Posted By John Chapin,
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
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by John Chapin
My mom passed away recently. As I was writing her eulogy, I realized that a lot of what she stood for, and a lot of what she taught me, led to my sales success. As I looked deeper, I realized that most of her examples also had to do with success in life, not just sales. Here’s what I learned.
Mom’s Lessons for Sales and Life Success
Perseverance and stick-to-itiveness
I remember my first job out of college as a stock broker. I was having a really tough time and I was going to quit. When I called my mom to tell her she said, “John, anything in life worth having isn’t going to be easy. It’s going to be tough. Life will test you to see how serious you are, how badly you want it, how committed you are to your dream. And here’s the thing, all you have to do is hang in there long enough without quitting. If you hang in long enough, eventually the tide will turn in your favor and you’ll win. Every time.” I stayed, and the tide turned shortly thereafter and within two years I was the youngest branch manager in the country. When I started my speaking business in the Fall of 2008 and the economy subsequently dropped off the cliff and the speaking business imploded. I remembered what my mom said, “If you hang in long enough, eventually the tide will turn.” And it did. She was right again.
Mom’s lesson: The bigger and more important the endeavor, the more difficult the journey and the more likely there will be temptation to quit at some point. You don’t fail until you quit, and in order to succeed, you need to persevere long enough, and hang on after others have let go.
My mom was a substitute teacher for many years. One time they called her to substitute teach and she was really sick with the flu, but she felt an obligation to help out. So she put herself together as best she could and went to work. Later I asked her why she agreed to teach when she was that sick. She said, “John, people rely on me when other people are sick. I’m not supposed to be sick. In life it doesn’t matter how you feel physically or mentally, what matters is the commitments you make and that you live up to them, in good times and bad, whether you feel like it or not.”
Mom’s lesson: Commit and be all-in. The client doesn’t care how you feel, or about any other excuses you have as to why something didn’t get done. They just want what they were promised when they were promised they have it by.
Go above and beyond, add that little “extra.”
My mom believed if you’re going to do something, you do it right and you do it all out. She always pushed herself to continually improve and be the best she could be. It started in school where she was her high school class valedictorian, and in college where she got straight As. But it wasn’t just the “big” things that she took seriously. She always believed in doing even the smallest things at the highest level. I remember the Halloween I wanted to be a ghost. That’s easy right? A sheet, two holes for the eyes, done. Not my mom’s ghost. I mean, I was the ghost but the ghost outfit was going to represent my mom. She had that sheet on me 4 nights in a row, adjusting, cutting, sewing, tailoring, and changing. The fifth night came, Halloween, she put that sheet on me, and made a few final changes before sending the perfect ghost off into the night.
Mom’s lesson: If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. Always take it to the next level by doing more than you get paid for and delivering more than people expect. Everything you do reflects back on you.
Mom’s second lesson from this example: Leave no stone unturned. You want to make sure you do everything you can to win a sale. As a last-ditch effort, any time I lost a sale I used to ask, “Is it a done deal? Is there anything I can do to still get the business?” This led to me getting the “lost sale” back about 40% of the time.
Posted By John Chapin,
Tuesday, April 3, 2018
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Five Ideas for Sales Success
To be successful in the world of selling you need to be a contrarian. In every industry successful salespeople are the exception, not the rule. In the insurance field only about 20% of the agents who start are still agents ten years down the road. In real estate, the average Realtor sells three houses a year, and even though some may stay in the business because it’s the family’s second income, and the company allows them to, three houses a year is poverty-level income. In the corporate world, most salespeople don’t make quota and in many cases, even those that do aren’t making six figures. That’s the bad news. The good news is: the top people in sales make tons of money and most have really good lives as a result. The other piece of good news is that success or failure, with rare exception, is completely up to the individual. Sales truly is the highest paying hard work and the lowest paying easy work and the reality is: those that don’t make it never make the commitment to put in the necessary work to be successful.
All of that said, here are a few thoughts to entertain in order to be successful.
Idea #1: You must embrace the suck.
