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Friday, September 6, 2013

Sales Conversations in Bank Branches Are Missing the Mark

By David Leonard and Beth Youra

This post is part of Gallup's ongoing series on the shifting landscape for financial institutions. It provides insights into channel optimization, emerging customer behaviors and preferences, product penetration and relationship growth, engaging the most critical affluent and business customers, and reshaping banks' overall value proposition.

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In the new normal of banking, sales conversations are shifting from a focus on product features to a focus on product and service value for individual customers. Customers’ expectations of their banks have changed from being money holders to lifestyle supporters, which requires a fundamental shift in the banker-client relationship and sales conversation.

Bank representatives should evolve their sales conversations by focusing on the critical drivers of sales conversion and customer engagement. Banks should sell products and service value rather than features by clearly demonstrating how those products and services will meet customers’ unique needs and affect their well-being.

Regardless of whether the customer or banker initiates the sales conversation, engaged customers are more likely to convert from opportunities or discussions to sales. Fully engaged customers average 75% conversion, compared with 62% among less engaged customers.

The problem -- and opportunity -- for banks is that across the industry they perform poorly on the attributes that are most critical to sales conversion and engagement. In Gallup’s most recent U.S. Retail Banking study, many bankers failed to perform well on high impact sales conversion and engagement drivers. For example, less than half of clients reported that their banker was interested in improving their financial well-being or discussed how their financial needs may change over time. These results suggest that many personal bankers find it difficult to have in-depth conversations with their potential clients about their financial values and lifestyle.

Bankers continue to focus on basic sales conversation drivers, such as product knowledge and asking questions, instead of creating a value-based conversation that showcases how the bank’s products and services fit with the client’s lifestyle and financial objectives. These advanced attributes will produce a much greater impact on sales conversion and create fully engaged customers -- who bring greater near-term and long-term financial value to the bank.

To maximize branch sales conversations, banks should do the following:
  • Know the critical sales conversion drivers for your customer base.
  • Measure your employees’ abilities to deliver on these drivers from a customer’s perspective.
  • Ensure that your performance management systems do not overemphasize short-term sales quantity at the expense of long-term sales quality.
  • Create marketing, product offerings, and collateral that are client-centric and aligned with the high impact sales and engagement drivers.
In an era of reduced fee income, the basic skill of selling checking accounts will only get banks so far in terms of revenue growth. It is no longer enough for bankers to be knowledgeable about checking account options; they need to help customers understand how each option will fit into their overall lifestyle. Banks need to invest in the personnel and support systems that will allow them to have the in-depth sales conversations they need to build long-term, profitable customer relationships.


Kathy Foland said...
September 9, 2013 at 6:24 AM  

SPOT ON ! Especially the boomers. Boomers are in a hurry, do not want to be " sold", and may only come into the bank on rare occasions.As a Bank employee for 34 years, the traffic in bank lobbies is dramatically changed, but by and large the personal bankers have not adapted to the boomer landscape. Engaged customers will come in to the lobby if there is value of their time.

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