Ask any banker if their institution is effective enough in their cross-sell efforts and you are likely to get a resounding no. Ask them why, as we recently did in a phone interview of our clients, and you are likely to hear a similar theme from all of them:
- “Our biggest obstacle is converting branch staff from a service to sales culture…”
- “It is difficult getting personnel trained to sell…”
- “Community banks just don’t have a selling culture…
Even with these concerns, the reality is that your growth and competitive goals all hinge on more effective cross-selling to existing customers. To remedy these common problems, it will require a significant change in how you approach cross-selling.
Before we talk about what cross-selling is, let’s first talk about what it is not. It’s not pushing products that a customer does not need or use. It’s not selling accounts. It’s not the only measurement tool to evaluate customer loyalty or employee’s performance. And it’s certainly not accomplished the first day a new account is established!
Cross-selling is about becoming a trusted advisor and partner to your clients — the person they turn to when they need help to get that new house, open their small business, save for their kid’s college, or invest for retirement. People will buy based on recommendation from a trusted advisor, but not so quickly from a product-pusher.
Here are five strategies to get you started with successful cross-selling:
1. Focus your sales efforts on the best opportunities and activities.
Shrink the bullseye and focus your attention on a smaller group of targeted prospects. The typical banker spends 38% of his time on building relationships despite the fact that these activities generate 70% of his new opportunities (source: Greenwich Associates Survey of 335 Business Bankers). Stop trolling for prospects and begin educating your current customers on the benefits of your advice through educational webinars and seminars, blogging, and personal meetings.
2. Package value and advice into your offerings.
Stop pushing product features to customers and start solving customer needs. You can’t do it all, so decide which products are creating the most value for your institution, then package these products and sell them as bundles to customers who have the greatest propensity to use them. And cross-sell them to others who have a portion of the bundle but are likely to need the entire bundle.
3. Upgrade solution-selling skills.
The single most important skill you can teach your employees to increase their cross-sells? Solution selling. Stop selling products and start selling solutions; disseminate newsworthy information to clients consistently, invite them to informational webinars, and make every effort to share your expertise by speaking at events your customers attend. In this way, you can differentiate yourself and your institution and move into the role of trusted advisor and not just branch manager.
4. Support with better intelligence.
Today’s technology is much faster and more cost effective than ever before. Put smart-technology and information at the finger-tips of your employees. It is an investment that will pay you back many times over. This way employees can easily narrow the bullseye themselves, identify and retain their top customers, find new cross-sell opportunities among existing customers, and let the technology take the legwork out of the process so they can be more efficient with their time.
5. Develop better ways to measure and incentivize.
Start looking at your own data to determine optimal cross-sell ratios. A cross-sell is only valuable if the customer is using your product or service—so have a way to measure usage and sales. Incorporate the “right” cross-sells into your incentive plans. Build a simple incentive plan that can be understood by the frontline, but is flexible enough to take advantage of unique opportunities.
What if we called this new approach cross-servicing instead of cross-selling? After all, there is a difference between a fully-serviced customer and a fully-sold customer.
A fully-sold customer is a short-term gain — a good prospect for the next bank to open in our area. A fully-serviced customer, however, is one for which all current needs have been met and a level of trust has been established, so that when future needs arise the customer will trust us to meet those too.
You must empower your bankers with solution-selling skills, allow them to build trust with customers by becoming a source of information and advice, provide them support technology so they can narrow the bullseye, incentivize them well, and become cheerleaders for the cause. If you do that, you will be rewarded with fully-serviced and loyal customers, and a healthy growth attributed to your cross-sell effectiveness.
Now that is something we can all be cross-sold on.