The following story is actually an accumulation of my experiences with bank leaders that “order” a sales culture. This story answers the question: Why doesn’t our sales culture stick? Why doesn’t the training make it happen?
There once was a bank leader that had, for 30 years, dominated his community because his was the only bank in town. One day, however, his sunlit reality was darkened by the cloud of competition. First one bank came into town, then another, then another. Where he had once dominated his small town, the new banks were slowly eroding his client base and taking sales.
The banker had always prided himself on the fact that his people didn’t sell, they provided service. Bankers were experts, not pitchmen, and he never lowered himself to admitting the need for any kind of pushy sales approach. But now his people either needed to sell more products or the bank was going under. He looked at the “sales consultant” button on his desk, and with great disdain and trepidation hit it. The sales consultant appeared before him, asking what he needed.
“Well, we need to raise sales substantially. Right now our customers have, on average, 1.2 products with us. I’ve researched this and the average financial customer has 15 products and services. We need to get our cross-sell ratio to at least three per customer. I need for you to help me do this.”
The sales consultant nodded, and discussed a list of things that would have to happen, including:
• Non-negotiable sales and service behaviors
• Sales training
• Daily Coaching
The consultant mentioned the importance of combining sales with service skills to create a great customer experience, and the importance of his belief system. If he didn’t support the change and engage the hearts, mind and action of his employees then the change wouldn’t take. The banker nodded in agreement, but when the sales consultant left he wiped down the chair with Lysol and shook his head. He wasn’t a salesperson, he was a banker. And he wasn’t going to coach, because he had a bank to run.
The sales consultant spent six months rolling out the training and behaviors. The bank leader kicked off the first sessions and then sat uncomfortably checking messages while the consultant spoke. Six months later no behaviors had changed, there were no increases in sales, and service was worse than ever because of the resistance of the employees to the change.
The bank leader stood in front of his leaders and declared the entire initiative a failure, stating that they needed to go back to focusing on service behaviors. He fired the sales consultant, reinstated the old focus, and adjusted some CD rates.
One year later, his bank was sold.
Moral: Change isn’t an initiative, it’s a belief.