Happy as Is

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I have been an unofficial fairy godmother to the children of various
friends since they were tots. That include sgifts of money, helping
with college essays, and providing an auntie-like ear and perspective.
One has graduated from college; he is now selling insurance and
financial advising. There’s no way I would trust a 22-year old with my
investment money. I might consider changing insurance if it was
better than what I currently buy. But I have a 20+ year relationship
with my agent, who has served me well. And policies that do what I
want, including giving me 25% of my premium back if I do not file
claims. I like David and want him to succeed, but not at any cost to
me. He keeps telling me he wants “to practice his intro cold call” on
me and that I am “not obligated to do anything but listen.” But now he
wants to meet, then give me a bid, and compare what he can offer to
what I have. I know I will be pressed by him and his mother to switch.
Is there a graceful way to just say No if that’s what I prefer?

Happy as Is

Dear Happy As Is:

It may not feel graceful, but the way to say No is simply and
consistently. I’d say Yes to all the steps along the way, starting with
listening to his phone pitch. Then critique it very systematically and
honestly. Give him the kind of feedback you would if he were a student
whose term paper you were grading. When he persuades you that
meeting with him is really a good idea for you (as well as for him), go
ahead and schedule it. You can refuse to show him your current
coverage and costs. Talk only in terms of his product and his company
and your needs. Ask him the tough questions you would ask any
vendor, and give him feedback on both his presentation and the bid
that he’ll come back to you with.

You can review his bid and consider it. You can even have him give
you another one in a year, assuming you reject the switch. Explain to
both him and his mother how happy you are that he’s found a job in a
profession that he is passionate about. Give him pointers about
building a client base. But you do not have to shift companies just to
encourage his career. Selling anything is an acquired skill; building an
insurance clientele is a long-run enterprise. You may choose to change
down the line, but don’t be pressured now to do anything you don’t
want to do.