Many bankers spend a considerable amount of time developing their cross-sell strategy, only to see little return on their efforts. Why does this happen? According to Harvard Business School Press, 90 percent of well-formulated strategies fail due to poor execution.
Now, I’ll take that one further: Failing to generate real, meaningful results typically stems from a disconnect between the development and the formulation of a strategy before a plan ever gets to the execution stage.
Here’s where that disconnect starts. Too often, banks overlook the importance of communicating the strategy with their employees — the people responsible for executing the strategy. If they don’t understand the strategic objective, how can they be expected to act on it?
Most employees like to help people
If you were to ask your staff how many of them accepted their position because they wanted to sell the bank’s products and services, you’d get a negative response. On the other hand, if you were to ask them how many of them like helping people, you’d receive a more enthusiastic answer.
To improve your sales culture, you need to change your staff’s attitude about cross-selling. And that starts with education and training.
First, help your staff understand the sales process isn’t about pushing products, but about building relationships. Talk with them about identifying and meeting the needs of your customers through conversation.
Second, set expectations for your staff by defining team and individual goals. Yes, you may get push-back here along the lines of “We don’t want to be the next Wells Fargo.” There’s a mentality with cross-selling that if you put some pressure on the employee or give them a cross-sell goal, then “we’re just like Wells Fargo.” You may need to remind your staff that they’re simply:
- Helping customers purchase products that help meet their personal banking needs. You’re not asking employees to sell products customers don’t need.
- Educating and informing customers about your bank’s products, services and promotions. It’s not the customer’s responsibility to know what the bank is offering.
Third, give your staff the tools and means to accomplish their goals. For example, you may set a goal of four products per new household within the first 90 days of account opening. How will Marketing support this target? How will your onboarding program help your staff reach this goal?
Fourth, measure your cross-sell results to help hold your staff accountable for each goal’s outcome. Without accountability, it’s difficult to transform or change your sales culture. Show your staff you’re not using measurement to punish them, but to help them see where to make improvements to achieve their cross-sell goals.
Finally, you may want to tie performance to compensation in the form of incentives. For example, you may say, “If we reach our goal of four products per household, every team member will receive a $50 bonus.” Incentives like these are effective. If you decide to make incentive payments, disburse them at least quarterly so your employees see the impact of achieving their goals on their paychecks.
It takes more than a good strategic plan to experience cross-sell success. Achieving results requires execution. Effective execution begins by effectively communicating your plan, fostering a sales culture, linking the strategy to goals, measuring results and providing incentives.