The autopsy of a dead sale
As not too much of interest happened today, I’ll take the opportunity to analyze a failed sale from last week and try to figure out why it failed. Doing so does not mean that the sale will make a Lazarus-like resurrection from the dead, of course, but I have the sort of inquisitive mind that prefers to know why something bad happened even when the results won’t change. As for today’s activities, I went into the office in mid-morning to take care of some administrative matters. I was supposed to meet my manager to spend a while going over the underwriting changes that will be taking effect on Monday and to receive a new field underwriting manual. After waiting around for a while I got a text from him, saying that he was tied up with a customer some distance away. Rather than wait around any longer I opted to attend a group training session that will be held early tomorrow afternoon. The time I had spent in the office wasn’t totally wasted, however, as another manager was giving me advice on canvassing methods. He’s pretty much the canvassing specialist and I’m hoping that his advice proves helpful.
In the early afternoon I headed off to two smaller towns in central-eastern Suffolk in which I had a new supply of customer lead cards. As I’m not sure how much work I’ll be doing in these communities, Chipmunk Junction will remain the center of my activities for the time being, I haven’t yet decided whether to give them monickers of their own. Whatever the case, I didn’t have much luck in contacting anyone, though that’s to be expected given the time of day. I headed home later in the afternoon, hoping to get in a nice gym session, however other things intervened and I wasn’t able to go. My gym attendance has been rather spotty lately, I’ve really got to change that, and soon.
As for the dead-sale autopsy, I have in mind the one from last Thursday in Chipmunk Junction and the customer’s “let me talk it over with my wife” response. I hadn’t thought too much about my failure at the time because I immediately followed it with a very nice successful sale. In retrospect, however, it’s not immediately apparent why the first sale had been such a miserable flop. I had called the customer on Tuesday evening and left a voice mail message. He called me back late Wednesday morning, a very unusual event in and of itself, and said that he was glad I had called because he’d been meaning to contact ABC Insurance all along. He said that since he had taken out a small health policy a few years ago he had gotten married, and his wife had just had a baby. Being self-employed and with a family to support, and working in a physically demanding trade, the customer said he was concerned about having coverage in case of disability and knew that we offered that sort of policy. We arranged to meet the following day when I’d be in town. Given the customer’s expressed need for a disability policy and his sense of urgency I had every hope of making a nice sale.
As I noted in a prior entry the customer seemed interested during my presentation. It came as quite a surprise when he “wifed” me and said that he’d call me the next day, and as no surprise at all when I never heard back from him. My initial concern was that I’d somehow blown the presentation. Looking back, however, I now have a pretty good idea of what went down. A possible key to understanding is something I had (deliberately?) overlooked during the presentation, namely the fact that the customer had taken out a piece of paper from his printer and wrote down some things as I was speaking. That’s of course a classic means of feigning interest and usually means that no sale will be forthcoming.
With no further ado, here’s my reasoned guess as to what happened. After the customer spoke to me on Wednesday and we scheduled the call for the next day, he told his wife about it and she came out with the Typical Wife Response: We already have enough insurance. Never mind the fact that the customer had told me that he had no disability insurance and was very concerned about the issue. As I’ve noted many times, there’s a major difference in the attitudes of women as women per se and the attitudes of women in their status as their husband’s wives. Women as women understand the role of insurance and can be perfectly willing to buy policies on themselves. Women as wives usually think that insurance on their husbands is an unnecessary frivolity.
In any event, after the customer told his wife about his plans to meet with me, and the wife sent the idea down in flames, my reasoned guess is that he figured that it would be better just to meet with me and pretend to be interested rather than calling to cancel. I had told him that I was going to be in Chipmunk Junction and had another call scheduled after his, so presumably he knew that meeting with him would be no major inconvenience for me. He also had no way of knowing that getting to Chipmunk Junction was a long drive for me. Again, I have no way of knowing if my theory is true, but it would account for the customer’s feigned interest as expressed via note-taking, and for his somewhat sheepish attitude when he came out with the “let me talk it over with my wife” response. One thing I now realize is that my failure to suggest that I meet with both the customer and his wife was surely irrelevant. She probably wouldn’t have been willing to meet with me, and if she had she almost certainly would have said “let me think about it.” I know for sure who is the dominant partner in that marriage, and it isn’t the husband.