As I reflect on my career that started in 1970, the following guiding principles are top of mind: branding, communication and trust.
Your reputation is what others think you are; however, your character is what you are. After graduating from college as an English major, I worked in marketing for Proctor and Gamble — a great experience with life-long benefits. P&G, the premier firm for branding, taught me a vital lesson: “It’s the same suds in everyone’s box; it’s all about how you “package it.”
What is your brand? How do you package yourself, your products and your presentation? The items in your package are YOU. What you say, how you say it, spoken words, body language, punctuality, the way you dress, and demeanor are all components of your all important first impression, and they and make up your brand.
The initial goal is to connect with prospects because without a connection there can be no effective communication. The key to this connection is likability, which as multiple studies show, people determine in the first few minutes of your meeting with them. Achieving likability is the pathway to your ultimate goal of building a relationship based on trust.
In 1981, I wrote the following message on the ultimate goal of trust for the Penn Mutual Producer Magazine:
Trust: For a producer to be one of a client’s true advisors, rather than just a source of insurance policies, a relationship of trust must develop between the parties.
What is trust? From the dictionary: “Noun: confidence, reliance, implicit faith, moral responsibility. Verb transitive: to rely upon, to have implicit faith in. Verb intransitive: to be confident or to confide in.”
It is certainly obvious to all producers that if their relationship with clients and family can be described thusly, their business and personal life would be both productive and enjoyable.
How can this level of trust be obtained? Trust, like all worthwhile traits, develops over time and like loyalty, must be earned. Unfortunately, trust that can take years to evolve can be lost in a moment with one spoken word, a misbegotten deed, or perhaps even an improper expression.
Some producers are fortunate; the elements of their personality instantly create an atmosphere of trust – a rare quality.