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How NOT to Sell

I just got a call from a local bank (name withheld purposely) trying to sell a credit card. If I have to rank, this has to be right up there amongst one of the worst sales call ever. I wasn’t nasty. I took the call and gave him time. Gave him multiple opportunities to back off or move on. But it had to happen.

I will try my best to replay the conversation.

Agent: Hello, Good Morning, Sir. This is John Doe (name changed) from XYZ Bank. Can I talk to you for a minute?

Me: Hi John. Sure. What are you trying to sell me this morning? *jumping the gun*

Agent: *Chuckles* Do you have any relationship with our bank?

Me: No.

Agent: Great. Sir, we are offering you our best credit card. You have to pay annual fee of Dh 1000 but you get 35000 complimentary Etihad travel points which you can redeem for a return air ticket to India. Are you from India?

Me: Yes. *This card is not for me. Not interested*

Agent: Great. So that way, you won’t have to pay anything for the card. Along with that, we provide 2 complimentary lounge access and….

*I interrupt him”

Me: Hang on. But I already have lounge access through other credit cards. Why do you think this card is of any interest to me? *Giving him an opportunity to hook me”

Agent: Sir, because you are getting 35000 travel points and you can get a return air ticket to India with 25000 points. Then we are also giving you access to Marhaba lounge. Plus you can use the remaining 10000 points also.

Me: But I already told you I have lounge access through Priority Pass that gives me access to 700 airport lounges across the world. And I don’t fly Etihad. I fly Emirates. So I ask again: why is your card of any good to me? *Giving him one more chance to do the sell*

Agent: Sir, because you can travel for free.

Me: What do you mean by free? *Throwing him a rope*

Agent: Sir, with 25000 points, you can go and come back to India for free.

Me: But I don’t fly Etihad. I am a Skywards Gold member of Emirates. And I have to pay Dh 1000 to get those points. So how is it free for me? And not to forget, I have to pay Dh 1000 again next year and the year after. *Some more rope*

Agent: Sir but you can travel with those 25000 points for free so even if you pay 1000, you are getting free air ticket. So you are not losing any money.

Me: Well, I can get a return air ticket for less than Dh1000. *The rope is snapping*

Agent: No Sir. For any return ticket to India, you have to pay atleast Dh 1500 plus during season, the ticket price is even more. Other airlines will charge a lot. With the points, you can redeem ticket any time of the year. And you can fly Etihad, which is best airlines.

Me: Can I ask you a question? *That’s it, I’ve had enough*

Agent: Yes please.

Me: Are you a credit card agent or a travel agent? *SNAP*

Agent: *Silence*

Me: John, now listen to me very carefully because there are not too many of your customers who will give you this advice. Consider this as your 2 minute free career counselling that will change your life. Do you have 2 minutes?

Agent: Yes Sir.

Me: Now let me start from the beginning. You asked me for a minute. Keep an eye on the watch. As soon as you get to about 55 seconds, say that a minute is about to finish. Can I request for a few more minutes to discuss further? That’s being professional and helps in establishing Credibility. Moving on, you asked me if I had a relationship with your bank. When I said No, you said Great. What’s so “great” about it? If you are positioning your bank to me, you should not show that you are happy that I already don’t have a relationship with your bank. You should instead just say OK, and ask me for 30 seconds to tell me more about the bank and only if I say yes, give a brief pitch about XYZ Bank. No one says no to 30 seconds. That way, you are establishing Rapport with your customer. And you get to spend 30 seconds more with him to build that rapport.

Me: Now, when I asked you why should I take this card, you gave me a story on Etihad points and lounges etc. Fair enough. But when I said I already have lounge access and I do not travel that airline, you became a travel agent and tried to convince me to travel with Etihad. I replied saying I am a Gold Skywards member which means I travel only with Emirates. Now, anyone living in UAE knows that Emirates is a Dubai based airline while Etihad flies only out of Abu Dhabi. So why will I want to fly from Etihad?

Me: The minute you realised I am a Emirates frequent flyer and already have lounge access, many more than what your card offers, you should have backed off. A simple reply like “Makes sense. This card is probably not for you”. This establishes Trust. Instead you kept pushing the same card and the same feature over and over again, not really understanding if these features mean anything to me or not. A feature is only as good as its need. If I have no need, then that feature is useless to me. So before you push any feature of your product, make sure you map out your customer. If he/she tells your explicitly, like I did that I don’t travel Etihad, that’s your cue. Stop right there. Acknowledge the fact. Your customer is not an idiot. Make him feel the same about you. Establish some trust and credibility. Then if you have anything more to offer, go for it. Or else, position a different credit card. Normally, every bank has multiple types of cards. You can always pitch a cash-back offer or free-for-life offer. Whatever you want.

Me: I know you have pressure to sell and make those 60-70 calls a day. Trust me, I have done it all. Been selling for 10 years so I know what I am talking. I am a perfect client for you. I gave you time. I gave you info. I gave you an opportunity to sell to me. Which means, I wouldn’t mind spending Dh1000 as long as its worth something to me. You need to hook such clients. If you cannot sell, then establish credibility and hang up. Call back again in a week, and sell something else. He will listen to you again. But the way you handled this call, if you call me again and tell me its John Doe, chances are I will tell you I am in a critical meeting discussing the onset of a nuclear world war and cannot be disturbed, ever. Or I am on a space ship ready to take on a manned mission to Mars.

Me: So, Mr. John Doe, I hope you heard every word I said very very carefully. And use some of this for your future reference. Trust me when I tell you it works.

Agent: Thank you so much, Sir.

Me: Any time. OK, I am already late for a meeting. Talk to you later. *And I was back to sipping my latte and waiting for 44 more tokens to go at the Saudi visa consulate*

*Smirk*

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