So what’s the weather like today?
Wow, it’s really hot / cold for this time of year, don’t you think?
Looks like it’s going to storm again. What are your plans for the rest of the day?
Sure is wet out there. Don’t you just hate rainy days?
Did you hear the latest snow forecast? That snow is causing lots of concern. How are you traveling today?
It’s a beautiful / awful day today, isn’t it?
Why do so many people default to simply talking about the weather when we engage with a customer or a prospect?
“Weather talk is a kind of code that we have evolved to help us overcome social inhibitions and actually talk to one another,” says British anthropologist Kate Fox.
“Depending on their response to your weather greeting, you can tell if someone is in the mood for a chat, or is feeling grumpy and negative,” says Fox.
In some situations – like networking events – weather talk can be an icebreaker. In others – like customer meetings – it’s used to avoid awkward silences, ease into business talk or divert the conversation away from uncomfortable topics.
But why do we need to test the customer’s mood?
And what topics are so uncomfortable we should avoid them?
You are a banker. The customer is engaging with you because they need your help with managing their finances or achieving a financial goal.
There are so many better ways to engage in small talk beyond something as “disingenuous” as the weather.
I mean, you only discuss the weather with family and friends when experiencing extreme conditions. And then you promptly move onto other topics that reflect your relationship.
As highlighted earlier, the relationship you have with a customer is predicated around their financial needs and goals.
Please reconsider your small talk and leverage this precious time with a customer to show genuine interest in helping their financial well-being and to remind them about your value.
Irish playwright Oscar Wilde says “conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.”
So let’s get more imaginative about our initial interactions and stop playing it safe. First impressions matter and you have an opportunity in your initial engagement to:
The only climate you should be talking about is the financial climate – ie. the customer’s financial climate, the economic climate, etc
So consider these simple alternatives to the aforementioned weather remarks:
You say: So what’s the weather like today?
Or you can say: So what brings you to the bank today?
You say: Wow, it’s really hot/cold for this time of year, don’t you think?
Or you can say: This is a good time of year to review your finances, don’t you think? How often do you review your accounts and financial goals?
You say: Looks like it’s going to storm again. What are your plans for the rest of the day?
Or you can say: Looks like interest rates may be rising again. What are your plans for your savings?
You say: Sure is wet out there. Don’t you just hate rainy days?
Or you can say: Sure is wet out there. Reminds me to always ask customers if you have been saving for a rainy day.
You say: Did you hear the latest snow forecast? That snow is causing lots of concern. How are you traveling today?
Or you can say: Did you hear the latest economic forecast? The economy seems to be causing lots of concern for our customers. How is your business managing today?
You say: It’s a beautiful / awful day today, isn’t it?
Or you can say: It’s a great day for banking today, isn’t it?
There are so many creative ways to replace boring weather talk with clever finance talk. Have fun workshopping ideas with your colleagues each week.
Some more creative ice breakers to start conversations, rather than talk about the weather:
1. Smile and Greet
2. Personal Knowledge
I want to be very clear …. talking about the weather is not a bad thing. In fact, many sales and service coaches suggest it as a simple way of creating small talk and building confidence.
I just think that you can create that small talk in other ways that will amplify your value to the customer and remind them that you are a finance expert.
Yes ….. you are a valuable finance expert.
No matter what your role is in the bank. The fact that you work in the finance industry suggests that you have a heightened level of knowledge about many aspects of financial management and wealth creation.
And that is why the customer is engaging you. To leverage your financial expertise. Not to talk about the weather.
I encourage you to gather with your colleagues – your fellow financial experts – each week and have some small talk about better ways to create small talk with your customers.
If you do that, I forecast many sunny days ahead for your bank, your customers and you.
Click the image below to watch Joe’s latest video blog.
During this engaging training video, Joe Micallef shares better ways to start conversations with customers that amplify your value.
Article written by Joe Micallef – Sales Strategist & Coach – Grow UP Sales. For more advice on how to start conversations with customers strategy please email email@example.com or visit the webpage www.growupsales.com
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