It’s Personal: Retail Banking Sales and Closing Behaviors That Drive Purchase Intent

There is continued discussion about the branch’s role in the future of banking.  The current consensus is it will continue to evolve from a transactional center to a sales center.  Banking is a professional service.  To avoid commoditization and selling on features other than rates and fees, a professional and effective sales process is required.

Our research into the efficacy of the branch sales process has identified several service and sales attributes that drive purchase intent.  (See the insert below for a description of the methodology).

This article focuses specifically on closing behaviors, attempting to identify best practices in terms of driving purchase intent.

In short, for closing behaviors to be effective, the banker must first demonstrate competence and sincere concern for the customer’s best interests and needs.  Closing behaviors without this predicate can be very dangerous to the sale.

What are the most common closing behaviors?

In our observational research of 100 retail banking presentations, key closing and presentation behaviors were observed in approximately two thirds of the sales presentation.

Express interest in your business or make feel valued as a customer

70%

Ask for the business or some commitment to action

70%

Discuss products in terms of benefits designed to meet needs

68%

Make comment expressing value of banking with the bank

63%

Asking for the business and making the shopper feel valued as a customer were the most common, followed closely by discussing products in terms of benefits designed to meet needs, and finally by expressing the value of banking with the bank.

Which behaviors are most effective?

To answer which of these four behaviors are most effective, let’s look at their relationship to the mystery shoppers purchase intent as a result of the sales presentation.

Closing Chart 1

Of these four behaviors, expressing interest or making the customer feel valued as a customer has the strongest relationship to purchase intent. This behavior was present 3.6 times more frequent in shops with positive purchase intent relative to those with negative purchase intent.

What drives feeling valued as a customer?

Now, let’s take a look at the most significant behavior.  What drives feeling valued as a customer?  What caused shoppers to feel valued?  To gain insight into this, Kinesis asked shoppers an open-ended question regarding how the banker expressed interest in their business.  An analysis of the responses to this question is instructive.

When these responses are grouped by theme they generally group into four themes:

Closing Chart 2

Looking at these comments with respect to whether or not the shopper reported positive purchase intent, two of these themes have a positive relationship to purchase intent: personal attention (45% for positive purchase intent compared to 0% for negative) and concern for needs (43% in shops with positive purchase intent compared to 11% for shops with negative purchase intent).

Comments with POSITIVE relationship to purchase intent.
How expressed interest/Made feel valued as customer…

Positive Purchase Intent

Negative Purchase Intent

Personal/ Full Attention/ Not Rushed

45%

0%

Sincere/ Best interests in mind/ Concern for needs

43%

11%

The other two behaviors have a negative relationship to purchase intent. One of these is both significant and instructive.

Comments with NEGATIVE relationship to purchase intent.
How expressed interest/made feel valued as customer…

Positive Purchase Intent

Negative Purchase Intent

Offer to open account/ Effort to get business

6%

61%

Informative/ Answered questions

17%

50%

A more overt effort to get the business, including opening the account, was present ten times more often in shops with negative purchase intent (61%) compared to positive purchase intent (6%).  An effort to ask for the business without appearing to have the customer’s best interests in mind or giving the customer personal attention will not drive purchase intent.  While asking for the business is an important part of any professional sales presentation, when doing so, the ground needs to be prepared by making the customer feel you have their best interests in mind.  Otherwise, the banker can seriously undermine the presentation.

As branches continue to evolve from a transactional to a sales center, it is important not to divorce service from sales.  Good sales is good service.  The sales behavior with the strongest relationship to purchase intent is expressing interest in the customer and making them feel valued.  The most effective way to make customers feel valued and interested is to provide them your full attention and sincerely demonstrate concern for the customers needs and best interests.

Visit the next article in this series.   Beyond Needs Analysis: Asking Motivation Questions to Drive Purchase Intenthttp://bit.ly/11sK9vG

 

———–

Methodology

To evaluate the state of the in-branch sales process, Kinesis mystery shopped 100 branches among five banks with significant North American footprints.  Among the objectives of the study were to:

1) Define the sales process among different institutions.

2) Evaluate the effectiveness of specific sales behaviors.

Shoppers were asked a mixture of closed-ended questions to evaluate the presence or frequency of specific behaviors, and open-ended questions to gather the qualitative impressions of these behaviors on the shoppers – in short the how and why behind what the shopper felt.  Finally, to provide a basis to evaluate the effectiveness of each sales behavior, shoppers were asked to rate their purchase intent as a result of the visit. This purchase intent rating was then used as a means of evaluating what behaviors tend to be present when positive purchase intent is reported as opposed to negative purchase intent.

 


Click Here For More Information About Kinesis'; Bank Mystery Shopping

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About Eric Larse

Eric Larse is co-founder of Seattle-based Kinesis CEM, LLC, which helps clients plan and execute their customer experience strategies through the intelligent use of customer satisfaction surveys and mystery shopping, linked with training and incentive programs. Visit Kinesis at: www.kinesis-cem.com

2 responses to “It’s Personal: Retail Banking Sales and Closing Behaviors That Drive Purchase Intent”

  1. Caryl Anne says :

    Great article! I agree that banking is more than just a professional service. It’s a sales process that requires businesses to be professional, approachable, and presentable. To me, these three things help lead the sales team. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  2. Amine Chbani says :

    Thank you for the article, the real added value of a bank is it s people that can build a great customer experience to do more sales !

    Like

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