10 Cold Calling Rejections and a Bankers Response

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As a commercial banker, I make hundreds of cold-calls per month and I monitor all facets of the call including gatekeepers, best calling times (AM vs PM), decision-makers reached, number of follow ups, and reasons for rejection. The last one is the one I am here to talk about. When I initially started writing this, I figured it was going to have a negative connotation and a “glass half-empty” mentality. However, as I started writing the rejections down, I quickly began to smile and think of the thoughts I had in my head when the decision makers said the rejection to me on the phone. Maybe I’m a little twisted but cold-calling is a numbers game and the more you make, the better you get at being able to fire back at prospects and their reasons for not wanting to meet. With that being said, I do work in a professional environment and represent a corporate and professional culture — so some of the comments below probably should not be said to a prospect in such a direct manner, but I thought by putting a little comical flavor on my responses will provide the reader a more enjoyable piece to read but more importantly also remove some of the stigma and intimidation that cold calling may have associated with it.

Here are my top 10 rejections and I get better at responding to them with each and every cold call that I make:

1. I pay for everything in cash.

That’s great, but what about when you run out of cash? What is your contingency plan when the economy turns? Maybe neither of these things are my business, but wouldn’t it be beneficial to discuss how a bank partner could be there when business needs change? Not to mention, is using cash the best thing for your business? With interest rates as low as they’ve ever been maybe that money would provide a better return elsewhere?

2. I’m not interested.

You are not interested in discussing your company’s financial strategy? I am not asking for any commitments or decisions at this point, simply wanted to come in and learn more about your business and see if your needs could be met with what my bank could offer. There’s usually a bigger, underlying reason that they aren’t telling you — because what kind of wacko isn’t interested in their company’s money?

3. I’m happy with my current bank.

That’s great, and you were probably happy with your bank before this one, but things change. Banks go through transitions and transformations and it’s not a bad idea to have another bank to compare your current one to. Additionally, it doesn’t hurt to have a contact at another bank incase your currently relationship worsens.

4. I’m too busy and don’t have time.

Really Sally? You are telling me you are too busy to look after the financial matters of your business. If you have enough time to go on social media during the workday (yes, I saw your LinkedIn rant regarding the election) then you probably should have a few minutes to discuss your company’s cash flow and capital expenditures for the next 12 months.

5. You aren’t competitive enough.

I appreciate the feedback, but when was the last time you had our bank quote or provide you with any sort of pricing? If it was not recent, it may not reflect our current rates/structures and at the end of the day — having a trusted bank partner means more than picking the cheapest bank that gives you a fluffy, non-committal quote.

6. We just switched banks.

That’s great, but all I’m asking for is to meet and discuss your financial needs, not for you to switch your bank today. Also, did you consider my bank when you were deciding on whom to work with? Better yet, did you look at multiple banks to see what the landscape is like out there and get at least 2–3 proposals? There’s 50 other questions I could ask here but the decision-maker may not give you that much time, so I’d leave them with this: It’s a good idea to do annual reviews on your banking arrangement, so I’d love to do that for you when the time comes.

7. I don’t need a bank.

I guess it’s possible — there are a few gems out there that don’t need a bank or may be funded through private equity, but that doesn’t mean a “bank” cannot add value in other ways. All companies need a place to keep and grow their money or they may need some ancillary services like Merchant or Payroll Services, Wealth Management, etc. I may be naïve but I have a hard time believing that a $1.8 trillion in assets financial institution cannot do something for a business to bring them incremental value.

8. I’m owned by a larger company that manages the banking.

I probably would have found this out already through researching the company, but let’s assume I missed it. Do you know if the larger company has a banking partner? If so — who could I contact there to discuss doing a banking review or seeing if they would be interested in meeting to discuss their strategy for your company and the larger group of companies under their management?

9. Check back with me in 6–12 months.

This is the classic “non-confrontational no” and it’s quite common in areas of the country where there’s dozens of banks and heavy competition. With this type of response, the customer is hoping you just forget to call them back in half-a-year. They’ll give this answer to every banker that calls them and they will probably only get a fraction of the follow-ups (see chart on follow ups here). Insist that it’s important to meet now and that it will be worthwhile and a good use of time. I would also say that I’d like to understand what the company has going on in the next 12 months so it would be proactive and beneficial to meet now and work toward the future.

10. Not now, our company is going through some changes.

This one is tricky, because a customer may not want to say the truth. If the changes are good, then it’s easy because it makes sense having a bank provide some input into the changes to make sure the company is positioned from a financial vantage point. However, if the company’s “changes” are because they are going through hardship, downsizing, restructuring, winding down, etc. then it may truly be a difficult time for the owner/decision maker to meet. Approach this rejection with caution.

There’s probably lots of other rejections out there and I’d be curious to hear about ones that you’ve received. It would also be interesting to see how rejections are similar or completely vary based on industry. At the end of the day, you may never get through to a prospect and your message may not be received in the way you intended it, but don’t give up. You will find ways to add value to the prospects that are willing to listen and are open to the opportunity to better their company. Be persistent, don’t get comfortable, stay consistent and you will come out on top!

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