Bad customer, nice customer
One of my first stops today was at a retail business not far from me. The owner and his wife had had a number of policies with ABC Insurance, but all of them had lapsed over a period of several months ending about a year ago. Had the policies gone down all at once it would have been less promising, but with these gradual lapses experience has shown it’s often possible to rewrite some business. There were enough lapsed policies that even if I rewrote only some of them, I’d make a nice healthy commission. I also knew that the business appeared to be thriving, so money wasn’t likely to be an object.
As soon as I identified myself to the owner it was plainly obvious that I wouldn’t be making any sales. He snarled at me that I should have called for an appointment rather than just walking in. Leave aside the fact that the information card said “Do Not Call.” Also leave aside the fact that there’s nothing intrusive about walking into a retail business when it’s open. I explained that I was not there to make a sale, only that I wanted to set a convenient time when I could return. The customer then snarled at me that he had canceled the policies because ABC Insurance had switched to a system of making automatic monthly debits for the premium payments – “We don’t do business that way!” I patiently explained that most customers prefer this system as they don’t have to worry about remembering to send checks each month. Finally, the customer seemed to relent a bit, and said that if I came back after his busy period he might be able to spare a few minutes. Okay, I said, when will your busy period be over (I was thinking maybe on Monday.) The customer gave me an icy stare and replied, “August.”
Angry at the way I’d been treated, I headed out to Quaint Historic Village for a call I’d scheduled two weeks ago. I had been debating whether I should call prior to making the long drive, just to confirm that the customer in fact would be available. After some consideration I decided to take the risk, fearful that calling would somehow jinx the situation … one thing about working in sales, it does tend to make one superstitious. During the drive I was thinking about all the things that could go wrong: the customer might not be home, she might be home but would say “things are totally crazy” and ask me to come back another time, or that I’d make my presentation and she’d reply “let me think about it.”
None of these things happened. The customer was home, she was happy to meet with me, and she bought a large disability policy with hardly any discussion. This sale was big enough for me to make my latest quota and earn a pretty decent commission. Had the customer been a man, I would have been reluctant to meet with him unless his wife were present. This case was the opposite, the customer being a woman, which meant that she went ahead and bought the policy without wanting to talk it over with her husband. Funny how these things work. In any event, my drive back from QHV was a happy one. I almost didn’t even care about the schmuck I met earlier in the day. Almost.