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Moving from Product-focused to Customer-focused in Retail Banking Sales
Retail banking sales professionals represent an array of financial services organizations, from credit unions and credit card companies to financial advisors and wealth management experts. This diversity means that these professionals must understand how to meet a variety of needs. At the core of these needs is a customer focus.
Retail banking has become a commodity in recent years. As a result, bank customers often choose products and services based on interest rate alone. This trend is a problem because it leads to a low-margin model with few avenues for growth.
This environment has led many retail banks to place greater focus on customer service as a differentiator.
This response, however, creates new problems. Traditional service models encourage bank sales staff to ask customers what they need. The customer responds, and the banker provides whatever is requested.
Simply put: the representative becomes an order taker.
For this reason, an emphasis on service orientation can be a trap. Sales professionals need to understand each customer’s unique needs. Retail banks need a deeper relationship with the customer.
Developing these relationships requires more than simply resolving the immediate issue. Each interaction is an opportunity to ask questions, listen, and position value.
At Richardson, we show sales professionals how to put these skills to use in retail banking. Contact us today to get the conversation started.
Refocusing on the Customer Drives Revenue for Retail Bankers & Tellers
Retail banks want to become the bank of choice for customers. However, many customers today have several banking relationships. Therefore, it can be tempting to jump to product discussions in the first conversation. Doing so ignores a critical step in consultative selling: asking questions.
Questioning skills are crucial to ingrain during sales training for retail bankers and teller referrals because they reveal the needs driving the customer’s decision process. For this reason, questioning is often called a “needs dialogue.”
Questioning reveals the customer’s needs, both short-term and long-term. Positioning relevant solutions can only occur once the sales professional knows these base needs.
The word “needs” is important because it’s a reminder that questions serve to clarify what the customer wants rather than to give the sales professional the opportunity to offer an answer.
In fact, in many cases, the sales professional will not have the answer. Instead, they will have to get the answer. This is okay. The sales professional in retail banking should be thought of as a resource rather than a teacher. Using this approach during sales training can teach professionals to move beyond the role of an order taker.
Questions help customers offer broader information about their situation. Sometimes, the questions reveal needs that the bank cannot meet. Even in this case, there is value to a good questioning strategy. The answers build the relationship and give the sales professional clues on which aspects of their products most closely meet those needs.
However, in most cases, questions reveal opportunities for cross-selling or upselling. Capitalizing on these opportunities requires leveraging the power of referrals.
Teller Referrals Start the Dialogue
Those who hold positions in retail banking sales management must understand the importance of teller referrals. Tellers are the front line of most retail banking operations, but, too often, they are focused on transactional tasks rather than customer conversations.
But, how do retail banking sales managers and branch managers get their tellers to balance addressing the everyday needs of customers quickly enough to avoid long lines and engage them in a dialogue that creates the opportunity for a referral for additional services?
The answer lies in developing a teller referral sales training program anchored in a consultative approach. Common tips Richardson gives clients during bank teller training include:
- Meet the Initial Need: the way in which your bank tellers greet customers, open the dialogue, and meet the initial service need is critical because it sets the tone for the entire conversation. This builds rapport and builds a credible perception of the organization in the mind of the customer.
- Understand Additional Need: Customers often give important cues about an additional need without even being aware that they’ve done so. Excellent tellers listen to what customers say and proactively look for referral opportunities. Moreover, insights into the customer’s needs build a strong foundation for leveraging a relevant referral from a teller to a personal banker.
- Position a Value-add Solution: Tellers can shape customer perceptions of the value by positioning a referral that connects to the customer’s needs.
- Resolve Objections: Objections can occur any time during a customer conversation. By demonstrating that they care and understand, tellers can resolve customer objections and effectively make the referral.
Meaningful Change with Richardson Training
The goal for any retail banking operation is to become a value-added consultant to customers. Effective retail banking sales professionals embrace this challenge by centralizing their focus; they commit to training that includes contact centers, tellers, personal bankers, and managers. The customer experience becomes fractured when the core skills are not shared across the business.
Taking this initiative begins with a thorough understanding of the sales professionals’ existing skill set. By using sales skill diagnostics at the start of training, the bank can form a baseline for measuring growth and sustainment.
Additionally, Richardson customizes its training for retail banking and teller referrals to address real-world, everyday challenges encountered at the ground level. This tailored style informs the training content so that the hands-on practice resonates with learners. Role play exercises allow participants to apply the concepts that they’ve learned in realistic scenarios in front of others.
Our strategy works because participants develop lasting skills that earn loyalty from customers, allowing the relationship to grow. Interactions become more meaningful and, therefore, more productive.
Importantly, these skills are not just relevant to the goal of growing business; they’re critical for maintaining a customer base that’s being courted by the competition. In the end, sales professionals maintain and deepen existing customer relationships.