Is Your Bank CFPB/OCC’s Next Sales Practices Target? Part 1: Stop “Selling”

[April 20, 2017] Waiting for the knock on your door? Our first check point in evaluating our clients' consumer and small business sales practices is context: “What is the bank's philosophy?"

Consider: Stop “selling.” Stop “sales training.” Stop talking about “sales cultures.” Give up “sales goals.” There is tremendous negative baggage (for staff and customers) that comes with those terms dating back to the 1870s when sales training was first invented; the 1960s, when consumer marketing techniques were applied to banking products; and the 1980’s, when banks began applying industrial sales models to banking, all of which still influence our industry heavily.

Instead, develop “financial leadership cultures” or “financial education cultures”. The notion of cross sell for the sake of cross sell never works. It always comes back to bite. If we (as an industry) help our clients learn, if we show them how they could use our services to improve their lives and have time to do what they want, at a fair value exchange, they will buy from us.

Yes, as a profit-making institutions, banks want to expand their client bases, increase revenue, and boost market share. So, yes, we want to encourage bank front line colleagues to reach out to prospects and customers, engage them in conversations, identify opportunities to help, provide useful and valuable ideas, and propose next steps that probably include their banks’ products.

To support this, bank senior executives can and should create new context for these activities, based in value, learning, and education, rather than in the shop-worn context of “sales” and all of its by-products.

Bank performance measures can and should include traditional metrics like relationship breadth, profitability, loan and deposit growth, fees generated, etc.

They should also include a significant weight for customer satisfaction or similar scores, client retention, and judgements about conversation quality and effectiveness that reflect the new context and philosophy. We should recognize and incent people for the value they add to their clients’ lives rather than (only) the revenue they generate for their employers.

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