Are low-quality conversations costing you sales and client loyalty? Your clients and members are shopping for more than products, services, and the best price. Unfortunately, many bankers restrict or limit themselves and their customers to transactional sales conversations. Continue reading to learn how poor sales conversations can affect your company and revenue, as well as sales conversation tips to apply to help you drive deeper connections and revenue.
The Risky Reality of Sales Conversations
According to a 2021 Gallup Retail Banking Study, 42% of all conversations happening daily in banks are considered net negative. This means that not having a conversation was better than having one that didn’t provide value.
This is an enormous risk banks and credit unions expose themselves to each day their branches open. We know that happy clients do more business with you and are more likely to refer family and friends. However, if they don’t believe you’re helping them improve their financial well-being, the impact to your net promoter score (NPS) is immense.
This data supports my professional financial institution (FI) experience. Customers who had value-added conversations with their banker rewarded them with more business and referrals. Customers who didn’t receive value expressed their dissatisfaction with a detractor NPS survey, no new business, or worse—they exited their relationship.
The Conversation Gap
In our research with FIs, we’ve identified a conversation gap. Bankers and advisors want to ask deeper questions, be more proactive, identify needs, and deliver high-quality advice. However, they’re stuck. They’re stuck in the weeds of product and price-based conversations, focusing on transactional details and not the transformational impact clients receive. Uncertain of your own value, fear of asking probing questions, and falling under the pressure to make a sale are easy triggers for these kinds of conversations. Just because a client walks in and volleys a ball over to you by asking, “What’s your best rate?” doesn’t mean you can’t lob it back with, “I hear rate is important to you, let’s sit down and discuss what else is.”
You need to stand for something more than the solution you deliver. It’s the impact of that solution and the experience your clients get as a result of what you are selling, or rather, what your clients are buying.
How to Bridge the Conversation Gap
For starters, you need to be cognizant of the kinds of conversations you and your team are having. Today more than ever, client experience supersedes customer service. If you want to shift sales, loyalty, and engagement, you need to elevate your team’s mindset and improve the experience they are creating for clients through their conversations. Conversations that focus on selling mortgages, mutual funds, or business operating lines won’t cut it. Disney is not the only place where dreams come true; you’re in the dream business too. As your clients’ financial well-being partner, you’re here to help them be financially healthy, wealthy, and wise, so they can fulfill their highest aspirations and deepest desires.
3 Types of Selling Conversations
There are three kinds of conversations you engage in with your clients and members. Unfortunately, one of them takes centre stage, short-changing client impact and sales results.
1. Transactional Selling Conversations
Transactional selling conversations address immediate requests. They centre the details of a product or service, be it a feature, benefit, or price. Transactional conversations highlight the process clients will go through. For example, the application process, approval process, or adjudication process. They’re all important, but unfortunately bores clients stiff and doesn’t address their deeper needs. Sure, they get a best rate mortgage, but how have you helped them achieve their financial goals? Bottom line: transactional conversations are reactive, contractual, and reduce your relationship to being an order taker.
2. Relational Selling Conversations
Relational selling conversations focus on the person and the relationship with them. This is the next level up, and the other conversation most bankers spend time having. These conversations focus on family happenings, weekend ball games, community events, common hobbies, etc. Relational conversations are your know, like, and trust-building conversations. Again, they’re important and a necessary element in building a bond with clients and members. But even though relational conversations build connection and rapport, they fall short because they spotlight what is and not what could be. They fail to invite clients to a new vision of the future, one that helps them make better financial decisions to spend less, save more, borrow better, and plan for the future.
3. Transformational Selling Conversations
Transformational selling conversations elevate the role you play with your clients and members from representative or advisor to partner. They see you as more than just a banker. When they face a challenge or obstacle, you’re part of their first response team. You are the person and team they call to get advice and guidance on their next best move.
Transformational selling conversations generate an enduring emotional connection; as Maya Angelou says, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Transformational selling conversations laser in on who your clients will be, what they will do, and what they will have because they chose to work with you. You go from order taker to opportunity maker. How would you like to be more of that?
Your Sales Conversation Action Plan
In a nutshell, transactional selling is a conversation about mortgage rates. A relational conversation is about the client’s comfort with variable vs. fixed terms. A transformational selling conversation considers the clients’ desire for adventure, learning, and security, as they plan travels this year, put kids through school in the near term, and downsize living space in their retirement.
With these conversation tips, what can you do to move forward from here?
Action 1: Identify the types of conversations you’re having. Naming client meetings as transactional, relational, or transformational is a great start. Only by becoming aware of the types of conversations you’re currently having could you make the shift to being a Transformational Seller.
Action 2: Start small and be intentional. Set an intention to upgrade the conversations you’re having with clients and members. Set a goal that today you’ll have at least one transformational conversation. Imagine the effect of one transformational conversation every day even if the rest are transactional or relational-based.
Action 3: Develop Transformational Selling conversation skills. Become a mindful listener, ask curious questions, and give space for silence, so you and your clients can uncover the transformation they are ultimately seeking. It’s time to up level your sales mindset and improve your transformational conversation sales skills.