If you have kids, you may have had the experience of being on a car trip, driving past waterfalls and canyons and thundering herds of elk, while enduring a constant soundtrack from the back seat: “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”
They’ve fixated on the wrong thing: the fact that you’ll be swimming in the hotel pool after dinner. Why did you even mention that? You try to explain that what’s out the window is the whole point of the trip, the reason you came a thousand miles from home, NOT the hotel pool. You could have traveled five MINUTES back home to swim in a pool.
But you know that until you break their preoccupation with that darn pool, they’ll never get the actual benefit of the trip.
The retail sales process is very much the same. A customer calls and asks for your rates. They THINK that what they want is the lowest rate. They are focused like a laser on getting the lowest rate, and they’re determined to shop around until they find it. If you give it to them, it would be just like driving straight to the hotel pool at noon. It misses the whole point of giving the customer the highest possible value.
Whenever I hear a salesperson answer a phone and immediately quote rates, I always picture myself lunging across the room in slow motion, saying “NOOOOO!!!”
“But that’s what the customer asked for!” he says. Of course it is—that’s what customers do, just like a kid in the back seat asking for the hotel pool. But there’s more than one way to answer the question, and one of the most important breakthroughs in creating an effective sales culture is breaking the customer’s preoccupation with your pricing.
Of course this does no good unless you go on to the second and third and fourth steps because you still need to create your premium pricing and follow the steps to make sure you get all the business. But most people get this first step wrong, so let’s take a minute to nail that one to the wall.
If you start the sales conversation by quoting rates, you are sending the message that rate is what matters. Worst of all, it’s a race to the bottom as you try to match the rate of your most desperate, least worthy competitor—a race you can’t win.
Remember just a few short years ago when people got crazy good interest rates on their mortgages from fly by night mortgage brokers. Those people no longer own their homes so, it was clear that rate wasn’t all that mattered. So did terms…and the small print.
Not only do you hurt the buyer when you don’t teach them to make a decision based on value…you lose the ability to develop a deep and sustainable relationship that is instructive on how to make many good financial decisions.
So how do you break the preoccupation with rate? With a break-preoccupation-with-rate question. The formula is that it includes the word “rate” before the word “value,” and is followed by a “reason to believe” that value is more important than rate.
Here are a few examples:
Are you looking for the best rate or the best value? There are about 420 different configurations of mortgages, and most people get the wrong mortgage which ends up costing more over the course of the loan. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions to make sure we find the mortgage that is the best value for you?
Are you looking for the best rate or the best value? There are many different types of CDs these days including those you can add to, take out of, bump rates on, and more. Do you have time right now so I could ask you a few questions to make SURE we get you the best customized CD and properly structure it to fit the objectives?
Now tell me. Would any person of a reasonable IQ answer the questions with, “I’m not really interested in value—just give me the rate”? Of course not.
That doesn’t mean rate instantly becomes a non-issue for them. If you head off too quickly in a direction they weren’t expecting, they might feel suspicious and shut down. So before you start the break preoccupation with rate question, you might want to begin with a reassurance: “Our rates are reasonable and fairly competitive…but tell me….are you looking for the best rate or the best value? Because…”
That helps them understand you’re not deflecting…you’re just needing further information to be helpful to them.
What you are doing, of course, is justifying your premium pricing by letting them know how they will benefit from it. You are giving them what they want, even if it isn’t instantly apparent to them. You wouldn’t expect to pay the same for a new high-performance luxury car that you pay for a 10-year old used family sedan. That’s why nobody calls a dealership and says, “What’s your price for a car?” Everyone understands that there are cars, and then there are cars. The same is true of the products and services in your bank. Some things are worth more. Your proper direction and guidance will bring far more value that just schlugging a product at them.
Rate quoting without diagnosis of their situation is malpractice. Begin the diagnosis by breaking their preoccupation with rate, first and foremost, with a question that always follows the same formula: rate before value, followed by a “reason to believe.”
Breaking this preoccupation is by no means the whole sales process. It’s a crucial beginning, but it is just the beginning. Without good execution on this first step, you will almost certainly be brought back to the rate conversation and that’s a conversation you can’t win. Be sure to learn the rest of the No-More-Order-Taking Sales process, then step up to be the professional who deserves their attention as their trusted financial advisor. Do this, and you’ll earn the respect of never having them ask for your rate again.