Monday, January 17

Doing it a bit differently

Getting to the office on this sort-of-holiday for the weekly 9 am meeting was a proverbial breeze.  Expressway traffic was at no more than two-thirds of the normal rush hour level, and there were no long backups at a couple of usually horrible traffic lights near the office.  Being it a semi-holiday my plans had been to call on residential customers, figuring that many people would be home today.  I was less than thrilled about this idea because it’s a 50-mile drive to the town where I’m now working and I’ll have to go back again tomorrow for some scheduled sales calls.  It was with no small delight that I heard one of the managers say at the meeting that calling people on the telephone today, even with voice mail, would be better than trying to call on them in person.  His reasoning is that going to peoples’ houses in the winter smacks of desperation, and one truism of the sales industry is that no one buys anything from a salesperson who seems desperate.  So not only did this bit of advice save me from 100+ miles of driving, it also may lead to a sale or two.  Following the meeting I went home and made a flurry of calls to existing customers, and have a couple of foll0w-ups that may prove productive.

As for the gym, I was all set to go in the early evening, only for a coughing fit to leave me in no shape to go.

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Published in: on January 20, 2011 at 1:11 am  Comments (2)  

Saturday, January 15/Sunday, January 16

Blah.  Still not up to going to the gym.  Count this as a lost weekend.

Published in: on January 18, 2011 at 12:59 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, January 14

It’s baaaack!

My cold, that is.  Just as I thought it was history, with even my lingering cough making its departure, I got up today coughing and congested and with an extremely low energy level.  Heading out on the road was an extremely unappealing proposition.  Still, what with being paid on a commission basis, I didn’t have much choice in the matter.  One good thing is that I was able to stay closer to home than yesterday, making customer calls in a town only about 20 minutes away.  It was a mixed bag in terms of success, which is not surprising in this business.  By late afternoon I was barely able to stand upright, so going to the gym was completely out of the question.

Published in: on January 17, 2011 at 3:17 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, January 13

Busy, busy, busy

Starting around mid-morning I spent several hours calling on customers in an upscale eastern Suffolk community.  It’s quite a haul, around 50 miles each way, even further east than Range Rover Territory.  What with the price of gasoline I am scarcely thrilled to do so much driving, but what I’m hoping is that my work in this town will generate enough sales commissions to make it all worthwhile.  I made something like 20 stops over the course of the day, calling mostly on active customers with a few lapses.  Calling on active customers sometimes is an exercise in frustration because other agents have called on them within the past year or so.  If they were going to buy anything new they already would have done so, and in some cases they get annoyed from being bothered repeatedly.  These concerns weren’t an issue in this particular community, as no other agents have been there in at least two years.

It turned out to be a reasonably productive effort on my part.  While I didn’t make any sales, I wasn’t expecting to, five customers asked me to come back next week – all on Tuesday, for some reason.  If I can get a couple of sales out of these five I’ll be quite happy.  As I was there today during the workday I concentrated solely on business calls.  As Monday is a federal holiday I’ll go back and make residential calls, figuring that some people will be home during the day, and of course Tuesday will be the follow-ups.  No, I’m not looking forward to all that gasoline usage, but that’s the way this industry works. Today I finished up around 6:30 and headed back home, encountering surprisingly heavy traffic.  Or no so surprisingly, there’s basically just one road out of the area, and traffic can back up like anything.  Especially in the summer, though today showed that winter is not immune.

Gym: 30 minutes on the stationary cycle at 18.8 mph.

Published in: on January 16, 2011 at 3:40 pm  Comments (1)  

Wednesday, January 12

Snow day

We got somewhere between 12 and 15 inches of snow last night.  In an illustration of the rule that Everything is Relative, this seemed like practically nothing after the 20+ inches that fell the day after Christmas.  Even so, I decided not to try going out on the road, and instead made telephone calls to potential customers. Not that I got through to many, thanks to that evil invention known as voice mail.  Tomorrow will be a high-mileage day, that’s for sure.  Oh, when I went to the supermarket in the late afternoon I noticed that the gym was closed.  Wimps. At least all the snow shoveling counts as decent exercise.

Published in: on January 14, 2011 at 5:44 am  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, January 11

Not stopping in

Today – 1/11/11 – began with the weekly new agents’ meeting, held today instead of the usual Wednesday on account of the impending storm.  We practiced responses used in overcoming objections when trying to sell disability policies.  Specifically, we learned what to say if the customer says I have workers’ compensation (response: fewer than 10% of disability cases are eligible for comp benefits), What about New York State disability? (response: the maximum benefit is a pathetic $170 per week, and the state has the audacity to tax it), or I’ll just get Social Security disability (response: you can’t even apply until you’ve been disabled for six months, it takes an average of one year following the application to get benefits, and half of all applications are rejected).  As we were leaving the meeting, another agent remarked to me that these responses were all well and good, but the fact remains that just getting in front of customers in the first place is the hard part.  So true.

