The Art of Getting to Yes!
Many of us have heard the saying “The Confused Mind Never Buys,” but have you ever really stopped to think about what it means and what it means in today’s economy? In the world of sales, doing business today is not hard, it’s different.
It has become a balancing act. More of an “art” than a “science.” On one hand, you must be believable, someone your clients trust and are rock solid when it comes to knowing the industry, the market and the competition. On the other hand, you must be someone they relate to, someone they like, trust and they are able to talk and connect to. And it is striking that balance that I see most financial service professionals get derailed.
A little less than a year ago, I decided to move my checking accounts to consolidate my finances into one financial institution. All but my investments and a few checking accounts were in one place, and I thought at least getting both my business and my personal accounts into one financial institution would make my life a little easier.
Now like many of your clients, I live a busy life, and making time and room in my schedule to do this was a big deal for me. The day I sat down to move my accounts was no different, and the customer service representative completely missed the signs. She immediately began to profile me, asking about business, my personal life, my future goals and my biggest challenges.
Once that information was gathered, she immediately offered me both a business credit card and debit card, and said that she was surprised I did not have either. She also took a moment to update me on the range of small business loans they provided, as well as leasing opportunities they had for any small business equipment needs I may have.
The more she talked, the more irritated and confused (and in that order) I became. I came in there for one thing: to move some checking accounts. I did not want to hear about all the other products and services she felt I needed or thought I should have. I looked at my watch, and as thirty minutes passed, I politely told her that I had to leave, and I would just open my checking accounts another day.
And yes, you guessed it, my accounts are still sitting at the other bank. And to this day, I do not have a small business loan, a lease or any other product or service that financial institution provides. Why? Because my confused mind was not willing to buy. I wanted one thing when I went in there; the more she offered the less willing I became to even buy the one thing.
Now I realize we are all encouraging, training and rewarding our teams to profile their customers and to ensure that we have deep and wide relationships with them. Great, that is exactly what we should be doing. However, this is where you need to understand that business development is more “art” than “science.” While profiling is good, understanding customer needs is good and proactively recommending products and services is good, the timing of when you do that is priceless.
If you want to master the “art” of getting to yes, then practice these four strategies:
1. Slow Down –
Believe it or not, if you slow down, you will have far more time and far more opportunities to build a long and lasting relationship with your client. Rome was not built in a day and neither were long-term client relationships. I am a big fan of profiling, of asking questions and of really getting to know your clients, but you need to do it on their time frame, and that means you need to slow it down. By doing a full profile on me at this first meeting, I felt irritated, confused and overwhelmed. I did not understand why we were discussing my equipment needs, when all I wanted to do was move some checking accounts. This banker missed the importance of building a relationship with me and solving my problems first; because of that, she lost the opportunity to not only move my checking accounts but offer me any other products and services.
2. Listen –
You need to ask questions and really listen to your clients. You need to understand and pay attention to what they feel is the major or important issue. Your clients want to be heard, and to convey you are listening, you need to focus on and solve the issue they feel is most important, before moving on to something else. I am not saying I would not have been open to a small business loan or an equipment lease, but I felt like we were moving too fast, and it felt like she did not even care about my checking accounts.
3. Build Trust –
One of the wonderful things about asking questions is that your clients tell you exactly what they want, and if you act on what they tell you, in other words if you solve their problem first, they will trust you. And building trust first ensures the client is open and ready to talk about other products and services. In my case, the fact that we started to talk about everything under the sun except my checking accounts made me feel like this relationship was going to be more about what she wanted than about what I wanted. In other words, I didn’t trust that the products and services she was offering were in my best interest.
4. Follow-Up –
Business development today is all about the follow-up. If you slow down with clients, allow the relationship to build by listening and building trust, you open the door for follow-up. And follow-up is where true business development is done today. If I could spend some time working with this banker, I would encourage her to slow down and take the time to get to know the client in front of her and what problem or opportunity brought that client to the bank. Really listen to what is uppermost in their mind, then solve that issue quickly and efficiently. With that complete, the client will like you, believe you and trust you, and you have paved the way to reach out proactively and offer products and services to build a deep and long-lasting relationship.
Again, doing business today for any sales professional is not hard, it is just different. While profiling and asking questions of our clients is key, we have to understand the art of when to offer multiple products and services and when to have profiling types of conversations. Remember, the confused mind never buys, and timing is everything.