Today was basically a big nothing day. My cold, or whatever it is, was much worse today, and I barely left the house at all. Doing any significant work-type work was out of the question, as was going to the gym. By this point I scarcely remember what the gym looks like.
Today was mainly a digging out sort of day, thanks to the 20 or so inches of Global Warming on the ground. The normal weekly agents’ meeting was canceled, and given the road conditions I figured it would be inadvisable to make any sales calls. We took turns shoveling, and a neighbor offered me the use of his snowblower – what a labor-saving device that was! By the late afternoon my cough was getting worse and I was getting more and more run down. There was no way I could have made it to the gym, but it really didn’t matter because when I went to the supermarket near the gym around 8:30 I noted that the gym was closed.
If we celebrated Boxing Day in America, as a partial consolation for the lack of a White Christmas at least we’d have a White Boxing Day. More like a very small consolation. It was snowing quite heavily when I went out around 11 to buy Front Line Plus for Cats, a regular and necessary item in my household. While some of the cats don’t appear to have many fleas, Sherbert, Merlin and Dipsy are veritable fleabags and have to be treated with Front Line. I was considering making a trip to the gym, as I haven’t gone in what seems like forever, unfortunately I just didn’t feel up to going. I’m definitely getting a cold, and have about as much energy as week-old roadkill. Tomorrow I’ll need whatever energy I have for shoveling.
Not having a White Christmas doesn’t usually bother me, but when we’re going to get at least a foot of snow the very next day, well then it does bother me.
I got a really nice pair of outdoor boots. They were most appreciated, as I used to have a very nice pair but Merlin the cat ate the tongues.
The eel was delicious, though it was hard to eat without interruption because I kept having to give pieces to Sherbert the cat.
Eel 1, Gym 0
I was planning on going to the gym in the morning, as I missed yesterday and it’ll be closed tomorrow for Christmas. The morning was the only option because we were going into Nassau County in the early afternoon for a Christmas Eve visit, and in any event it was closing at 4 pm. I never made it to the gym. Fairly early in the morning I realized that I still had to buy some stocking stuffers, and even more significantly had forgotten to buy eel from Christmas dinner. You can’t have Christmas dinner without eel. Goose is traditional too, but we did that a few years ago and the official policy in the house is Never Again. By the time I finished buying the stocking stuffers and our wiggly friends, there wasn’t enough time for the gym. Looks like it’ll be a three-day break.
Not today, either
Yesterday I wasn’t able to do business canvassing with “Agent A” because another agent had previously arranged to go. It was disappointing, but one good thing is that Agent A was going out again today, and this time I’d be able to accompany him for sure. Or so I thought. It turns out that a non-business situation that developed in the morning made it impossible for me to go canvassing, or indeed do much of anything else. It was early evening until the situation resolved itself, by then it was too late to do any canvassing or make customer calls. Granted, with Christmas this close it would have been difficult to make much progress even if I’d been canvassing all day, but at least I would have tried. When I was finally able to get out of the house, I had some last-minute Christmas shopping to do, and by the time that was finished it was almost 9:30 and I simply didn’t have the energy to go to the gym. Not one of my better days, that’s for sure.
Change of plans
Today I had been planning to go with another agent (Agent A) to do some business canvassing in the county seat in eastern Suffolk. What with a fairly large business community in this city, it should be fertile territory for canvassing. We also planned to make some residential calls, so I was figuring on a productive day. Unfortunately, a second agent (Agent B) had asked Agent A the day before I did, and though Agent A and I were expecting him to change his mind, he didn’t. What this meant is that Agent B got to go instead of me, which is disappointing but fair in that he had asked first. When we talked in the morning, Agent A said that I could still come along if I wanted, but I declined. The old line about two’s company, three’s a crowd applies quite well to insurance canvassing. If three agents call on a business or residence it comes off as too overwhelming and/or pushy and is almost guaranteed to lead to absolutely nothing. I spent much of the day making residential calls fairly close to home, not many people were around but I dropped off more door hangars. At this point, all I can reasonably hope is that I’ll set up some activity for the following weeks.
