Friday, July 29

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade

Inspirational tone aside, that’s actually a rather stupid line.  Lemons are useful in all sorts of recipes, while lemonade is really just sugared water with some lemon flavoring.  You have many better choices when given lemons.  In any event, enough for the dissection of proverbs.  Today was an example of making the best out of a bad (or at least difficult) situation.  After the morning training session, I headed out to a work location in eastern Suffolk, one of the more distant locations from the office.  Coupled with an extra-long training session and some other distractions, I didn’t get to the work location until after 1:30.  No sooner did I arrive when I found out that a paperwork-related issue would make it impossible for me to work at that location.  Working by myself at other available locations would be difficult if not outright impossible.  Would this mean that I’d be unable to work today and wouldn’t make any money?

Thinking fast, I called another, more experienced salesman who was at a location about 20 minutes further west.  To my great relief he said that it would be okay for me to head to that location and work together with him.  Only three out of our 10+ available sales locations can accommodate more than one person, fortunately he was at one of them.  Even better, he called the manager and got us excused from having to be at the office for the normal 7:00 pm evening check-in, thereby giving us more time at the location.  And you know what?  I took advantage of this second chance, and had a pretty decent day in sales terms. Not only did I make sales, but I had to overcome some pretty fierce resistance.  All thanks to my quick thinking.

Note: the paperwork problem was soon corrected and won’t be an issue any more.

Published in: on July 31, 2011 at 11:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, July 27 – Thursday, July 28

Shorter hours are fine, more sales would be even finer

Believe me, the shorter workdays are nice, really nice.  Just being able to miss rush hour traffic would alone be worth the price of admission.  So to speak.  There is a big difference between a nine-hour workday and an eleven-hour workday.  In addition, once I’m more accustomed to the new schedule I really want to start going to the gym before work.  Now, all that’s the good part, the not-so-good part is that neither of these days was particularly good in sales terms.  Wednesday was tolerable, Thursday was lousy, I’d like to attribute the latter day’s woes to the fact that I was in a rather undesirable work location, but I still should have done better.  Hey, there’s always room for improvement.

Published in: on July 31, 2011 at 5:10 am  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, July 26

Day one

Of the shorter work hours, that is.  And I like it a lot.  First of all, the difference between driving on the Expressway at 8:30 and at 10:00 is like night and day.  I would guess that traffic volume is down at least by two-thirds.  As for the actual work, I did reasonably well today despite spending about 90 fewer minutes at the worksite.  It’s all about working intensively, which is easier when the workday is a bit shorter.  Finally, I got home somewhat earlier than before, even with the evening check-in at the office.  This is definitely a nice situation.

Published in: on July 28, 2011 at 5:08 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, July 25

Shorter hours, yes!

“Happy” is an understatement.  I am overjoyed at the latest development here at JKL Sales.  Up to this point everyone had to arrive at 9:00 for at least two hours’ of meetings and training sessions, and then put in eight hours at the day’s particular sales location.  What this meant was an average workday of about 11 hours, and when added to the four or five hours’ on Saturdays meant a 60-hour workweek.  Those are pretty long hours, to say the least.

All this has changed.  Due to new management, the representatives in my particular sales campaign don’t have to arrive at the office until 10:30, and will be off to our sales locations within an hour.  We then have to report back to the office at 7:00 for a recap of the day’s activities, which lasts only about 20 to 30 minutes.  Putting it all together, the former 11-hour workday is now down to about nine hours, for a total workweek of around 50 hours.  Much more reasonable than 60 hours.

Now, this also means that instead of spending eight hours at the work site, I’ll be spending around six and a half to seven hours, depending on its distance from the office.  This is what the people in the Nassau office have been doing all along, and they’ve consistently put up extremely nice sales numbers.  What management is thinking is that the shorter workday allows for better concentration and intensity, and hence better results despite fewer hours.  It makes sense to me, and what’s more should be less burdensome.  In the next day or two I’m actually going to try going to the gym in the morning before work.  Of course many people do that routinely, but for me it’ll be quite an adjustment.

Published in: on July 27, 2011 at 4:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, July 23 – Sunday, July 24

Saturday’s gym session went better than expected.  One-arm dumbbell rows: 4 x 8 x 100/100.  Next time I’ll try to move up to the 105’s for at least one set.  Life Fitness lower back extensions: 5 x 10 x 225.  Hammer Strength MTS high row: 5 x 6 x 100/100.  On Sunday, I noticed that my right shoulder was somewhat sore, possibly because of something I did on Saturday, and after a couple trial reps at 135 I realized that bench pressing just wasn’t a smart idea.  To get at least some upper-body work accomplished I did triceps rope pushdowns, 5 x 10 x 100, followed by cable biceps curls, 5 x 10 x 110.  I am really hoping that I’ll have the energy some evening during the week so I can do benching without having to wait until next weekend.

Published in: on July 25, 2011 at 2:27 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, July 22

Can I press a reset button on today?

Today was most definitely a day to forget.  First of all, the suffocating heat meant that I saw substantially fewer potential customers than I would on a normal weekday.  While the work location was air conditioned, what I figured is that people weren’t about to venture out unless they really had to.  What might have been even worse is the fact that the people I did manage to approach often seemed to be in rather bad moods.  Another consequence of the heat, no doubt.  Add to all this the headache I developed in the late afternoon, and the idea of a cosmic reset button on the day sure looks tempting.

