Why a benefit brokerage is no place for politics

Register now

Politics don’t mix with agency sales and growth. Each election season is full of opportunities to talk about candidates, parties, platforms and issues. Our political process requires us to review the issues, form an opinion, and take a stand for what we believe. The same goes for being a consultant. Being able to review multiple options, make an informed decision, and offer an opinion is critical to being a quality adviser to clients.

The tricky part of this dynamic is being able to understand and distinguish between personal beliefs and the role your business plays with clients and prospects. Getting on your political soapbox or using your company messaging platform as a bully pulpit is where the tide turns from being an active political citizen to creating a sense of negativity that surrounds you and your company.

Also see:10 healthcare differences between Clinton, Trump.”

It’s important to recognize that as a business owner or an adviser, you are likely working with clients across a broad spectrum and your clients may not hold all of the same views you do. Understanding this and responding appropriately can go a long way in securing business. However, if your opinions and communication are passionately and consistently “us vs. them” and your recommendations are overtly based on a strong political bias, you run a couple of risks for your business.

The first risk is offending or alienating those clients with differing beliefs or those who prefer to leave politics out of the office.
The second risk, and perhaps the most critical, is that you may inadvertently be demonstrating to clients that you are unable to objectively approach a situation. If they see your belief system as being so rigid that you have blinders on and are not open to differing opinions, the message they might be receiving is that you approach everything with a bias. Clients may feel that with the beliefs you tout so openly, you are unable to review and assess their needs without prejudice.

The right kind of passion
Make sure the message you and your employees are sending on behalf of the company is what’s going to best serve your future growth. Your words and actions should inspire people to ask for your opinions and advice, make them want to do business with you, and motivate them to refer you to others.

If you speak more passionately and more consistently about your political beliefs than you do about your company and how you help your clients, the politics are going to overshadow the company message and that, instead, becomes your brand. Prospects who don’t agree, or are turned off by continuous ranting, will dismiss you as not being a relevant business option. Clients don’t want their situations put through your political filter.

Also see:What are the consequences of political discussion in the workplace?

There are costs associated with these choices, and not ones that can necessarily be measured. All of those clients who chose not to do business with you are unlikely to say it was because of your message. And for all the prospects you don’t turn into clients, or the ones you never even talk to because of the brand that precedes you, you’ll have no idea what that potential revenue could have been. If the message you’re sharing is their reason for not doing business with you, it’s probably the last thing they’d ever tell you.

Just because you’re not getting negative feedback doesn’t mean people aren’t listening. They are hearing you and they are making choices. They, too, are voting.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.
Practice management Advisor strategies Sales and marketing