The Rule of Seven

By Keith Sangwin – Asset Finance Sales Manager – United Trust Bank

One of the most common assumptions many people make in business is thinking that your customers already know what you do. I’m not talking about the broad ‘Waitrose sell groceries’ or ‘Ford build cars’ or ‘UTB provide asset finance’ kind of knowledge. I’m talking about the extra features of the product and the service which can put you in a customer’s first 11 if they know them, or leave you on the sub’s bench if they don’t.

I’ve been at UTB for a couple of months now and one of the tasks I set myself was to get out on the road and meet up with many of UTB’s brokers. I’ve clocked up several thousand miles already, travelling everywhere from the south coast to the borders, and I’ve really enjoyed it. It was great to go out with the BDMs meeting brokers who’ve worked with UTB for many years, and also to catch up with old friends, some of whom, it transpired, knew relatively little about my new employer.

One of the advantages of being new to a company is having the opportunity to go into a meeting without any preconceived ideas about what they know or don’t know about your business. So when I asked brokers what they knew about UTB, the answers were shot from the hip.

I was very happy to find that the brokers who had a really good relationship with the BDMs could reel off several reasons why they chose UTB for their customers. Quick credit decisions, same day pay-outs, ability to talk directly to credit about proposed deals, flexibility, and a strong appetite for refinancing were the answers which came back most often.

It was clear that the brokers who already have a relationship with the Bank knew our USPs well. They had of course experienced our high levels of service and they were also pleased to hear we were continuing to grow the team (Kelly Sylvester from Iveco Finance being our latest hire in sales admin). Brokers are always concerned that when funders go for growth their service support will drop off as volumes increase. It was good to reassure them that we’ve got that well covered.

However, some of the brokers, who generally haven’t done much with UTB before, were surprised at the deals we could now do. For example, many were unaware that we don’t have a restricted age policy for assets, and we have an appetite for sub-letting business in the vehicle hire sector. And, although UTB are probably better known for funding bus and coach, HGVs and plant, we also have experience at the other end of the vehicle spectrum funding high performance and classic cars, as well as CNC machinery. Some brokers also didn’t know that UTB had dropped their rates last year. It seemed that, despite our best marketing and PR efforts, some significant news had passed several brokers by. It was disappointing but I wasn’t at all surprised. I know how easy it is to ignore marketing bumph which comes through the post or via email and few of us have time to stay completely in touch with all the latest industry news.

It made me realise though that we shouldn’t be afraid to repeat ourselves now and again when we have something important to say. There’s an old marketing adage called ‘the Rule of Seven’. It says that a potential customer has to see or hear your message at least seven times before they will buy from you. The number ‘7’ does not have some magical sales power but it illustrates that telling, showing or sending something once is generally not enough for someone to take in the message, let alone act upon. My wife will certainly testify to this.

Don’t worry though, we’re not about to start bombarding brokers with seven versions of the same adverts and emails (I don’t think anyone wants that!) but if you’ve got a meeting with me or any of the BDMs don’t be surprised if we tell you a few things you may already know, Just to be on the safe side.