Thursday, April 14

Okay, that was a wasted trip

Today got off to a decent start as another agent and I did some business canvassing in a nearby community.  This was the same town in which we canvassed on Saturday, we had decided to return today because things would be less hectic.  Today also happened to be the last day of free parking in the downtown area, tomorrow the “season” begins and the meters are turned on.  We scheduled a couple of follow-up visits.  Both were at restaurants, which is not surprising because restaurants almost never offer fringe benefits for their workers, which in turn creates a need for the sorts of policies we sell.  Another nice thing about restaurants is that a restaurant that occupies a particular amount of space will have more employees than most any other type of business occupying the same amount of space.  For example, the owner of one of the restaurants we visited said that he has 12 employees on duty during a busy weekend shift, all in a space that’s probably not more than a few thousand square feet.  A retail business occupying the same amount of space might have three or four people.

Following the canvassing, I headed out to a town near Quaint Historic Village for a sales call I had scheduled earlier in the week.  The customer had sounded pleasant enough on the telephone, and because all he had was a small life insurance policy from almost 20 years ago, I figured he might be ready for an upgrade.  Of course it was a very long drive, but I had such a good hunch about this call I didn’t mind.  When I got to the neighborhood in which the customer lived, however, my predictions started turning a bit less sunny.  This ‘hood was not far from QHV, and is in a general area known for its affluence, but could best be described as an exurban slum.  Most of the houses were in various states of disrepair and the yards full of dead cars and assorted debris.  Sure enough, the customer’s house was among these non-palaces, though admittedly its exterior was a bit tidier than that of its neighbors.  Oh, as for the customer?  Suffice to say that I did not sell anything, indeed could not sell anything.  He had no money, and was collecting disability benefits and Medicaid.  We’re not allowed to sell anything to Medicaid recipients, which in this case was irrelevant because the customer didn’t have any money in the first place.  To add insult to injury, he lived with his sister and brother-in-law, both of whom were ABC Insurance customers, and both of whom wanted information on canceling their policies.  Needless to say I was out of the house within five minutes, and just as needless to say the long drive home seemed even longer.

Published in: on April 16, 2011 at 3:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, April 13

Where was everybody?

My mood today ended up matching the day’s gloomy weather.  The morning training session seemed interminable, which is a bit odd given that I usually enjoy the sessions and today’s was no worse than usual even though it ran for two hours rather than the normal 90 minutes.  Once it ended I did some paperwork and then headed out to Opossum Hollow to call on some customers.  This proved distinctly unsuccessful.  I had no luck at all locating any of the people I was trying to see.  Mind you, these were business calls, not residential calls, and it was during the working day.  I headed home in the late afternoon and spent a couple hours on the phones.  A wasted two hours, as I scheduled precisely zero calls.  Is there any way I can press a “reset” button on today?

Published in: on April 15, 2011 at 9:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, April 12

There’s just no response to this objection

As I’ve become more experienced in the insurance business I’ve become better at countering the various objections that potential customers often raise.  Customer: Filing a claim might not be worth the bother. Me: Here is a claim form, note how simple it is, and in any event I’d be happy to come help you if necessary. Customer: What if I pay for this policy for months or years, but never need it? Me: The whole point of insurance is that you have to buy it before you need it – if you wait until the need arises, it’s too late to buy it. You get the idea.  Unfortunately, there are some objections that it’s just impossible to counter.  As I learned today.

I headed off to Quaint Historic Village in the late morning for a couple of scheduled sales calls.  The first of these went about as well as a sales call can go, the customer being ready and willing to buy.  It wasn’t a particularly large sale, but everything helps.  My second call?  Not so good.  It was at a service-type business, with the owner being an existing customer of ABC Insurance.  He had wanted me to help him fill out a claim form.  One thing I had found out when I spoke to the owner last week is that four family members work for him in the business, and that none of them have policies.  I was hoping that in return for helping the owner, he would agree to take out policies on his family members.  Needless to say, my hopes were not to be.  While filling out the claim form was not difficult, the owner had a million questions and I spent over an hour and a half in his office.  Then, when I broached the subject of policies for his family members, he said that he wanted to see how quickly his claim got paid before he decided on anything else.  This is not an uncommon form of resistance, unfortunately there is next to nothing I can say in response.  I’ll follow up to see what happens with this customer’s claim, hopefully he will get his money soon and I’ll have an opportunity to make more sales.  For now, however, I have to be content with just the one sale today.  At least the traffic on the way back home was much less fearsome that it often can be.

Published in: on April 14, 2011 at 3:48 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, April 11

That sinking feeling …

Today wasn’t a particularly productive day.  No sales, though I was able to get a couple calls scheduled for later in the week.  Heavy Expressway traffic almost made me late to the morning agents’ meeting.  I arrived with just a minute or two to spare, which is cutting things a lot closer than I prefer.  It was a reasonably decent meeting, as these things go.  What was not so decent was the fact that I didn’t have any scheduled calls for the rest of the day.  If I had a less-remote sales territory I might have tried some canvassing, but in that I had some non-business matters to attend to in the afternoon there wasn’t much point in heading out to my territory.  My early evening “phone clinic” went well, as noted, but I really wanted to be able to sell something. Tomorrow I’m off to Quaint Historic Village for a couple of calls, with any luck the long drive will be worthwhile.

