Some would say that these are unprecedented times in banking. Perhaps the individuals most impacted, and possibly most unprepared, are retail bankers, at the frontline of client changing preferences, digital options and increasing expectations. For a banking leader, it is an important time to have a strong focus on sales team motivation. Here are a few things we would recommend to help your frontline retail banking team continue to grow and deepen current client relationships.
Building Trust: Unfortunately, bank customer trends show a decrease in trust and satisfaction, while service expectations continue to rise. That may not apply to your bank but we do know that younger demographics represent a challenge as they consider expanding digital offerings. Leaders must put their focus on helping retail branches excel at deepening customer relationships by sharpening their skills of asking questions, listening, becoming a guide and a trusted advisor. All of these begin with empathy in sales, putting the focus on the client and working as a guide to help them uncover and achieve their financial goals. Do your frontline people have the skills and yes, the courage and desire, to expand into more meaningful conversations with clients? This all hinges on your sales team’s motivation to be different and memorable and have empathy in their selling approach. Do they care enough to ask the tough questions, listen closely and build that essential trust factor?
Managing Change: There has been a seismic shift in the community bank space this year and one of those shifts seems to be less of an interest in driving new clients through commercial loans and more of an interest in deepening current client relationships in the branch. To accomplish this, leaders must be ready to coach their bankers on a new, transformative approach to initiating distinctive conversations with their clients and prospects, building trust through meaningful relationships. What is at the heart of this approach? It is important to have a relationship building (sales) process to teach, coach and inspect. Not only does this give you a system to better understand how your team is motivated, it gives your frontline bankers a step-by-step process to follow to deepen their relationships. Following a stage-based process is one of the hallmarks of top relationship building bankers. Some may think of it as an art skill, however, there is also a science to becoming a trusted advisor, including ‘owning’ and being skillful at asking the right questions and guiding the client to make good financial decisions.
Now is an important time to take a look at your current people, how they are approaching their customer interactions and if they can transition to a more consultative role. An important component of deepening relationships will be the motivation and ability to be effective at outreach, calling current clients and initiating the conversation with thoughtful, caring, empathetic questions. This is a time to focus on questioning and listening skills, not product solutions.