We live in a culture marked by striving and entitlement. Sometimes those qualities are positive as they help us reach our goals and achieve great things. But getting what you want in business - and life in general - should be as much about the process as it is the goal. In a prior post, we talked about the idea of ownership from the “cosmic” point of view, that everything we use to get what we want in life, from other people to natural resources, are not ours to keep or claim. Because they are on loan to us from their Creator, they must get the respect they deserve. Our process of “acquiring” something is really a process of continually showing appreciation for being able to “have” something for the time allotted.
This deep and multifaceted idea has a multitude of practical applications in business. Many successful people live their lives mindful of the concept of ownership. This next series of articles will give you a glimpse into how people achieve success by not pretending they own their clients, their employees, or their profession. In short, they don't play God.
A Shift In Perspective
When I first entered the life insurance business almost three decades ago, it was commonly believed that life insurance was sold, not bought. The feeling was that because consumers are naturally resistant to buying the product, they must be convinced to do so. A wide variety of tactics were taught, all of them aimed at pushing your prospect to make a purchase.
This approach to selling is very presumptuous, to say the least. It's almost as if the salesman feels entitled to the sale, and that the consumer simply needs to be forced to make the purchase. The salesman “wins” when the client “gives it up.” Because of this approach to client acquisition, it should be no surprise that the buying public has developed such a low opinion of life insurance salespeople.
Don’t Act Like A Salesperson
I had the good fortune of being set straight by a prospective client early in my career. I had spent weeks courting an investment banker for an initial appointment. This gentleman was an ideal client and would be on the A-list of any financial services representative. He had a need for a large policy, ample means to pay for it, and a desire to make the purchase immediately. In my mind, I had already spent my commission!
I arrived early to his office in the financial district of Manhattan. As I sat in the waiting room, I admired all the signs of his wealth that were woven into the decor: the exotic furnishings, the paintings, the expensive carpeting. Here was a man who earned big money and spent big money.
He came into the waiting room and saw me admiring his “stuff.” He looked me up-and-down and simply said, “If you want to do business with me, then don’t act like a life insurance salesman.”
Right. Got it. People who can spend $2 million on a boat don't get coerced into making a purchase. They spend their money as they see fit, on people for whom they have respect and can trust. They simply have no time for amateurs who are out to game them.
Be Character Conscious
One way you earn such respect is by building a character that is consistent and steadfast.
Steven Siebold makes this exact point when he talks about how those who are world class are also character conscious:
“Champions take the high road and are known to do what they say they will do…They make deals with other champions on a handshake, and view it as a binding contract…Champions will push only to the limits their character will allow. When their ambitions and drives begin to adversely affect other people, Champions pull back. Character is what separates ambitious champions from ambitious criminals.” (Siebold, 213)
Needless to say, champions show the same character to clients small, medium, and large. You can't get away with playing God with some clients and not playing God with others. Character requires consistency, and character will be rewarded.
What examples come to mind of the benefits of being character conscious? Have you seen these ideas play out in your personal and business life? I’d love to know what you think! Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steven H. Kobrin, LUTCF, owns and operates a national life insurance brokerage. He is a life insurance specialist, and expert in helping clients that are higher-risk or need special handling. He is affiliated with a premier general agent and master general agency to distribute top-of-the-line financial produces and services. Through them, he forms strategic partnerships with insurance brokers, financial advisors, and financial institutions to expand client services, increase sales, and generate referral income.
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