Creating Sales Without Selling

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The Race to Replace Lost Revenue

Slashed fee income and a dismal lending environment have left banks and credit unions scrambling to replace lost revenues. It’s all about the bottom line. The reflexive response is to hike fees and subject consumers to new account conditions. “What fees can we introduce?” “Which fees can we increase?” “What new requirements should be required?” “Should we kill free checking?”

Needless to say, consumers are not happy. “What else are they going to take away?”

Besides hitting folks with new fees and terms, isn’t there some other way to improve the bottom line? Oh yeah, it’s called…

Sales.

Financial institutions everywhere are gravitating towards “fees, fees, fees,” but too few are thinking about “sales.”

The Hurdles with Cross-Selling

Conventional marketing wisdom says it’s easier to generate additional business from existing relationships than it is to create new ones. If true, then why do banks and credit unions prioritize new acquisitions over building existing relationships?

Products-per-household at the average bank or credit union is low. Despite offering a wide range of services — everything from lending and savings products to insurance and investments — most financial institutions only meet a fraction of people’s needs, with a typical share-of-wallet hovering around 2 out of 10 products.

To remedy this, some financial institutions have deployed CRM systems, but CRM systems — while great at organizing data — don’t make sales happen. Ultimately, it boils down to the ability of the organization to generate sales appointments.

But that’s no easy task. Most frontline employees are “service representatives” and not “salespeople.” Helping others and reacting to their specific needs comes much more naturally to most people than does “selling.” Employees prefer “providing service” vs. “selling” because it’s emotionally more comfortable. Sales training yields mixed results because it fights against human nature.

Having spent the money to acquire existing relationships, it seems that the obvious solution is for banks and credit unions to build share-of-wallet, but what are financial institutions to do?

From Transactions to Interactions

Thousands of people hit your website and stop by your branches. It’s critical to maximize every one of these opportunities. Every touchpoint, every page view, every branch visit must be fully leveraged. But how do you pull it off when staff are uncomfortable selling? And how do you build sales without making people feel like they are being sold something?

The answer is dialogue.

People out there today are confused and looking for help. They come in wanting to discuss what’s on their mind, not just hear about the products you have to offer. Financial consumers aren’t necessarily looking for the cheapest provider either, e.g., the bank or credit union with the best rate. Give them straightforward advice, provide helpful information and make it easy to find answers, and they’ll trust you.

If you’re prepared, you can create conversations that give people the information they need to make better financial decisions, whatever those may be. Step up as an honest and informative knowledge advocate and people will consciously, deliberately choose to do business with you.

This is the magic of using an educational content strategy. With an end-to-end content marketing strategy, you can use financial education materials to organically trigger dialogue that create sales. Make it easy to spark natural conversations about financial services and sales appointments will schedule themselves. Best of all, building this level of trust will neutralize price as the primary factor in people’s decision-making process. All staff need to do is ask and answer people’s questions — a set of behaviors that fall well inside most employee’s comfort zone.

How It Works

Generating a steady flow of referrals and sales appointments takes two primary ingredients. First, you need the right content, strategically engineered to align with key products and/or core business lines. Second, you need an effective content delivery strategy. In order to be effective, it takes more than simply having educational content sitting idle on a website waiting for visitors. Delivery is the difference.

Step 1 – Become a resource for answers to people’s financial questions

  • Provide easy to understand educational content on a wide range of financial topics
  • Position it as a as a value added service under your brand
  • Package it in a way that makes it easy to find what you want
  • Present it online with “on demand” topic downloads that can be done from home and at the branch
  • Showcase the exact representatives that can help with the topic of interest

Step 2 – Deliver the service online and in branches

  • Integrate the content into your website in a way that engages the “transaction only” minded visitors
  • Teach frontline employees the easy process of introducing the service using marketing materials that stress benefits and encourage people to ask for the help they need based on their own circumstances
  • Provide the tools that make it easy for frontline employees to turn these dialogues into sales appointment using a “service” oriented approach

How It Pencils Out

Sales appointments lead to sales revenue. So, for example, let’s say each branch has four frontline employees that serve visitors every day. If each of them set one additional sales appointment per week, what would that be worth?

Of course not every appointment results in a sale. Assuming 80% qualify and 40% actually buy, each branch would be generating an additional $10,240 in revenue every month. That’s $122,880 per year. Over a 10-branch network, additional income would total $1,228,000 annually. With an associated cost of $100 or less per branch per month, that yields a gross margin of $1,213,600 — not too shabby.

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