As you can tell from that title, I’m slightly miffed. Though I guess that’s normal. Being perpetually pissed off is sort of my shtick.
So what am I pissed off about today? Is it the banking culture as I described in my post about the reminder that I need to retire early, or is it stupid customers?
If you said stupid customers, then congratulations! You win a prize! The prize is the rest of the article.
But this isn’t about the general pool of customers. Oh no, this is about a more specialized and specific pool of flesh bags.
I’m here today to vent about my flaky annuity customers.
The Fun Of Annuity Sales
As the licensed banker in my branch, it’s my job to sell people fixed annuities.
It’s easier said than done. People walk into the bank for checking accounts and personal loans, but I’ve never seen anyone ask for a fixed annuity.
That’s mainly because people don’t even know that we sell them. Banks don’t really advertise them that strongly. And they legally can’t, to a certain degree. You’ll never walk into a branch and see annuity brochures by the teller line, and rarely do you really see ads talking about annuities. That’s because there are strict FDIC rules governing them that tell us what we can and can’t (mostly can’t) do.
As a result, I have to turn basic interactions with customers into something “deeper”. The manager of the licensed banker program always says “Every customer that walks in is an opportunity to have a deeper conversation about their financial health”. To be honest, that sounds more like a punishment than an opportunity.
Anyhoo, I have to uncover needs from customers that just came in to do basic transactions. Someone who just needs a new debit card? I need to find out if they have money elsewhere and if they have financial anxieties related to their retirements.
Fun stuff if you’re into sales. I’m not. I really don’t like sales. It’s just what I’m best at. If I was any good at operations, I would have been promoted to branch supervisor instead of licensed banker.
My staff helps me out a lot, sending me referrals and the like. They’ll see someone who’s the perfect candidate for a fixed annuity, get the person’s permission for me to call them, and email me their contact info. And I’ll call to introduce myself and set up an appointment.
And this is where everything goes south and I get pissed. Because these people have nothing better to do than to screw around and yank my chain.
And The Rats Scurry Away
It’s amazing. These people will speak with the teller, or another representative, or even the goddamned manager and tell them how interested they are in investing their money. I certainly have people complaining everyday about the rates, asking when interest rates are going to rise.
I’ll come in and see a representative or my branch manager come to me with a printed customer profile and the instructions to call that person. That person has hundreds of thousands of dollars sitting in a regular savings account. They are afraid of the stock market but they want a higher return. They want an annuity and are waiting for my call.
And then I call.
People give out numbers that I can barely reach them at. People don’t respond to voicemails. They go dark, or they can’t come in until after their vacation around the world three months from now.
People who were so goddamned desperate for an annuity when my branch manager was there suddenly pull a “Just kidding” when I come into the picture.
And it pisses me off.
It pisses me off because I set aside time to help these people, and it’s time that I could spend doing other work. And trust me, I have plenty of other work. And like my time, my patience and energy is also finite. Instead of playing games with you, I could be focused on other customers who do want my services.
It also pisses me off because it’s disrespectful. Not that not wanting to buy an annuity from me is disrespectful, but leading me on and yanking my chain and then acting like I’m bothering you is.
And it pisses me off because it makes me look bad. It makes me look bad when someone with a million dollars tells the manager how desperate they are for the products I sell, and then I can’t sell them the product because they’re supposedly so goddamned busy (so busy they have time to spend 45 minutes in the branch on a Wednesday afternoon to BS with the manager).
It’s funny, I’ve been told by the former licensed banker that I should really think hard about if I want to accept the position. Sales are hard to make in my branch. It’s an ethnically concentrated area with more poor immigrants than money, and they don’t want to deal with those that aren’t their race and religion or who speak their language. She told me that it would be nearly impossible to make goal, and she was right.
I’m not railing against a specific person today. We’re not talking about the usual “another day, another idiot” mantra to which customer service as a whole marches to the tune of. I’m talking about all my potential annuity customers. Or just about all, at least.
So far, in my very short amount of time as a licensed banker, these are the customers I’ve had in my pipeline and where they ended up:
- An older woman who spoke to my supervisor and wanted me to call her. She came in for her appointment and revealed that she was actually going to be needing the bulk of her money for Hurricane Sandy repairs. She then proceeded to spend 45 minutes detailing how terrible the contractors are.