Like homework as a kid, or eating your Brussel sprouts, there are some things in life that you don’t want to do but you have to. Sales in the same. Whether it’s paperwork, computer work, planning, or calls sheets, there will be things you don’t want to do but you have to. Even some sales related activities aren’t fun. I don’t know a ton of people who love to prospect or cold call, me included, but if you don’t prospect, ultimately you don’t make the necessary sales. The things you don’t like doing, or even downright hate, aren’t going away and no amount of whining or complaining is going to change the fact that you need to do them, so accept them as necessary evils, get them done, and move on.
Idea #2: You must embrace failure and rejection.
As human beings this one is tough. Acceptance by others is hardwired into our DNA. Thousands, and perhaps even hundreds, of years ago if we weren’t accepted by the group, we died alone out in the wilderness. In the 21st Century this is no longer true. Yet, most of us, especially salespeople, still have a major need to be liked and accepted. Most of us have moderate to severe approval addiction. Couple with that the sayings we learned as kids such as, “Don’t talk to strangers.” We are no longer small children who can be stolen and yet most people act as if they are and can’t even make eye contact with a stranger walking by. It’s time to recognize these adolescent, false fears and stop acting as if they are real. It’s also time to recognize what lies on the other side of failure and rejection: massive success. We all know the stories about Babe Ruth striking out more than anyone, while also hitting the most homeruns, and Michael Jordan missing the most game-winning shots, while also hitting the most. You must see each failure and rejection as a stepping stone to the next sale. Every call, whether a yes or no, gets you closer. You’ve got to change your definition of failure, just like Edison who saw his missed attempts as education instead of failure. Though Thomas J. Watson probably said it best, “If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.”
Idea #3: You must embrace discomfort and fear.
What’s interesting is that the psychological fear felt while cold calling causes the same reaction in the body as someone exerting themselves physically, on a long run for example. This feeling is one of self-preservation. It tells the individual to stop cold calling just as it tells the runner to stop running. From a physical standpoint, when running or pushing ourselves physically, this feeling is created by physical discomfort and first kicks in when we have expended about 40% of our physical capacity. In other words, we have another 60% to go. From a psychological standpoint, when exerting ourselves mentally, facing a fear while cold calling for example, this feeling is created by fear and usually kicks in before we even begin our task. In both cases we need to override the discomfort and fear if we are going to grow, expand, and become more physically and mentally. Everything you want is through your fear and outside of your comfort zone.
Idea #4: You must embrace challenges and curveballs.
Challenges and curveballs make you better, stronger, smarter, and more resilient. The more you face and overcome, the more you can face and overcome. Just as the strongest trees are made in the strongest winds and adverse weather conditions, the same is true for humans. Obstacles you face, and ultimately overcome, are the like the fire that tempers the steel, they make you tougher and more capable. While I’m not suggesting you hope for the flat tire, the health issue, or any other of lives problems that you will encounter on your journey, do your best to rise to the challenge, embrace them, and let them build a better you.
Idea #5: You’ve got to play mind games with yourself.
The above ideas are going to require you to fly in the face of a lot of what you’ve been taught over the years. They’re going to force you to be a contrarian and see good in bad, and blessings in hardship. That is the champion’s edge. The ability to turn adversity into motivation.
Not just in sales, but everywhere in life. What drives champions, what drives you, is ultimately what you’re fighting for, why you get up in the morning. Is it for the things you want: the cars, houses, money, and the feelings those give you? Is it to prove yourself to yourself and/or others? Or is it for the people in your life: kids, grandkids, parents, friends, or even future generations? Is it about how you’ll be remembered once you’re gone, the mark you left on the world?
Remember, life will pay whatever price you ask but it’s not just going to give you the prize without paying your dues, without being committed, without deserving success, without stepping out of your comfort zone, facing your fears, and going after it. Life will test you again and again to make sure you’re worthy. Every single day you’re going to have to put your helmet on, fasten your seatbelt, ride the roller coaster of life, and go get it.
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Posted By John Chapin,
Saturday, March 3, 2018
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There is a much overlooked aspect of sales success that is rarely talked about and people pay little attention to, it is: self-talk. The most important conversation is the one you have with yourself. The reason that conversation is so important is because the words and language you use both reveal and reinforce your beliefs about yourself and the world. Those beliefs dictate the action you take, or don’t take, and ultimately determine success or failure. If you have a problem selling, you more than likely have a self-talk problem. The difference between the top salespeople and everyone else, is that the top people became aware of their negative self-talk and beliefs and reprogrammed their language and beliefs to positive ones, or, they were one of the lucky few who received positive programming right from the get go. The latter by the way is the exception, most of us received negative programming growing up. Either way, if you want to become a champion, you need to ensure that your self-talk is positive, upbeat, and supports you.
