Cross-sales. While rarely anybody’s favorite thing to talk about (with the exception of maybe sales trainers) cross-sales are an increasingly vital part of the revenue mix for banks and credit unions. Deepening relationships and getting more from current members and customers is important.
Most financial institutions are on the lookout for new and/or revamped ways to help employees approach cross sales. Below please find five quick and easy ideas to apply at your shop.
- Go for your stickiest products. This means aggressively cross-selling items like home banking, bill pay, personal lines of credit and checking accounts. Once consumers are using these products, it’s significantly more difficult for them to pull themselves away and take their business elsewhere.
- Do everything you can to stay to connected with your consumers. We live in a hyper-competitive age of consumer choice. The biggest reason members and customers stop doing business with you is because they forget who you are. Combat this by staying connected whenever possible. Examples include regular channels like newsletters and website banners. Also remember to mix in plenty of digital channels such as embedded home banking messages, social media and mobile technology.
- Train, train, train. It’s easy to overlook, but consumer engagement and cross sales training is critical to the success of any bank or credit union. This not only includes working with new hires during the on-boarding process, but continually offering long- time employees the training and refreshers they need to stay on top of the cross sales game.
- If you’ve got it, flaunt it. By this, I mean don’t be shy about matching bank or credit union products and services with something you know the consumer needs. For example, if a consumer is talking about the difficulty of purchasing Christmas gifts for their children every year, suggest a Christmas club savings account. If someone mentions they recently paid off a vehicle loan and you know the loan was not held by your financial institution, make sure they know about the great rates and service offered a new vehicle loans at your financial institution. There’s nothing wrong with promoting the good products and services you have with consumers and their unique and individual financial needs.
- Be persistent. Not many cross sales opportunities result in success the first time you try them. It could be conversation numbers two, three, four or even five before that member or customer is ready to proceed. Don’t give up.
Consumer engagement and cross sales will only continue to grow in importance as the financial services landscape continues to grow more competitive. Banks and credit unions that work proactively now to ensure their employees have the tools and training to be successful cross-sellers plant the seeds for their own future prosperity.
As August comes to an end, so does training camp for most National Football League teams. They’ve poured sweat, practiced twice a day, reviewed their playbooks, fought amongst themselves and conducted routine drills. If that is not enough, in order to prepare for the upcoming schedule teams have also had several pre-season games.
What about your bank or credit union employees? Are they prepared for the upcoming season of offering financial products and services to consumers? If not, maybe it’s time you put them through some sort of training camp.
Here are a few ideas to consider when it comes to improving the training you offer your employees:
- Practice, practice, practice—Teams spend more time practicing during training camp than at any other time of year. Just like football players tend to hate practice, your employees may hate practicing asking open-ended questions, doing role playing and improving their listening skills. But if they don’t practice they won’t improve.
Action step: Spend time weekly having your employees practice their service selling skills.
- Don’t sit your veterans—Everyone practices during training camp. Whether you’re Peyton Manning or an undrafted free agent you hit the practice field. Too many times once an employee has gone through new hire orientation and a basic sales and service training program banks and credit unions tend to leave them alone. And for long-time employees we just assume they are doing their job. Assume your veterans have all their skills at your own risk
Action step: Send your veterans through training refreshers on a regular basis. Better yet, turn them into trainers by letting them teach critical skills to your new employees.
- Develop a unique playbook—Every football team has their own playbook. Terminology unique to them and to their offensive or defensive schemes. How about your bank or credit union? Are you using some generic sales training program? The most successful financial institutions train to their brand (who they are, their unique culture, etc.) rather than to some canned program used at every other bank or credit union.
Action step: Conduct brand training customized to your organization rather than a generic sales and service program.
- Help your first stringers—The first team receives a lot of attention from the coaches. Since they are the ones who will ultimately determine the team’s fate a lot of time is spent making sure they execute plays just right. A trap many banks and credit unions fall into, however, is giving every employee the same type of training. As an executive you should spend your most time with your best people. Treat your top performers like the best and watch them respond.
Action step: Conduct advanced training for your elite sales people. Give them specialized training that will make them even better.
You get from your employees what you invest in their training. As the Fall approaches, make sure your training is all it can be by sending your people to camp—training camp
The Manson Family. Jim Jones and Jonestown. Branch Davidians. However you slice it, cults are creepy. They lure people by offering false promises, a family-like feeling and insulation from the outside world. Cults are typically introverted, closed-off and offer harsh punishments for those that try to leave. Wait a minute – could we also be describing your financial institution?
In our banks and credit unions, we are sometimes guilty of living in a silo mentality. That is to say, many of the employees have worked there for years if not decades (not necessarily a bad thing), senior management and the board has been there even longer and we do things because “that’s the way we’ve always done them.”
Yes, in some ways, the mentality of modern banks and credit unions could be described as cult-like. Below are some signs you can look for in your financial institution that could tip the hat towards “yep … we’re a cult.”
- Unquestioned authority at the top. Yes, leaders are supposed to lead. They are also supposed to be open to ideas and suggestions from other employees. If your bank or credit union upper management and/or board rules with an iron and unwavering fist, that’s a sign you’re heading down the road to a cult mentality.
- A reluctance to embrace change. Banks and credit unions simply cannot afford to ignore change, both in technology and delivery channels and then the shifting demographics of consumers. If your financial institution is high-fiving itself because it recently launched audio banking, you’re nearing the borders of crazy cuckoo cult land.
