myself lacking the proper forms.  If I can’t complete the sale on the spot, the customer will not be willing to make the purchase.

Later in the afternoon I headed off to a working-class community in central Suffolk for the first of the scheduled sales calls.  The customer had said he would be out with his family but would return at 5:30.  He wasn’t there at the appointed time, so I waited around for 20 minutes until he finally arrived.  Any misgivings I might have had about his late arrival quickly evaporated when he said that he wanted to buy a sizable disability policy to replace one which had lapsed a couple of years ago.  That was good, very good.  Not only was the premium quite high, but because of the length of time his policy had been lapsed he counted as a new customer, and therefore my commission was a substantially higher percentage of the premium than would be the case for an existing customer.  To make things even better, he then decided that he wanted a life insurance policy on himself and policies on a couple of family members.  I ended up filling out a total of four applications, and spending almost two hours on the call.  So long, in fact, that I had to postpone the evening’s other scheduled call until tomorrow.  By the time all was said and done it was too late for me to make it to the gym.  But I did not care in the least – the commission from this one call was high enough that I would have earned a nice income for the week even if I hadn’t sold anything else.

Published in: on November 14, 2010 at 9:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, November 11

Well that was easy

I figured that a sort-of holiday like Veterans Day would be a useful day for making calls on existing and lapsed customers.  Some people have the day off from work, and it’s not the sort of holiday on which people plan family activities or travel.  My plans came to naught, alas, for I had no luck finding people at home during the day.  It wasn’t too much of a waste as the calls were relatively close by, with no massive amounts of driving in vain.  Things got much better in the evening with a pre-scheduled sales call on an existing customer.  He was very pleasant, as was his wife, and they readily agreed to some upgraded coverage.  Given the nature of the sale I had to complete two separate applications, so the call took quite a while, but I didn’t mind.  Long sales calls that lead to actual sales are fine.  Long sales calls that lead to “let me think about it,” well they’re not quite so fine.

What was most memorable* about the call was that each of the customer’s two cats look just like one of our cats.  Absolutely amazing resemblances.  Physically, not behaviorally, that it.  The customer’s wife said that their cat which looks like our cat Baci is very calm and docile; Baci herself is hyperactive and not completely domesticated.  Whenever we hear cats fighting in another room (just about a daily occurrence) we know that Baci is one of the combatants. 

Gym: a bench-only session tonight.  6 x 135, 4 x 185, 4 x 205, 5 x 225, 4 x 235, 2 x 245, 2 x 4 x 225, 3 x 225.

* = looking back on the sales calls I’ve made, I remember the customers’ pets much better than I remember the customers themselves.

Published in: on November 13, 2010 at 3:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, November 10

I heard that wonderful word

Imagine.  Someone actually said “no” today and it was like the sweetest music to my ears.  In the morning I went to a town in eastern Suffolk County to make a sales call on a business owner.  He had some questions about his existing coverage, and listened attentively when I described some additional coverage in which he might be interested.  When I finished my presentation, and asked if he were ready to make a decision, he thanked me for coming and for my help, but said that he did not want to purchase anything else.  No “let me think about it,” no “let me talk to my wife,” no “come back in a couple of weeks.”  It was a complete relief to hear a person being so  forthright that I didn’t even mind the fact that I hadn’t actually, you know, sold anything or made any money.

After returning from the sales call I came home and made some telephone calls, setting things up for later in the week.  As I had a late call scheduled, I decided to go to the gym in the early afternoon.  I ran for 20 minutes on the treadmill at 4.7 mph, which worked out to 1.56 miles, and then did 15 minutes on the stationary cycle on a hill course at just under 19 mph.  It turned out that the evening call ended up rescheduling for Friday, but it was nice in a way to go to the gym early.

Published in: on November 12, 2010 at 5:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, November 9

I have ESP!

Wow, I’ve always been a skeptical sort, and never thought I had any extrasensory powers – in fact, I never believed such powers even existed. My skepticism vanished in a split second at 9:30 this morning.  As a bit of background, I had a sales call scheduled for 11 a few towns away.  When my cell phone rang at 9:30 I knew, even before I answered it, what the call would be about.  It was the customer whom I was supposed to see in 90 minutes, muttering something about things that came up and how she had to leave and wouldn’t be back all day.  She didn’t give many details as to exactly what these “things” were, not that I was expecting any.  Or that what she said would bear even the slightest resemblance to the truth.  It fell to me to bring up the issue of rescheduling the sales call, and – another prediction! – she said that she’d be so busy but she had my card and would call me next week.  Of course the chances that she’ll actually call to reschedule are about the same as the chances you’ll find a unicorn munching the grass in your back yard. 

I went back home for a while, and starting in the mid-afternoon did some canvassing of lapsed customers in a central Suffolk community.  It wasn’t particularly successful; either people weren’t interested, or they were interested but didn’t have any money.  Things got especially complicated after dark, as most of this community lack street lights and finding house numbers was a real challenge. 

Published in: on November 11, 2010 at 5:07 am  Comments (1)  

Monday, November 8

Being the enemy

One of the most “culture shock” elements about selling insurance is that for the first time in my life I’m playing the part of the Enemy.  The Bad Guy.  Okay, it’s not like I’m an actual villain, but people clearly consider me a bother and an annoyance.  No one is happy to see me.*  At the very best they are barely cognizant of my arrival, more commonly they’re eager to get rid of me: Honey, who’s at the door?  It’s a salesman from ABC Insurance who wants to talk about that policy we have. Well send him away and come back and watch TV.  Yes dear.