Published in: on April 13, 2011 at 3:17 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, April 9/Sunday, April 10

Saturday was in part a working day, as I spent the afternoon with another agent calling on some customers in a nearby town.  We didn’t make any sales, we weren’t really expecting to, but managed to get some things set up for next week.  We made plans to go back on Thursday morning to canvass some of the businesses in town.  Most of them were a bit too busy today for that to be a workable idea.  One thing I noticed for sure – working for a few hours on a Saturday feels like working 12 hours on a weekday!

No work on Sunday, but I had a decent upper-body session at the gym.  No direct back work, as I was still a bit wary of that sore lat that bothered me last week. Bench press: 8 x 135, 6 x 155, 6 x 185, 6 x 205, 4 x 225, 8 x 165.  Precor flies: 3 x 8 x 160.  Life Fitness shoulder press: 3 x 6 x 100/100.

Published in: on April 12, 2011 at 3:13 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, April 8

Getting to know Quaint Historic Village

A morning trip out to QHV gives me the idea that working there may be quite productive.  Its, ahem, quaint downtown area is packed with small independent shops, which should prove to be fertile ground for canvassing (in other words, fewer “our corporate office handles all insurance matters” responses).  Any in-depth efforts will have to wait until next week.  I didn’t have too much time to spare today as I had to be in the office for the regular Friday afternoon check-in.  Much of my time in town was spent talking with an existing customer who runs one of the independent businesses.  He wants me to return on Tuesday to help him with filing a claim, and while he’s pretty well covered I’m hoping I can sell upgraded policies to some family members who work in the business.  He also might be a good sources of referral to other downtown merchants.  I also set a couple more things up for Tuesday, so my trip into town should be productive enough to offset all the driving required.  Chipmunk Junction is just a few miles down the road, and I still have a number of customer cards in that community, so at least I’ll be able to work in the same area, albeit a very distant one.

Published in: on April 10, 2011 at 6:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, April 7

How to make a long meeting tolerable

Today was dominated by a 4-hour meeting and training session in the office.  As you may have gathered, I am not a fan of long meetings.  This one was more tolerable than most, however, as we had bagels prior to its start and pizza after it ended.  I have come to a conclusion that the tolerability of a meeting varies in direct proportion to the quality and quantity of free food.  Now, this isn’t to say that free food will make a long meeting a pleasant experience, but it sure helps.

Following the meeting I gave another agent my stack of lead cards for the county seat city.  For whatever reason or reasons, I’ve had very little luck in that community and find it a somehow off-putting place.  In return, I got cards for another community in eastern Suffolk, we’ll call it Quaint Historic Village.  QHV is a lengthy drive, in fact it’s not far from Chipmunk Junction, but I’m hoping the latter community’s good luck will spill over across the town line.  In the late afternoon I had another “phone clinic” and scheduled three sales calls in QHV.  Only one is for next week, the other two are for the following week, but that’ll have to suffice for now.  Tomorrow I’m going to mosey out to QHV in the morning and call on some business customers, before returning to the office in the afternoon for the weekly check-in.

Gym: I know, I’ve been terrible about going.  Tonight I had a decent leg session.  Horizontal leg presses: 4 x 10 x 360.  Seated calf raises: 4 x 12 x 140.  Seated leg curls: 4 x 8 x 185.

Published in: on April 9, 2011 at 10:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, April 6

I probably should have stopped at Burger King

Yesterday’s Burger King-induced dose of good luck alas did not carry over until today.  After making decent sales on Monday and Tuesday, today I ended up with a goose egg.  Not for lack of trying, as I spent several hours in Opossum Hollow calling on current and lapsed customers.  It was a combination of people not being around and people saying I’m happy with what I’ve got.  To my mild and not-entirely-unpleasant surprise I didn’t hear anyone say the dreaded Let me think about it. Sometimes you have to find small victories where you can.  In two occasions I called on new businesses at locations formerly occupied by lapsed customers.  Saying that the predecessor was a customer can be a decent way to approach a new customer.  To my amusement, in both cases the people told me I’m already set with my insurance needs (or words to that effect) as soon as I introduced myself and my company.  This is amusing in that the people gave that response before I had an opportunity to say what sort of insurance I was selling.  ABC Insurance is not very well-known in the marketplace, so it’s doubtful that just mentioning the company’s name would have meant anything.  Really, if you’re not interested, just come right out and say so.  It’s fine.

Published in: on April 8, 2011 at 9:14 pm  Comments (2)  

Tuesday, April 5

My lucky Burger King

Back in my first couple of days as an agent for ABC Insurance, I filled out the papers for a large policy on the hood of the customer’s truck in the parking lot of a Burger King in Range Rover Territory.  To this day the sale remains one of my three or four largest.  In the months since then I’ve passed by the same Burger King many times, and have stopped in a few times, but never thought it would prove to be my lucky place.  Until today.