Gym: I did the back and shoulder work I wasn’t able to do yesterday. Overhead presses: 4 x 8 x 105. Barbell rows: 4 x 8 x 185. I also did 20 minutes on the stationary cycle at 18.7 mph.
So that’s what it really means
One objection I’ve occasionally heard from customers centers on the manner of paying for insurance policies rather than the amounts paid. For example, a customer offers no resistance when I say that a particular policy will cost $30 per month, but when I go on to add that the normal method of payment is by automatic checking account debit, the customer will sigh and say “Ugh, just another bill each month.” For that reason I was thinking that maybe it would be better to start the discussion with the yearly price (“For just $360 you get a full year’s protection”) and then add that we have a monthly payment option. People might find it less scary to make a single large payment than to face another monthly bill.
At today’s new agent meeting, held a day earlier than usual due to the holiday, I found out that the “just another bill” objection is in the same category as “let me think about it” or “let me talk it over with my wife.” In other words, a customer who raises the objection is not interested in the policy, or at least needs more convincing to get interested, and uses the objection as a way to avoid uttering the dreaded word “no.” Presenting the annual price as the first option won’t do any good. Now, this is not the same as price resistance, which happens when a customer shows interest in a policy but thinks the price is too high. In most of those situations it’s possible to present lower-cost alternatives.
Following the meeting, which also went over some useful referral-approach techniques, I met up with another agent to make some customer calls in eastern Suffolk. It often is better to work in pairs, though given the time of year I’m not sure anything would really help. We left more of those door hangars and spoke with some people, though fell short of making any actual sales. One amusing thing happened when I drove up a customer’s driveway, the street being too narrow and too heavily trafficked to allow for safe parking. It was the most impossibly steep driveway I’ve ever seen in my life, and keep in mind that I’m originally from a very hilly city in Connecticut. It was an old house, obviously built long before the enactment of building codes. You’d never get approval for such a ridiculous driveway today.
Gym: it was very late before I was able to arrive, so I did a bench-only session and will save the back and shoulder work for tomorrow. I decided to try a 10 x 3 session: 6 x 135, 4 x 185, 4 x 205, 10 x 3 x 225, 10 x 185. None of the sets at 225 were at all challenging, the next time I go for a 10 x 3 I should go up to 230 or even 235.
It’s not just me
Even though I strongly suspected that my recent sales slump is due to unavoidable seasonal factors and not my own shortcomings, I’ve nonetheless harbored some doubts. Was I doing something wrong? Being fairly inexperienced in this business I’m always worried that my sales approach is somehow deficient. Today’s weekly agent meeting has largely quelled my fears. Hardly anyone did well last week, even the top agents who can sell just about anything to just about anyone. People have different priorities during the holiday season: some people like to buy gifts, others see it as an opportunity to strengthen family and social ties, while still others view Christmas as an essentially religious holiday. The one common theme is that no one is interested in buying insurance at this time of year. Well, almost no one. While the lack of significant income is not pleasant, especially given that it’s Christmas, I really don’t have much choice but to accept it and hope for the best after the first of the year. It’s just a fact of life in this industry. Experienced agents say that business generally picks up quite in bit in January, as peoples’ priorities change.
With all of that in mind I wasn’t expecting too much success today, and that turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. I made more customer calls in the eastern Suffolk community where I’ve been spending a couple of days each week for the past month. This included following up on the door hangars I had left on Friday. My efforts were largely in vain, however, as even in the early evening nobody seemed to be home. This itself might be a seasonal factor, the result of Christmas shopping. Tomorrow I’ll be back in the same community and hopefully will find more people around.
Gym: not being too energetic tonight, all I did was 30 minutes on the stationary cycle at 19.0 mph.
No gym on Saturday, as we had some stuff to do in Queens and Brooklyn. Two observations: 1) traffic on Woodhaven Boulevard in Queens is absolutely horrendous; and 2) my ultimate fantasy is to be locked inside Jacques Torres Chocolates in Brooklyn and have to eat my way out.
I got in a decent leg session on Sunday, machine-based yet again. Life Fitness seated leg curls: 4 x 8 x 185. Precor leg extensions: 4 x 8 x 195. Seated calf raises: 3 x 12 x 140. Horizontal leg presses: 3 x 8 x 350.