- A woman who no-showed for her appointment. When I called her up, she said, “Oh right. That. Yeah, we’re not going to be able to come in today. My husband has something important to take care of.” You agreed to the appointment when my manager was there, did you not? I guess your husband’s big “something important” was so important that you totally forgot about it when you made the appointment.
- A woman who cancelled her appointment with me after delaying it for a month and a half because her husband told her it wasn’t a good idea and she would keep her money in her 401k. Fine. At least she called to cancel a few days in advance.
- A couple who went dark when I tried to call them, one week after we had a lengthy conversation in person and they asked me to call them. Three voicemails later and I gave up.
- A guy who was referred to me by my manager. First, he went away on a trip. Then he told me he was selling a property and he would have a million dollars to work with, at this point he assured me he really wanted the annuity. And now he doesn’t pick up his phone and his voicemail is full.
- A man with a million dollars in his checking account who told a rep that he would be willing to speak to me and gave the rep a phone number to reach him at. That phone number was his wife’s, who angrily told me that she was out of the country and he was in the United States (I should hope so) and to not call this number again. When I finally got him on the phone using the number on his profile, he told me that he wouldn’t be able to talk about it until he got back from Aruba at the end of the month.
- The woman I wrote about in the article detailing how I got sick. How she had no-showed for her appointment? Well it wasn’t the first appointment she no-showed for (I’m not sure if I mentioned that last time). But I finally got her in after going back and forth with her for a month. According to the rep, she was “desperate” for something better than what she has as well as for something she could do for her grandchildren (say, a life insurance policy). I didn’t get that vibe over the phone. When we made the appointment, she told me she had to pick up her grandchildren at 5:00, so I made the appointment for 3:30 instead 4:30 as I originally intended. She actually came a few minutes early, then told me, “I have to pick up my grandchildren and I only have ten minutes, but we can just talk.” What the f***, I didn’t bring you in here to f***ing talk! Your a** better be buying a f***ing annuity! Oh, and she also forgot to bring ID. Are you kidding me!? I mean are you seriously holy f***ing joking with this motherf***ing horses***!? And, like the last guy, she too is going away on vacation (even though she just got back from one) and she won’t be able to come in again until the end of the month.
- And finally, the c**kstain that inspired this article. This is a guy with $3,000,000 sitting in his savings account. The manager had handed me his profile in early November with instructions to call this guy back. So when I called him, he told me that now wasn’t a very good time and for me to call him after Thanksgiving. I complied, and when I called him back, he told me the same thing and to call him back after the holidays. Then after New Year. And in our final conversation, he acts like I’m annoying him. “Are you the annuity guy? Listen, I’m not interested in an annuity. I have plenty of annuities and I have people calling me up everyday for these things!”
And this isn’t the full list of people who have been flaky and elusive. These are just the people worth talking about on my blog.
And these people are becoming a major problem for me.
What The Banks Want Vs What People Do
I’m supposed to be getting two sales a month. That’s what the head of our licensed banker program tells us at every meeting.
“Two sales a month. That’s nothing!” he says. Well, “nothing” sure applies here.
I don’t have anywhere near two sales a month. Because my entire pipeline is filled with worthless undesirables whose only hobby is to waste my time.
We have licensed bankers that are just as new to the position as I am selling and breaking records already. Licensed bankers that are making record sales in branches that used to never get annuity sales.
So you can see how friggin’ bad it makes me look when I can’t get any sales because every potential ends up like this.
Our licensed program manager has told us that there is no branch that can’t be sold in and no clientele that can’t be sold to. If a licensed banker isn’t making sales, then there is only one person to blame: the licensed banker.
Now more than ever, I don’t believe this is true. I’m good at sales. I’m damn good at it. I’ve blown away my non-investment sales goals and made roughly an eighth of the branch’s sales goal single-handedly. I have either the third or fourth highest cross-sell rate in the branch and am destroying the entire district and city with in it. So I can sell.
So when all of a sudden I can’t make sales for this specific product–at a branch that I’ve been working at and selling successfully to–I can’t get behind the idea that the lack of sales is completely my fault.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand and accept that whatever the reason is for the lack of sales, that those are my numbers and I am the one responsible for them, good or bad.
But I can only do so much. What the hell am I supposed to do when half of my customers go dark and the other half no-show for their appointments?
I can’t wait for my meeting at the end of the month where I have to justify my lack of sales and to explain why no other licensed banker is having this issue but me.
I wonder if a link to this article would suffice as my explanation.