How to identify and solve possible self-talk issues
Step 1: Awareness
Like everything else in life, awareness is step one. You can’t fix a problem you don’t know you have. If you are overweight, but you don’t think you are, the problem won’t get fixed. If your finances are wrong, but you don’t know there’s a problem, you won’t get them right. If you have a self-talk problem, you need to be aware of it before you can change it. So the first thing you want to do is monitor your self-talk. What do you catch yourself saying about yourself and the world around you? Are most of your conversations negative or positive? Do you find yourself saying negative things about the economy, your particular market, your industry, or your product? How about your self-talk about you? Do you believe you aren’t smart enough, young enough, old enough, don’t have enough energy, have too much energy, that bad things always happen to you, or that the odds are always stacked against you? Your beliefs will be your reality.
Step 2: Getting your self-talk right
If you realize you have a self-talk problem, here are some ways to work on it:
a. Positive Affirmations
Many people are familiar with affirmations and have either tried them in the past or use them currently. In a nutshell, positive affirmations are a series of positive statements which reinforce a belief you want to have about yourself. For example, if you want to have more self-confidence, you might use affirmations such as: “I am confident”, “I believe in myself”, “I feel my confidence increasing everyday”, and other similar statements.
b. Positive Afformations
Noah St. John coined the phrase Afformations in his book by the same name. Afformations are similar to Affirmations but they are slightly different in that they are in the form of questions versus statements. In the case of Afformations, if you wanted to have more self-confidence, you would use questions such as: “Why am I so confident?”, “Why is it so easy for me to believe in myself and do the things I need to do?”, “Why do I have so much talent and ability?” The theory is that while your brain may be able to argue with a statement (affirmation) you make such as “I am confident”, it does not argue but rather searches for an answer to the question when you ask, “Why am I so confident?” Again, you can check out Noah’s book where he lists Afformations for most areas of life that people struggle with.
Note: There are four ways to work with affirmations and afformations: listening to a recording of them, reading them, writing them, and saying them to yourself either out loud or silently. Ideally if you are vocalizing them, you want to say them with as much feeling and emotion as possible. It’s best to work with affirmations and affirmations first thing in the morning, right before going to bed, and then, if you can a few times during the day.
The most popular psycho-cybernetic technique to shift self-talk is to cancel out negative statements. You do this by saying the word “cancel” after you catch yourself saying something negative and then following the word “cancel” with a positive statement. For example, if you catch yourself saying, “Why do things always go wrong for me?”, you’d say “cancel”, out loud if possible, and then follow that with either an Affirmation such as: “Things always go right for me”, or an Afformation such as, “Why do things always go right for me?”
d. Clean up your environment
Specifically eliminate negatives and negative people from your environment. Where you end up 5, 10, 15 years from now will come down to what you put in your brain and who you hang out with. You cannot watch the evening news and be positive. You also cannot hang out with negative people and have positive self-talk for any length of time.
Finally, keep in mind that everyone has some negative self-talk occasionally. In fact, the majority of champions have had self-talk problems caused by major self-esteem and self-confidence issues. Many were plagued by insecurities that were constantly reinforced with negative self-talk. The key is that they recognized it and did something about it and that’s the key for you too. Become aware of these thoughts, catch yourself in the act, and then shift the conversation and reinforce the positive until it becomes your new habit. This does not happen overnight and takes work, but if you commit yourself to positive words and language, you should see a fairly substantial and positive shift in about 30 days.
By the way, another great book related to self-talk is: “What to Say When you Talk to Yourself” by Shad Helmstetter.
Posted By John Chapin,
Thursday, February 1, 2018
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Tip #1: Stop working smart and get back to working hard.
