People Interaction and Moving Away From Rejection
When I was in high school in Chicago I sold magazine subscriptions door to door during summer break. My opening was, “Hi, I’m Bob. Just curious, but did you get your free Ladies Home Journal Cookbook?” When the homemaker said she didn’t, I handed her one and said, “Here’s a sample. My Mom has one and she’s made almost everything in the book” (which was somewhat of an exaggeration). If the lady was impressed with the quality of the cookbook and asked how to get one, I let her know it was free (a $29 value) with a subscription to any four magazines.
Sounds easy, right? Wrong. At age 15, it was my introduction to selling and, if I learned anything, it was how to take rejection. Imagine saying, “Hi, I’m Bob. Just curious but did you get your free…?” and being interrupted with, “No, I didn’t and I don’t want anything,” or something unprintable. Wanting to improve the odds of having better people interactions that would lead to more sales, our manager made a major change in who we approached. It made all the difference in the world. Recently I thought of how my manager’s “Ah ha” has a parallel application to selling in banks and credit unions.
Your Customers or Members Must Be In The Right Frame of Mind To Buy
The people we called on in central Chicago constantly had salespeople coming to their door with some product or service. Many residents were simply tired of the routine and, naturally, weren’t very open to hearing about anything, even if it may well have benefited them. They were just not in the right frame of mind. This is similar to people who come into or call your branch and have their defenses up because they expect a Personal Banker or FSR to pitch a product. Have you ever read a comment on one of your surveys that goes something like, “Your people are wonderful but their constantly trying to sell me something is getting old.”
My manager realized people had to be in a good frame of mind to hear our “phenomenal” proposition, so his solution was to drive us to towns two hours outside of Chicago where residents didn’t have sales people constantly knocking on their door and were not primed to hear a sales pitch. In this new environment we were calling on people who were at least more predisposed to hearing what we had to say. That’s half of the task in selling. Our sales increased immediately.
How This Translates to Banks and Credit Unions
We know you can’t simply drive to another town to find more receptive customers or members, but here are two things you can do to remove their mental barriers:
- For people your staff interacts with more frequently, alter your staff’s sales approach. Shock them by not trying so hard to make a sale. Instead, engage them in conversation to get to know them better and develop the member or customer relationship. Yes, we recognize in the end the goal is to sell. However, with this approach, your staff will pick up more cues for needs in the long run when members realize your staff are not always trying to sell them something. The key is to ask questions that create a connection: questions about their family, preferences, financial goals, etc.
- Reach out to existing customers or members who use electronic or mobile services and don’t visit your branches. Based on experience with our clients’ staff who start an outreach initiative, many customers and members are pleasantly surprised to get a warm thank you call instead of the product pitch they were expecting. By asking about their service experience, discovering their life events and providing advice, trust becomes the foundation of a lifelong relationship and continued organic revenue.
An Honest to Goodness Real Life Example of How This Works
Barb was recently conducting some coaching for 25 FSRs. One FSR said he had been making outbound calls to members who don’t typically come in to a branch. He was introducing himself as their relationship manager, thanking them for their business and making a personal connection. In essence, he was re-boarding a disengaged member and establishing trust.
One of those calls was with a member who only had a savings account at the credit union. The FSR told Barb that the member was so impressed with the credit union’s desire to develop the relationship and because his other financial institution never called him, he decided to move all his accounts over. Of course this won’t happen every time, but we hear stories like this more often than one might imagine. Another FSR told Barb, “It feels so wonderful to be able to engage members, really listen and not feel forced to find something to sell every time.”
- How would you describe your staff’s current approach to making sales? Do they focus on making a sale and completing a transaction on-the-spot because if they don’t, they view it as a lost opportunity? Or do they look at the customer or member interaction as an opportunity to build the relationship regardless of whether they make a sale immediately or not?
- What can you do to encourage your staff to be more of a trusted financial partner who confidently uncovers customer financial anxieties, dreams and goals for the future?
- How does your current sales model and incentive plan demonstrate that your bank or credit union is concerned about the financial well-being of your customers or members?
A well-known study by IBM Business Services found three statements most highly correlated with customer and member advocacy are the emotional drivers of the relationship.
- The bank/credit union has an has an understanding of my financial goals
- Employees provide advice to improve my financial well-being
- The bank/credit union values my business
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Barbara Sanfilippo and Bob Romano
How To Turn Your Staff Into Trusted Financial Partners
Want to know how to get your staff to start the conversation about personal finances? If you’re concerned about your customers’ or members’ financial well-being and want your staff to become a trusted financial partner, click on Contact Us and check the first box to get information about our financial coaching and advising program, Creating High Definition Customer and Member Experiences™. To ask about Barb speaking at one of your events click the box marked “Motivational Speaking.”
“Wow, we’ve had speakers before at our Annual Employee Training Day, but Barb’s Dream Big! program was amazing! She got us energized about serving and delighting our customers and building deeper relationships with them. Even better, she showed us how we can take personal responsibility for our own life and job satisfaction and act on our future dreams. Barb is highly engaging, provides take home value and best of all–inspired us to Dream Big!” ~ 1st Summit Bank, PA
“You did an exceptional job at capturing what was going on in our organization. Our folks were glued to every word and your uplifting and entertaining style made the day breeze by. I am excited that we now have more guidance and a road map to follow that will make Leaders a Five Star credit union.” ~ Leaders Credit Union
We are interested in your feedback. In the comments section below, please tell us whether you agree or disagree with the ideas in this post. Also, what challenges or questions do you have that we can answer in this post?