Ah, cross-selling – the magical words in the financial industry. When loans are down, it’s time to revamp cross-selling efforts. When membership growth becomes stagnant, it’s time to emphasize cross-sales to promote additional products and services. Cross-selling is typically a reaction to low numbers or a new promotion and, unfortunately, it rarely has a consistent presence within the organization. Why is that?
While cross-selling is one of the most effective ways to increase the number of products or services per member, it often causes a severe case of mixed messages within the organization. While management might be in favor of imbedding a culture that includes a heavy sales focus, it often creates a sense of panic and fear among front-line staff.
Because member service employees are often hired to primarily handle transaction based interactions, they often feel completely out of their comfort zone when asked to participate in cross-sales. So, how can a credit union take the anxiety out of the sales process in order to transition employees into an effective sales force?
To avoid forcing an inefficient and inconsistent sales culture, your credit union would be better served by creating awareness on cross-selling opportunities that arise in everyday conversations. A simple change in mindset will help eliminate ‘sales pitch’ fears for your front-line employees.
Easier said than done though, right?! While this is true and it does take practice, there are easy ways to get employees to start incorporating information on products and services into their daily interactions with members. The key is to get employees to pick up on the important bits of information that your members provide throughout casual conversation. Those pieces of valuable information can then be used as a basis for the non-confrontational sales approach.
For example, if a member says: “I need to withdrawal $250. We’re moving my daughter into college this weekend and I’m sure she’s going to be asking me for money.” A typical response might be: “Well, that’s what my daughter would do! Thanks for coming in and good luck with the move!”
In this scenario, a perfectly good sales opportunity just walked right out the door. The information the member provided is more than enough to effortlessly provide insight into the products or services that could help their college bound student – or the new empty-nest parents! A successful cross-selling scenario would end with your front-line staff member recognizing the opportunity to provide additional information on your plethora of student-based products, vacation loans or even retirement products – perfect for their evolving family lifestyle!
Asking questions and bringing insightful information into a casual conversation keeps the situation from feeling like a pushy sales pitch and eases the fears of cross-selling for the employee. However, to ensure a smooth transition into conversational cross-selling, it’s important to remember that education and practice are essential. It is crucial to have a weekly or monthly meeting that allows employees to share success stories, participate in practice scenarios and even air frustrations about their cross-selling endeavors. The more comfortable your staff is with acquiring additional information from your members, the better the cross-selling opportunities will be!
Taking action to incorporate the less intrusive sales culture into your organization will result in happier employees and greater sales efforts. Because members typically don’t even realize when a product or service can enhance their lifestyle, the conversational cross-selling practice will encourage employees to provide them the information before they even know they need it. The more relaxed approach provides an opportunity to better serve your members through meaningful conversations, and the outcome will be a more successful sales culture for your credit union.