Most salespeople use “working smart” as an excuse to avoid hard work, especially the traditional methods of prospecting such as cold calling. They think work smart means work easy. As a result, they look for shortcuts and safe alternatives to prospecting on the phone and in-person. They try to prospect via social media and e-mail and kill so much time looking up information on prospects, that they don’t have time to make the number of calls necessary for success. While there are times you want to look up information on a prospect, use e-mail, and be on social media, the average salesperson takes it way too far because all of these are easier than talking to a live human being and facing possible rejection. In one case a new insurance agent was spending two hours looking up information before he made his initial call on a prospect. Instead of making the necessary 25 calls a day, he was making 2. Ouch!
Stop looking for the easy button: the half-the-work, ten-times-the-leads scheme, or the next break-through prospecting method, and stick to the tried-and-true: lots of calls in-person and on the phone. Hard work. The most successful salespeople work the hardest and spend the business day talking to people who can buy from them, not working on a sales letter, their phone script, social media, cleaning their desk, or doing research. Again, there are times for social media and technology. Just don’t get in the habit of using them at the expense of talking to the number of people you need to talk to in order to make the number of sales you need to make. Also, don’t do it during prime calling hours.
Tip #2: Get your daily dosage of fear, pain, and discomfort.
Every single day you need to be stepping out of your comfort zone, doing things that scare you, and growing personally and professionally. The good news is that many of these things overlap so usually one or two activities will fit the bill when it comes to this tip. Again, for salespeople it is typically cold calling, or making that particular call that for some reason they’re afraid to make, that is the most fearful and uncomfortable. The better you get at handling fear, discomfort, and mental pain, the better and stronger you and your business will be.
Tip #2a: Cold call every day.
Okay, you saw this one coming, right? This is tip 2a because again, for most people following this tip will give you your daily dose of tip #2.
As a salesperson cold calling is more than likely the thing you dread most and the most difficult thing you do. If you get great at cold calling, most other things in you sales career will be a breeze. Also, while you may be great at getting referrals, using LinkedIn for leads, and have more business than you can handle, you should never stop cold calling. Why? Nothing keeps you as sharp as cold calling, nothing builds your intestinal fortitude like cold calling, and nothing will give you more confidence and success than being able to cold call and get the interest and attention of a complete stranger. Also, no matter how many people you know, there may be a time in life in which you can’t rely on your LinkedIn Network, Facebook friends, a center of influence, or your uncle. Like my friend who had to talk his way into a secure area reserved for executives during a mass shooting, there will be a time in life when you have to sell a stranger. Or as my first manager Don Roche Jr. used to say, a true salesperson can sell the stranger on the street first and foremost.
Tip #3: Stop wishing it was easier.
The person you become over the span of your life will pretty much be determined by the obstacles you’ve had to overcome and whether or not you overcame them. Believe me, if you want to do anything significant with your life, you don’t want the easy road. There are no challenges or growth on the easy road. The easy road does not build persistence and resilience, which you when need when life gets tough, and which you need if you’re going to be successful in business and life over the long haul. This doesn’t mean you hope for tragedy to befall you, it means that when you run into plane delays, personal issues, professional obstacles, and anything else that life throws at you, that you accept them as part of life on planet Earth. No amount of wishing will make them go away. Rise above any negative feelings, move on, and realize that you’ll probably grow and learn something in the process. What stops most people from reaching their dreams is their inability to mentally overcome everyday roadblocks and problems they encounter along the way. They simply get beaten down until they give up.
Tip #4: Get back to the basics.
• Put people first and always do what’s best for them.
• Have annual, monthly, and weekly goals, break that down to daily activity, and get those daily activities done no matter what.
• Spend 80% of prime-calling time prospecting, presenting, and closing.
• Get great at selling, knowing your product, and your solutions.
• Build relationships and your network.
• Work hard… okay, and smart, but make sure it’s intelligent work that builds your business, not easy work that has you looking for the sales version of a unicorn or Bigfoot.
Posted By John Graham,
Thursday, December 28, 2017
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by John Graham, PropertyCasualty360.com, December 21, 2017
The Savvy Agent Recognizes the Importance of Understanding How Clients Think
The new year is a great time to focus on how best to meet the insurance needs of your current and potential clients.
Here are 6 insights that are sure to give your sales a boost:
1. Understand why clients complain.
Some agents may unwittingly create conditions that result in client complaints, either directly or on social media. It can come as a surprise. “I just don’t understand it,” one agent said. “I thought we had a good relationship.”
