The Relationship that Wasn’t

I have a business credit card from Bank of America. I never use it, but I’ve had it for years. We have no other banking relationship, just the credit card.

Earlier this week I got a call from an associate at Bank of America. I answered the call as I usually do, with my name, “This is Wendy Weiss.”

The associate then said, “May I speak with Wendy Weiss?” The conversation went downhill from there.

Wendy: This is Wendy Weiss. How may I help you?

Associate: This is __________ from Bank of America. Is this a good time to talk?

Wendy: I’m busy. What’s this about?

Associate: This is a relationship call.

Wendy: I wasn’t aware we had a relationship.

Associate: I’m calling from Bank of America.

Wendy: Is this about my credit card? Is there a problem?

Associate: There is no problem with your card. I’m calling to invite you to come into our branch and discuss your finances.

I declined.

I have to say I felt sorry for this associate. He was probably repeating this conversation over and over and over again. Someone at Bank of America had obviously told him that he was not cold calling but rather calling warm leads, “relationship calls.” They probably also told him that “relationship calls” would be easy and welcomed. I doubt they were.

Had this poor associate said anything of interest to me about my business the outcome might have been different. Financing or credit options or lines of credit or cash flow… Any of the myriad of things a bank might offer to help a business… We might have had a conversation and I might have gone into the bank to talk about it. Alas, he did not because he was relying on the label, “relationship call,” to do the work for him.

The lesson here is that there is no such thing as a “relationship call” unless your prospect thinks you have a relationship.

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