August 19, 2013

If You Want to Build a Career, Do What’s Best for the Client

Many years ago, I worked with a company that sold health insurance to small business owners. The product was pretty good and the compensation was attractive. The typical work week was only three and a half days, and to add to the appeal, all leads were furnished. Therefore, all we did was schedule our appointments each Monday, see prospects on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and turn in our paperwork each Thursday. 

At the beginning of each week we received a report on how each rep had performed the prior week. One rep in particular was always at or near the top of the list. This person became well known in the company as one of its top salesmen. As a "newer" rep, I was quite interested in learning his secret. The truth is, most salespeople are motivated by recognition and I was no different.

After several months, when the opportunity finally presented itself, I spoke with him, expecting to learn some magnificent sales technique. What I found was quite the opposite. As it turned out, I learned he was greatly exaggerating the benefits of the policy. Eventually, customer complaints ensued and his employment was terminated.

That experience taught me a valuable lesson. A person may succeed by lying for a brief period. However, if the goal is to build a career, it's imperative to do what's best for the client! In the final analysis, we will not be judged by the amount of material possessions we accumulate, but by the honesty and integrity with which we conduct ourselves. As I’ve said before, but which I believe bears repeating, our reputation is our greatest asset.

I realize that for many of you this discussion is unnecessary. However, if there is just one reader who needs to hear this, if there is even one person standing at the cross road of Ethical St. and Unethical Avenue, never forget. You may fool some of the people some of the time, but eventually, the truth will emerge. Therefore, always do what's in the best interest of your client. This is the only way to build a sustainable business. 

As a final note, whenever an advisor acts in an unethical manner, it hurts everyone as it creates distrust, making it more difficult for the rest of us. Since trust is the most important factor in any relationship, let's do everything possible to support it. I long to see the day when our industry is viewed no longer as a bunch of people trying to sell products, but as advisors dispensing advice. However, for this to occur, we need to focus on the client and not on our compensation. In fact, we probably need a new compensation model. That's when we will be able to call it a "profession" and gain the respect it deserves.

Thanks for reading and have a great week!

Reprints Discuss this story
This is where the comments go.