Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Hardsell and Numbers

A storm blew through my dining room just now.

I don't know about you folks, but we get a lot of calls about refinancing. Most of the time I ring off with a "we-don't-take-phone-solicitations-please-put-us-on-your-do-not-call-list". Sometimes the Lovely Bride calls them on it, challenging them to beat her fixed-rate mortgage (which is pretty good - the Lovely Bride handles the family accounts, and the only debt we're carrying is the mortgage, which, this being Seattle, is pretty durn high).

So about a while back a money management marketing guy cold-calls in, and Kate says, "Can you beat an X percent fixed mortgage?"

The MMM guy says "Yes, we can."

The Lovely Bride says, "Fixed rate?"

The MMM guy says, "Uhuh."

The Lovely Bride says, "Just a mortgage refinance."

The MMM guy says, "Yep."

So the marketing guy dispatches two of his people over the house this morning. I have their cards, but let's call them Hardsell and Numbers. Hardsell is tall, loud, and passionate about what his firm can do for us. Numbers is shorter, quieter, and has his calculator out within minutes of sitting down at the dining room table. Not quite Bad Cop/Good Cop. More of Blustery Cop/Quiet Cop. They remind me of Penn and Teller, who unfortunately are NOT the people you want the thinking about when you're renegotiating your mortgate.

The Lovely Bride has the files out, ready to do business. I am there as the least-knowledgeable being in the room (only because I had to lock the cats up to keep them off the table).

And it became quickly clear that they could not beat an X percent fixed mortgage, that they would love to get us involved in larger financial planning, and that the plan is to sell us the latest "hot thing" in adjustable mortgages (presented in a jumble of acronyms, - a START with a 1 percent ARM (and maybe a 2 percent LEG)). My BS detector at this point is screaming like the Robot in "Lost in Space".

The Lovely Bride is not amused. Restates what she's looking for. Hardsell pushes harder. Numbers and I get real quiet. Stormclouds start to gather along the dining room ceiling, and lightning flashes in the Lovely Bride's eyes. Hardsell starts using phrases like "We want to educate you" and "If you will only listen." The Lovely Bride states for a third time what she wants. Hardsell finally, exasperated, admits that this was impossible. The Lovely Bride thanks them for their time. I show them out. Hardsell is literally muttering as he storms out, Numbers slides out after him with a weak smile.

Here's a clue to the Hardsells of the world. When you use the phrase "We want to educate you" you're being condescending and insulting. When you have to use the phrase "If you will only listen," you're already lost the sale. The best you can do is get off the field with your dignity intact.

And you might want to think twice before sending in another team to contend with the Lovely Bride.

More later,