Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Bump and Grind!

Admit it - it was an enticing title! I'm becoming a click bait master. Seriously, though, it's really all about the grind. Not any bump explored in this article, though that in itself would be interesting but a bit off mark for my blog. The grind comes from breaking into a new job field which takes a lot of time, energy and concentration. I'd be whining and moaning about how this cuts into my writing time if it wasn't for the fact that A) the marketing of my second book is still crawling to a start and B) I need the funds to get the marketing started, which requires becoming good at my new career. It's quite the cart before the horse argument. None of this brings my writing to the fore - in fact, it's really depressed my writing time and production to, well, basically nothing. But, let's be honest, no matter how much I write, it's going to take a long time for my writing to pay the bills, if it ever does. Luckily, that isn't what drives my writing in the first place, so you can look forward to me completing this series within the next couple of years - I'm simply driven to do so!

Launching into a new career is exciting and frightening all at the same time. You see the fruits of the labors of the veterans around you, realize it will take some time to get to that level and, oh my, how am I going to put food on the table? I've embraced the new job and put all my time and energy into making it work. I've been lucky to have such great team members sharing their expertise and showing me the ropes. They've really built an incredible teaching culture here. Even so, it's been a bit of touch and go with the finances. My checking account has dropped below zero more than once in the last three months, and that's not something I've seen happen since the I was laid off ten years ago. This career is all sales and commission. There is no salary. You take a break, you starve (unless you've been so successful, you've built up a hefty nest egg to take time off). I have no nest egg. It's actually going to be a sprint for the next year or two just to keep the creditors at bay. It's frightening that I can't just show up to work, "dial it in," put my butt in a chair and coast for the day if I need to. There's no such luxury in sales. On the other hand, there's thrill in the hunt, adrenaline in the chase and the promise of a reward if you've done your job well and right.

Now, if I could just time travel to where I'll be in six months or a year from now, I'll be walking in and closing like a champion (a possible exaggeration). As it is, I'm still a newbie. I'm hoping I can last to the finish line of the first year, when most new agents have given up and dropped out. Can I hold it together without breaking from the pack and running for the hills? I will say I have one thing going for me - I'm as stubborn as a mule when it comes to sticking it out and giving my all towards success. I've risen to the top tier of pretty much every job I've held by just staying in there and doing a good job, working my hardest and not losing sight of the goal. I can do this if I can just hold out and get there.

Let's drop into the energy side of the equation. I'm middle aged, so I'm not quite as energetic as the spring chickens around me. That may seem to put me on the fast track to failure, but while I'm not the fastest or most energetic, that isn't what actually wins this game. The young look for the quick reward nowadays. If they try it for a few weeks or even just days and don't see immediate reward, some of them are out the door onto another job that looks more promising. I know the value of the slow and steady progression to not just sales but also expertise in the field. Getting to know your products, the sales cycle and your customers takes a while to discover and absorb until you feel like a sales call is second nature, overcoming an objection is child's play and riding the wave to success seems like it was always destined to be. There's a real value to seeing the veterans in the office and knowing they were in the same boat as you when they started. They overcame their inexperience and blossomed into successful professionals. I'm banking on my persistence and tenacity to get me there as well.

I'm fortunate that I'm middle-aged and not a little more advanced in age. It hasn't affected my memory; I'm still able to do the repetitious study and practice that begets expertise. Were I to try starting this career in my later years, I'm not sure my mind and focus would be up to the task. In truth, the only thing I do wish is that I'd started a little earlier in life. Then, I'd be enjoying the fruits of my labors instead of just starting up the hill. Unfortunately, there's only so much focus to go around -  my concentration has to be centered on my job and that definitely affects my writing.

I started book three shortly before I left Texas. It had a promising start, but the stress and activities surrounding the move (and marketing book one) simply drove my concentration from the writing that needed to be done to progress on book three. Truth be told, it doesn't matter in the short term. Book two is months away from being published, although it has been completed. It's now moving at the typical glacial pace of a major publisher, although it's a smaller press involved. There's really no rush to complete book three. Hence, I get to concentrate on becoming better at insurance sales in the mean time.

In all honestly, the transition has been refreshing. Writing led to my time in the acting profession, which increased my improvisational skills and, really, that's at the core of making cold calls on a telephone. The split second reactions you make are at the core of making the first step in a sale - the appointment. My time in IT led to both looking for solutions and handling customer issues which is really at the heart of the sales cycle of finding out what the client needs and then presenting them suitable options.I love helping people and this job actually gets to the core of that desire - I help people transfer the risks they sometimes don't even realize they have to the insurance company. They get protection and piece of mind.

And in the end, doesn't that make it worth the grind?


P.S. You may have noticed me having a bit of fun with the links in the blog. Some are spot on and others take a bit of thinking to connect what I mean with the link. Just wanted to show you I'm still thinking and trying marketing all at the same time!

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