I'm staring at giraffes at The Living Desert in California when suddenly my cell phone starts to blare.
Though I haven't added him to my contacts, I recognize his number. Yup, he's called that many times.
At first I almost ignore him, but I have fobbed Paul the cheerful insurance agent off so many times I feel like I at least owe him one more lame excuse. And so I answer.
"Hello," I say in my grumpiest, I'm-oh-so-busy voice.
"Hello," says Paul, sounding way too chipper for a Monday morning. "Just checking to see if you had a chance to have a look at those numbers I sent over."
I tell him I have not, and then add in a less-than-angelic tone that I'm on vacation and I'll talk to him when I get back in a week or so. I hang up as fast as possible and probably don't even say good-bye.
Now if that had been ME trying to get some grumpy girl's business, I probably would have given up right there. And written a ranting blog post about psycho prospects to boot.
But Paul is, well, way better at this phone-marketing thing than I am. Which is why he's now not only my insurance agent but my financial planner and I've bought all kinds of insurance from him that I didn't even know I needed.
It didn't happen overnight though. It didn't even happen in a month. The best way I can describe it: he wore me down.
And ya know, I'm glad he did.
Paul first contacted me after I filled out a reply card that arrived in my new-business welcome packet when I registered my LLC. It was from a firm offering "affordable health insurance," and at the time I was hoping some agent with magic powers could get me a policy that covered doctor visits and didn't have a through-the-roof deductible.
So it wasn't technically a cold call, but still.
Paul called next week and said he'd send over some numbers for me to look at. This he promptly did.
I, however, was in the throes of starting my new business and had better things to do.
Every week, usually on a Monday, Paul would call and ask if I had looked at the numbers.
"Nope," I'd reply week after week. "Nope, nope, nope."
I swear, this went on for months. After a while, I almost started to feel guilty about it. But Paul's quotes stayed in my inbox untouched.
I can't remember what finally lit a fire under me. Maybe the stars aligned. Maybe my current health insurance company did something that annoyed me. Anyway, I finally picked up Paul's quote and had a gander.
Only to find it was written in jargon that might as well have been Mandarin.
For the first time ever, I called Paul and asked what in the name of all that was holy he had sent me.
"Oh, I have some free time tomorrow," he said. "How about if I stop by and we look at it together?"
Well, long story short, he stopped by, he was friendly and knowledgeable and he had solutions that made sense to all my problems. Many visits later, he's part of the dream team that makes my little business chug along.
And I now own all sorts of insurance that I never knew I needed or thought was too expensive, like dental and disability.
Well played, Paul. Well played.
Lessons I learned from being on the successfully-converted prospect end of phone marketing:
1. Keep showing up (by phone). After a few calls, Paul established himself in my mind as "THE Insurance Agent." Even though I'd never used his services yet, I started to think of him as mine.
2. These things take time. Paul didn't sell me in one call or even ten calls. But all that calling paid off in the end.
3. Be courageous about following up. Even though sometimes I got grumpy with Paul, I needed what he was selling and in time I realized it. I shudder to think what would have happened to me if I had come down with leukemia or fallen into the gears of combine pre-Paul.
Do you have a hero of cold calling? Want to guest blog about them here? Give me a shout.