Sales Interviews Build Banking Relationships

By Karl Keller

Since we were children, we were taught by our parents to be presenters. We presented ourselves in the school play or maybe at a dance recital. If you were a Boy Scout, you presented yourself for a board of review to obtain the next rank. You also presented yourself at your first job interview. As we became bankers and are now in a position to influence sales decisions, our natural tendency is towards presenting or telling our customers about all of our great product features followed by trying to convince a prospect to make a sales decision.

 

We call this old school sales method “Convince and Close.” We give a short introduction and then jump straight into a presentation about all the great features of our banking products. Next we try to convince the prospect that our product will meet their needs without really knowing exactly what their needs are. Do you see the problem with this approach?

 

If this sounds like your community bank or credit union’s sales process, let me tell you that there is a better and more successful way that is easier and helps build a true relationship. This method is contrary to everything we have been taught to date. So to use it, you will have to practice and learn to hold back from your past tendencies, or you will quickly slip back to old habits.

 

With the “Collaboration Interview” sales method, we focus on the prospect interview instead of the product presentation. The spotlight is always on the prospect or customer rather than you and your bank or credit union’s products. This sales method begins with a short introduction. Next, you spend the majority of your time asking questions and listening—no telling, just asking and listening. Remember, you are no longer making a presentation. You need to interview the customer and ask a series of questions to understand exactly why this customer is seeking your assistance. What are they are looking for in a financial services product? Continue to ask the right questions until you understand their situation. During the detailed interview, it is highly likely that you will uncover information about their immediate needs, as well as additional information about their future needs.

 

You see, asking questions helps you build a relationship, credibility , and directs you to recommend products the prospect really needs. Quickly jumping into the new account opening process before conducting a proper interview does nothing to help you engage your new prospect and build a relationship.

 

After the interview, you will be in a great position to RECOMMEND a product that will match your customer or prospect’s needs exactly. The product feature presentation is very short. Instead of presenting, you are now simply recommending a solution that fits their needs like a glove. For example, if you have six different checking account options, you are just recommending one or possibly two at most because we know the other accounts are inappropriate or not the best option. You base the recommendation and presentation on what you learned about the customer because you now understand their situation and are able to make an educated recommendation. Completing the sale is now a simple task of gaining concurrence instead of trying to convince them that your product matches their need.

 

With each new account sale, you have a choice. You can use that same old “Convince and Close” sales method which really makes the prospect uncomfortable because they know you are trying to sell them something. Or, you can try the “Collaboration Interview” method we just discussed, where you interview your prospect and make them feel like you are trying to customize a solution to HELP meet their individual need.

What is great about being in your position is you get to try new things each day. Why not try this collaborative interview method and see how it works for you.