Disclaimer: this article discusses potentially-upsetting topics.
Somewhere along the line, I didn’t do my job. When the phone rang, I picked it up after two attempts to hit the right button, waking out of a sound sleep.
Thanks to Phone ID, I could see that the call was from a dear friend and ex-team member who I hadn’t spoken to or seen for a while. He stated, before I could say “Hello!”, “I saw that you and this guy were friends on Facebook. Did you know he committed suicide on Wednesday?”
Still not awake, and trying to get my eyes to focus and my head to shake off the cobwebs, I blurted out “What are you talking about?”.
He responded, “Go to Facebook and check it out for yourself.” I promised that I would and that I would reach out to him as soon as possible.
I dreaded getting out of my bed and wandering into my office to power up my laptop. I hadn’t asked who had died. I had a feeling of sadness and dread spill over me like warm fudge on ice cream. Who, I wondered, passed away? I thought the worst. I thought of people I knew and loved.
Opening up my personal Facebook page, I saw nothing about what my early morning phone caller had intimated. But, seconds later, after opening up my business pages, I was shocked to learn that someone I know as an insurance “prospect”, someone who I had been introduced to, someone I had seen on many occasions, someone who was a vendor and friend to a long-time client, had committed suicide.
On the occasions I had visited my client’s shop, we always discussed the guy he referred to me because the guy is an important vendor and service provider to his customers. And, whenever I attended my client’s Open Houses, he was there supporting our mutual friend. I always felt amazing pride attending these events and observing the support his customers, prospects and industry insiders gave my client and friend.
Almost 3 years ago, I had been asked to provide the prospect with a Life Insurance Policy and Business Insurance. He had a young family, and he needed both coverages out of necessity and responsibility. For two years (and I have the emails and phone calls to prove it) I tried and tried to get this prospect to sit down and complete the applications. Never was I successful. If you are in sales, you can guess the reasons and responses. It goes with the territory that some prospects just don’t ever buy what you know they should.
But, at this early hour, I didn’t remember any of that. In fact, I kind of was under the impression that I had successfully completed the transaction and that he was covered.
I went to my G Drive. Scrolled the “CLIENT” file and found his file. There were all the quotes, the illustrations, the applications I had sent, the supplemental files…pretty much everything I would hope to find if I had done my job correctly. The only thing I didn’t find was a completed application for any of the coverages I had proposed.
Going back to the Facebook website, I clicked the deceased personal website. The first bunch of posts were for “GoFundMe” pleas and Suicide Prevention Hotlines. There were posts from family friends and folks demonstrating their sense of loss and hopefulness for the surviving family. I looked at his previous posts. I studied his pictures. I searched for clues from his facial expressions. But, of course, there were no clues. There was no sense of what was going to happen. Just a profound feeling of loss.
In my own selfish way, I also thought about how it could happen that I didn’t “close the deal”. How I couldn’t “close” the new business applications. With all my experience. With all my knowledge. With every bit of Industry background, previous seminar, sales motivation book, YouTube Video going over ‘closes’ or “How to overcome objection”, how was it that I couldn’t get him to buy coverage? How did I let him sell me on his decision to not buy?
I have delivered beneficiary checks which have changed survivors’ lives. I have been graciously welcomed into bereaved family’s homes during a terrible time. I have all the anecdotal incidences supporting the right decision and preventing the situation that I was experiencing.
I failed. I failed. I failed. I don’t know the surviving spouse or children. I don’t know if I could face them or should attend the funeral because of the disgrace I felt.
When I read many of the posts on LinkedIn, I am always amazed at the dishonorable and demeaning language hoisted upon those in the distribution of insurance. The disparaging of our motives, our education, our skills and our real mission. For those of us who take pride in our Industry and who understand what is really at stake, I hope that this story motivates you to do what it is we are tasked with and responsible with when we do what we do….and when we don’t.