Sunday, February 19, 2012

Dishonesty May Not Be Your Best Strategy. Just Saying.

I'm an estate planning attorney. I don't hide this fact from people, but I'm also not pushy about asking people if they need my services. I feel that this method works best for attracting business, and I'm honest about what I do and what I charge for what I do. That's why it bugs the hell out of me when people don't extend me the same courtesy.

I was at a church function last week, and one of the members I met was someone affiliated with a financial institution. I often network with such people, because we often work well together in providing holistic services to our clients. He invited me to an event that took place yesterday morning across town, explaining I'd get to meet several people in his industry and get to hand out business cards. It sounded like an expo or a networking event, so I agreed.

Saturday morning, I woke up early, drove an hour across town, and ended up sitting through a 2 hour presentation about why I should sell life insurance to people. I then explained I wasn't really interested, got a condescending facial expression that suggested I wasn't "all there" mentally, and drove an hour home.

To be fair, I did get to hand out a few business cards and possibly made a few connections, but if I had been told the real nature of this event, I probably wouldn't have gone. In fact, I feel grossly misled. If I run into this individual at church again, I intend to be civil, but not particularly friendly. I have sat through these kinds of presentations before, back when I was exploring a career as a future CFP, but was turned off due to how incredibly condescending they are. First of all, I had been effectively lied to to get me there and take up 4 hours of my precious free time. Second of all, I didn't like the implication that I was some kind of chump if I didn't take advantage of an "awesome part-time opportunity to earn lots and lots of $$$$!" Just an FYI, if you are a successful person and prefer doing what you currently do versus selling insurance, WFG/TransAmerica thinks you're dumb. And they'll take 2 hours to tell you so.

What really grates on my nerves is how someone who effectively misled me about this event can then act surprised and mildly offended that I didn't want to join his sales group. And that he and his branch manager would try to argue with me about it. I'm familiar with the importance of "overcoming objections" in sales. It's a necessary skill and it's a good one to learn. However, there's a huge difference between engaging in a discussion meant to overcome an objection versus arguing with someone who honestly isn't interested and is pretty miffed about being there in the first place.

Please note: I don't have anything against people that sell insurance. In fact, I think insurance is a very important thing to have. In my line of work, we actually emphasize to our clients that they should have comprehensive insurance coverage if they can afford it - it should be an absolute financial priority, along with retirement planning. It's like estate planning - I never want people to have to USE it, but if they have it, it can make a HUGE difference in a bad situation.

Have you ever sat through a bad sales pitch? Are you painfully polite or can you stomp out without batting an eyelash?

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