In a recent phone call I told the CEO of my insurance brokerage that after being a loyal customer for 15 years I had moved all my business to other providers. Given our long-standing relationship, I felt I owed him an explanation; not because I wanted to see someone fired, but because I wanted him to know my reasons for leaving so he could put any lessons learned to use.
It started about seven years ago when the person assigned to my business insurance seemed to lose interest in me. He wasn’t on top of my renewals, made me do work that he could have done for me, and didn’t competitively bid my insurance. I moved all of my business insurance to another agency. A similar issue happened in the past year with my personal insurance; I simply didn’t feel that I was important to my agent. The final nail in the coffin came when my bank notified me that my homeowners’ insurance had lapsed two months earlier without any notification from my insurance agent. I then reached out to another agency, who quickly bound coverage for me at 10 p.m. on a Saturday evening.
While the CEO of the original brokerage wasn’t happy that I moved my insurance business elsewhere, he was grateful I took the time to calmly and constructively give him feedback. We ended the call on a very cordial note, and I am confident that if we ever ran into each other at a coffee shop we’d shake hands and exchange regards.
I open with this story because for years I considered him and the agents at his company as trusted advisors. I openly shared my personal and business goals with them and believed they advised with my best interests at heart. But after a time I realized I didn’t feel important to them, and my personal and professional interests were no longer their primary concern. The people who were at one time my trusted advisors now had exactly none of my business.
So what’s a trusted advisor? In my four decades in business I’ve boiled it down to six crucial principles:
Being a trusted advisor isn’t something clients (regardless of whether they’re internal or external to your organization) automatically grant; it takes a track record of demonstrating these six principles through actions that elevate someone to trusted advisor status. Following are six crucial lessons I’ve learned about what it takes become and continue as a trusted advisor:
Becoming a trusted advisor is something that’s earned through behaviors and actions and can be quickly stripped away if taken for granted. Keep these lessons in mind to help you not just attain trusted advisor status, but keep it.
Lonnie Pacelli along with his wife Patty created the Six-Word Lessons series. He is the author of Six-Word Lessons for Project Managers, Six-Word Lessons to Avoid Project Disaster, and Six-Word Lessons for Dads with Autistic Kids. See more at lonniepacelli.com.
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