Beneath The Veneer There Is A Salesman At Work
The December 24/31 issue of National Underwriter featured a quote of the week by Ann Hartmann, president of The Society of Financial Service Professionals: (SFSP). The quote stated: “I think anytime there is a bad economy, it separates the salesmen and the advisors.”
As I read this, my first reaction was, “Right on!!!!” If ever there is a time for salesmen and salesmanship to shine, it is when the economy slows down.
But then I read the article from which the quote was lifted and discovered that I had completely misinterpreted the intent of the quote. A reading of the entire Hartmann interview could easily cause one to infer that somehow advisors better serve the public than salespeople who may only be interested in selling product rather than solving needs.
I do not know Ann Hartmann, but I am certain that she is a person entitled to great respect as the head of the SFSP. However, as a person who has been a salesman of one sort or another for all of my adult life, I take great umbrage at what appears to me a “put down” of salespeople.
I have no quarrel with people who adopt lofty titles; we have been doing it for decades. We have called ourselves estate planners, business planners, insurance consultants and a host of other titles, presumably to add prestige and specificity to what we do. But underneath this veneer we are still salespeople and we are rewarded financially and emotionally only when we make a sale.
In my lifetime I have sold a wide variety of products, but they all had one thing in commonthey solved a particular need of the buyer. I have always regarded selling as essentially a “problem solving enterprise.”
The reason we become CLUs or ChFCs is to help us to understand the problems people and businesses may have. But we sell life insurance (and other products) to solve the problems. The great Isaac Kibrick, John Newton Russell Award recipient and leader of the New York Life sales force, understood this when 50 years ago he coined the phrase, “Look for the loss.”
I find articles that demean the role of salespeople in our economy in stark contrast to one I clipped from the business section of our local newspaper last month. The article entitled, “Sold on Sales Reps Saving the U.S. Economy” was written by Dale Dauten, a syndicated writer for King Features.