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    Creating a Sales and Service Culture

    A sales and service culture is an environment in which everybody at a financial institution is motivated and well-equipped to present products to borrowers that benefit them on an individual level. The institution moves beyond viewing its customers transactionally and encourages its employees to treat all product offerings as personalized opportunities to better serve the people they engage.

    Products Customers Actually Need

    Instead of blindly offering customers the ‘product of the month,’ members of a sales and service culture recognize the importance of individual relationships at the point of sale. All stakeholders at the financial institution are involved in creating relationships, asking questions, finding out what’s important to the customers, and identifying what’s going on in their lives. This allows institutions to encourage their staff to be relationship-oriented instead of forcing them into a sales role, which is a critical distinction for many loan officers at financial institutions. When employees understand that they can offer education and products that benefit their customers in meaningful ways, they are more likely to offer them to everyone.

    Results Financial Institutions Want

    Financial institutions are often reluctant to incorporate non-interest income products into their portfolios out of fear that becoming sales-oriented will drive borrowers away. However, when a sales and service culture becomes a top-down part of an institution’s DNA, offering additional products becomes part of that institution’s commitment to delivering exceptional customer service. Instead of viewing extended coverage products as one-size-fits-all solutions aimed at increasing revenue, financial institutions can tailor their offerings to the individual customer, which leads to improved relationships and increased revenue opportunities. In a true sales and service culture, offering products is the norm, not an anomaly—and neither the loan officers nor the customers are surprised by the open conversation about what products would benefit the borrower.

    You might also be interested in: The 6 “BEs” of Becoming a Confident Sales Person

    Top-Down Approach for an Improved Bottom Line

    When loan officers offer products and services to every customer, the potential for non-interest income is increased—especially when sales and service are engrained in the institution’s culture and are not an afterthought. The increased income allows financial institutions to reward dedicated employees, offer competitive interest rates, and give back to the community through charitable action and financial literacy, which continues the virtuous cycle provided by this type of culture.

    Traditional product-offering programs only focus on making salespeople out of the front-line lenders, but partners that believe in a sales and service culture expand that scope to everybody who has direct or indirect contact with consumers—managers, lenders, tellers—to ensure that they’re all on the same page. A sales and service culture is not made overnight or in isolation. It’s a continuous learning and coaching effort that becomes engrained throughout the entire financial institution over time and with strong examples from the top-down. 

    Financial institutions can establish a sales and service culture by demonstrating consistent executive buy-in and educating all employees. Ongoing support from dedicated product partners keeps the culture strong while recognizing and nurturing the valuable relationships financial institutions have with their customers. Having a product partner that deeply understands an institution’s goals and values is essential to maintaining its integrity and maximizing ROI on extended coverage offerings.

    Ronni Martinez

    Ronni Martinez joined SWBC in 1998 and is currently the Vice-President of Product Management for SWBC’s Financial Institution Group.

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