- Employees only socialize with other bank or credit union employees. It’s great to get to know your fellow employees and even those at other financial institutions. But if you begin to associate only with people that work in banking, you run the risk of blunting your mental appreciation for other professions and the valuable lessons they could impart to your bank or credit union. Don’t socialize solely with your fellow bank or credit union employees – this is yet another sign that your financial institution is devolving into a cult-like mentality.
This is not an exhaustive list. You probably have other examples of your own to add. Be cautious when spending many years working with financial institutions. It’s all too easy to become complacent in that work environment and allow yourself and your fellow employees to slip into a dangerous cult-like environment.
During CUNA’s Marketing Management School’s Year Two course, Matt Purvis, president of Purvis Management, lead a session about brand management. As Purvis noted, “With branding, action is the key.” Purvis defined branding as “the sum of thoughts and feelings about the organization.”
Consumers receive 4,000 advertising messages a day. Since brands exist in the minds of consumers, the objective with branding is to get in the minds of consumers. And that takes action.
So how do you get your brand to the action level? Purvis outlined his trademarked “brand animation” process. It’s a five-step process that emphasizes brand training over sales training.
“Differentiation is the key to branding,” Purvis says. His brand animation’s five-step process is:
(1) Discovery—Purvis asks, “what is your brand designed to mean?” In this opening step you examine your mission/vision statements, brand positioning, brand promises and service-level agreements.
(2) Survey—In this step, Purvis recommends you survey the staff to determine their perceptions of your brand. Key questions to ask include what your staff thinks of your brand, do they understand the brand and do they have the skills to portray the brand.
(3) Brand animation workshops—The customized workshops Purvis provides helps create brand behaviors to demonstrate and dramatize the brand. “This is where your brand really comes alive,” Purvis says. “It puts feet to what you created in the discovery stage.”
(4) Brand animation campaign—Rather than a typical marketing or branding campaign, this stage includes the staff delivering their brand behaviors. Purvis encourages weekly, 15-minute updates to compare experiences, share brand stories and track results.
(5) Campaign evaluation—So many branding initiatives do not track return on investment (ROI) well. Not with Purvis’ brand animation process. This final step includes a post campaign survey and metrics that analyze campaign goals against historic performance.
“Brands only generate meaning through interaction,” Purvis says.
And one way to create that interaction is to turn your brand into action with the five steps outlined above.
Every credit union and bank wants a great brand. Not a mediocre brand. Not an average brand. A great brand. Many strategic plans and initiatives at banks and credit unions focus on branding. For a financial institution to truly succeed in today’s hypercompetitive marketplace it must develop a differentiated brand.
But what do great brands do? That is a question Denise Lee Yohn strives to answer in her book by the same name (What Great Brands Do). The book gives seven brand-building principles for any company to separate itself from the rest. For banks and credit unions (with competition on every corner), that separation strategy is more important than ever.
Below are four of the seven principles from the book and how we can apply them in the financial services world For the remaining three, be sure to pick up a copy of What Great Brands Do (it’s a wonderful read full of ideas).
(1) Great brands start inside
“Your brand can’t just be a promise; it must be a promise delivered,” Yohn says. She explains the “head + heart + hands and feet” dilemma many organizations face. In other words, for your employees to deliver on your brand promise, they need to know your values in their heads, feel inspired by them in their hearts and then put them into action with their hands and feet.
- Application: You build your brand from within. In fact, your employees must live your brand every single day. It doesn’t matter what your vision, mission or tagline is if your employees are not living it every day. One of the best ways to apply this principle is to conduct brand training with your staff.
(2) Great brands avoid selling products
Speaking about great brands, Yohn comments that “they then prioritize long-term customer relationships over short-term sales because they know customers who are emotionally connected to a brand are more valuable.” Rather than focus on products, great brands focus on emotions. The author gives a great tool to help you map your tool to make it more emotional and less product focused.
- Application: As financial institutions, we are competing in a commoditized industry. Rather than using a traditional marketing calendar, your credit union or bank should promote your brand year-round. In other words, we all have the same “stuff” (loans, checking accounts, etc.). So don’t sell your “stuff”—sell your brand (what makes you different how you make consumers feel).
(3) Great brands don’t chase customers
You can’t please everyone all the time. And you can’t be all things to all people. So stop trying. As Yohn notes, “For great brands, the customer is not always right—only the right customers are always right.
- Application: Who are the “right” consumers for your brand? One of the best things you can do as a credit union or bank is to identify your niches. The best way to reach the masses is to target a niche.
(4) Great brands sweat the small stuff
“All the little things you do—or fail to do—for your customers in person will out-communicate the big things you might may claim through mass media” Yohn says. While you think big with your brand, you communicate small. Yohn mentions the importance of your bathroom and even gives a Brand Touchpoint Wheel template to help you identify key areas.
- Application: Conduct a marketing audit at your credit union or bank. An effective marketing audit will examine every single touch point (including the bathroom smell test) to determine how much attention you are paying to the details. Everything matters with your brand.
Those are just a few key points from only four of the major principles in What Great Brands Do. The book offers many more ideas, tips and tools to help grow your brand. This is one of the best books I’ve read this year and I highly recommend it.
If you want your credit union or bank to have a great brand—and not a mediocre one—then read What Great Brands Do.