Turn On a Blue Light

The head bond trader intimidated me. Truthfully, he scared me. “Do you want these bonds or not?”

I had asked the trader to hold a block of bonds for me while I waited for my customer to get back to me. But it had been more than 24 hours since I last heard from him. Traders don’t hold bonds for rookie stockbrokers like me. I was lucky the trader was giving me a break.

“What did your buyer tell you he was looking for?”

He was looking for the best yield-to-call that he could find. Not too many bond buyers single out that feature.

“If he is looking for yield-to-call why don’t you sell him that? Why are you gathering information about the issuer and the viability of the project?”

I thought the issuer and the project were pretty important. I really needed to share that with my buyer. Right?

“Son, you have to learn that if the customer wants a blue suit, you turn on a blue light. Don’t try to sell him on the quality of the material or the high fashion of the cut. If he wants a blue suit, turn on a blue light.”

I called my customer, told him about the bond’s great yield-to-call, and asked him for his order. I got it.

Whether your customer is looking for the most extensive coverage, or the lowest price, or the minimum coverage necessary to satisfy the lender, then talk to him about that. Sell what the customer is buying. You will have time to fill in the rest of the details later. Get the order.

Turn on a blue light. It works.

Dave Lacefield shares lessons learned in 40+ years working in the business world. His struggles and successes as a stockbroker, insurance agent, actuary, president of a Texas MGA, and CEO of a publicly-traded insurance company have informed him on a wide range of issues and circumstances confronting business leaders, and leaders-to-be. Dave’s views are his own and do not represent the positions of his employer or any affiliated entities.