Cross Selling’s Unintended Consequence

A big problem for banks and credit unions is they want to grow organically but for the most part, it’s not happening. We suspect we’ll ruffle some feathers when we say many of your staff don’t have a clue how to grow your customer or member base organically. They aren’t trained to do it. They’re not accountable for it. They don’t own the problem. It’s not their fault. Pre-recession was easy – you just went after the low hanging fruit. Now you practically have to kidnap customers and members from your competition. But we guarantee if you focus a portion of your front line staff on managing their own book of business, your numbers will increase significantly. Read more about why bank and credit union staff is preventing organic growth and how to move them in a different direction.

Cross Selling Can Be An Obstacle to Developing Banking Customer Relationships

There’s good news and bad news. You’ve spent a ton of time and money on training your people how to cross sell and provide good service and most of them are applying what they learned. If your staff is meeting or exceeding their cross sell goals and increasing the number of customer or member accounts then congratulations.

Here’s the bad news: One unintended consequence of cross selling training is in many ways it discourages developing banking customer relationships which is where organic growth comes from! A second unintended consequence is your share of wallet still isn’t where you want it. Here’s what’s happening: we see way too many staff engaging in transactional conversation about products instead of relationship building conversation about the customer’s financial goals, dreams and aspirations. Staff is trained and given incentives to sell isolated products to the “walk-in masses” instead of primarily and proactively learning more of what’s going on in the lives of targeted customers or members.

If I Never See You Again, At Least I Made My Cross Sell Goal

Think about this, folks. If you were trained to sell as many products as you can and you know you have to move on quickly to the next person, is your customer interaction likely to include much more than what it takes to get the immediate sale? Are your questions and actions to sell a product or two likely to build such a trust level that the customer will consider you their financial partner when they have other needs? In some cases yes and in most cases no. We’re seeing more and more banks and credit unions growing their business organically by developing a banking relationship management culture, assigning a portion of their front line staff a book of business and training them in relationship management skills. Here’s how that compares to a transaction focused sales orientation.

Which of These Scenarios Sounds Like Your Organization?

Transactional Sales Orientation

a) Staff serves the walk-in masses
b) Surface conversation to fill basic product needs
c) Sell to meet today’s cross sell target
d) Staff has little ownership in the relationship and future business
e) Customers or members think of you as a commodity (and “just another errand”) so when a need arises they’ll shop your competition

Banking Relationship Management Orientation

a) Staff assigned a book of business
b) More substantive conversation to get to know customer goals, dreams and aspirations
c) More sales generated over the long run
d) Staff is accountable for organic growth using their banking relationship management skills
e) Customers or members more likely to be advocates for your bank or credit union and think of you first when needs arise.

Our Challenge to You – Ask Yourself These Three Questions

  1. Does our branch staff function as banking relationship managers, skilled in managing their book of business with assigned customers or members or is our staff heavily focused on transactional business?
  2. Have we placed too much emphasis on cross selling training and not enough (or none) on relationship management skills?
  3. Is achieving organic growth important enough to start building or reinforcing a banking relationship management culture?

Agree or disagree? Do let us know what you think by scrolling down and commenting below.


Rate Your Organization on Banking Relationship Management Basics

boxes-clipboardIf you’d like a preview of the 12 areas we’ll be covering that impact building banking customer relationships or member relationships or you would like to rate your bank or credit union on 12 key areas to build customer and member relationships and trust, create loyal advocates and increase referrals and business. Just click here.

Read How To Increase Revenue and Profitability Through Relationship Building and Creating Advocates: Get Our Complimentary White Paper


The Banking Relationship Management Experience – A Strategy for Becoming a Trusted Financial Partner and Increasing Revenue and Profitability

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