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Building customer loyalty and wallet share requires employees to sell, and for many, that’s the ultimate four-letter word…

Imagine you’re a small business owner. Every day, you drive to the bank branch with the day’s deposits. The tellers are friendly and efficient, and they all know you by name.

Of course, getting to them isn’t always so easy. Traffic can be a nightmare, and on certain days of the month, the lines inside the branch can snake around the lobby. That simple deposit can add up to a surprising amount of your valuable time spent away from the business each month.

What you don’t realize is that there’s no reason to go to the branch each day. Your bank offers a remote deposit service, which means you could be handling this task in minutes, without ever having to leave your office. It’s a service you’d take advantage of in a heartbeat. The convenience, along with the savings in time and resources, would more than make up for any associated fees.

Except no one has ever asked you if you might be interested in it. No one has ever even mentioned that it exists.

The Challenge of Turning Relationships into Banking Business

For banking executives, this kind of story isn’t just disconcerting; it’s frustrating—and even perplexing. There’s no question that maintaining and growing a loyal customer base is vital in today’s competitive marketplace. That’s why banks emphasize the importance of building strong customer relationships as a way of increasing wallet share. Most articulate this in their values as well as through ongoing communications and employee training.

So why do so many well-intended bank employees still fumble these critical business opportunities?

For starters, it takes more than friendly relationships and responsiveness to build customer loyalty and grow share of wallet. While most customer-facing banking employees are skilled in relationship building, they aren’t sure how—or in many cases are downright reluctant to—turn those relationships into business.

It could be that the CSR who takes your deposit every day assumes you wouldn’t want to pay the remote deposit service fee. Or they might believe that being friendly and pleasant is what service is all about. Rather than “push products” on you, they’re there to answer your questions or offer up a product that fits your stated request.

But building customer loyalty and wallet share requires more than this. It requires employees to sell, and for many, that’s the ultimate four-letter word.

We’ve found that many bank employees’ view of selling is shaped by experiences they’ve had or heard about that involve aggressive sales tactics or manipulating people into spending more than they need to. So when bank leaders talk about the need to grow wallet share by expanding a customer’s accounts and product mix—in other words, by selling them more products and services—these employees will have a negative reaction and be reluctant to act on it.

Others may have more of a “call me if you need me” attitude. They don’t want to be seen as pushy, and they may not know how to naturally shift into a business conversation, so they take a more reactive approach that only skims the surface of what the customer truly needs.

In either case, these flawed views of selling get in the way. No matter how much we talk to employees about what needs to be done, they’ll struggle to take the necessary steps because it feels so out of alignment with their own values, attitudes and beliefs.  Meanwhile, our customer may go to another bank, to get the very services we offer.

Changing Mindsets about Selling

For banks to successfully grow wallet share, they have to do more than train people to sell. They have to change mindsets about what selling is.

At its core, effective selling is a mutual exchange of value. Offering the remote deposit service doesn’t just create more value for the bank; it creates significant value for the customer, too. Once employees realize that this represents an opportunity to help customers and provide an even higher level of service, they’ll have an entirely different perspective on what it is they’re expected to do. They’ll also be more motivated to think about what their customers might really need, as opposed to just responding to explicit requests.

There are four key steps that will enable them to create more value, and none of them involve memorizing scripts or employing aggressive or manipulative “hard sell” tactics:

Start with value

Rather than trying to force-fit a solution, a value-driven mindset allows the employee to listen and focus on the customer’s point of view. Not every product or service fits every customer need. Listening from the standpoint of what the customer values keeps the sales conversation aligned and sets the stage for a positive, long-term relationship.

Ask better questions

It’s a simple but powerful step. Being able to have a good discussion about the customer’s needs and how you might help solve them starts with asking good questions. We also need product knowledge to recognize opportunities to help fill the need with the proper solution.

Pick up cues

By recognizing cues, your employees can uncover unarticulated needs and potential opportunities to better serve the customer, as well as cross-sell within the bank.

Build internal relationships

Sometimes people don’t want to engage with customers because they’re worried they don’t have all the answers. But they don’t have to be the experts on everything. They simply need to know who to partner with or where to refer the customer to ensure their need is fulfilled.

Changing mindsets about selling is one of the most important strategies you can take to consistently grow wallet share, build long-lasting customer relationships—and more. As one bank employee told us, “I no longer look at this as pushy or dreadful. I realize that I have something to offer. I realize that the more I am ‘into’ it, the more successful I expect to be.”

About the Author
Brian Snader

Vice President, Client Development

For over 15 years Brian Snader has brought his passion for engaging our clients to achieve their desired performance outcomes....
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