Monday, August 30, 2010

Life on the New Job

I have not had much chance to blog as I have been very busy with American Income. The job is, indeed, everything that I thought it would be. For one thing, unlike a certain other insurance company named after a certain state just to the west of mine, this one has already given my an actual, real life, honest to God, paycheck. I put it in the bank and bought stuff with it. It was an unusual experience.

I have been in training for about three weeks now. For the last two weeks, I have been riding along with managers, watching them run appointments and make sales. Next week, I will be out making the sales myself, with the managers along to watch and keep me out of trouble.

AIL provides me all the leads I could ever use. The encourage me to get referrals because the leads cost them quite a bit of money, but as long as I am making a good effort, the leads will keep flowing. I will never have to worry about starving for lack of people to call. All I have to do is be my normally charming self, get on the phone and make the appointments.

The best thing is that these people that I am calling have actually requested that someone call them. They are not just mortgage leads or some other demographically selected group. These are people who filled out a card and mailed it in saying that they wanted to be contacted. I set appointments with about 75% of the people I reach on the phone.

The training is also excellent. The managers are always right there, both when starting out and when one is out in the field on their own. They don't just answer questions, they ask questions to tease out what I could be doing better, even when I don't know what the next question might be. Their success is based on my success, and it shows.

Relevant to this blog, now that I have an actual job where I have actual leads, I can go out and meet with actual clients. This will give me much more to talk about, regarding the people I meet. It also means that this great network that I have built on the premise that I would have clients who would enjoy being introduced to the people I know will finally come into play as I meet with over a dozen new clients a week.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Job Search, Day 15 - Mission Accomplished

Today, I received the following phone call:
Caller: Michael, I would like to offer you the job that you interviewed for this morning.
Me: I would like to accept that job.

With that, an appointment was made for me to go to the main office in Hartford to fill out the paperwork. I will be working for a company called American Income Life Insurance Company out of their new Springfield office. When I first was contacted by them, I was a little skeptical because they were so eager to hire me.

It turns out that their business model is to work with labor unions. (This is why you likely have never heard of them.) They work with union leadership to offer products the union members. The members then send in requests for more information, and the agents follow up on that. This means no more cold calls, no more blind prospecting, no more selling to friends and family. As the manager I spoke to said, "business should be business, and personal should be personal."

The reason that they are so eager to hire is that they have made arrangements with unions in this area but they did not have adequate sales resources in place to meet with all the members who were interested. Thus, they must build up a sales office rapidly, and I am part of that.

The best part for me in my current situation is that I should have a paycheck in my hand by two weeks from now! This is very exciting news. As Annie said, "What's money?" It's been a while.

Doing my due diligence, I did a little search of the Internet to see what I could find on the company, fearing that I would find that they were some terrible, sketchy scam. I was very pleased to only find one negative web site in a quick search. They have a good BBB rating and a good AM Best rating, so they are legit as a company. I also looked around their web site a bit. They not only seem to be a good insurance company, but they seem to be a progressive company.

Find me another insurance company that says this on their web site:
Our agents have walked picket lines on behalf of striking workers, collected food for needy families, and participated in coordinated Get Out The Vote campaigns nationwide for progressive campaigns.

It is also the only 100% unionized insurance company in the world: unionized not because the employees were disgruntled but because the company wanted to show their dedication to the labor movement by becoming a part of it.

This is quite a job I have come into, and I look forward to where the path will lead. It's a good thing I did not give into my skepticism and I checked the place out.

Overcome your skepticism. Get out and see what opportunities await you.

