Wednesday, February 9

It’s better never to learn why you failed

“Learn from your mistakes” is one of those Life Lessons we’ve all heard.  Sounds like a good idea, right?  In many contexts I’m sure it is.  When you’re in school, knowing why you got some questions wrong on the midterm will help you do better on the final.  Things like that.  In some instances, however, you’re better off not knowing.

These philosophical musings of course relate to something that happened to me today.  After a brief meeting in the morning, thankfully no significant traffic woes today, I headed off to Groundhog Crossing to call on some active and recently lapsed customers.  It was quite the relief not to have to drag myself all the way out to Chipmunk Junction.  One of my first stops was at a small industrial business near the edge of town.  The owner had a disability policy for several years, until it lapsed about 18 months ago, and because our new type of disability policy has many enhancements compared to the lapsed one I figured that the owner might be a decent prospect.  Indeed, he seemed interested at first, and asked for a rate quote.  After I showed him what it would cost, less than a dollar a day for a relatively small policy amount, he said it wouldn’t be worthwhile for him given the nature of his business.  A couple of his family members work with him, and with some extra effort on their part they’d be able to keep the business going even if the owner were disabled for a prolonged period.  I left soon after.

Some time later during the day it occurred to me that there might have been some response I could have used to the owner’s “the business will run without me” objection.  Something I sort of remembered from sales training.  I was able to speak with an experienced agent, and sure enough there is a response for these situations.  What I should have done, once the owner made his point about the business running in his absence, is asked him in a conversational manner how many hours a week he devotes to the business.  If he’s anything like the typical small business owner he almost certainly would have said 55 or 60 hours or even more.  I then should have pointed out, in a polite manner of course, that the fact that he has to put in such long hours means that it would not be business as usual if he were out for months.  The business would suffer, lacking his expertise and customer relationships, and even if he continued to draw income the disability money could be put back into the business to help compensate for his absence.  Of course this would not have made a sale a sure thing, but it would have been infinitely better than just wilting in the face of his objection.

I’m glad I learned about my mistake … or am I?  The key point is that the sale is lost and gone forever.  I cannot go back to the business and use this response, it’s the sort of thing that has to be done immediately or never.  Had I not known about the response, my failure would be less bothersome because I would just assume it was beyond my control.  Now I know, too late, that it wasn’t beyond my control after all.  And it’s not pleasant.

The rest of my day was basically a wasted effort.  I wasn’t able to make contact with more than a handful of people, and no one I spoke to showed even a glimmer of interest.  Just like yesterday in Chipmunk Junction, “we’re happy with what we have” was the typical response.  You’d be surprised how people can say that line in a dismissive, please-get-lost manner. I worked until early evening, before heading home with a goose egg to show for my efforts.  Physically I probably could have made it to the gym, but what with my doleful state of mind I completely lacked the motivation.

Published in: on February 11, 2011 at 11:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

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