Nothin’ But Trouble (Issue 703)

In which we are reminded to be careful about "sharing our experience" until we understand the details, no matter how tempting.

“Yeah, we’re already doing that…”

After speaking at a bank industry meeting, I chatted with a conference participant; after a bit, he described a cross-selling sales challenge with his sales team. Interested, I said, “Interesting… tell me more about that.”

He went on for a bit, then asked, “What strategies have you seen other banks use to increase their cross sells?”

Without much hesitation, the “ I’d love to be helpful” voice came out of my mouth. “Well,” I said, “two strategies we’ve seen work well in settings like yours are (strategy A) and (strategy B).”

I received the summary dismissal I deserved for my careless response: “Yeah, we’re already doing that.”

(In other words: “Unless you have something better than that, pal, I’m moving on.”)

One is tempted, at such moments, to recover by offering even more ideas, BIGGER ideas, BIGGER situations, saying something like, “Well, in another situation, I’ve seen… And in another situation….”

However, our odds of pinging the Thrill-o-Meter are low because we don’t know enough about the speaker’s situation; the odds of a more permanent brush off are high.

A more engaging answer to his question might have been, “Well, what have you tried so far?”

Once I’d heard about their attempts, I could say something like, “In similar situations, we’ve seen banks increase their cross sells from 2.8 to well over 4 within a few weeks. Give me your card. I’d love to hear more and share our experience. What day next week would be good for a deeper conversation?”

By speaking about results, we’ve whetted the appetite for more. There’s nothing to object to. Further conversation seems highly attractive.

Once engaged in further conversation, one can dig into the speaker’s details: “You mentioned when we spoke last that you had tried several approaches and didn’t see the lift you were expecting. Tell me: What exactly did you do?”

Once we have the additional details, we may be able to share some relevant experience or suggest other questions to ask. Until we get into the details, deep and specific, we can’t really tell what was done and why it might or might not have worked.

So, answer the question with a question to root out the details. Until that point, fast free advice ain’t nothin’ but trouble.

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