“Wells Fargo Dumps Toxic Cross-Sell Metric”

“Millennials Don’t Want to Be Sold to”

“Marketing to Millennials: Don’t Sell. Educate.”

“Cross-Selling in the Digital Banking Era.”

Quick question: is our tried, true and known way of cross-selling financial products dead?

Reading some of these headlines, it may seem that way. At the very least, the sands are shifting around cross-selling parctices.

I recently attended a conference where I heard Tiffany Souder speak about the changing paradigm of branding and selling in a Millennial-driven world. The story she told struck a chord with me, partly because something very similar had actually happened to me. Here’s how it went down:

Many years ago, I was shopping for my wife’s engagement ring. I had heard a number of good recommendations of jewelers in the area, and selected one to visit. I wasn’t intending to purchase that day. I was there to look over styles and buy later. But that all changed when the sales associate approached me.

“Hi there. I’m {name I can’t remember}. Before we get started, I just want to let you know that each of our sales associates here do not work on commission. My job is to make this experience as easy and as enjoyable as possible while finding the right piece of jewelry for you. You can work with anyone here, and we’ll make sure you get what you want within the budget you want.”

Whoa. Before I had even told her what I was in for that day, I was basically told there would be no pressure to purchase anything today, much less be pressured into purchasing something that was way outside of the dollar amount I wanted to spend.

The recall of this story got me thinking…

It’s no secret that cross-selling in the financial world has been getting a bad rap. (Thank you, Wells Fargo). But even before the Wells Fargo scandal hit the headlines, the groundswell to change traditional cross-selling had been gaining momentum. Blame it on whatever you like: lower foot traffic and transaction counts in branches where traditional cross-selling takes place, consumers spreading their wealth around to multiple financial institutions, or even a pervasive lack of trust in the financial industry to recommend anything that the consumer hasn’t already had time to research for themselves.

As Don Draper would say: “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.”

What if….

What if every time a customer – new or old – walked into one of our branches to sit down with a sales and service associate, the first words out of that associate’s mouth were: “Mr. Customer, here at XYZ Financial, we don’t earn bonuses or incentives for anything that you open with us today. We’re here to make sure you’re in the right products for your financial situation and you leave better off than when you came in. Our recommendations are based off of earning your trust, not selling you something you don’t need.”

It changes the conversation.

What if every time someone visited our website, the first thing they saw wasn’t an ad for our latest promotion or the lowest rate we’re offering for Home Equity loans this month? Instead, changing the conversation to value-added messaging that describe the ways your financial institution helps your consumers.

Cross-selling may not be dead (yet), but the way in which we cross-sell has to change. Consumers of all life stages and generations are going to be able to recognize a blatant product push over a recommendation that will improve their financial situation. That is to say, if they haven’t been able to figure that out already – and the media coverage of financial cross-selling practices is only going to bring more attention to this area.

Along with being outstanding marketing consultants, MarketMatch builds and provides sales and service trainings for community financial institutions. Want to pick our brain more about this topic? Let us know!