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four steps to transform banking sales through better tech

Published on: January 2018

Written by: Lou Schachter

You’re packing for a flight—tomorrow. You’re all out of travel-sized mouthwash and don’t have time to fight traffic to pick up one tiny toiletry. So instead you hop on Amazon and in four clicks, the mouthwash is set to arrive before you dash off to the airport. Or better yet: You tell your Amazon Echo to reorder your mouthwash, never even turning on your computer.This consumer experience—once barely conceivable a decade ago—has become the norm. The problem is that for the most part, business-to-business user experiences don’t look or feel remotely like business-to-consumer user experiences. In particular, front-end websites and apps lag by comparison and it’s costing banks sales, as The Financial Brand reports. The technology banks use does not effectively drive sales forward; website and app use fails to convert to calls and in-branch conversations. B2C user experiences via Amazon and Nordstrom capitalize on technology. Banks by comparison have much catching up to do.

To leverage technology successfully, the banking industry must rethink how data is collected, interpreted and redeployed to shape customer interactions. This shift in using technology to improve user experience also impacts sales roles and services. As sales roles shift and banks leverage technology to meet users’ needs, banking leaders must guide their organizations through the transition.

Get accustomed to customer shifts

Modern banking customers have more options these days: small credit unions, online banks and roboadvisors among them. While traditional banks have adapted to some extent, this shift from selling X to selling Y can isolate existing customers even as it delays the decision-making of new ones, which makes for a more arduous sales cycle. In fact, 58 percent of sellers now report longer sales cycles, while 78 percent agree that consumers spend more time researching purchases online.

The X-to-Y shift comes in a variety of forms. The new Y could be an organization prioritizing a new target customer group, such as a bank focusing on business owners in historically underserved communities.

Eventually, technology will speed up sales as it facilitates this change with the most significant alterations coming from reliance on AI. New systems that can reach out to customers proactively and bring them personalized experiences will yield increased and faster conversions. Until that evolution is complete, though, organizations and their customers will struggle to navigate the X-to-Y move.

Move the ball four-ward: Leading banks through tech changes

As technology improves customer experiences in all industries, banking leaders must use technology to keep their sales cycles as short as possible. When banks finally offer the level of service customers expect, they will see increased loyalty and faster sales. The first steps involve leading your people through this change.

1. Deliver the Message Internally. Leaders who build the strategy, collect the data and plan the change shouldn’t assume the rest of the organization will understand the new approach or adapt quickly.

Rather than release a memo on the changes, make an internal communications campaign part of the final implementation. When you answer employee questions about the initiative’s purpose and ensure workers understand how and why their roles will change, you avoid disruptions from unhappy teams—and mobilize everyone in the same direction.

2. Begin the External Campaign. With the internal team on board, focus on telling customers how these technological changes differentiate your bank in the marketplace. Avoid positioning new offerings as catch-up technology, even if that’s the case: Customers don’t want to do business with a bank that scrambles to keep up.

Evaluate how the new technology works in your ecosystem, and highlight the benefits that the new capabilities provide users. Then capitalize on the technology. For example, a 15-year customer might decide he wants a car loan. If the bank hands him a blank, complicated loan form printout to fill out, he gets frustrated—and he should, because his essential information already resides in the system and should be used to make life easier for him.

3. Hire Specialists to Keep It Running. Employ experts to handle technological oversight as it relates to banking needs, such as with international trade and legal issues, so that those new platforms get implemented effectively.

Educate relationship managers and frontline sellers on how to use the right resources at the right time; it’s a must. But where large skill gaps exist, IT hires can ensure the tech not only helps the bank operate at maximum efficiency, but also stays secure. As banking digital end evolves and customers share more personal data that banks must manage, cyberthreats become more perilous. Consider this: The average financial institution faces 85 cybersecurity attacks a year, with 36 percent succeeding.

4. Establish Metrics and Measure. As with any big transition, success metrics will shift after implementation—especially with new tech, whose operational impact can’t always be predicted. Because managers are comfortable with the metrics they know and often shy from sweeping changes, leaders should introduce metrics gradually.

Start with one leading indicator—something easy—then slowly add in harder metrics. For example, one soft metric might measure the number of customers who adopt the new technology or log in. Over time, you can sharpen that measurement by evaluating relationship managers according to how many of their clients utilize the innovations.

Putting it all together: Meet expectations, exceptionally

Implementing new technologies demands an ongoing process that responds to by market shifts. By following this four-step strategy and learning to oversee tech changes, banking leaders can make their organizations stand apart and meet the expectations of modern consumers. Their data is of increasing value, to be sure: Handle it exceptionally and the next set of data your bank’s bottom line generates will reflect increasing value of another kind.