While the fact that no one is buying these annuities is putting me on edge, what’s pissing me off isn’t simply that no one is interested, but in the complete and utter lack of respect shown.
Like world famous shark comedian Jabberjaw–and obscure human comedian Rodney Dangerfield–I don’t get no respect.
I mean, if Mr. Everybody Wants To Sell Me An Annuity was out-and-out not interested in purchasing an annuity, why didn’t tell me so in the first place!? Why is he asking my manager to have me call him, and why does he keep having me follow up with him?
Does he think I keep calling because I want to hear his lovely voice?
Instead, he’s dragging this whole thing out for two months! Two f***ing months he’s yanking my chain, and then he acts like I’m bothering him.
I’ll show you what it’s like to be bothered, a**hole. You yanking my chain!? I’ll choke you with it! You’ll find that slightly more annoying.
You see, my time is valuable. I’d say my customers’ time is valuable too, but they’ve shown me otherwise. I have no time for you to treat me with the level of respect you’d show to a non-English speaking busboy.
And that’s the problem. It is the level of respect that gets shown–or not shown–that’s annoying me and that seems to be a running theme with these people.
On my recent interview over at Jaime Donovan Art, which you can read here, I talk about how customer service came to be the way it is now (how people have become so entitled that something like Popeye’s running out of chicken is now some sort of great moral failing (“How am I going to feed my kids now!?” Go to KFC, you lazy c***)), but whatever happened, people have taken to the idea that no one in the customer service industry is worthy of respect. Not a Popeye’s employee, not a bus driver, not a waiter/waitress, and nowadays not even licensed professionals.
How often do you hear someone talk about how stupid their doctor is because they didn’t or couldn’t provide the diagnosis the patient wanted provided? I think I’ll take the medical professional’s expert opinion over yours, Bob The Random Guy Who Doesn’t Know Medicine.
I have a friend who is from out of the country. In his country, he tells me, the word of a licensed professional is final. The profession doesn’t matter. Whether it’s a banker, a doctor, or a teacher, when these people engage their clientele, said clientele respects the time and wisdom of the professionals. So I’ve been told.
But in America? Licensed professionals get no respect. From people who think teachers are nothing more than glorified babysitters, to financial advisors who are expected to have magic control over the market and materialize money into people’s accounts, to lawyers who are expected to perform work for free by random people at parties, the time, wisdom, and services of professionals is not respected by the public at large.
We might as well be wearing paper hats and asking if they want fries with that. In our entitled society (and I don’t think it’s the Millennials who are the entitled generation), it’s all low level customer service in the end.
The guy with the $3,000,000 in his account? I had played around with some numbers and found over $70,000 he didn’t know he had. All of it completely guaranteed and that was just playing around with a mere sixth of his money. And unlike a doctor or lawyer whose advice you pay for each and every time, I was able to do all this for him completely for free on his part.
All he had to do was come into the bank and get the money. No, all he had to do was respect my valuable time–the time he asked me to give him–and listen to the advice that I studied and went to classes and passed exams to be able to give him.
But since he has no respect for me or my time and instead would rather play games, well, it’s his loss.
Same with the other people on that list. Ms. I No-Show For Appointments And Then Show Up Without ID (I wonder if she leaves her ID at home when making withdrawals because she apparently doesn’t know that you have to show ID at the bank) is expecting me to follow up with her after she gets back from her Caribbean vacation. I might follow up with her, and am only considering because I am in such a bad way with annuities right now. But if she wants a fixed annuity so badly, I’ll let her come to me.
No other licensed professional would let a client treat them like that. Perhaps it’s time for me to follow suit.
How To Have Respect For Others 201
I really can’t believe this is a thing I actually have to type out for people. Then again, I did have How To Write Out A Check 101 awhile back, so maybe I should just start doing online webinars or something.
My lovely readers of Angry Retail Banker–my ARBonauts, if you will–I need you all to share this article with anyone you can through any medium you can. Facebook, Twitter, renting a billboard, I don’t care. Showing respect seems to be something we all forgot how to do, and I’m hoping that this reminder and refresher course provides a valuable public service.
This is the 201 level course. I’m skipping the very basics and going right to what to do and what not to do when you are in the sales process for a financial product. And I’m well aware that I’m giving people way too much credit.
What to do when I am selling you an annuity
If I am selling you an annuity, whether I am giving a presentation or a follow up call for an appointment, you show respect by clearly indicating your interest or lack thereof for the product.
