By Dick Kendall
If a community bank – or a bank of any size – wants to succeed in the long run and attract new customers, its personnel must think of themselves as “problem solvers.” But just thinking that way is not enough.
The best results generated by sales, service and cross-selling promotions happen when employees are a part of a healthy, well-trained sales culture. To promote this type of environment, bank leadership needs to focus on combining employee knowledge and experience with the perceived need of the customer. This combination enables the bank to offer the best possible solutions to the customer.
A vibrant sales culture begins with management hiring the right people and creating an environment that is truly “sales oriented.” Decision-makers must also recognize the importance of providing sufficient resources, qualified trainers, a satisfactory setting for training and adequate training time.
Effectively attracting new customers, and cross-selling to existing ones, requires employees to have an excellent understanding of the products and services your bank offers. Whether it’s making commercial sales calls or suggesting a new product to a customer in the teller line, employees who have had proper training on your programs are positioned to recognize a sales opportunity and successfully act on it.
The tenets of a valuable training curriculum include orientation; job skills; regulations; people skills; and sales and product knowledge.
Just offering training isn’t enough. For a bank to reach its strategic goals, it is necessary to restructure the workplace to maximize operational efficiencies.
As an example, most sales representatives will tell you they are simply too bogged down with non-customer contact work to do the things they know are necessary to increase sales. To give them the best scenario for success, smart bank managers must get the non-customer operational work off the backs of sales and service representatives and into the back office.
Restructuring the bank’s workflow starts with analyzing operational efficiency by conducting a thorough process improvement study to:
Segment expenses; and
Uncover areas of efficiency you didn’t know were there.
Once you know where to focus your attention, process improvement techniques – such as department restructuring, product redesign and technology utilization – will reduce the burden of paperwork and other cumbersome, non-selling activities, letting your sales team focus on selling.
But remember, when you push work into the back office, make sure it belongs there or all you’ll be doing is swapping ineffectiveness between one department and another. Before you restructure, review your decisions to ensure you understand all of the implications for your entire organization.
Employees who understand the integral process of selling and how to move through them with the customer or prospect are positioned for success. The following are suggestions for what should be employed during the sales and service process:
A carefully conceived set of questions to help discover the financial need, problem or opportunity;
The presentation of a timely, proven solution or service;
A mutual agreement for next steps; and
A commitment to ensuring the product, service or other solution is performing adequately in the eyes of the account holder.
Financial institutions can benefit from higher involvement and better overall results when they provide rewards and recognition for employees who embrace and apply what they have learned.
Dick Kendall is a nationally known, elite trainer who joined John M. Floyd & Assoc. in 1994 to provide training and to support change for the company’s clients. During his career he has served as a bank officer, marketing director and industry consultant. Along the way, he has worked with more than 400 companies to help them increase their sales and profits.