If a prospect has a first encounter with your business, what is he most likely to remember? What makes the strongest impression?

This week I met with a life insurance agent. He was a little crusty. In all, his approach was okay, not great, but okay. Still, I can’t shake the image that he was just a little “crusty”. I remember the stains on his teeth more clearly than the proposal he gave me.

Another agent called me by phone and said he needed just 5 minutes to review a quote. I had a call on the other line and couldn’t listen to him for 5 minutes. He then became confrontational and said, “really, you can’t spend 5 minutes on this important decision?” That was a canned company line but still very rude. I told him not to call me again.

When the third agent called I told him that I was done with the whole notion of buying insurance. I terminated the entire shopping process because the industry was operating as though it is still 1970. I am able to get a rate quote from 1,000 sources if I want 1,000 quotes. I don’t want “whole life” or “universal life” or any other over-priced insurance industry scam. I want a 20 year, fixed premium term policy. Not a single agent who called on my request for a quote at least started by offering me what I asked for. Not one.

Had one agent quoted what I asked for, he would have the sale. And, I might have considered his options. I would have listened had I thought he was listening to me. I instead called my current company and increased my coverage.  All done. I probably could get the coverage for less but I can’t stand the process.

Other experiences.

I stayed at a Marriott in the Phoenix area recently. The room rate was recently increased to to $159 per night from $99 per night. I stayed in the same Marriott a year ago. The new rate was stunning. After signing in and getting my plastic keys, I noticed a rip in the carpet. The elevator rattled. When I got off on my floor, I looked up to see ceiling tiles sagging. At $99 it was acceptable. At $159 the place became a dump.

I ate at a 50’s style diner in Phoenix. The first thing I heard when I came through the door was, “Hey! I remember you from last year. How are you? Back to make a speech?” I had dinner there 4 nights in a row.

On my way home from Phoenix I stopped in the Yreka Wal-Mart to pick up some depleted travel supplies. The first that hit me was the smell. Wal-Mart has a stench of rancid artificial nacho cheese mixed with a vomit-like aroma. I don’t remember what I bought but I will not forget that smell. I won’t go back to that store unless I absolutely must. And, when entering a Wal-Mart store in another location, I will brace myself in anticipation of the stink. I always carry hand sanitizer when I go to Wal-Mart.

Your business makes a nearly unbreakable impression with every encounter. Are you careful about what that impression is?

Chris Reich