Cross Selling in a Digital World
Take a look at these banking facts below and you’d conclude that successful cross selling was the key to profits in the banking industry. And you’d be right.
Cross-sell moves the needle
According to research by Bain published on this website by Gerard du Toit and Maureen Burns, U.S. banks acquired new customers at a paltry rate of just 3.6% over the past year, but some 41% of customers opened a new banking product over the past year, and half of those people bought from their primary bank. Cross sell is also significantly cheaper than new customer acquisition. It’s easy to see that success in cross-sell is the prize everyone ought to aspire for.
That prize isn’t small either. Research published by Brad Strothkamp of Forrester Research shows that increasing the average number of products owned by a customer from 3 to 5 doubles the profitability of the financial institution. Beyond five, the profitability grows even faster.
Further, the more products a customer owns, the more she is likely to come back to you for her next product and stay longer with you. The rich truly get richer!
Some things in life are for the asking. You don’t get them because you don’t ask.
Here is a quote from the Bain article that shook my world and ought to shake yours too: “About one-third of banking products in the U.S, are sold, not bought. Customers did not plan to buy a particular product, but they received an offer and then decided to get it.”
At Micronotes, we develop and run interview marketing campaigns for a variety of banking products and we frequently see some amazing conversion numbers for these campaigns, but this fact from Bain made us realize the opportunity is even bigger than we realized.
If you could efficiently sell 33% more products to your average customer because you bothered to ask about their needs and propose relevant products, how much bigger could your top and bottom lines be?
Why aren’t you cross-selling?
Despite how important cross selling is, banks and credit unions are not doing enough of it because the landscape of digital banking is changing so rapidly (with a big emphasis on mobile), leaving cross sell to play catch-up.
The real opportunity in moving customers to self-service on the online channels is using that time to serve the higher value function of cross-sell.
In the words of Gerard Du Toit and Beth Johnson, “Branches will not disappear, but their role must shift from high-cost processing of routine transactions to guidance, sales and high-value servicing, often through lighter, but sturdier formats.”
The cross sell engine of yesteryear was the insightful and friendly teller who frequently conversed with customers about their upcoming financial needs.
In the brave new world where branch visits are dwindling rapidly, we have no replacement – not even a close substitute.
Banks and credit unions have borrowed banner ads and email marketing from the broader Internet but they have disappointed us. Direct mail has not yielded better results either. Despite the sheepish absurdity of using direct mail to address online banking users, many financial institutions continue to use this mailbox-to-trashbox channel with unsatisfying results.
We have realized that these marketing mechanisms which are good for sneakers, energy bars and cable TV don’t make the cut for selling complex, high consideration products like mortgages and auto loans.
Let’s talk about it
Banking needs a cross sell mechanism that engages customers to understand their needs before making them an offer. Banks and credit unions need the ability to have conversations at scale on digital banking channels. Generated leads need to be qualified and serviced in a way that makes careful use of scarce human resources.
Adding new channels without a strategy for how to cross-sell on that channel is counterproductive. Banks and credit unions need to revise their strategy to put the cross selling horse before the digital banking cart.
Banking needs a cross sell strategy that makes a distinction between products best sold through self-service channels (overdraft protection, e-statements) and those that need more hand holding (mortgages, auto loans) from a call center or a branch. Banking is inherently an industry that has sold using conversations and we need a digital channel to continue doing what works.
Service doesn’t always lead to sales
As Paul Hyde and Ashish Jain of Booz and Co. write in their 2013 Retail Banking Industry Perspective, “Since the financial crisis, many banks have tried to improve customer service at the branch level to restore confidence, boost loyalty, and lower attrition. This is an understandable impulse, but it hasn’t worked; service does not lead to sales. Instead, banks must balance their investments in service with tangible improvements in frontline sales.”
Sell online and sell it right
The phrase frontline sales used to mean in-branch sales.
It does not anymore.
Starting the sales process in the digital channel and directing the user to the appropriate venue (self-service, call center or branch) after understanding their needs and preferences is the way of the future in banking.
Designing a cross sell strategy that investigates customer needs and a implementing a product suite that meets the specialized needs of the banking industry may sound like business as usual but it may just be the magic pill to halt the tide of anemic growth and low margins that plague our industry.