Winning an account is a form of courtship. It’s a time when agents are particularly attentive, wanting their prospects to feel special. Then comes the hand-off to an account manager. “Betsy is the best,” the agent says. “You’ll really like her. But if you ever need anything, just text me.”
How does the hand off make some clients feel? Let down, rejected, ignored. This can cause pain that’s not unlike physical pain, according to UCLA psychologist Dr. Naomi Eisenberger. Her research indicates that the source of both physical and mental pain is in the same centers of the brain. Complaining can be a way of relieving the pain.
2. Figure out how clients think.
Whether it’s a modest home or a high-value one, owners are proud of it. It’s theirs. Translated, this means they want the personal attention that comes from an insurance agent going through it. If the agent says, “I’ll drive by” or “We know the neighborhood,” it can be disappointing. Small business owners are no different.
While efficiency says it may not be necessary to tour a home or small business, it can be short-sighted if an agent wants to build a lasting relationship. It’s also the way to learn more about new customers, as well as help with loss control, and a way to let a client know you care.
The savvy agent recognizes the importance of understanding how clients think, particularly in terms of what has significance for them.
3. Be aware of why clients leave.
Getting the news of being “fired” by a client, often comes surprise to agents. “I sure didn’t see that coming,” the agent says. “As far as I know everything was OK.” If agents contact the former client to find out what happened, they are given the usual reason, “We got a better price.”
When an account walks, price may be the trigger, but not the cause. Chances are that some type of discontent was brewing with the client and another agent appeared and asked, “May I give you a quote?” With a copy of the declaration page in hand, it was easy for the agent to come up with better coverage at a lower price.
In reality, the client was thinking, “I pay all this money and what am I getting for it?” Here’s the message: With an intangible such an insurance, the only value is perceived value. Clients don’t think about insurance; it’s out of mind. The agent’s role is to vivify insurance — to bring it to life and to reinforce its value. Not once, but consistently.
4. Know when to ask for referrals.
Even though referrals can play a key role in helping agents gain credibility with prospects, deciding when to ask for them is a strategic decision. Unfortunately, agents can make the mistake of asking for referrals at the wrong time — just after winning the account.
Think about it. During the selling process, the agent’s attention is on ways to get the account, such as improving coverage, closing gaps, and reducing insurance costs. Then, when the sale is locked up, the agent turns the spotlight on himself by asking for referrals. That may not sit well with a new client.
There’s a better time. Before going after referrals, demonstrate that selecting you was a good business decision by performing in the client’s best interest. When an agent does this, it’s time to spend the “capital” you built up and ask for referrals.
5. Recognize when clients are ready to buy.
Just because you want to be a prospect’s insurance agent and make a compelling presentation doesn’t mean the prospect will change — even if they are less than satisfied with their current agent.
Why is it that so many people have trouble making decisions, even those that can benefit from them? Researchers Jeffrey Quinn and Wendy Wood at Duke University found that regardless of age, “47% of behaviors reported in participants’ diaries…were classified as habits given that they were performed every day and just about in the same location.”
In other words, the old saying that we are creatures of habit is correct. Making changes doesn’t come easily, including insurance agents. This is why the continued cultivation of prospects is essential. Just because they say no, it doesn’t mean never.
6. Give clients what they expect.
No matter who they are, they expect an agent to take initiative, be responsive, and understand what they want. In a recent panel discussion on the future of the grocery store, Scott McClelland of the San Antonio-based H-E-B Grocery Company summarized the issue in six words: “Never underestimate the demand for convenience.”
It’s these same words that drive Amazon’s unequalled success. They are the reason why it has tens of millions of customers who pay the company an annual fee to get free delivery and other perks.
It’s important to understand that an insurance agent’s major competitors aren’t other agents. It’s Amazon and it sets the bar for your clients.
Posted By John Chapin,
Friday, December 1, 2017
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We all know relationships are important with clients. If you own the relationship with a client account, you most likely own the business. Just as important as client relationships are the relationships within your organization and with vendors who help your business run smoothly. Problems in these relationships usually lead to problems in client accounts, which could result in lost business. You also spend a good amount of time with vendors and co-workers, so the better your relationships with them, the more pleasant your work life will be. All of that said, how do you ensure good, solid relationships within your organization and with vendors?
3 Steps to building strong relationships
Step 1: Follow Steven Covey’s Habit #5: Seek first to understand.
