“Money is an echo of value.”
This quote rings loud and true for great wholesalers – and it comes from an all time terrific author, speaker and sales expert.
Bob Burg is the author of a number of books on sales, marketing and influence, with total book sales of well over a million copies.
His International Bestseller, The Go-Giver, coauthored with John David Mann has sold over half a million copies and it has been translated into 21 languages. It has been reissued in a new, expanded edition with a foreword by Huffington Post founder and publisher, Arianna Huffington.
Bob is an advocate, supporter and defender of the Free Enterprise system, believing that the amount of money one makes is directly proportional to how many people they serve.
He is also an unapologetic animal fanatic, and serves on the Board of Trustees of Furry Friends Adoption & Clinic in his town of Jupiter, Florida.
“Those are my principles. And, if you don’t like them…I have others.”
— Groucho Marx
The above line by one of our greatest comedians is, unfortunately, a bit too realistic. While we tend to see this manifest most commonly in politicians who will say just about anything in order to get elected or re-elected, far too many in business do the same thing.
It’s really about character, isn’t it? The word, Character comes from the ancient Greek meaning scrape or scratch. It came to mean an engraved marking, and eventually a defining quality. We could say that the sum total of all one’s qualities is their defining quality, or character. I believe that when you really understand a person’s character, you can predict their major decisions.
Why? Because you know where they stand. You know that they stand for something. And you know what they stand for. They are predictable. In this case, a good predictable.
While the media gives significantly greater attention to those whose principles are along the line of Groucho’s above persona, fortunately there are many more whose principles — based on high character — are indeed immutable.
A Person of Character
One such man I’m reminded of is John Allison.
Over a 20-year span Mr. Allison, the former Chairman & CEO of Branch Banking & Trust Company (BB&T), grew one of the most profitable banks in the country ($4.5 billion to $152 billion in assets during his tenure). It was also one of the few banks during the lead up to the financial meltdown that did not involve itself in sub-prime lending, writing only conventional mortgages.
Mr. Allison understood the unholy alliance between Washington, D.C. and many of the banks, as well as how harmful the practice of sub-prime lending truly was. And, being that this was contrary to the principles upon which he and his bank stood (making their profit through providing value to their clients), the decision to forgo the countless “easy millions” being made by his peers was a no-brainer.
Of course, when things finally came crashing down, his bank was left standing tall; both in profitability and reputation.
The kicker is that eventually he was forced by the government through very thinly-veiled threats to take bailout money. And, staying true to his principles, shortly after signing the papers, he resigned and went on other activities becoming a Distinguished Professor at Wake Forest University School of Business and eventually, for five years, the CEO of the venerable Cato Institute.
John Allison stood for something. After all, that’s what people of character do.
By the way, the prestigious Harvard Business Review named him one of the decades top 100 most successful CEOs.
Yes, he was a highly-respect, beloved leader, and hugely, hugely financially successful.
A Powerful Combination
How was this accomplished? Through rational, long-term thinking combined with a desire to provide exceptional value to customers, employees and shareholders alike.
And…by acting from a base of uncompromising values; from a core of honesty and integrity.
In his book, The Leadership Crisis And The Free Market Cure, Mr. Allison defines Integrity as, “the harmony of mind and body” and says that, as a principle, it “guides us to act consistently with our beliefs.”
After a brief but brilliant explanation regarding how one cannot act with integrity if one’s values are either contradictory or not aligned with reality he made what I felt was another profound point:
“Many people view integrity as some form of duty. Integrity is not a duty. It is a means to improve the probability of being successful and happy.”
That is a statement worthy of reading and studying, and reading again.
I find it to be so powerful because if one displays integrity simply out of obligation to others, he or she cannot truly be happy. It’s only when one lives in integrity because it is congruent with their own values and how they wish to relate to the world that it can lead to happiness and personal fulfillment.
It’s Also Happens To Be Great For Business
The extra benefit to living with integrity is that others respect you; they trust you more…and are more likely to want to be in relationship with you and – in the context of the Financial Advisors in your target market – want to do business with you.
Mr. Allison’s teaching reminded me of wisdom from another person I also greatly admired, the late Harry Browne. Mr. Browne, whose classic on sales is a spectacular treatise on understanding and respecting human nature wrote:
“Honesty is not a self-denying virtue. It’s one of the greatest assets a salesperson can have.”
There are two parts to this, as well. First, you are honest not for the sake of others (though, that is also very important!) but because it is congruent with your personal value system. This allows you to be happy. And, in the end, happiness is what we as human beings ultimately desire.
The additional benefit to being an honest wholesaler is the degree of trust you earn from your prospective and current clients. Again, this results in their gladly buying from you and just as enthusiastically referring you to others.
Yes, living with integrity and honesty certainly makes you more valuable to those whose lives you touch and influence. It affects you, however, on a much deeper level.
Because, when it comes right down to it…
It allows you to genuinely feel good about yourself and live with a sense of joy, peace of mind, and happiness.
And it certainly makes you a more attractive wholesaler to the Advisors you wish to do business with.
Written by Bob Burg