I started out the day with a small group meeting at a nearby Starbucks.  Conveniently close, but not really a conducive spot for meetings.  After the meeting, I made the long trek to Chipmunk Junction for a couple of scheduled sales calls.  I had set both of them during last Thursday’s phone clinic.  The first call turned out to be a very short one, as all the customer wanted was information on how to cancel her existing policies.  I referred her to the customer service 800 number and beat a hasty retreat.  My second call was similarly unsuccessful, though for different reasons.  When I had called the customer last Thursday, she immediately handed over the phone to a man (I don’t know his relation to her) because she didn’t speak English.  The man who spoke wasn’t very good in English himself, but I was able to understand him enough to figure out that he wanted me to come to another address to meet with him and the customer, rather than to the customer’s address.  It was pretty hard to figure out the name of the street, but eventually I got it right.  Or so I thought.  I was hoping that this man would be easier to understand in person than he was on the telephone.

In any event, after the first call went down, I checked my phone’s GPS for the location of the street where the second call was to take place.  It wasn’t a familiar street name, but while I know most of the streets in Chipmunk Junction, there are still a few unfamiliar ones.  Imagine my displeasure when I could not find the name of the street in question.  There weren’t even any ones with similar sounding names.  As the appointed time approached I went to the customer’s house, naturally there was no one there.  I called the customer’s number, figuring it might be a cell phone, but got voicemailed.  I left a fairly detailed message explaining my predicament, but as of more than 24 hours later I never got a response.  Count this as another failed call.

I spent a while trying to find some other customers in town but had no luck.  In two cases the customers no longer lived at the addresses showed on our records.  Situations of that sort can provide an opportunity to make a presentation to the current occupants (“The prior owner had a very economical policy that provided a wide array of benefits, may I show you?”), but in neither of these cases was that an option because the new occupants hardly spoke any English.  Despite its playground-of-the-rich-and-famous worldwide reputation, Chipmunk Junction actually has many, many people who don’t speak English.  Finally, as night fell, I headed home, frustrated at having made a long trip for nothing.

About ten miles west of Chipmunk Junction, I stopped at the Burger King in Range Rover Territory to get a double stacker and a Diet Coke.  As I was waiting in the drive up line, my phone rang.  To my great surprise, it was one of the customers whom I had called during Thursday’s phone clinic, returning my voice mail message.  It is difficult for anyone not in the industry to grasp just how strange an event this was. Customers never call agents.  In any event, the customer wanted to see me.  I told her that was fine, that I’d see her in a half hour, and drove back to Chipmunk Junction.  This would add 20 miles to today’s already ridiculous mileage, but I wasn’t about to complain.  The customer was interested in a particular type of policy, but it was beyond her budget.  I was able to offer a more affordable alternative and walked out with a nice sale.  A much better outcome than the exercise in futility I had expected today to be.

Published in: on April 7, 2011 at 2:48 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, April 4

The Chauncey and Farnsworth Show, episode 2

Some of this blog’s few readers may recall my dealing with the brothers Chauncey and Farnsworth the week before last.  To recap, briefly, I had called upon a lapsed customer named Chauncey in Opossum Hollow, and in the course of our pleasant chat he suggested that I speak to his brother Farnsworth in a different part of Suffolk County.  When I called upon Farnsworth a week ago Wednesday, I found to my dismay that he was as unpleasant as his brother was amiable, to the point that I wondered how these two could share any genetic material.  Farnsworth rudely sent me away from his business and, needless to say, did not buy anything.

Flash forward to today.  Following the regular weekly meeting, which was a bit shorter than usual, I paid a return call upon Chauncey.  He purchased a couple of policies, not quite as large as what I thought he would select, but enough to give me a very good start to the week.  If I were to sell nothing else this week it would be a tolerable performance if not quite what one would call successful.  While I was writing up the forms Chauncey was talking to people on the telephone, and because he was moving around his office quite  a bit he had them on speaker phone.  Lo and behold, he got a call from his dear sibling Farnsworth.  Now, I wasn’t deliberately eavesdropping, but because the call was on speaker phone I couldn’t help but hear.  It was a completely routine call about ordinary business matters, definitely not the sort of things to inflame one’s passions.  Farnsworth nonetheless appeared incapable of uttering a complete sentence without including at least one swear word.  His potty mouth fit in perfectly with the sort of demeanor he had displayed toward me.  Once again, I’m still perplexed as to how these two can be brothers.

I made some telephone calls later in the day and attended to some non-business matters.  No more sales, but tomorrow I have some things lined up in Chipmunk Junction and am hoping that the long drive will prove worthwhile.  Oh, remember the sore back muscles I had last week, that had put in crimp in my gym schedule?  It looks like yesterday’s bench and back session re-aggravated them.  Today I am way too sore to even think about going anywhere in the gym.

Published in: on April 6, 2011 at 2:33 am  Leave a Comment