If I am first telling you about the product, I would ask that you at least let me run some numbers for you so you can make an informed decision. However, this is not an absolute requirement. If you know for a fact that you are not interested in what I am selling, please indicate so as early as possible and I will stop selling. I will use my valuable time to sell to someone else instead.
If you do indicate to me or a member of my staff that you are interested in an annuity, please follow through on that indication. That doesn’t mean that you buy whatever I throw in front of you with no questions asked. It means that you don’t disappear from the face of the planet during follow up time. You can ask questions. You can take a brochure and make a decision at a later date. But if you are going to do that, you better not be one of the people whom I never hear from again.
If you give a phone number for me to follow up, understand that I will be calling you. Make sure that it’s a working phone number. If you don’t want me calling you, then I assume that you are flat out uninterested in the annuity, in which case don’t waste my time in the first place.
Remember, I will not call you if you don’t want me to. The goal is to close the deal on a fixed annuity, not to interrupt your day.
If we make an appointment, honor it! You’d be livid if I didn’t show up for an appointment, wouldn’t you? Well just because you’re the customer doesn’t mean that you can do so. Show up for your appointments on time and when making the appointment, give yourself time to do all the things you need to do throughout the day. In other words, don’t make a 3:30 appointment if you have to pick up your kids at 3:45. Remember, I’ve set this time aside to work with you personally. There are other people who need my help and other people who are waiting for service. When you waste my time, you waste their time too. But mainly my time.
What not to do when I am selling you an annuity
Bulls*** me. Don’t do that. If you tell me you’re interested in an annuity, your a** better be buying one.
Don’t tell me or someone in my branch that you want me to speak to you, and then give me bad numbers, go dark, or keep putting things off. Don’t expect me to “get the hint”. I have sales goals to make. If you are not interested, do not tell me to call you back in a month. Indicate that you are not interested and I will move on.
Don’t act like I’m bothering you. I’m not bothering you, regardless of what you think or how you feel. I don’t do cold calling, so if I’m speaking to me over the phone, it’s because you explicitly gave me permission to call and/or specifically asked me to do so. I’m not bothering you; you’re bothering me.
Don’t no-show. If you can’t make an appointment, call and cancel/reschedule. I shouldn’t have to track you down afterwards to find out where you are and why you didn’t show up. I’m not your mother.
And don’t assume you are hot s*** just because you have money. You are not hot s***. I’ve taken hot s***s before. They get flushed down the toilet. You’re too big of a turd to fit without a resulting plumbing emergency.
But understand, annuity customers, that having that fiduciary responsibility doesn’t mean that I care about your money more than you do. I don’t care at all. Years of customer service will do that.
If you want to let inflation erode your money like termites to a wood festival, then be my guest. Understand that it’s your money, not mine, and ultimately I don’t care what you do as long as I make my sales and don’t have any problems. So keep your money in a savings account earning 0.10% or whatever. Behold all the f***s I give:
But if you don’t want that to happen; if you instead want me to help you get a guaranteed rate of interest that’s anywhere from four to twenty times the interest you’re getting on your bank accounts without any of the principal risk that serves as a con of investing in stocks, then be sure to come to me. Or anyone that sells fixed annuities on behalf of any business. It doesn’t matter.
But if you do deal with me, I expect you to treat me like a licensed professional. That doesn’t mean worship my every word and take my advice to you as gospel truth (though you can if you’d like. I appreciate it when my job is made easier). But it does mean to respect my time and title. If you can’t distinguish between a licensed professional and a burger flipper, and if to you I am no different that a whiny teenager that exists solely to give you extra ketchup, then don’t waste my time.
Unlike your time, mine is valuable. Spending it chasing you down in order to feed your ego–which is fragile and insecure to the point of needing to mock-entertain financial professionals’ offers just so you can feel like an important person–is a waste of a valuable commodity.
To end everything on a lighter note (NSFW):
Readers-What do YOU think!? Does my problems making sales come from flaky people, or from my inability to get them to want to come in and sit down with me? Do you think customers treat licensed professionals with more, less, or the same respect that other customer service representatives get? And for all you salespeople out there, how does one overcome such obstacles? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
Disclaimer: Amazon Associate, click on the link, I get commission, yadda yadda yadda. The two links for “save better” and “save more” are for eBooks written by DJ Whiteside, better known as My Money Design. You can follow his journey to financial freedom at his blog here. I also reviewed his first book here. Peep it.