While I was on a recent branch visit, the manager walked up to introduce himself and shared something that made me smile. He told me that something I had mentioned in a podcast several months earlier resonated with him.
Excited to hear that, I asked what he was referring to. His answer made my day. It wasn't so much a strategy or technique that had helped him. It was a philosophy.
He told me, "I needed to be reminded that if I'm having a bad stretch, it doesn't mean that I'm bad at my job. I need to keep a positive attitude and know that the work we're doing on our slow days is what leads to our good days."
I was especially motivated to hear that he had also taken a slightly different approach to coaching his team. He said, "I now tell my team that I understand that most of their conversations will not lead to immediate sales or cross-sales. I don't expect them to. I want them to simply talk to people, make them feel important and make the kind of impressions that would make them want to do business with us."
As a result, he said his team members are less afraid of failing, are having better conversations with more customers and the branch's numbers are up.
His attitude should be one that more branch managers emulate.
In working with hundreds of banks and reviewing reams of sales training material over the years, most of the content seems sensible and obvious on paper. But I've observed that many misjudge customers' propensity to say "no thanks."
They treat overcoming objections like they're competing in a debate competition. They assume folks reject offers based on detached, rational judgments. This often isn't the case.
I'm not suggesting that customers and potential customers are irrational. I'm simply suggesting that they're human.
Rejecting offers is practically a survival instinct for most people. When you ask a person to consider changing from something he or she is accustomed to, the primal response is usually some version of "no thanks, I'm good."
And while some folks can be moved off of "no thanks" on the spot, most will not be. And too often salespeople handle their responses in a way that makes future chances of making a sale even less likely.
While we'd clearly prefer that customers immediately show interest in our offers, relationships can be strengthened even following a rejection. What you say and how you behave after customers turn you down establishes who and what you are in their minds going forward.
If you quickly become short, hurried or less engaged after being told "no thanks," customers can feel pretty good about their decision to turn you down. You've unknowingly confirmed that your interest is more about what you can sell them than anything else.
On the other hand, when you remain every bit as friendly and engaged after a customer tells you no, you show that those traits are not simply a sales tool. That's who you are.
At a minimum, your reaction helps establish how you and even your organization will be regarded the next time that customer interacts with you. Customers and potential customers can either have positive feelings prior to your next encounter or have even more of their defenses up when they see you.
And when you display every bit as much courtesy and enthusiasm the next time you see them, they're much more likely to reconsider you and your offers.
One of my favorite mentors was the most productive calling officer at a bank. He said that first impressions were important, but last impressions matter even more. He would joke, "when you leave a place, you don't want them jumping up to lock the door behind you."
His simple idea was that if you make people feel good about themselves, they'll feel good about you as well. And when you do that, opportunities arise.