What do you have in common with your customers?
Have you ever been asked by your manager: "What did you have in common with the last people you met with?" It is a great question that a manager could ask you about the people you are serving. When we ask this question in coaching sessions we typically get a couple of different responses: 1) a pretty good description of what is going on in that customers life and 2) a blank stare. Guess which one did a comprehensive interview? And guess which one is more likely to cross-sell additional products and services other than the one the customer came in for?
The interview section of the sales process is more than simply "identifying customer needs". Our job is to be proactive and anticipate which products and services they will need. And if products are solutions to people's problems we need to anticipate or identify problems they may experience – problems that our products can solve.
Problems usually occur as people move through various life events and changes. Identifying and anticipating these changes in their life can help us establish a common ground and identify how we can best serve them. We use the F.O.R.F. acronym to remind ourselves to interview to the lifestyle issues of Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Future. Changes in these lifestyle issues mean changes in their banking requirements. The only way to uncover opportunities to cross-sell additional products and services is find out about these lifestyle issues.
Family: Is someone in their immediate family getting married? (loan) or expecting a baby? (new account, RESP, new vehicle, insurance etc)
Family Questions: "How's your family?" "What's new with your family?"
Occupation: Have they switch jobs? (convenience products, mortgage) or received a promotion? (investments, financial planning etc)
Occupation Questions: "What's new at work?" or "How is working going?"
Recreation: Would they like to travel somewhere or get a new RV but haven't been able to? (loan) or they are going somewhere but haven't thought of everything to make their trip more enjoyable? (convenience products, credit cards, estate planning, insurance etc)
Recreation Questions: "How is your summer going?" or "Any big plans for the summer/ weekend/holidays?"
Future: Do they have plans to retire? (RRSP's, financial planning, estate planning)
Future Questions: "What are your plans when you no longer have to work?" or "How is your retirement plan coming along?"
These open-ended questions not only give you insight into changes in their life and make the interview process more conversational but they also help personalize the product presentation.
Just because your product has a lot of cool features doesn't mean your customer wants to hear about all of them. We have all met a product knowledge expert who can explain anything and everything about the products and consistently talks her/himself past and out of the sale. Save your breath. Remember your customers don't buy features they buy what that feature does for them personally. If you can't explain how the feature will solve a problem they are experiencing then it may be meaningless.
Try asking more open-ended lifestyle questions and let the customer talk. There is everything to gain and nothing to lose. The upside is that they will tell you about challenges they are currently facing that you can solve for them by selling a product or service. Failing that, at the very least you will develop more rapport with your customer and that will make selling easier next time. Either way is a win!
"A person who seems to have all the answers, usually isn't listening."
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Copyright © 2008 by Fusion Performance Group Inc.
Copyright © 2012 by Fusion Performance Group Inc. If you share this, print it out, or reproduce it in any way, please retain this copyright statement.