It’s not easy making this adjustment.  While on one level I can just dismiss these attitudes with the realization that most people are schmucks, the fact that I’m dependent on the aforesaid schmucks to make a living means that dismissing these attitudes is easier said than done.  Of course my new realization is not new at all to people who regularly deal with the public, especially those in commissioned sales jobs, but it’s new to me, and that’s what counts.

Today began with the usual weekly agents’ meeting.  There was actually some wet snow (and heavy traffic) on the way in.  I told a couple experienced agents of last week’s tale of woe with the auto-related business that had me come back seven times and never bought anything.  Such extreme stringing-along is not all that uncommon.  One agent said it was similar to the experience of a man who has been on several dates with a woman, and when he suggests, ahem, taking the relationship to the next level, the woman mutters something about “maybe next time.”  It is clear that the hapless man will never achieve the object of his desire.  Had I been more experienced, I would have realized by the third or fourth “come back in a couple weeks” that the business owner was never going to buy anything.  What I learned from these experienced agents is that if I’m seeing a customer for the third time, and the customer continues to stall, I should force a decision: saying something like either buy now, or we won’t be doing business any further.

I wasn’t able to accomplish too much for the rest of the day.  I worked the phones for a while, but my plans to make some afternoon and evening calls with the manager did not come to pass.  There are three scheduled sales calls during the rest of the week, so hopefully I’ll be able to make some decent sales.

Gym: in addition to running one mile on the treadmill, at 4.7 mph, I also tried out this stairclimber machine for the first time.  It was pretty tough, 20 minutes on it was just as difficult as running for the equivalent length of time.  That’s not the case with the stationary cycle or the elliptical.


* = unless they’ve suffered a loss and want help filing a claim, in which case I’m welcomed with open arms


Published in: on November 10, 2010 at 6:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, November 6/Sunday, November 7

Saturday is usually Leg Day, but I decided to switch it to Sunday this week.  Starting next week I may be doing more work-work on Saturday, and I’d just as soon not do legs if I’m worn out from work.  I can always switch back.  So on Saturday I just used the stationary cycle, 35 minutes on the “hill plus” course.  Sunday was Leg Day, and it went fine, with progression from last session.  Trap bar deadlifts: 5 x 6 x 255.  Seated calf raises: 3 x 12 x 150.  Seated leg curls: 4 x 8 x 192.5.  Seated leg extensions: 3 x 8 x 195.  Kettlebell swings: 3 x 10 with a 50-pounder.

Published in: on November 9, 2010 at 1:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, November 5

Thinking about the lapses

Wednesday’s abject failure at the auto-related business still smarts.  Seven visits, no sale.  If the owner had had any sort of conscience he should have bought at least a small policy just so I wouldn’t have gone empty-handed.  It would’ve been one thing if I had kept coming back on my own accord, but in reality he kept asking me to return.  That makes a big difference.  While it didn’t dawn on me at the time, I now realize that my streak of failure with respect to lapsed customers remains dubiously intact.  While some agents seem to have success bringing former customers back into the fold, my experience is very different.  It’s not just me, as some other agents have found things to be the same way.  People who let their policies lapse do so for good reasons – either they can’t afford the premiums, they were dissatisfied with the way claims were handled, or they just don’t feel the need for coverage.  Even leaving aside the fact that it can be very difficult to make contact with lapsed customers, most of them just aren’t in the buying mood.  While I noted earlier that it’s easier to get a former customer to go from paying nothing to paying $50 a month than it is to get an existing customer to go from paying $50 to paying $100, this is presupposing that there is any interest on the lapsed customer’s part.  Usually, there isn’t.

There wasn’t very much to accomplish for the rest of the day.  My remaining active cards are almost all for residential rather than business calls.  Calling on them during the day would be mostly pointless, and Friday evenings are not especially useful either.  I made a few attempts, no luck, so basically I’ll have to wait until I get a new supply of cards next week.

Gym: upper body work tonight.  Bench press: 6 x 135, 4 x 185, 4 x 205, 5 x 5 x 225.  Neutral grip pull-ups: 3 x 4, 3 x 3.


Published in: on November 7, 2010 at 2:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, November 4

The missing persons brigade

I spent most of today driving around the county-seat city in eastern Suffolk calling on active and lapsed customers.  Or trying to call on them.  More than a few of them proved impossible to locate.  The addresses did not exist, and their telephone numbers were not in service.  In a typical case, the listed address might be 52 Elm Street, but the numbers do not run in sequence on that street and there is a gap from 46 to 54.  Number 52 does not exist. Either there is some sort of glitch in our records or the city in question renumbered its streets at some point.  Whatever the case, it was more than a little frustrating, although I managed to schedule a sales call for next week.  It’s with a business owner, and has the potential for being promising.

I am not looking forward to the upcoming end of Daylight Savings Time.  Residential canvassing doesn’t make much sense unless it’s done in the early evening when people have come home from work.  Soon it will be dark at these times.  Darkness presents two problems from my perspective.  First of all, depending on the condition of street lighting it can be very difficult to find house numbers after dark.  A more significant point is that some people are reluctant to open their doors after dark.  This is especially true with respect to lapsed customers.  What I’ll probably end up doing is spending Saturday afternoons on the road, although even then it can be hard to catch people at home.


Published in: on November 6, 2010 at 1:56 pm  Leave a Comment