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Can Cross-sell be effective when consumers just don’t seem to care?

Topics: Customer Acquisition and Retention, Customer Experience
Tagged: , , , ,

Many bankers seem to believe that cross-sell cannot be made better or that they have already achieved maximum success.  The most common complaint is that a teller who makes $10 per hour and is able to balance their drawer each day can’t possibly be a successful salesperson.  To this, I can only reply, humbug.

Bank lobby cross-sellThe real challenge with creating a successful cross-sell program is to bring together all the pieces necessary to achieve success. In fact, many organizations focus on the front-line employees, without adequately considering what tools those employees will need to be successful. They are given training, bonuses, and quotas, but not a chance to succeed. The result is that while the investment is high, the return is typically low. The question we must address is; what are the required components of a successful cross-sell program?

Doing cross-sell effectively requires going far beyond the typical approach of pushing a certain product or a bundle of products at select times.  It requires thinking through all of the steps in the consumer’s experience prior to the moment when the cross sell offer is presented and ensuring that everything is done to ensure a great result.

The following story of a successful cross-sell campaign illustrates the best practice approach. The lender started with a broad marketing campaign to raise customer awareness before the cross-sell interaction occurred.  Before entering the branch, the consumer had received an insert in their statement mailing and seen announcements on the online banking site. While standing in line at the branch they were surrounded by signage that presented a consistent and encouraging message about how branch staff will help them find the right products for their financial lifestyle. This combined effort ensured that the consumer was ready to hear a cross-sell pitch.

To ensure that each customer interaction would provide maximum value, they used analytic models to tailor specific cross-sell offers for each consumer. This analytic approach maximized the likelihood that the product would be accepted when presented.  They also used instant prescreen to pre-approve each consumer for the appropriate credit card product, so that offers would only be made to those consumers who are actually guaranteed to receive the product. Even when armed with a carefully crafted message and a well-prepared consumer, many tellers might still struggle when the time comes to deliver the pitch. Some will bury the lead, others will mumble to themselves, “you don’t want a credit card, do you?” To help their staff avoid these typical blunders, they created carefully crafted sales scripts to ensure that every bank employee had just the right words to make a successful pitch.  Only after all of this preparation were they ready for front-line employees to have a cross-sell conversation.

The results for this bank were a stunning success. By putting all the pieces in place, they were able to markedly increase their cross-sell acceptance rate. And, the front-line staff proved to be highly successful at selling. The difference was that by making offers that consumers were interested in, the staff was providing value and the consumers appreciated the offer. Measured against industry benchmarks, their credit card portfolio grew to double industry average. Meanwhile, their other products which were not part of the cross-sell campaign remained at half the industry average. Regardless of the specific approach, success will always be determined by the degree of preparation and the completeness of vision.

In light of near record levels of customer dissatisfaction, it has never been more important to invest in effective cross-sell. Those institutions that made this investment before the economic crisis are reaping significant advantages today. Those who sit tight and wait for economic stability before making an investment are deciding the fate of their institution without realizing it.

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Eric Lindeen

About Eric Lindeen

Eric Lindeen is a champion for improving the lending process and helping financial institutions compete more effectively, and a connoisseur of all things chocolate. For 15 years at Zoot, he has helped lenders develop and deploy complex solutions for credit origination. His 20-plus years of experience in marketing and technology enable him to bridge the gap between business strategy and IT practice. His first experience in the finance industry was while earning his master’s degree in southern California. Eric is now responsible for Zoot’s marketing efforts and sharing Zoot’s industry expertise. He has been known to blog for brownies. Find Eric on LinkedIn, or Twitter @EricLindeen.

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