Elevating Your Sales Culture
By: Honey Shelton
Are you delighting your competitors? You are if you’re not hitting the streets and picking up the phone to routinely stay in touch with your customers. In fact, your shareholders, your board, and most definitely your underserved customers may surprise you some day with their disappointment if you don’t take a proactive approach to stay close to your customers. Today’s bankers must regularly put the “touch” on the customer to understand what they need and how they perceive the level of service provided.
Your officers that have business development and account relationship responsibilities can generate a “boat-load” of excuses why they can’t get out and make customer and prospect calls. Admittedly some excuses are legitimate, but others are simply a way to avoid the activity they least like to do. Like many of us, they play dodge ball with those tasks where their comfort level is low.
Elevating your sales culture requires a commitment to become the best at servicing your customers, and soliciting referrals to help you grow into what you intend to become. Sure, there is a cost to provide training, to implement high tech tracking tools, and to provide rewards or incentives. But it will likely cost a lot more if you neglect “tightening-up” the customer relationships you already have and to work at building even more.
From the retail perspective tightening-up the relationship is about building households. Growing franchise value is where it’s at today. Free checking, free gifts, bundling services and other promotional lures are used in your market every day to entice your customers away. The unattended customer, the customer who feels no sense of relationship at your institution, is up for grabs. Once they leave they are very hard to get back. In addition, the customers who are typically enticed by good product bundling deals and free gifts like rolling ice chests are often serious contributors to your non-interest income, not to mention your plan to grow your branches. Losing them can have a significant impact.
From the commercial perspective tightening-up the relationship is about attaching the customer to your institution through ACH and other treasury management products that will make it painful for them to move their accounts. The fact of the matter is cash management sales seldom happen when an account is opened unless the original sales strategy was to bring the account in by way of cash management products. Remote capture and other innovative services that are making banking more convenient for the customer mean that your competitors don’t have to have a prime location to pick-up new, ideal customers. Nothing is more shocking to a lender or calling officer than when he or she sees an account they worked so hard for, show up on the closed account list—especially when the customer says they felt like they had simply been taken for granted!
You have to work at keeping your customers and keeping them happy
Whether a high dollar depositor, or a fee generator, your customers are highly desirable to both you and your competitors. If your borrowers are willing to entertain more than one proposal from multiple financial services provider, the odds are high they may find loans at a bargain elsewhere. Now is the time to get in the game and tighten up your customer relationships with extraordinary service delivery and active contact with your customers. Thank them in person, find out what else they need, go see what is happening in their world rather than waiting for them to call or show up. If they are satisfied as your customer ask them for names of people they know that would appreciate the relationship they enjoy with you.
Every calling officer of your institution must have a top 25 customer list that they work at retaining the relationship. Every calling officer also must have a top 25 prospect list they actively work at moving to the customer list. Remember, your institution’s top 100 customers are on your competitor’s top prospect list. Don’t let them take your customers without a fight. Get on the offense so you don’t find yourself on the defense.
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Take a proactive stance by implementing a sales culture with accountability that ensures a high touch, aggressive approach to retaining and gaining customers.
Honey Shelton brings the best of both worlds to her speaking and training engagements. She has 25 years of experience as a training and quality improvement consultant for banks and banking associations across the country. Her banking background includes spending three years as Executive Vice President/Chief Retail Banking Officer with First Victoria National Bank.
Nationally recognized as an outstanding speaker, over a half million bankers have participated in programs Honey has presented. Her depth of knowledge, enthusiasm, and compelling personality has left her lasting mark on InterAction Training, the firm she founded in 1983.
As a graduate of the School of Bank Marketing from the University of Colorado, she realizes the value of quality education. Honey invests time as a faculty member for banking schools around the country. She is a repeat presenter for most of the state banking associations and is recognized as a BankersOnLine.com (BOL) Guru.
Honey continues in her own personal pursuit of excellence and is a member of the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD). Currently she is pursuing a self study program on Six Sigma. She has obtained certification in Reality Therapy from the William Glasser Institute as well as certification from the Training and Development Program at Texas A & M.