Banking sales: Why training matters

Seeing as the financial industry has received a fair bit of criticism and negative press in recent years, banks are finding it more and more difficult to attract customers and achieve sales. Certain sections of the general pubic are becoming increasingly disillusioned with how the city works and don’t have much faith in the majority of today’s biggest banking institutions.

On top of that, most customers prefer to bank online, as this is much easier and convenient. Few have the time or inclination to go into their local branch in order to see account statements, apply for a loan, transfer money or speak to an adviser. Therefore, new and novel approaches are often required to gain trust and secure business. But how can this be achieved? Well, it starts with training and coaching your sales team.

These employees remain pivotal to a bank’s success, even if numerous branches are deciding to adjust their operating models so that sales staff double up as cashiers or customer service representatives. Changes like this might improve efficiency, but they will do little to increase turnover and boost bottom-line performance.

This is only possible by having a confident and competent sales team, capable of taking prospects through the buying process and closing those all important deals. To achieve this aspiration, you’ll have to recognise current trends, identify prosperous areas, come up with a strategy and perhaps most significantly, train your sales staff.


Current banking trends

Rather than thinking of ways to adjust your offering in response to online banking, you need to embrace this technology instead. Not only can this enhance the customer’s experience, it has the power to boost revenue as well. According to research by the executive team of a large US bank, implementing an enterprise lead and referral management system can mean an additional $1.5 billion (£1bn) for large banks and $500 million (£340m) for mid-size banks.

Despite this promise of profit, the 2012 Forbes Secret Shopper Study of 10,000 companies revealed that obstacles in the way of cross-team collaboration at traditional banks contributed to 63 per cent of leads falling through the cracks. Even more alarming, these were not followed up on either.

But by using digital tools and changing the behaviour of staff through training, you can take little known prospects, gain information about them, understand their intrinsic requirements and achieve favourable results. This involves using the right marketing channels, prioritising hot leads, taking appropriate action, closing the deal and recognising their valued custom.

However, these concepts won’t be familiar to scores of staff used to traditional methods of selling banking products. This is why training matters.


Asking questions

To make the most of leads you identify through methods like email marketing, walk-in contacts, mobile apps and customer referrals, you’ll need to take a step back and make sure your sales team has the same outlook towards improving performance as you. Ask questions such as:


How much time is your team spending on selling? Find out whether customer service inquiries or credit administration is taking up too much time. See if they’d prefer to spend their time on new client acquisitions instead.

What contact does your team have with customers? If they are still meeting face-to-face with loyal customers in branch, then training can continue to focus on walk-in business. Never forget that existing clientele are just as important as new patrons.

Are they allocating their time correctly? Even though all customers should be treated with the same levels of respect and regards, more time might need to be allocated to prospects with high potential.

How often do you discuss performance with your team? Regular sales meetings can help to improve results, while giving employees the opportunity to offer up suggestions at the same time. 

Do they have the tools to succeed? This will include training resources, industry information, market data and sales pitch books.

How can you improve staff ability? Look into different forms of teaching and coaching. If customers are banking online, should your training go digital as well?


This last question is particularly pivotal, as bank sales staff might not be very receptive to traditional methods of training. Due to the nature of their roles and responsibilities, chances are they’ll be more interested in hands-on or practical activities.

This can include challenging games that create competition between employees, role-playing real-life scenarios to understand the customer’s point of view and team-building exercises, which enable knowledge to be shared across your workforce.

Training online can also be much convenient, because your employees will be able to start and complete coaching at a time and place that suits them. Alternatively, training can take place in the office on desktop computers, which doesn’t remove staff from their primary role.


Implementing changes

Once you and your sales team understand what the customer wants and how to satisfy these requirements, you can start to implement some changes. These will attempt to improve the customer’s experience but also secure more product sales. Think about the following five changes:


Set performance goals

Establish the current state of branch sales and set goals that go above and beyond this. Don’t forget to measure and monitor the performance of individual employees as well as the entire branch. 

Forecast demand

Even if walk-in numbers are dwindling, you can ask branches to forecast demand and propose staff scheduling accordingly. This means staff won’t have to perform cashier duties when they should be closing in on deals.

Look forward, not back

Owing to the fact that the landscape of banking has dramatically changed over the last decade, don’t look back on historical performance, as this is no longer relevant. Instead, look forward and adjust your strategy with today’s clientele in mind.

Schedule activities

To manage the time of employees more effectively, schedule specific activities for your sales staff. You can also leverage excess cashier capacity for duties such as outbound calling to maximise productivity.

Learn from mistakes

Nobody quite knows what the future has in store for banking sales staff, but rather than lamenting mistakes relating to performance and training, learn from them.

The public’s attitude towards banking is changing and scores of people now prefer to manage their accounts online. This means that sales staff are facing an uphill struggle when trying to promote financial products and services.

But embracing today’s digital age and giving your employees the tools to enhance their understanding of sales can deliver success.

Written by: Persia Shahkarami

Published: 23 Apr, 2015