How often do you catch yourself asking a stupid question? If you’re honest, it’s probably more frequently than you would like.
Last week I couldn’t believe what I asked a bank CEO. Jim (not his real name) is somebody I’ve known for over 10 years. The last time we had talked was at a bank sales summit about 6 months ago. I had asked then whether there was anything that was possibly concerning him about his bank’s recent performance. His bank was doing quite well. They had just announced a major acquisition, their stock price had jumped significantly, and he was very pleased with the way his senior team was working together. Jim’s response at that point was not surprising: “No,” he said,
“things are going great.”
Fast forward to last week. I called him about a matter involving one of his direct reports and after discussing that briefly I thought about our last conversation. What came out of my mouth then was horrible: “Jim, is there anything keeping you awake at night?”
Ugh! I couldn’t believe how stupid that sounded. Maybe I was just channeling the role-plays that I have observed over the last two decades. (I doubt that sales trainers are still encouraging bankers to ask that question. The amazing thing is that lots of bankers keep asking it, in role plays anyway.)
Sounding just like somebody who has just been through sales training is not the impression I was trying to create with Jim or any bank CEO. Jim didn’t seem to be too flustered by my clumsy question. He answered it thoughtfully and we ended the conversation amicably.
But in thinking about what I could’ve done to make the conversation with Jim more effective led to one conclusion: I need to draft in advance of every call several specific questions to ask. Simple. Easy. Common sense. The kind of stuff I tell bankers to do.
But a lot of times in our haste to get things done we just wing it. Here’s my takeaway: Don’t!
For more tips on business development, check out the following:
Are You Making Enough Sales Calls?
A Cautionary Tale: CEOs Want Substance Not Sports Talk
How to Make More Calls: Try 2 Before 10
7 Ways to Build Your Business Acumen
If you find that the articles in the Bank Sales Corner Blog provide useful insights and ideas, consider the following:
1. If you know someone who might be interested in this article, or a recent article in the Bank Sales Corner Blog, why not forward this e-mail or share it on social media?
2. Some readers have used my articles in their own internal bank newsletters or to stimulate discussion at sales meetings. As long as I’m clearly identified as the author of the article, and as long as a link to my web site is included, I’m happy to share these ideas. I’d also appreciate it if you would drop me a line at email@example.com to let me know how you used it.
3. Connect with me on LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/nedmillerbankingsales
4. You might also want to check out our recorded webinars in the Prospecting Clinic series at https://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com.