What’s the Norm? (Issue 855)

In which we experience the power of peer group comparison.

I have spent most of the last two weeks at two banking industry conferences  – the Source Media Small Business Banking Conference and the WBResearch Future Branch conference. Both were terrific.

During the Future Branch conference, we were listening to Andres Cueto from BBVA Compass speaking on the subject, “Picking the Right Automation to Fit Your Branch.” At one point during his presentation, he focused on the increasing role of smart phones in consumers’ banking activities and he asked a question: “How many of you have a cell phone that’s more than five years old?”

One enthusiastic hand shot skyward…. it was mine. I could hear one of my friends, sitting directly behind me, sniff and mumble something inaudible but searing while when my hand was still in the air. (Cue a blush, here.)

Andres then asked, “How many at four years?” And then, “How many at three years?” And then, “How many at two years?” And then, “How many at less than two years?”

More than half the people in the room raised their hands at “… less than two years…”

So, I was among the first to buy an iPhone 5 when Apple released them in September, 2012 and it works fine for what I need it to do, thank you very much. And it was still a shock to see how much of an outlier I have become in terms of my phone age. While I have considered upgrading to a more recent vintage; there hasn’t been any urgency based on the performance of my phone. It has been a great phone. It’s STILL a great phone.

And, although Andres wasn’t selling phones, he demonstrated a powerful sales art: comparing one’s client or prospect to industry peers or norms.

The comparison usually prompts a good discussion – “Why are you better or worse than the peer group? What thoughts do you have about closing the gap?” – and gives the client an opportunity to consider current or future decisions. Sometimes, the stark comparison to industry peers can prompt action that is to the client’s  benefit as well as to ours, as sales people.

So…………..I have been home for three days………………………….. I now have a new phone.

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