July 2008


Tenacity – Successful Agents Have It

I’m introducing my friend Thom Singer to the Village to talk to us and our agencies about networking.  He’s one of the best at this art form and those that know him crown him the king of networking.  The below piece is an excerpt out of his book The ABC’s of Networking.  Next week Thom will offer us a two part lesson on networking.  Enjoy!

If you want to succeed in business, you can never quit.  There are countless examples of successful people who routinely faced major obstacles along their path to greatness.  They did not roll over and play dead.  They did not quit.  Successful people are tenacious.

It is well known that Abraham Lincoln lost many elections for lower offices before winning the presidendcy. And lets’ not forget that Thomas Edison conducted more than 10,000 different experiments before his breakthrough invention of the light bulb.

It is said that the average sales person gives up on a prospect after he or she has attempted to reach them five times. Yet it is also said that the average person does not call a vendor back until they have received seven phone calls.  That means that the tenacious sales person will get more appointments (and thus sales) than the average sales professional.

Networking can be very complicated.  Most people think networking is just going to after-hours events, having a few drinks and waiting fot the referrals to roll in.  This is why so many people give up on networking.  When they do not see immediate results, they abandon the whole concept. 

To achieve real results with your networking means that you have to be tenacious.  Many people you meet will be great connections for you; however, it takes a long time to build meaningful relationships.  Stick with it.  Find ways to make building your network part of your daily routine.

Visualize your goal for having productive networking relationships and then go for it.  Do not let anyone or anything stand in your way.   – Thom Singer


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Peace of Mind, For Sale!

Usually panic and white knuckles appear when computers crash or agency systems go haywire.  I understand the feeling all too well.

So what happens if my laptop is stolen or drenched in coffee or just suddenly crashes?  I smile.  Because I have everything on my computer remotely backed up and I don’t have to click a button.  I recently subscribed to www.carbonite.com.  No paid commmercial here, this is my experience in purchasing peace-of-mind for less than 3 bucks a month.  Three months ago I had a nasty virus on my computer.  Basically it affected everything I did to the point where my computer consutant advised me to wipe out the hard drive and start over.  And he meant it.  He cleaned out the entire hard drive and reloaded my applications.  But the next part was the best.  He opened up my Cabonite icon in my system tray (bottom right) and imported all of my data back into the computer.  It was beautiful and I slept great knowing that all of my crucial data including family pictures, videos, and documents were instantly restored back to my laptop.

This tool is a must-have for indepedent agencies especially if you have agents on the road or at remote (satellite) locations.  Furthermore, this online backup system has to be a serious consideration if your agency is moving towards a paperless environment.

A competitor to Carbonite is Mozy.com.  I’ve never employed them.  However, backupreview.info has basically done the research for you.  Here’s the link.  http://www.backupreview.info/2008/07/01/top-25-for-july-2008/  

I hope this helps and remember to save often and always backup your agency’s precious data.  village chief

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5 Quick Tips of the Day on Customer Service

Let’s review some old habits that may have a little dust on them or may need a little oil.  These are 5 tips I like to call the Fab Five for Customer Service.

1. Know Thy Customer – I mean really engage, reach-out and get to know your customer on a personal level.  Know what they like to do in their spare time.  Learn about their family.  What’s important to them?  If you walk into a clients office and there are more than 5 pictures of family, then ask about them.  Learn about their business.  Afterall, you’re learning how to cover risks for them and if they are in the beekeeper business, well you should know something about bees.  Also, be smart in what not to do.  If you see Alabama University items in their office, don’t send them anything with LSU colors or logos on it.  Sounds self explanatory but this was the case as told to me by an agent who has a company rep. that repeats this faux pas. 

2.  Do What You Say You’re Going To Do – If your voicemail at your office says, "please leave a message and I’ll return your call as soon as possible.", then do it!  You want others to return yours right?  I know it’s tough to return a call from a rep. or new company wanting to prospect you.  But returning their call says a lot about you and your agency’s reputation.

3.  Documentation – Recently I had a client have surgery on a knee that was troubling her for many years.  She mentioned that she would be out of the office for a week and a half.  While her kids loved that she was home recovering from surgery, she was doing as much as she could from the computer.  Knowing this, I sent her a short get well card and a gift certificate to Blockbuster.  I envisioned her resting that knee with the family in front of the tv.  She loved it!  I was pleased that she and her family enjoyed the gift but it was my notes in my client database that saved me.  Listen to your clients and always take notes and time/date stamp them.  They’ll reward you later!

4.  Keep a Positive Attitude – We all have those days where if a problem could arise it will.  And it does affect our attitude.  If we let it negatively affect us, others will know it.  Even over the phone you can tell if the other person is upbeat and happy or not-so-cheery.  The tone of our voice says it all.  Enthusiasm is contagious so pass it along!

5.  Display a Welcoming Environment – Whether it’s a new client or a client that’s been with your agency for years, it’s imperative to show off how fun and excited your office is.  If you love what you do, then let others know about it.  In regards to customer service, in Texas there are several agencies that have a Director of First Impressions.  Their repsonsibilities include: Expecting guests for the day by displaying a sign with the guests name and company, welcoming visitors, offering the guests a drink, letting the agent or CSR know that you’ve arrived, and greeting everyone with a smile.  This is a great way to make a huge impression on that client or prospect so don’t waste that opportunity to WOW them!      village chief

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Is anybody home? It’s your customer calling…

We’ve all been in this boat together before.  You have a problem with your big, corporate American company (phone, car, cable tv) and you would prefer to reach someone human to explain your problem in hopes of an answer or a solution.  However, you meet Digital Debbie, your phone-tourguide through the maze of ambiguous extensions and empty teleprompts.  Right there you realize 15 minutes or more of your life has been stolen and it’s irrecoverable.  And that’s if you’re lucky your call wasn’t dropped. 

Enter www.gethuman.com.  This site offers you the map to the maze so that you can ditch Digital Debbie. I’ve tried this method of getting through to a human quickly and it works.  Our AT&T phone lines went down  a few months ago so I went to the Get Human website and it propmpted me to "ignore all of the prompts and just press "0" each time".  I followed these instructions and it worked beautifully.  The kind lady was able to dispatch a rep. to our office to help out.  www.gethuman.com also provided me with a consumer ranking of 1.5 stars out of 5.  I am not sure the of the metrics behind the ranking but it’s nice to have some feedback.  Remember you’re not alone out there on your boat, www.gethuman.com is the time preserver you need!     village chief

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