One of the most important investments an individual can make is, unfortunately, also one of the least comforting decisions a person must accept: Buying life insurance.
The problem has nothing to do with the investment itself – indeed, life insurance is a necessity – but the manner by which brokers or agents raise this issue is a lesson in avoidable mistakes and forced errors: These professionals do not act with the confidence of a trusted counselor; they do not enjoy the bond that a doctor has with a patient, or a lawyer has with a client.
That lack of intimacy, despite the extensive knowledge and experience many brokers possess, is the great obstacle separating tens of millions of Americans from buying life insurance as way to protect their respective families and loved ones.
In so many words: Brokers need to master the art of personalized service, in which a client is not a disposable commodity or just one of so many anonymous numbers in an actuarial chart.
I write of what I know because, as the Founder and CEO of Local Life Agents, and as someone who lost my father when I was fourteen, I understand that life insurance can be (as it was for my mother) a lifesaving tool.
Every financial fact confirms this assertion; and every anecdote, mine included, underscores this reality: That without the benefits provided by a life insurance policy, widows and widowers – boys and girls, and sons and daughters – could very well be both emotionally impoverished and economically destitute.
And, while the selection and sale of life insurance is a specific exercise all its own, the topic has broader implications for every industry.
For, the failure to offer high-quality service, worsened by the ease in which we can succumb to the impersonal nature of the Internet, dispatching mass emails with a simple click and cold calling prospects with no regard to privacy or decency – this behavior is the reason why people may not act in their best interests because, if there is no one with the poise to answer key questions and address vital concerns, all is lost.
My assertion, which I repeat in my Facebook posts and other forms of social media, is a call to leadership.
I want current and potential clients to know that they are not – and they never will be – entries in a leather-bound ledger or figures in a spreadsheet. I want every vendor, in every industry, to be a model of individual integrity.
Delivering Wisdom and Offering Compassion: A Leader's Duty
The universal theme to this discussion is simple: Secure people's trust by treating every individual with respect.
That statement is hardly a revolutionary idea, but it is a frequently overlooked example of banishing the wisdom of common sense.
It is a matter of common sense to build relationships with clients.
It is a matter of common sense to specialize solutions for business associates.
It is a matter of common sense to be a source of intelligence and clarity for colleagues.
It is a matter of common sense to be, in every meaning of the word, a professional.
My promise to my clients, in addition to my plea to executives across the grand spectrum of economic activity, is to be a professional.
In appearance, and through letters and deeds, a professional is just that: A consummate symbol of resolution, truth and stature.
These strengths are earned characteristics. They are the core of a professional's reputation and sacred honor.
Let us dedicate ourselves to these principles, now and forevermore.
Let us be the professionals we should be.
Let us be the professionals we must be.
Brad Cummins is the Founder of Local Life Agents, an independent life insurance agency offering life insurance products in all 50 states.