Why Traditional Sales Training Never Helps and Often Hurts Cross-Sales


Cross-sales is a measure of trust

I believe people get energy and feel good about themselves when they help other people.

In this episode, I’m going to show you how to get your team excited about having your clients acquire all the products and services that would help them.

I believe cross-sales is a measure of trust.

If they trust you and see extreme value, they bring everything to you immediately and continue to add more as they need it.

It’s not sales. It’s a measure of great service.

Now, if you’re the kind of leader:

  • Who has been begging, pleading, and bribing your team with incentive pay to increase their cross-sales (maybe for decades to no avail) and you just can’t seem to move that needle even though the average person has at least 16 products and services—you’re going to love this episode where I show you how to finally get out of this endless loop of effort without breakthrough.
  • Whose people are already cross-selling 6–7 on average, but you know that’s nowhere near the 16 the customer has (which means you’re still not their banker), then you’re going to love this system I’ll share today.
  • Who has several employees who ran from the big banks and their pushy or manipulative sales systems only to end up convincing the rest of your team to believe that “sales is bad,” you’re going to love finding out how to take back your ability to get people to believe that sales is simply helping people buy what they need—a way to help.

As you know, this has been an industry dilemma for the 30 years I’ve been speaking at and attending bank CEO conferences. And it seems that cross-sales needles haven’t moved one bit in THREE DECADES!

Common cross-sales challenges

  • Many people perceive “sales” as the slick presentations and pushy “we have a special one…” approach, and they don’t want anything to do with it. Even though they won’t always say it, it DOES show in their results, doesn’t it?
  • Or, perhaps you struggle like most banks that have “sales attempt battle fatigue.” Millions of dollars have been spent on “attempts” at improving sales cultures in banks and less than a few hundred have really accomplished the desired result.
  • Still others have been doing what they’ve been doing for so long that they’re insulted that you might be suggesting it’s not enough. They think and act as if they really do care about the customers, but it isn’t exactly obvious as their clients still have to run around town to competitors to get their banking needs met.

I’ve heard these same sad stories probably 3,000-4,000 times in talking with bank executives for decades. It’s prevalent.

Three steps to start to improve cross-sales in just a few weeks

Step 1: You’ll need to be a contrarian.

You have to forget what you believe to be true regarding cross-sales or what folks are telling you is true—with zero evidence. Seems like every bank CEO does the same thing when they want cross-sales.

There are three components:

  • Hire a sales training company.
  • Set goals.
  • Create an incentive program.

IF that ever worked, it would be worth a try. But I have yet to have anyone tell me (in all these years) that it had much impact at all short-term, and I have seen zero evidence that it has ever worked long-term.

Before you sign that contract with a sales trainer, ask them to show you what percentage of their clients last year doubled their cross-sales on new accounts within 4–5 months.

In God we trust. For all others, show me the data! Right?

If it’s not over 70–90%, know that you risk losing good employees and customers. Once the inevitable failure happens, you also risk losing your credibility to fix the problem going forward—which you of course need to do.

Step 2: Start with mystery shopping.

In contrast to what sales training firms tell you to do—which sells their program but doesn’t deliver the results you need—you are best served by starting your sales culture transformation with something outside of sales.

With one of the largest databases on bank mystery shopping, BankShop® shows that the average shop in America is a 3.5 out of ten.

In fact, we mystery shop every bank that attends our events prior to them attending. Those who tell us that they have “great service that doesn’t need to be improved” get a thorough report of mystery shops on their teams. Most average in the 3.2 to 4.2 range.

Almost without exception, the banks that say, “we have great people” and “we have great service” score in that range. Start by moving that needle up to over nine and do it fast—it needs to happen in six weeks and you can’t miss getting it right the first time or the second attempt is about three times more difficult.

When, and only when, your people are feeling extremely confident that they are being of extreme service to customers will they be open and ready for sales, because now they realize that sales is really just the next level of taking care of people. It IS what good service entails and it sure the heck shouldn’t feel like sales.

After we do our proprietary Kick-Butt Kick-Off® process, we show bank executives the few things they need to do. In 30 years, we haven’t had one bank that hasn’t doubled their mystery shopping scores—and over 92% have tripled.

In fact, ALL of them moved to well above nine. Without a foundation of knowing that every person can do the basics on the phones as they help people buy, sales training will be an expensive train-wreck for you, combined with disgruntled employees and customers who feel “sold to.” After the bad PR regarding bank cross-sales that came out recently, that’s the LAST thing you need.

In other words, you need sales readiness to be mastered before you start sales training.

Step 3: Transform your team with blended learning and increasing accountability.

Once they’ve moved that mystery shopping needle fast—really fast—they have confidence.

In our seminars, we show you how to pop that needle past nine without exception— within six weeks! They always tell me that they wish they had known that 20 years ago.

Now and only now, when the birdie’s mouth is open, does the mother bird bring the first worm.

By getting extraordinary results through being open to helping people buy, as demonstrated by a good mystery shopping process (one that shows they care about customers), you can now embark on the sales process. One with the right type of blended learning and progressive stage-appropriate accountability, visibility, follow up, and motivational components weaved in at all the right times. ­­

Key takeaways

1) Do a lobotomy for your executive team on everything they have heard and believe to be true about the “sales training, incentive pay and goals” plan that has never worked.

2) Then, move the client experience needle fast—really fast—so that clients are amazed at the experience AND your people are loving the experience of what REAL service looks like. Start this with real data from mystery shopping.

3) Then you can start the transformative and interweaved blended learning along with increasing accountability process.

Make sure you tune in to the next episode as we continue the cross-sales conversation. I’ll go in-depth on the biggest mistake made by most bankers that makes it impossible to have cross-sales: not knowing how to break preoccupation with rate.

To your continued success,
Roxanne Emmerich

P. S. Challenging times are proven as the moment to pull ahead. It’s your time to snap up low-cost deposits and seize your competitor’s best customers—but not if you have “order takers” in front of your customers and prospects. My Breakthrough Banking™ Blueprint Conference is designed especially to explore what smart banks do during tumultuous times. Register today.

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