No banker enjoys getting rejected by customers on a regular basis. But it's a fact of business that most folks will not consider making a change unless they are asked to do so.
This is because the vast majority of bank customers are able to get by without encountering a noticeable problem. As long as that's true, there's little to motivate them to explore alternatives. The easiest and most convenient banking choice for most folks is to stay right where they are.
Folks also have more choices today when it comes to how, where and with whom they will handle their banking needs. Customers are swimming in a sea of options. And for many, having too many options makes choosing among them all the more daunting.
Furthermore, customers are aware that they won't "run out" of bank products anytime soon. So there aren’t built-in purchase decision points that will force customers to reevaluate their banking needs.
All this means that if our teams are waiting for customers or prospective customers to walk in and initiate conversations about their banking needs, they’ll usually be waiting for quite some time. Yet as our industry gets ever more competitive and our products progressively commoditized, the need for productive sales cultures only increases.
Given these realities, managers often ask me for strategies about how to get their teams to be more focused on sales. I suggest they strive to remove the fear of rejection from staffers' jobs. The right coaching and encouragement can greatly reduce this fear, even if rejection itself remains unavoidable.
It's the least productive salespeople who get to kick back and enjoy a rejection-free day. The most productive and successful salespeople are going to hear some version of “No thanks, I’m good” more than anyone else in our organizations. Productive salespeople realize that regular rejections aren’t a sign that they are bad at their jobs. Rejection is a sign that they are actually out there doing their jobs.
I realized this during my first job as a bank manager while sitting near our most productive loan officer at meetings. He consistently had the funniest stories in the room, most of them about sales calls gone awry or deals that fell through.
I had never seen a person so comfortable with sharing his “un-success stories." What's more, his stories weren’t just funny — they were motivational. He had more success stories than anyone not in spite of his apparent failures but because of them. And he brought more business to the bank because he asked for it.
Banks need to let front-line staffers know that an initial "no thanks" from a potential customer doesn't mean that the customer is unreasonable or that the staffer is incompetent. This is a normal outcome. When you ask human beings to change deep-seated habits, they resist. It’s practically a survival instinct.
Healthy sales cultures acknowledge that rejection is not a personal reflection on staffers' abilities. With that in mind, every rejection is an opportunity for the bank to make a good impression.
Customers get a clear window into a bank's culture once they turn down an offer. If a banker suddenly becomes disinterested or terse, the customer is less likely to consider any other offer in the future.
But when staffers remain positive and engaged even after rejection, they show customers they value relationships. “Not today” doesn’t necessarily mean “not ever” if banks continue to show customers courtesy, appreciation and respect.
When bankers learn to put setbacks in a more constructive perspective, they’re far better positioned to earn sales victories.