Monday, February 14

When “Yes” means “No”
One of my favorite themes is of course how so many people are too chicken to come right out and say “no” when that’s what they really mean.  They’ll instead use the tried-and-true lines that I’ve heard over and over again: Let me think about it, Let me check my schedule and get back to you, Let me talk it over with my wife, Let me sacrifice a goat and examine its entrails for advice. Okay, I haven’t yet heard the last of those, but soon enough.  It gets worse.  In a linguistic manipulation I never thought possible, two recent customers have gone so far as to say “yes” (as in “yes, I’ll buy the policy”) when they actually meant “no.”

The more recent case began last Thursday evening, when I called a customer in Groundhog Crossing whose policy had lapsed within the past few months.  We talked for a few minutes, and he told me that he had been unaware of the lapse, which as far as I can tell was the result of a change in billing arrangements involving his employer.  More to the point, he said that he wanted to get a new policy to replace the lapsed one.  He asked if this could be done over the telephone.  I replied that we would have to meet in person so he could sign the application and I could collect the first month’s premium.  As I could transfer most of the information from the lapsed policy in advance, I told him that the whole process should take no more than five minutes.  He said that we could do it over the weekend, and that he would call me on Saturday afternoon to set a time.

As soon as I heard the “I’ll call you” line I knew that my chances of making the sale were sinking like a brick.  Customers never call agents except to cancel scheduled sales calls or to get help with filing claims.  Ever.  Sure enough, I didn’t hear from the customer by early evening on Saturday, and when I tried to call him I got voicemailed.  The same thing happened when I tried calling him in the afternoon today.  The moral of the story is that a promise to buy a policy means nothing, absolutely nothing, unless the customer agrees to a time for the agent to come over.  Experienced agents know this all too well.  It looks as if I’m finally getting the message.

Today otherwise went better than I would have expected.  While I didn’t make any sales, I was able to get some things lined for for later in the week.  Following the agents’ meeting in the morning, surprisingly light traffic getting there, I went around Groundhog Crossing leaving off “sorry I missed you” door hangers at the houses of several existing customers.  There is a slot in each hanger in which I insert my card.  On each one of them I added a brief handwritten note saying that I’d be back on Tuesday evening, and please call if that is not a convenient time.  As of now, around 3 pm on Tuesday, no one has called back.  That may be a good sign, as it may mean that the customers don’t mind my coming over.  Using the door hangers is preferable to just showing up unannounced, especially after dark.  Later in the day I called some existing customers in Chipmunk Junction.  With some modifications, I used a telephone script that another agent has recently developed.  It’s working very well for him, so I figure I might as well give it a try.  I made 17 calls. On nine of them I got voice mail, and I left messages saying I’d call back on Wednesday.  One number was no longer in service.  Two customers said they weren’t interested in anything else, and in another case the customer’s wife said that her husband already had enough insurance (almost all wives think that way, of course).  Another customer asked me to call back in an hour, and when I did I got voicemailed … there might be a perfectly valid explanation, but realistically I’m not counting on anything.  Another customer was interested, but asked me to call back in two weeks.  We’ll have to see on that one.  Best of all, I was able to schedule two sales calls for Wednesday.  Two scheduled calls out of 17 telephone calls is a very, very good rate, that new script is looking pretty good.

Gym: sort of a slower night tonight, a one-mile run on the treadmill at 4.6 mph followed by 20 minutes’ ellipting.

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Published in: on February 15, 2011 at 8:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

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