We work with many community banks and while the commercial side of the bank usually has some “sales chops”, we often hear from leadership that retail bankers are less comfortable with “selling.” Or they may even avoid that word altogether. We like how the book Go-Givers Sell More positions the process of selling:
- Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people's interests first.
- The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.
- The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.
Retail bankers have an incredible opportunity. They are the front door to the entire bank and even more importantly, they are the key to financial wellness for their clients. So, what happens when your current banking client comes into the branch? Do your frontline bankers feel influential, authentic and receptive? Creating giving relationships is the core of what is most needed and is what your bankers must develop. To gain more confidence in sales they must ask the pertinent questions, like “How does this savings account contribute to your overall retirement plan?” Selling IS all about the client and how the bank can help them. We have found that when we focus on that aspect of a frontline banker’s role, they are more receptive. Understanding selling is understanding humanity and how people work.
Here are some specific areas that you can focus on when you are coaching your retail bankers that will help them to gain more confidence in sales:
- Help them to stay in the moment – they should not be thinking about what products they can sell. They need to listen and probe with good, interested questions.
- When they find an area of concern, they should uncover compelling reasons to buy – ask a question like “Why is this home equity loan important to you?” And…
- They must really listen to the answer and ask more questions about that issue so they have more information and understanding.
- This approach will build trust – the client’s needs are front and center and it is clear the banker wants to help them.
- In order to help, the banker must be able to ask tough questions and that is where courage comes in. If their end goal is always to help the client, asking a question like “Do you have other deposit accounts elsewhere that we could help you with?” should not be that hard. But it may take practice!
- Good bankers take nothing for granted – meaning they always seek clarity and that means getting your client to talk, not you and…
- They must have an appropriate amount of patience. Again, if the banker’s focus is on giving and helping, they should not need to push! It is more important that through their questions and discussion, the client comes to their own decision on their actions.
- All of these actions, lead to developing strong relationships. And what retail bank does not want more of those!
A final thought on gaining confidence in sales - In life, in banking and in sales, it is always wise to have a healthy skepticism. It may not work out that this client will take action, so it’s OK if they do not. If your banker has done their best to help and understand the client’s needs (and not push product), then they can move onto the next opportunity. They should continue to give, which is the essence of selling!