Start with the right sales relationship

In the past two days, I’ve gotten a call from two of the banks that I do business with.  The first one, Chase, holds my home equity line, and I got a call from a woman who wanted to talk to me about my line.  The second bank is TD Bank and they hold my personal checking account and also my QuotaCrush business account.

What was interesting is that both banks were calling me with essentially the same exact pitch.  Both women that called me wanted to call to establish a “relationship” with me.  They wanted to let me know that they would be my “personal banker” and that I could call them with any questions and concerns and they would help me out.

I suppose that the banking industry is hurting for good customers now, and this is the effort that they are putting out there to try and establish the relationships that they should have been cultivating LONG before now.  I entertained both of the calls because I found it interesting and I wanted to find out what they were offering.  The fact is neither woman could articulate to me what they added benefit to me would be with them now as my “personal banker.”  They could set-up accounts for me, track down payments, etc.  When I said that everything they were talking to me about, I was already doing, online, without any interaction, and not having any problems, they still could not tell me why I should care that I now had a personal banker.  Clearly definining a value proposition should have been something that was in their pitch to me – but wasn’t. 

The reality is, they are trying to establish a relationship with me because the entire banking experience has become very disconnected.  I can get money from a machine, and I do all of my banking on-line.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I went to a bank and went through the second set of doors – I typically stop at the ATM and don’t go further.  As a result, I don’t really care who my bank is or where they are located.  I only care that they are solvent and that they make things simple and easy for me.  I would switch banks / mortgages / etc. tomorrow if I found a better deal.

So, the banks are reaching out to establish a relationship which will make me more connected to the bank, and less likely to leave.  They can step in and fix problems, and make me a happier customer.  Today, I call a general 800 number and placed in a queue.  Perhaps tomorrow I could call one of these women and have personal attention.  (As an aside, one of the women spoke in broken English which was not very convincing that I would have an easier time).  Both called me from branches close to my house, and explained that I could come in any time and talk to them about any issues I would have.  Other than this, I could not figure out what the benefit would be to me – and really I am not looking for this in my bank.

As a credit to both banks, and why I’ve been with both of them so long, is because I have not had many issues calling the 800 number and getting my problems solved.    But… honestly, I would leave both in a minute if they started to charge me fees, or make my banking experience more difficult.  I moved to TD Bank 5 years ago because Wachovia decided to add a $3/mo fee to on-line banking.  It took me about an hour to move all of my business over to TD Bank (Commerce Bank at the time), switch over Quicken, and start banking somewhere new. 

That was a long pre-amble to the point that I wanted to make  – when you make a sale and get a new customer, you should be thinking about the relationship that you want to have from the beginning – not once you are into it.  By making sure that you establish the right relationship from the beginning, you are more likely to have a customer for life.  You will get the feedback that you want BEFORE you hear that they have cancelled your service – not as they are walking out the door.

In the 21st century, social networking platforms offer us lots of ways to establish great on-going relationships with our customers, and we need to use these tools to their fullest to make sure that we are engaging our customer base and making sure that they feel part of the solution and not just a number. 

Its possible that its not too late for the banks to establish a relationship with me and prove to me that they can offer me value that another bank cannot – but as you can see – I got the same pitch from two different banks within a week – so I’m not sure that this pitch is going to sway me one way or another at this point.  It makes me think that all banks will offer the same product.  Had the initial interaction with a bank been one that made my life so much easier and convinced me that they would be there for me – then I would have been better sold and committed to one company.

Are you establishing the right interaction with your customers?  Do they believe that you care about them?

If they don’t then you didn’t do your job as a salesperson.  If they do, then you will have a customer that will stick with you.

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