Are Your Customers Attracted To You?
August 10, 2022

Let’s NOT Just Talk About The Weather

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?

 

Sound familiar?

 

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:

  • Create trust by building both rapport and credibility
  • Remind the customer that your a financial services provider
  • Offer valuable financial advice that can make your customer’s life better

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 saySo 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 sayThis 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 sayLooks 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 saySure 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 sayDid 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 sayIt’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

  • Smile, make eye contact and appear genuinely happy to see the customer.
  • Introduce yourself to new customers and remind existing customers who you are.
  • Thank customers upfront for coming in, or for calling, or for meeting.
  • Consider alternatives to “How are you?” (as they just might be having a bad day) like “What’s good today?” or “What brings you in today?” or “What are you up to today?” or “How can I assist you today?”.

{Smiling} “Good morning. Thanks for visiting us. I’m Joe Micallef your customer service representative. What brings you in today?”



2. Personal Knowledge

  • Always use the customer’s name (if you know it).
  • Leverage any personal knowledge. 
  • Recall previous conversations. Remind them of common interests.
  • Customers are always impressed by bankers who remember any personal details.
  • This impression creates comfort and trust, and makes it easy to continue a conversation.

{Smiling} “Good morning Jenny. Great to see you again. How was your daughter’s birthday party last weekend?”


3. Public / Community Knowledge
  • Review community announcements and be aware of community events. 
  • Take note of any public news about your existing customers.
  • Share this knowledge with customers. This is far more engaging than “weather talk”.
  • Promote any community activity or events your bank is participating in.

{Smiling} “Good morning Mr Smith. I see your business is sponsoring the local county fair again this year. So are we. I hope I am going to see you there.”

 

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.

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Article written by Joe Micallef – Sales Strategist & Coach – Grow UP Sales. For more advice on how to start conversations with customers strategy please email joe@growupsales.com or visit the webpage www.growupsales.com

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