Travel provides me with an opportunity to sample cuisine from every region of the country. I usually ask the customer I am working with for a dinner recommendation. Nothing fancy, just a place to get a good meal ... some comfort food ... a “hole-in-the-wall” establishment that only the locals know about.
Let me share with you the type of response I usually get:
“Mike, oh my goodness, you have to go to Highway 87 Diner. They have the best food. Honesty, there is not an item on the menu that I would not order. Everything is so good. Be sure and try the peach cobbler with ice cream for dessert. It is to die for.”
Wow, what a ringing endorsement. In a very enthusiastic manner, I have been transferred a lot of information that makes me believe that I must go there for dinner tonight, if not sooner.
Dinner Recommendation > Banking Recommendation
That got me to thinking. If one of your employees was in a social setting and the topic of where to find a good banking relationship came up, how would they respond? Would they give the passionate “Highway 87 Diner” type of response about your financial institution?
Would they (gasp) recommend somewhere else instead?
I challenge you to evaluate whether or not your employees are delivering enthusiastic transfer of belief. Let me be a pessimist and say the answer is no, most of your employees are not transferring belief in an enthusiastic manner. Best case, they might be able to transfer the fact they work at a financial institution, and that’s about it.
Why is this?
Sales = Enthusiastic Transfer of Belief
You can’t transfer information to me unless you understand your products, what needs they fulfill, how they are priced, etc. Every one of your employees from the CEO down to the lowest paid staffer has the mental capacity to do this (candidly, it’s not that complex). If they don’t, then I assert you are either not educating well enough, or not demanding enough.
As an employee, I cannot be enthusiastic about my organization unless I understand why our products and services are better than the competition. Tell me some stories, give me some examples that help me internalize, in my own words, why we are the best option -- broader product offering, better pricing, better service -- stories of how a customer walked in the door with a specific need and walked out with a solution they could not find anywhere else. I need to smell and taste the food in order to sell the food.
As a potential customer, I won’t believe you unless you can transfer information in an enthusiastic manner. The recommendation needs to be credible. You need to be able to vouch for your organization in the same manner that you would vouch for the quality of a restaurant recommendation. Enthusiasm is the easy part. No training required. If I understand the products, why they are better and have examples of success stories, then selling is easy ... it’s simply telling you about it in a credible manner.
I was at a conference in Toronto earlier this year chatting with a Stakeholders customer that has shown an incredible track record of asset growth and sustainable earnings. I asked him what the secret to his success was. His reply: “We just ask for the business and we get the business.”
We all know it is not that simple, but it is an honest answer ... it starts with a baseline level of knowledge that allows employees to tell a compelling story as to why you should be the financial provider of choice.
- Mike Higgins, Jr., is a partner in the firm of Mike Higgins & Associates (MHA). His consultants work with clients in the financial services industry. His primary areas of focus are performance management, performance-based compensation, board education and strategic financial planning. His firm also performs outsourced asset-liability management and conducts interest rate risk reviews for both banks and credit unions nationally.