It’s Time to Move from Cross-Sell to Cross-Buy
In countless research studies that I've led, the conclusions are the same: consumers and business professionals prefer an expanded relationship with a single trusted provider over the complications of maintaining multiple providers for various financial needs. Certainly, consumers and business customers will often shop around for the best value–and even seek out other providers simply to manage risk or loyalty benefits–yet by and large, people prefer simplicity. Cross-sell should therefore represent a banking advantage, yet all too often it doesn't.
Sales professionals live by the maxim “everyone loves to buy, no one likes to be sold.” Across the industry there's evidence that cross-selling in financial services isn't working, which prevents everybody from realizing full benefits of the relationships they already have. With the nation's largest diversified banks rapidly getting bigger, why don't we commonly hear both retail and business banking customers remark about how well their providers deftly anticipate, simplify, and deliver on the multiple facets of their many financial needs? Despite remarkable gains in digital banking, commerce, marketing and big data, when it comes to offering more valuable products and services to existing customers, banks and vendors simply appear to be more in their own way than ever before. For many financial institutions, meeting customers’ needs across product and technology silos appears to be more impossibly complex than ever–with issues of identity, increased regulation, incentives, customer experience and more preventing retail and business banking customers from getting their true needs solved. Cross-sell is broken, and fintech needs to deliver a new approach.
Cross-buy is the answer. The change is difficult: we need to stop thinking of customers as needing to be sold on additional products and services, and instead view them as being always-mindful of obtaining added areas of value from current providers. Further, we need to smooth the process of education, comparison, application, onboarding, and initial use for our customers. Cross-buy means thinking of all efforts to add customers from the point of view of the intended audience rather than the communicator, which is anything but trivial.
Everyone has financial needs, and the more pressing these needs are, the better the conditions for financial providers. Financial needs cannot be looked at from a product perspective alone, because that reverts thinking to banks' legacy point of view (payments vs. overdraft protection, for example). Customers just care about saving, obtaining, growing, protecting and moving money, and whoever helps them do so most safely and easily earns their business.
After asking customers for permission to provide them with parameters, financial providers can mine customer data to present offers that have the decided appearance of ongoing, helpful suggestions. This information should be as tailored as possible, bringing the inherent reminder that consumers are receiving a fulfillment of their needs. As is seen with digital music selections, recipients should be able to tailor the offering mid-stream so that subsequent offers are increasingly bespoke. Once a consumer elects to hear more, the application process should be minimized by using the existing relationship to ease customer effort. This is how the customer relationship provides benefit to both parties.
Bankers and fintech vendors need to scrap the cross-sell concept, and replace it with one that focuses on solving customers' many unmet financial needs. This could entail changes such as the structure and timing of incentives, training of team members, education to better empathize with the financial needs of customers, systems, data-driven anticipation of needs, pre-population of all inquiry and application processes, increased tailoring of offerings, and improvements in central preferences records, among others. These changes would lead to a 'right time/right place/right offer' cross-buy customer experience. For cross-buy to replace cross-sell and to be fully productive, all team members must be fully immersed in the ‘day in the life of a customer.’
Nearly all customers have unmet financial needs, they prefer to solve these needs with fewer financial providers, and to buy rather than to be sold. When the offer is presented as the answer to an anticipated or expressed customer need, a cultural shift can occur that will be reflected in offers, application processes, onboarding, loyalty efforts, and broadening of the relationship. The key is to place customers’ – versus team members’ – needs at the fore, which is at once extremely difficult and rewarding.