Friday, June 7, 2013

There's a Lot to Bank With in Lowell (Thankfully)

In case anyone wants to know how to turn a prospect into a non-prospect very quickly, I will relay a quick story that really just happened. 

I am curious to learn more about commercial loans.  I called a well-known bank here in town (and they will remain nameless, out of respect for the innocent).  I left a friendly voicemail with a particular commercial lending officer, who called me back a few minutes ago.  Here is a paraphrased version of how that call transpired, her words in italics.

"Hello, is this Greg Page?"


"You called earlier, so I'm returning your call."

"Well, I'd like to learn more about commercial loan opportunities."

"What do you mean?  I'm not sure what you're looking for.  Are you looking for a term loan or a line of credit?  Without knowing what you need, I can't answer anything specific."  

"Okay, well I'm not entirely sure myself.  I called you because I don't know a lot about commercial lending, but would like to learn more about what's out there, what the options might be, etc."

"Do you need this for commercial real estate?  Is there property involved?" 

"No property involved.  It's a start-up with a very low cash burn.  I would just need something to help me cover basic living expenses so that I could operate the start-up without having to work other jobs."

"Oh, it's a start-up.  Those are very risky.  Well, I still don't understand what you're asking me." [tone becomes increasingly condescending].

"Well, I guess you could say it's a general query.  Okay, why don't I throw some numbers at you just to play around with [numbers get thrown]."

"Well, I have no way to answer that, because I don't know anything about the guarantor [said extra slowly, dripping with this-guy-doesn't-know-what-I-just-said].  Do you have a business plan?

"As a matter of fact, yes.  And there are monthly revenue projections for each of the next three years."

"Oh.  Well, I still don't understand what you're trying to find out." 

"Okay, let's back it up a bit here.  The reason I called you is precisely because I don't know what I don't know.  What would you usually tell someone is the next step to take when they have a very general query about commercial loans?"

"Well, I would usually meet with them in person, and they'd have a business plan with them."  

"Alright, so you're saying the phone isn't the best way to initiate these sorts of conversations.  Would it make more sense to come in?"

"You might want to check out resources like the SBA in town.  Where do you live?  I could look up the phone numbers for you."  

"I live downtown, right here in Lowell.  I'm all set.  I can look up the numbers."

"Okay, well bye then."

At no point during the conversation did she even muster the curiosity to ask a single question about WHAT the business was, WHETHER we had any existing revenue/clients, or WHAT I could do to follow up with her.

Whatever happened to the salesperson who doesn't want to let you off the line?  Why not humor me?  Why not EXPLAIN TO ME the difference between the various options, and schedule a follow-up?

Instead, it was a steaming pile of condescension, peppered with the "I don't know what you mean" stuff that I would expect from a recalcitrant junior soldier ("Sir, when you said sweep the TOC and take the trash out, I didn't know exactly what you meant by I couldn't get it done.")

Thankfully, there a lot of banks in Lowell.  Many seem to do well.  One seems to do so well that it apparently doesn't need my business.  

1 comment:

C R Krieger said...

Not a good conversation.  Maybe if you said you were Bill Gates Junior?  No, probably not.


Regards -- Cliff