Following the meeting I headed out to the East End to call on some existing business customers.  Some of the addresses were actually peoples’ houses, in other words home-based businesses.  You see a lot of this with contractors in particular.  As they do most of their actual work at job sites they often see little point in renting offices.  Based on my experience with businesses of this sort, I decided not to try calling on them in person, I’ll use the telephone instead.  What happens all too often is that I’ll go to the house only for another person, often the customer’s wife or other family member, to tell me that the customer isn’t in.  The wife will then say “let me take your card, I’ll tell [the customer] that you were here and he’ll give you a call.”  When this happens it is pretty much guaranteed that any chances of making a sale are lost.  Chances are very good that the wife won’t give her husband my card, though it doesn’t matter if she does because people don’t call insurance agents except to cancel scheduled sales calls [“something came up at work.”] To make matters worse, I can’t go back at another time because that would be seen as too pushy and might prompt a complaint to the home office.  With the telephone, in contrast, it’s okay to call back.

In any event, I spent quite a while going around a couple of extremely upscale East End towns making calls, though it wasn’t as successful as I hoped.  One thing I noticed is a number of houses – very, very large houses – under construction or undergoing massive renovations.  Today’s economy may not be in the greatest of shape, but clearly there are many people who can still afford $5 million custom-built houses.  What I might do next week is stop at some of these construction sites and speak to the workmen.  Building contractors are a big part of ABC Insurance’s customer base.

Gym: upper-body work tonight, and I am most pleased to report that even though I haven’t benched for two weeks I have not lost any ground.  In fact the bench pressing was very nice: 6 x 135, 4 x 185, 4 x 205, 7 x 225, 4 x 5 x 225.  Next came barbell rows, 4 x 8 x 185, and I finished the session with overhead barbell presses, 8 x 95, 2 x 8 x 105.

Published in: on January 12, 2011 at 6:02 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, January 10

What to do about Wednesday?

Weather forecasts call for around 1o to 12 inches of snow starting Tuesday night and continuing through Wednesday morning.  This actually creates a bit of a dilemma for me.  Taking Wednesday off as a snow day is a somewhat unpalatable idea given that I work on a commission basis.  Business canvassing would be pointless, however, as if forecasts hold I would imagine that many businesses will be closed.  At the agents’ meeting this morning – to which I was five minutes late, thanks to horrible Expressway traffic – I got a large stack of lead cards.  One thing discussed at the meeting was that Wednesday might be a good day to call on people, as many people are likely to be home from work.  The thing is, my new cards are in two communities in far eastern Suffolk, close to 50 miles from where I live.  While I generally don’t mind driving in snow, the idea of a 100-mile round trip in what’s likely to be a heavy snowstorm just doesn’t seem wise.  Especially since many of the customers are likely to be on local streets in semi-rural areas that may not be plowed in a timely manner.  Also, if the storm tracks as predicted the East End may get even more snow than my area, possibly 15 inches or more.

While my plans may change as the forecast does, what I’ll probably end up doing is making telephone calls on Wednesday.  Yeah, I know, voice mail and all that, but the stack of cards is thick enough that I might be able to get in contact with some people.  I’m also mulling over an idea for a new type of message to leave on voice mail.  At the new agents’ meeting, which has been changed to tomorrow from Wednesday in anticipation of the storm, I’ll run the idea by management and see if it might be workable.

As for today’s activities, there isn’t too much to report.  Following the meeting I did some business canvassing in central Suffolk, in the same community as last week, unfortunately without much success.  I was hoping I’d hear back from the deli owner to whom I’d made the presentation on Friday, even though logic told me that wasn’t too likely.  None of the other people I spoke to today seemed to have much interest in anything I had to offer.

Gym: a nice leg session today.  I started out with 20 minutes on the stationary cycle at 19.6 mph.  Then came seated calf raises, 3 x 12 x 135; horizontal leg presses, 4 x 8 x 360; Life Fitness seated leg curls, 4 x 8 x 185; and finally Precor seated leg extensions, 3 x 8 x 190.

Published in: on January 11, 2011 at 3:24 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, January 8/Sunday, January 9

Got in a decent gym session on Saturday, 20 minutes ellipting followed by 20 minutes on the stationary cycle at 18.4 mph.  By the time Sunday rolled around I was somewhat run down and decided not to go.

Published in: on January 11, 2011 at 3:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, January 7

Running around

Today was a busy day for me.  I did some canvassing in the late morning and early afternoon, headed into the office in the mid-afternoon for the weekly check in, then went back out on the road for a sales call.  This call did not lead to an immediate sale, but I’m cautiously hopeful that it’ll lead to a sale next week.  It was an unusual call in that I did brief presentations on all of our policy types.  Usually, customers are interested in just one or two types.  However this call turns out, one thing is clear – I’ll be on the road quite a bit next week.

Published in: on January 10, 2011 at 1:31 am  Comments (1)  

Thursday, January 6

The Grand Return

More business canvassing today, this time out in Range Rover Territory.  Any fears I might have had about exhausting the supply of businesses were dispelled when I realized that in several hours I barely scratched the surface in terms of the number of businesses.  There will be many, many more to go.  My efforts today were moderately successful, though it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to trigger the double bonus available this week.  Next week I’ll be returning to Range Rover Territory, what with all the businesses yet to be seen.  Not to mention the fact that traffic is quite reasonable, compared to the nightmare of summer.

Yes, it was Back to the Gym tonight.  Because I’ve been away so long I decided to keep things fairly easy to start, and did 30 minutes on the stationary cycle at 19.6 mph.  I had been expecting the gym to be packed with New Year’s Resolutions types, most of whom will be gone within a month or two, but to my mild surprise it didn’t appear any busier than normal.

Published in: on January 8, 2011 at 4:01 pm  Leave a Comment