7th November 2017 TESTMatt Jarman

Do you want fries with that?

It seems such an obvious statement.  The offer of an additional product or service on top of your original order.  But having worked with sales teams for many years in both the banking and consultancy industries, one thing is clear to us:

Sales people miss a huge number of opportunities because they are afraid to venture out of their comfort zone.

Sales people are supremely confident when discussing matters of their own expertise, but the moment the conversation drifts elsewhere, they are lost at sea and desperate to steer the subject back to calmer waters.

Clients are changing.  They view their relationships with both banks and consultancies (or anything else for that matter) as holistic, not specific.  As a service provider, unless you are truly specialised, you should do the same.  Why?

Because with greater supplier choice and price transparency, clients aren’t so interested in ‘off the shelf’ products.  Instead, clients want tailored solutions to issues that are specific to their situation at that moment in time.

That poses a problem.  How to service this need?

Well one solution is to hire more salespeople.  Sounds simple, but skilled people aren’t always easy to find and client / sales relationships take time to develop and may never be as strong as the one an existing team already possesses.  Additionally, with competition fierce and pricing continually being squeezed, increasing the cost base isn’t going to help profit margins.

Neither is making endless client visits.  Besides annoying the client, travel is expensive and time out of the office is unproductive.  The aim of the game is to reduce the cost of sale, not increase it.

In fact, the most effective way to do this is to up-skill staff, broadening their product and service knowledge.  Arming staff with an understanding of all the Firm’s products and how they can be applied will allow them to identify more opportunities.

Train to retain

Surprisingly it’s what staff want as well, especially the millennials, who consider further training as a key to job retention.  But it’s about quality not quantity, and focus.  Here are some tips:

Focus on the application

Training needs to be practical, not conceptual.  It’s easy to find financial product definitions (the internet is full of them), but they are useless when trying to teach someone where and how to best use them.  Focus on the application so staff feel confident to pursue opportunities when the appropriate context arises in conversation.

Little and often, not once and done

A single learning course will impart some knowledge, but it is proven that 50% of that knowledge will be forgotten within a matter of weeks.  Micro-learning focuses users on specific tasks, which, if built up over time, can allow them to develop a far more extensive knowledge.  If the library of micro-learning is continuously available, it also enables users to revisit for refreshers.

Make it a game

Product information can be dry.  We have all experienced death by PowerPoint as our eyes start to glaze over.  Games make it more engaging.  Social games can even make it fun.  Challenging colleagues to out-do each other improves knowledge retention and re-engagement.

Firms should be looking to maximize the potential of all their staff.  Yes, technology can create efficiencies, but at the end of the day most new opportunities are discovered by people talking.  Staff need to be empowered to best represent the company – and ALL of the products on offer.

So as best described by our golden arched, burger behemoth, train staff to always ask:

“Would you like fries with that?”  Or even better, perhaps a drink as well!

To find out more about why learning is key to empowering your workforce, contact us at info@hyfin.com.