Don’t Just Ask; Listen and Understand

I was at the bank the other day opening an account.  After getting me set up, which took way too long for a simple bank account, my banker started to ask me some questions about my financial situation.  I have to assume I met some pre-qualified status as he had access to all my accounts with this bank.  I’ve been doing my business with them for years.

He asked me if I had a financial planner. When the last time I had financial analysis done. He asked number of scripted questions designed to qualify someone for his pitch.  I guess my answers worked for him, because he began his pitch.  He began telling me what the bank could do for me and how it could reduce my risk while at the same time increase my returns. He showed me charts and talked about the importance of diversification and the appropriate asset allocation and how they had the expertise to ensure I had the right asset allocation to maximize my returns.

The problem with all of this was the banker wasn’t really listening to my answers nor did he care to understand the objectives behind my current financial choices. He operated from the assumption that he knew. The questions felt like part of a required process. Check, questions asked. They weren’t used as a tool to dig and uncover. Therefore he felt no need to listen to my answers. After about 10 minutes into the pitch, I politely interrupted him and asked if I could give him some feedback. I do this all the time. I can’t help myself.  When I see bad sales I have to jump in.

I told the banker a lot about me.  He had a lot of information about my businesses and me.  So I asked him; “based on what you’ve learned about me today, what have you surmised and how does what you’re showing me pertain specifically to me?”  He paused for a minute then realized he couldn’t answer it very well. He hadn’t listened or understood. He hadn’t been listening and he didn’t understand my motives or my objectives.  What was most interesting was after not being able to answer my question, he went back to the pitch operating from the same wrong assumptions he started with.

I quickly interjected and told him I wasn’t interested.

All to often we say sales is about the questions. However, questions are just tools to get to the answers. It’s not questions that matter, it’s the answers. Listen and understand, if not save yourself some time and don’t even ask.

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