Many Onboarding Programs Are Not Making the Grade
From our experience in working with banks and credit union clients, we find many onboarding programs are not meeting management expectations. Is your program as effective as it could be? Ask yourself these questions:
- Does your staff view onboarding as a necessary but undesirable part of their job?
- Are staff avoiding making the follow-up calls?
- Does your branch staff genuinely understand the value of onboarding?
- Are your managers deficient in coaching staff on how to onboard effectively?
- Are staff missing opportunities to engage in relationship building conversations that could result in future business?
We feel the leading causes of these problems, and the two biggest obstacles to an effective onboarding program are:
- An unhealthy emphasis on immediately selling a product rather than listening and nurturing the relationship for future sales.
- Lack of direction and training for staff and coaching from managers.
We can all agree, the first 90 days of every new customer or member relationship is critical. You’ve already made the initial sale but what you do in the next 90 days will help set the foundation for future business. Depending on how your staff handles onboarding calls will either help build the relationship or sour it. Unfortunately, there is conflicting advice as to what should be the focus of an onboarding program. Here’s our take.
Onboarding Should Not Be Focused on Selling More Product
There are many pundits who say the first 90 days is the best time to maximize sales “before the customer loses interest.” Really? We believe customer and member onboarding is NOT about selling as much as you can in the first 90 days but about building customer loyalty and trust to build a foundation for future sales over the lifetime of the account.
If you make a good impression and properly engage the member, they won’t lose interest. On the contrary, you’ll create opportunities to package a product recommendation in a consultative manner rather than sounding like you’re pitching a product.
Another proponent of “selling as much as you can” during onboarding stated, “It’s when customers are most receptive to your offers and trust you the most”. So does that mean pitch products as the “flavor of the month”? Look, by all means, cross-sell products during onboarding if they provide a solution to a genuine need. However, product pitching can be a turn-off (see our post, Is Your Onboarding Process Repelling Customers?)
This is the best time to engage the customer or member and learn more about their challenges, financial goals, and life events with each follow-up call. View it as the beginning of a long term relationship with a lifetime of selling opportunities.
We frequently hear management say their employees view onboarding calls as another task to check off their to-do list. We find that many employees don’t warm up to onboarding because they feel they have to pitch a product. In our experience, employees like to fill a member’s need by getting to know them and serving them, not by incessant probing questions around one product solution just to make a sale.
If you teach staff to place more emphasis on making customers feel welcome and demonstrate how you’re their financial partner, your staff will be much more receptive to onboarding. You’ll also generate much more revenue from the customer over the long term.
Evaluate Your Onboarding Training
Cross-selling skills should definitely be used in onboarding. However, just because your people have been trained in cross-selling doesn’t mean they have the skills to be effective at onboarding and relationship building. Transactional cross-selling skills often conflict with the skills needed to be effective at onboarding.
Does your staff know how to plan and approach each call during the 90 day period? Ask yourself these questions to determine if your staff needs additional training on onboarding:
- Are they asking enough open-ended questions to find the person’s “pain” or a dream or are they overly product focused?
- Do they know how to use transition statements to advance the conversation without mentioning a product? (Very important skill!)
- Are they taking notes on the calls, creating member profiles and reviewing them before the next call? The information gathered during one call could be an icebreaker on the next call and can even lead to a discussion about a need that can be filled.
- How are profiles being used for pre-call planning before each call? Are they being entered into a CRM system?
- Are your managers listening in on calls and giving feedback to staff to be more effective?
- Do both staff and management understand that your bank or credit union does want sales but that it will come by building a trusting relationship over time?
At High Definition Banking®, our goal is to help banks and credit unions generate revenue. However, we know that selling through customer relationship management beats transactional selling over the long term. To learn why, read our post, Declining Branch Traffic – Armageddon or Opportunity?
Learn about doing onboarding right at Help Us Drive Business During Onboarding
We are interested in your feedback. Please tell us whether you agree or disagree with this post. Also, what challenges or questions do you have that we can answer in this post?