Many banks aspire to change their branches from service centers to sales centers but with only marginal success. Some have responded by evolving their operating models from having separate tellers and sales employees to “universal” employees. Others have modified their traditional branch layouts to feature a single queue for both sales and service transactions. While these changes help increase branch operational efficiency, they have failed to sufficiently move the needle in revenue generation. To truly create a proactive sales engine in their branches, banks should consider the following:
Staff and schedule branches based on sales goals and market opportunity for each location, not historical performance. Going down this path enables banks to be much better equipped at aligning resources to true revenue potential. They can better manage their sales funnel, incorporating and scheduling the expected number of outbound calls, sales appointments and the mix of other supporting activities required to achieve each sale. It is imperative to align the right number of sales employees with the right skills to meet the needs of each individual branch’s customers.
Empower branches with market demographics and customer journey data. Financial institutions have the opportunity to leverage the same market demographic data that is used to establish sales goals to equip their employees to tailor their sales activities and messaging based upon specific market characteristics and household needs. Forward-looking organizations track customers across multiple touch points. Incorporating this data with readily available information around account balances and products owned will truly empower branch employees to personalize interactions and suggest the right services and products to customers.
Schedule dedicated and effective time for proactive sales activities. Scheduling specific time blocks for proactive sales activity definitely helps ensure it actually occurs and doesn’t get usurped by service requests or administrative tasks or is lost in idle capacity. The question then becomes: how effective is the time? Being able to provide employees with data to really understand the next best action for a customer rather than relying on standard system data and the employee’s independent research efforts can yield improved results. This practice also enables you to leverage excess teller (or universal banker) capacity for successful outbound calling activities to maximize sales productivity. By evolving from a transactional approach to a sales approach, your branch can shift the focus to driving revenue and forging stronger relationships with customers by delivering a personalized experience.
Understand and baseline current sales performance by branch. Once they have effectively allocated resources and empowered employees, financial institutions need to truly understand sales performance – beyond just reporting the number of units sold. For example: How are branch employees spending their time? Are they focusing their efforts on selling new products and services or are they distracted by other activities? Within each branch interaction, are they picking up on customer needs and identifying how your organization’s products and services can help them to convert the conversation into a closed sale? Are your associates using non-customer-facing time to make outbound sales calls? Gaining insight into the actual current state of each branch from a sales perspective can provide tangible information on which to base improvement recommendations.
Don’t just track results, but create a holistic view of performance, including revenue generated, customer engagement and best practices to be shared across the branch network. Scorecards that track specific activities such as outbound sales activities and progress toward goals will give your branch managers easy access to information that can help them more effectively coach sellers for better performance and higher return. The data on hand will also help them anticipate if the branch will fall short of its sales goals based on the current rate of sales activities and let them make corrective adjustments where necessary.
While the above recommendations are not exhaustive, they can provide a foundation to help you transform your branches into more proactive sales engines. As consumers continue to move away from using tellers in the branch to perform routine transactions, these specific tactics can help your bank consider new ways to improve branch sales and enhance the customer experience.
Ms. Palocsik is solutions marketing director, Retail Financial Services, for Melville, N.Y.-based Verint Systems Inc. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.