In order to build a relationship with someone you have to get into their world. Here are some ways to do that with vendors and people you work with.
a) Ask them: What can I do to make your job easier? During my first week at Diebold Banking Equipment, I approached each individual in installation and service and asked this question. When they realized I was willing to work with and help them, they in turn were willing to work with me and help me.
Ask vendors this question too. You want to make their lives as easy as possible. An example of this is with insurance agencies I work with. They ask their carriers what a perfect submission looks like and then do their best to achieve that. Also keep in mind that your objective is to be a great customer for your vendors. Be easy to work with, make sure your interactions with them are good ones, and thank them when possible.
b) Talk about their favorite subject. In other words, talk about them, their family, kids, pets, and related subjects. Try to keep the conversation positive and upbeat. While you may have to talk about someone’s cancer treatment or illness, you want to keep most conversations focused on good things going on in the person’s life. Also, be careful not to one-up people. If someone is talking about their daughter playing soccer, you can mention that you daughter plays soccer too, letting them know you have something in common with them. Just don’t talk about your daughter being a superstar or shift the conversation from their daughter to yours. Ask about activities they’re involved in such as bowling leagues, softball, golf, etc. Make sure to listen more than you talk. You have two ears and one mouth. Use them at least in that proportion. Drop in some of your own personal information so they have something they can connect with you on but again, make sure they are talking most of the time and be careful not to out-shine them. Remember everyone’s favorite radio station: WIIFM: what’s in it for me. Focus on that when you talk to people. What do they want and what are they interested in?
c) Let others be right, let them go first, and make them feel important. Everyone’s number one need, provided they have food, shelter and the basics, is to be recognized and to feel important. Most people are mirrors. When you let other people be right and let them be first, they’ll do the same for you. They’ll also be much more willing to work with you.
d) Use Dr. Tony Alessandra’s Platinum Rule. The Golden Rule is of course: Treat other’s the way you want to be treated. It’s effective more than 90% of the time. To get closer to 100%, use the Platinum Rule: Treat others the way they want to be treated. Ask for preferences regarding communication and other business protocols. Don’t assume that your preference is everyone else’s preference.
Step 2: What gets rewarded, gets repeated.
When I worked for Diebold, I used to give $5 and $10 gift cards to people in the installation and service departments. I also gave them baseball tickets and other gifts. On special occasions, during the holidays, or when they really went above and beyond, I used to give more expensive gifts such as jewelry or their favorite alcohol. Based upon rules and regulations you may or may not be able to do some of these. Either way, you must acknowledge and thank them for helping you and doing a good job. Stop by their office, thank them for what they just did for you, give them a small token of your appreciation, and ask about their favorite subject.
Here are some other ideas for rewarding people that don’t cost anything:
- Send an e-mail telling the boss what an asset they are to the company. Make sure you copy them in.
- Send a handwritten thank-you note.
- Call them on the phone and thank them or stop by in-person.
- Build them up with sincere compliments.
- Praise them in front of their peers or higher-ups.
Step 3: Treat co-workers and vendors like one of your top accounts.
A great way to build relationships internally and with vendors is to give them the same extra-special treatment that you give your top accounts.
Here are some ideas:
- Send them birthday cards and holiday cards.
- Give them holiday and birthday gifts.
- Study their areas of interest so you can have intelligent conversations with them.
- Give them books, articles, and other items related to their areas of interest.
- Pass on articles and other information about their high school, college, and hometown.
- Pass on good articles and information you come across about their kids, spouse, relatives, or their related interests.
- Find articles and other stories written about your vendors’ companies and industries, and occasionally discuss some of this information with them.
- Pass on items of religious and political interest.
- Give gift certificates to restaurants and stores.
- Give tickets to sporting events, shows, dinner events.
- Contribute to one of their favorite charities.
- Make a small investment in their business or something else they are involved in.
- Give vacations or trips to trade shows and other industry events.
- Get creative and come up with other great ideas to turn co-workers and vendors into loyal partners and great friends.
John Chapin is a motivational sales speaker and trainer. For his free newsletter, or to have him speak at your next event, go to:www.completeselling.com John has over 29 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia. You can reprint provided you keep contact information in place. E-mail: email@example.com