Bank-at-Work programs make a lot of sense – they are a way to leverage relationships you already have with businesses, and a way to generate consistent levels of new consumer accounts as well. After all, what could be better than a company giving you direct access to their employees? One of the best ways to capitalize on this opportunity is to hold on-site events at employee sites.
Unfortunately, we frequently hear stories about less than expected results.
An all too common refrain is, “Why are we sending valuable resources to work site events that generate no return for the effort?” Instinctively we are prone to thinking that poor results must be function of the offer package not being rich enough, or the client company is not proactively promoting the program, or the marketing materials aren’t generating sufficient awareness.
I used to manage a Bank-at-Work program for a large national bank, and one of the things I learned is that inconsistent performance is almost always a function of the quality of on-site execution. It’s what we do with that on-site opportunity that makes the difference between success or failure.
So, how do we improve results? Here are the top 10 keys to success for increasing your Bank-at-Work sales results. The good news is that most of these keys to success are applicable to any customer or prospect event, from an on-site meeting to a Chamber of Commerce event or other community activities.
1. Assign Local ‘Advocates’
Some branch managers feel that their staff should share in the opportunity, rotating team members from one event to another. One problem with this ‘democratic’ approach is that it assumes everyone is equally qualified to represent the bank outside of the branch.
Rather than involving all branch personnel in Bank-at-Work events, managers should designate ‘Advocates’ at each branch, or for a group of branches. These Advocates don’t need to be seasoned bankers, but they do need to be assertive, engaging and confident. You just can’t put shy bankers in front of a group of strangers and expect them to generate new business.
2. Focus on Appointments, Not Just Sales
Sending teams on a Bank-at-Work mission without clear and realistic performance expectations is one key reason why events end up being a hit-or-miss activity. Employees you are meeting at work sites already have banking relationships … some of them with your bank or credit union.
With this in mind, establish goals around the number of employees you want to meet in person, the number of email addresses you want to obtain, and the number of appointments you want to set. Obtaining appointments from targeted employees is a far more realistic goal than assuming on-the-spot sales.
If you are able to obtain 1-on-1 follow-up meetings, this will often generate quality new business. And remember, meeting prospective new customers is great, but meeting current customers who no longer visit your branch is also important. In fact, your cross-selling results may even exceed new relationship development.
3. Think Small
Big events are not necessarily better. Small events that attract only 5-10 people are usually easier to manage, allow you to spend more time with each participant, and have more time for effective follow up with each attendee. Also, there is less stress on staff resources.
By contrast, large events that might attract large numbers of employees take more planning, are more costly, require additional ad-hoc support from other parts of the organization, and need more coordination to ensure quality conversations. In addition, larger events usually revolve around louder social activities that aren’t as conducive to sales conversations.
4. Have Realistic Expectations
Be realistic – don’t think you will go to a business with 100 employees, hold one event, and suddenly have 20 new banking relationships. The average bank branch only generates 25-30 new relationships per month, so if you can spend an hour or two that generates 2-3 additional accounts, you have a 10% growth in sales.
Also remember that some of the employees will already be customers of your bank or credit union. The opportunity to expand relationships should not be ignored.
5. Leverage Surveys
There’s more to Bank-at-Work marketing than conducting an occasional tabling event, or participating in a company’s annual benefits fair or new hire orientation. Here’s a tip: use a survey that your partner company can send to employees.
Give employees options and suggestions around alternative personal financial education events/activities. For example, are they more interested in retirement planning or home refinancing? Do they want to learn how to maximize savings or simply use a mobile banking application?
This survey process will help you prioritize activities because you’ll know what employees want to talk about. It will also help reinforce the value to your company partner, and make it easier for you to obtain agreement for follow-up activities. (note: there are several low cost survey options in the marketplace, like SurveyMonkey, that are easy to use)
6. Plan Ahead
Create a checklist prior to the event and take enough time to do it right. Provide your primary company contact with communications materials including posters, email announcements, flyers, buck-slips, etc., in advance.
Make sure the branch staff that will be on site have enough materials and business cards. Arrange for Mortgage, Investment and/or Wealth Management reps to join your team at the onsite event based on predetermined employee interests and needs.
Remember, your primary company contact wants the program to be successful also, since their name is associated with the partnership. Involving them in the planning usually leads to program success.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Have Fun
When your team is on site, you want your partner company’s employees to notice that something is going on. You want them to stop and linger so you can make a connection. Provide low-cost branded gifts, such as pens, flashlights, toys or other items found successful by your organization.
Offer your partner company’s employees coffee, ice cream, popcorn or other food or beverage to increase their engagement level – and so they’ll stop and give you an opportunity to initiate conversation. Many firms also include some type of raffle to obtain names for post-event follow-up.
The cost of the events do not need to be high – something as simple as a free pizza delivered to the work site, or even a nice branded logo item is all that is needed. Your initial goal is to give employees a reason to engage with you and give you their contact information. Sales can come later.
Immediately after your on-site event, send a thank you note to your primary company contact (and their supervisor), providing them a recap of how the event went. This will reinforce the value, and give you an opportunity to get agreement for the next event. Create a small spreadsheet of all of the employees that your team met or who entered into the raffle – and follow up with them.
The more details you can remember about conversations that took place at the event should be put on the spreadsheet and used in follow-up as appropriate. The more customized the follow-up, the better. For instance, “Thank you for stopping by our table yesterday. It was nice to hear about your savings goals and your upcoming wedding. I will be calling you within the next week to discuss specific ways our team can help you reach your goals.”
As Woody Allen once said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Success is not maximized with a ‘one and done’ strategy. Any marketing effort, whether advertising or sales calling, usually builds over time. Set a regular schedule to visit your business partners.
Presetting a calendar for visits not only allows your team to build from a frequency strategy, but knowing your future dates makes post event follow-up easier. “Thank you for visiting our table yesterday. While it didn’t seem that you had any immediate financial needs, I would welcome the opportunity to discuss financial planning alternatives when we visit your offices on (insert next visit date here). I will call in advance, so we can schedule a specific time.”
10. Variety of Events Work in Your Favor
Events don’t need to differ significantly – just make each event different enough to make it noticeable. Maybe it’s a different assortment of gifts, or maybe even a seasonal theme. The objective is to get people to notice you.
In the final analysis, Bank-at-Work programs provide a platform for your team to communicate to a captive group of prospective customers, and meet current customers that no longer visit your branch. The reality is that focused and trained branch teams do return from onsite events with new accounts in hand and solid leads to follow-up on.