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Teaching Your Customers To Say NO!

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From time to time I go into Safeway to buy a few things. It's not my regular food store but it is a viable choice on the days I'm out of town.

I've been there enough to know what I'll be asked and to have my answer ready for them. Every time I approach the checkout it starts, "Do you have a Safeway card?", and as soon as the words reach my ears (sometimes before) I say "no" to which they reply, "Would you like one?" and my answer is even faster this time – "no".

Although I don't frequent the store that often they have done an excellent job of training me … training me to say no. Now I'm just guessing, but I'd be willing to bet that training their customer to say no was not the intention of Safeway when they started their program.

The last time I was at a Safeway I approached the checkout with my assortment of goods and was again, ready with my answer. The young lady greeted me and after ringing in my items said, "How would you like to save $12. today?". I had to catch my automated "no" from leaving my lips just in time to say "Sure, how?" She quickly said "If you'll just give me your Safeway card I'll be able to apply that discount". I sheepishly admitted I didn't have one and mumbled something about not being in the store a lot or have ever taken the time to apply. She simply said, "If you take two minutes and fill this out (as she slid an application down in front of me) I can give you the $12. savings and get you on your way".


How often in financial services are we guilty of teaching our customers to say no by simply blurting out a product that we think will assist the customer without finding out if they are interested in what the product will do for them first? Think of some of the regular questions being asked in branches:

• "Have you contributed to your RRSP yet?

• "Have you heard about our MasterCard?"

• "Has anyone told you about our loan campaign?"

While no one wants to appear to be pushy salespeople, by assuming the customer has the need that these products will fulfill, they become just that - pushy.

Ask A Better Question

Ask a better question, get a better answer. Why not try a similar approach as the young woman at Safeway? She asked a different question, one that got me to focus on whether I wanted the end benefit of the product she was recommending or not, and got my attention.

Or why not ask the customer if they have even thought of the end benefit for a product you think they may need.

For example:

Do you want to help someone buy an RRSP? Find out where they are at with their retirement plan, or if they will be getting money from an income tax refund this year.

"How are you feeling about your retirement plan?"  or "Do you have plans for the money you'll get back from your income tax refund this year?"

Do you want to sell your credit card? Find out if the customer has a credit card now, what they like about and whether they would be open to discuss yours if you think it is a better product.

"What type of credit card do you have?"
"How do you like it?"
"Why did you pick that card?"

You get the idea. Ask a better question; get a better answer – a YES answer!

Kevin Neufeld

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