Beyond Needs Analysis: Asking Motivation Questions to Drive Purchase Intent

Effective profiling of customers has long been considered a key component of any sales process. Questioning customers is commonly referred to as needs analysis as many questions revolve around client needs, but how effective are needs questions in the efficacy of a sales presentation? Our research suggests the ROI potential of moving probing beyond basic needs analysis and including a different type of question – one designed to get at client motivations – not just needs.

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To evaluate the state of the in-branch sales process, Kinesis mystery shopped 100 branches among five banks sharing national service areas. Among the objectives of the study were to:

1) Define the sales process among different institutions, and

2) Evaluate the effectiveness of specific sales behaviors.

Shoppers were asked a mixture of closed-ended questions to evaluate the presence of specific behaviors, and open-ended questions to gather the qualitative impressions of these behaviors on the shoppers – in short, the how and why behind how the shoppers felt. Finally, to provide a basis for an evaluation of the effectiveness of each sales behavior, shoppers were asked to rate their purchase  intent as a result of the visit. This purchase intent rating provides a means of evaluating what behaviors tend to be present when positive purchase intent is reported as opposed to negative purchase intent, revealing which sales behaviors have the most ROI potential in terms of driving purchase intent.

10 Most Frequent Probing Questions

In order to evaluate the profiling process, shoppers recorded what profiling questions were asked of them as part of the sales presentation.

The table on the third page of this article displays the frequency in which 29 different questions were asked as part of the sales presentation. Of the ten most frequently asked profiling questions, eight asked about the customers’ needs or
situation.

The subject matter of these eight needs/situation questions were:

– Service interested in
– Other banking relationships
– Current banking products
– Employment status/situation
– Nature of online banking use
– Nature of savings accounts held
– Nature ATM use
– Credit card use

Another of the ten most frequently asked questions asked about the purpose of the account.

The remaining question in this top ten is far more interesting. Two-thirds of the bankers asked about the customers’ expectations of a bank or what are they looking from a bank.

While we have observed that nine out of the ten most common profiling questions either ask about the purpose of the account or the customers’ needs/situation, with one question about the customers’ expectations, the question remains, what are the most effective profiling questions?

10 Most Effective Probing Questions

In addition to the frequency with which questions were asked, the table at the conclusion of this article also displays the strength of the relationship of each probing question to the presentation’s purchase intent rating. The strength of the relationship to purchase intent is expressed as the ratio of the presence of each question in presentations with positive purchase intent to those with negative purchase intent. A ratio of 2.0 means the specific question was asked twice as often in shops with positive purchase intent compared to those with negative purchase intent.

Looking at the ten probing questions with the strongest relationship to purchase intent, only four ask about customer needs/situation:

– Nature of telephone banking use
– Co-account holders
– Number of checks written
– Past banking products/services

Another three ask about balances:

– Average checking balance
– Average savings balances
– Minimum checking balance

And three more ask an importance or motivation question:

– What do you like about your bank?
– What don’t you like about your bank?
– What are your expectations from a bank?

While only one importance/motivation question is in the top 10 in terms of frequency asked, three of these questions are in the top 10 in terms of their relationship to purchase intent.

A client of mine calls these importance/motivation questions, “high-gain questions.” High-gain questions are questions designed to get to the clients’ motivations – what drives them? What do they want from a bank?

What do you like about your bank?” – was present a whopping 6.2 times more frequently in shops with positive purchase intent relative to negative purchase intent.

What are your expectations of a bank?” – was asked 3.1 times more in shops with positive purchase intent.

What don’t you like about your bank?” – was asked 2.8 times more in shops with positive purchase intent.

These and others like them are extremely powerful questions, in effect asking the customer to tell the banker what they want in a banking relationship, providing a road map for the sales presentation. In fact, our research indicates the most effective sales presentations were built around responses to these high-gain questions.

These observations suggest asking prospective customers high-gain questions to identify their motivations and building a sales presentation around customer motivations will yield a greater ROI in terms of driving purchase intent.

Question

Frequency Asked

Effectiveness*

Services are you interested in

93%

1.1

Where do you currently bank/other banking relationships

82%

1.1

Current banking products/services

73%

1.9

Your employment status/situation

68%

1.1

Purpose of the account (personal, household, business)

68%

1.6

Your expectations of a bank / What are you looking for in a bank?

67%

3.1

The nature of your online/Internet banking use

65%

1.5

Savings Accounts

65%

1.7

The nature of your ATM use

58%

1.9

Credit cards

55%

1.3

Minimum checking account balance typically carried

52%

2.8

The nature of your mobile/smart phone banking use

50%

1.6

Average checking account balance carried

50%

3.4

What don’t you like about your bank

42%

1.9

Do you like loyalty programs that offer points or awards for use of such things as credit or debit cards

42%

2.8

Past banking products/services

40%

2.7

Nature of debit card use at retailers

38%

1.8

Your family status (married, single, children, etc)

38%

1.9

Will there be any co-account holders (such as a spouse or child)

37%

7.1

What do you like about your bank

35%

6.2

Short term financial goals

33%

2.7

CDs (Certificate of Deposit)

32%

1.1

Typical savings account balance

32%

3.9

Long term financial goals (retirement, college for kids, etc)

32%

2.1

Number of checks you write

27%

3.0

Mortgages

23%

0.9

Investments other than savings, CDs or money market accounts (investments such as Mutual Funds, IRA, Stocks, Bonds).

23%

1.8

Telephone banking

22%

8.0

Car loans

18%

2.1

10 Most FREQUENTLY ASKED Probing Questions
Services are you interested in

93%

Where do you currently bank/other banking relationships

82%

Current banking products/services

73%

Your employment status/situation

68%

Purpose of the account (personal, household, business)

68%

Your expectations of a bank / What are you looking for in a bank?

67%

The nature of your online/Internet banking use

65%

Savings Accounts

65%

The nature of your ATM use

58%

Credit cards

55%

10 Most EFFECTIVE Probing Questions**
Telephone banking

8.0

Will there be any co-account holders (such as a spouse or child)

7.1

What do you like about your bank

6.2

Typical savings account balance

3.9

Average checking account balance carried

3.4

Your expectations of a bank / What are you looking for in a bank?

3.1

Number of checks you write

3.0

Minimum checking account balance typically carried

2.8

Do you like loyalty programs that offer points or awards for use of such things as credit or debit cards

2.8

Past banking products/services

2.7

* Effectiveness defined by ratio of the frequency the question is asked in shops with positive purchase intent relative to the frequency in shops with negative purchase intent (for example a value of 2.0 means the question is twice as likely to be asked in shops with positive purchase intent relative to those with negative purchase intent.

** Probing questions with the strongest relationship to purchase intent, again defined by the ratio of their frequency in shops with positive purchase intent compared to those with negative purchase intent.

For more information contact Eric Larse, co-founder of Seattle-based Kinesis, which helps companies plan and execute their customer experience strategies. Mr. Larse can be reached at elarse@kinesis-cem.com.


Click Here For More Information About Kinesis'; Bank Mystery Shopping

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About Eric Larse

Eric Larse is co-founder of Seattle-based Kinesis CEM, LLC, which helps clients plan and execute their customer experience strategies through the intelligent use of customer satisfaction surveys and mystery shopping, linked with training and incentive programs. Visit Kinesis at: www.kinesis-cem.com

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