Local Heroes Part 2: Creating a Sales CultureMargaret Shine |
As I detailed in my last post, the post-crisis economy produced revolutionary changes in the financial services market and consumer credit behavior. One of the less predictable results of the 2009-to 2013 period of time was the growth of community banks. According to the FDIC, the assets of community-based banks (between $100 million and $1 billion) increased by 27 percent between 1985 and 2013. Big banks achieved 4 percent by comparison.
Community banks recovered from the crisis because they embraced consumer-facing sales and marketing strategies, and created a healthy internal sales culture. A MasterCard research shows initiative shows how three key international markets are positioned to re-create this success. Here a few large financial institutions hold significant market share, giving them market power and scale versus the smaller, more local players.
MasterCard set out to correlate the U.S. strategies with other markets, using Brazil, Australia, and the United Kingdom as meaningful global examples. Our research shows consumers are looking for the same services that drove the U.S. success. They seek easy access to funds via debit and credit cards from large banks. And this is also the most important service consumers are seeking from local community institutions. And while consumer expectations are slightly lower at community-based institutions (margin of 9 percent in Australia and Brazil and 18 percent in the U.K.), access to funds ranked as the most important opportunity.
Many local or community-based institutions build their differentiation around their expertise and abilities for superior account servicing. We’re not suggesting any changes to this legacy strength but instead recommend adding to it by fostering a sales environment throughout the entire organization. Sales isn’t a dirty word, and when combined with superior services – a selling environment focused on solving consumer needs with well-crafted products – it is a strong, competitive value proposition.
It requires a disciplined approach with training and measurement tracking similar to the programs in place on the account servicing side. That disciplined approach should:
• Make sure the staff knows the products and understands specifically how to link those products to customer and member needs.
• Continue sales training by conditioning staff to recognize needs and then providing them with tools to confidently speak about how the product solves those needs. Ultimately, this is the heart of selling – tying needs and solutions together – and it is something that requires continual reinforcement and communication to the staff.
• Create appropriate sales performance tracking reports so areas of strength and improvement are evaluated and monitored. Integrate sales incentive programs to optimize those strengths or improve weak areas.
The opportunity for community-based financial institutions is clearly there for the taking. Creating a sales culture is a winning strategy regardless of the market or its challenges.