Published in: on July 25, 2011 at 2:11 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, July 20 – Thursday, July 21

Things I’ve said elsewhere

Here for your edification are a couple of things I’ve written elsewhere in the last day or two about the special challenges of working in insurance sales. From Hit Coffee:

Being (somewhat) introverted may make it easier to cope with the special pressures of sales. If you’re an extrovert you probably have a genuine liking for people, and that’s going to cause a bit of a moral crisis, or at least confusion, after you spend even just a few days in the business and realize that most people are schmucks. Think about it: you enjoy meeting new people, you believe most people are fundamentally good, you spend an hour analyzing a customer’s needs and presenting the best solutions for those needs … only for the customer to reply “Let me think about it.”

You’re better off being an introvert with a more jaundiced view of humanity. Fewer illusions to be shattered.

From Facebook:

(Another person) Just because we went to the same college at the same time (during which we never once met or exchanged even the smallest word of greeting) does NOT mean I have even the slightest interest in purchasing insurance from you.

(Me) Of course, if you are selling insurance your sales managers will be incessantly hectoring you to sell to your “natural market” and follow “warm leads.” Some companies require new agents to provide lists of up to 200 people the agents know, and then expect them to contact everyone on the lists.

Thankfully, these aren’t really issues in my new job with JKL Sales.  Okay, the first part applies to a bit, but not really, given my quick interactions with potential customers.  As for these two days, Wednesday wasn’t too good, but after some initial struggles Thursday turned much better.  In another very good development, starting in a couple of weeks I may not have to start work at 9 anymore, but at 11.  Yay!

Published in: on July 24, 2011 at 2:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, July 18 – Tuesday, July 19

Two so-so days

That rather noncommittal term aptly describes these two days in sales terms. Not terrible, not good, somewhere poking around in the middle.  Monday was better than Tuesday.  What does stand out as a pretty good thing is that Expressway traffic wasn’t quite as bad either day as it has been in recent weeks.  Which isn’t to say that I zoomed along at warp speed, on the other hand there were no instances of being at a dead stop.  Being thankful for something of that nature should give you an idea of just how ferocious Expressway traffic can be.  One thing I’ve noticed is that westbound traffic often eases up to a significant extent just before Exit 56.  This is not attributable to people getting off at that exit, in fact it’s one of the lesser-used exits in central Suffolk (in relative terms), as traffic starts easing about a half-mile before the exit ramp.  I really have no idea why this is so.

As for my sales activities, one thing I noticed is that people were generally more polite on these two days than is often the case.  Most commonly I would hear “No, thank you” as opposed to a terse “No.”  There also was a near-complete absence of the dreaded hand wave, which occurs when people accompany a snarled “No” with a wave of their hands, as if to shoo me away like an annoying insect.  It should go without saying that I consider the hand wave an insulting and offensive gesture.


Published in: on July 21, 2011 at 2:17 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, July 16 – Sunday, July 17

Saturday’s three hours of selling activities unfortunately weren’t particularly productive.  In one sense I was showing steady progress, in that I was able to make a fair number of presentations.  The bad part is that I wasn’t successful in overcoming the various types of specific objections I got from customers, for example “I’m interested, but my concern is that ___________.”  Which is not to say that I was doing anything wrong.  In two cases I was faced with a common sort of resistance for which I am well aware of the proper rebuttal, and in both cases used that rebuttal.  The fact that neither customer could be persuaded to go further makes it clear, I would presume, that the customers just weren’t ready to go.

My gym activities went much better.  On Saturday afternoon, I returned to an old favorite and did one-arm dumbbell rows, 4 x 8 x 100/100.  The last time I did this exercise, many months ago, I used a 120-pound dumbbell, but today I figured that sticking to 100 pounds would be the best course.  I also did Hammer Strength MTS High Row: 4 x 6 x 100/100.  Cable curls: 4 x 10 x 110.  Life Fitness lower back extensions: 4 x 10 x 225.  Sunday was bench press day: 6 x 135, 6 x 185, 6 x 205, 8 x 225, 6 x 225, 2 x 4 x 225, 8 x 185.

Published in: on July 18, 2011 at 12:48 am  Comments (1)  

Friday, July 15

Dust devil!

Now that was quite the sight.  Following the normal morning meeting – for once, Expressway traffic was sort of somewhat tolerable – I headed off to the day’s worksite, expecting to stay in that location for the rest of the day.  While there are no restrictions on changing locations during the course of the day, it generally doesn’t work out well.  That’s what happened to another salesman and I on Thursday of last week, when we changed locations in the afternoon and had no luck at all in the new location.  Today was a different story, however.  I was working with my manager, and due to some administrative-related issues we were unable to stay at the original location.  It was too bad, in a way, as I had enjoyed some early sales success at the first location.  But events intervened, and at around 2 in the afternoon we headed off to a new location not far away.

As I was driving to the new location, I saw a very rapidly whirling column of dust rising about 50 to 75 feet above a dirt lot right off a main road.  As bushes initially blocked my view of the ground I thought at first that some sort of heavy equipment was causing the dust column.  A few seconds later, as I drove closer, I realized to my great surprise that there was no heavy equipment in sight.  What I saw was instead a sort of miniature tornado moving around the dirt lot.  Traffic slowed as other drivers got a look, and a distracted driver nearly crashed into my manager’s car not far behind me.  Keep in mind that this miniature tornado was occurring in what was definitely not tornado weather, a clear day with little wind.

Later research showed that what I saw was a relatively rare phenomenon known as a dust devil, the first one I’ve ever seen.  One could say that having to change work locations was a fortunate thing, as otherwise I never would have gotten to see such an odd sight.  Of course it also helps that I did fairly well in the new location too!

Published in: on July 17, 2011 at 9:23 pm  Leave a Comment