The days of relying on all the deposits you need to walk in the door at your branch are over.  You can thank technology and basic customer desires for that.  Banks today operate in a fierce competitive environment so branch managers are being asked to be more proactive in bringing in customer relationships and their deposits with them.

The problem is, they are generally customer service people.  Look at any job posting for a Branch Manager.  Good customer service skills are probably at the top of the list on the qualifications.

Banks are not alone in the effort to turn customer service people into cross sellers.  Insurance agencies, for example, are always trying to get their personal lines customer service team to ask their home insurance clients about their cars and vice versa, and they are never comfortable doing it.  Here are the top six ways to build a sustainable cross selling environment for your retail teams:

1.Stop trying to get them to sell

This applies to the people who aren’t being asked to go out.  Good customer service people will never be comfortable in a sales environment.  Just mentioning the word sales makes the hair stand up on the back of their neck.  This doesn’t mean they can’t do it, they can.  It just will always be outside of their comfort zone.

The fact is, cross selling is a customer service function, so why not treat it as such?  How can you be a good customer service representative if you don’t know your customers?  And, how can you provide good customer service if you are not providing them with the things they need once you understand more about them and their banking needs?  Once they understand this, and the importance of cross selling and customer retention to the bank, developing the skills they need to be a good cross seller doesn’t seem so daunting.

2.Set goals

Giving them targets to shoot for puts structure to the effort.  It is important that the goals be performance goals, not outcome goals.  For example, make the goals based on the number of times they ask particular questions or give referrals to the different team members, not just the number of deposits or accounts opened.

3.Track the results and celebrate success

Make sure you set up a simple tracking system they will use.  Also make sure you celebrate success as close to when it happens as possible, and do it often.  Everyone likes strokes and we never get enough.  When people get used to being recognized for success, the strokes are genuine and motivating.  They will start to share success stories with each other and it becomes more of a game and source of motivation.

4.Give them training

A Senior Vice President of Retail Banking once told me in all the years of his experience, the teams were never given the tools they needed to excel at their jobs.  Your team will never ask the questions you want them to if they aren’t taught which questions to ask and have the opportunity to practice doing it.  Once they apply what they have learned and start to get results through little wins, they realize it’s not so that difficult and is actually well received most of the time.  This realization is empowering.

5.Coach Them

95 % of people who get training, never apply all they learn and many don’t apply it at all without coaching.  Meet with your team weekly to work on applying what they have learned.  Help them with the scripting, strategy and don’t forget to compliment them on any steps they are taking.

6.Give them data

Set them up with data for opportunities when they are looking at a customer’s accounts.  Make it easy for them to know where the opportunities are so they know what questions to ask.  There are plenty of innovations in software that can provide this information at their fingertips.  Pick the one that works best with your current technology.