Update August 5th, 2017
Since apparently this article still gets some hits, an update on how this turned out. I worked for AIL for about a year and a half. They do have leads for union members, but they do not have as many as I thought they would so success is largely dependent on how many referrals you are able to get from each appointment. For the right person who has a talent for sales, AIL is a great opportunity, and, while it is straight commission, it is likely you will start making money fairly quickly because you are given leads right off the bat. Everyone who puts in the effort and follows the system makes at least $20-35K/year, and some do over $100K their first year, and the difference between the first category and the second is talent and skill. I'd definitely recommend this company to anyone who wants to get their feet wet in selling. They are good people doing good work.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Job Search, Day 13 - Green Ink Makes Black Ink

I had a great interview with Ink Solutions yesterday. Unfortunately, they are looking for a part time position, which is not sufficient to my needs. This is unfortunate, because they are a fantastic local business. They sell refilled ink and toner products, which not only allow customers to save money, but they are great for the environment, preventing waste and pollution. If you use a printer, inkjet or laser, which I bet you do, and if you live or work in the Amherst or Northampton area, you can save money and help the environment by getting your ink and toner there. They even have soy based toner.

See, I know that you were worried that this blog was wondering into becoming a job search blog and you were worried that you would never hear about interesting people in the Valley again. As you can see, I still meet interesting people during the job search.

As for the job search, the phone keeps ringing with folks who want to interview me. I have an interview tomorrow morning with an Insurance company in Springfield. They apparently want me for a management trainee position. I am a little skeptical about what this opportunity really is, but we'll find out in the morning.

That is one of the challenges in the job search process. There are many very legitimate jobs out there, but there are also some that are not quite so good as one might think. I found one job ad offering to pay for writing work, but I dropped pursuit of that one when they asked me for a credit card number to pay a $2.95 fee.

There are also a great many "opportunities" that are commission-only. Most of these opportunities are legitimate, but only about 10-20% of people who go into those fields make it. The rest will find themselves making little to no money. If you were counting on making your fortune, and you make $50 a week, you may find yourself in some serious financial straits at the end of the process.

Don't be afraid to interview every opportunity, but don't be afraid to walk away if it is not right for you either. Now, walk away from the computer and find your fortune.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Job Search, Day 12 - The Power of Networking

On July 22nd, my fiancee convinced me that, if jobs could be found, I should hunt for them. On the 23rd, she sent me a list of jobs to look at. Smart lady, that fiancee of mine.

Last Friday, I received expressions of interest from four companies. Two of these, I found through Jobs In the Valley, a local jobs site. One was a short term job through Craig's List, and the fourth is through a friend of mine who is the officer manager of the company.

At both of the two through Jobs in the Valley which are showing potential, I knew the person in charge of the hiring through previous networking of business activity.

You will notice a trend here. Of the four jobs that are showing good potential, three of them have some kind of personal connection. As they say, it is not what you know, it is who you know. You might be thinking that's great for Michael Whitehouse, a compulsive networker, but what does that mean to you, Mr. or Ms. Reader?

There is no secret to knowing people. You just have to meet them. How do you meet them? Call them up and ask to meet with them. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Well, it is. Find people who are working in fields that you would like to work in. Not sure where to find them? Ask your friends who they know in the field. Check LinkedIn to see who is in your extended network. You do have a Linkedin account, right?

Once you identify people that it would be good for you to meet with, contact them. I recommend the phone for this contact. Tell them who you are and that you would love to sit down with them for 15 minutes to get their advice on your search. Tell them that you chose them because you know that they are knowledgeable and well connected, and you knew that they could help you.

No one is going to argue with that kind of assessment of themselves, and most people like to be able to help people. It's a great ego boost, and it works well for you because once you meet with them, their ego gets tied up in your success. If they can help you, they feel better about themselves.

When you meet with them, remember, this is not a job interview. You are not trying to get them to give you a job. You just want to get whatever valuable advice you can from them. It is possible that they may decide to call someone on your behalf or even offer you a job, but don't expect it.

Send a thank you note. An email one immediately, a paper one by snail mail right after. Thank you notes are rare in business these days, and yours will stand out.

If you are searching for a job, good luck. It's a tough world, but as they say, the harder you work, the luckier you get. Now, get up and find that job.