Comment: Telling Responses on Teller Cross-Sales

Article excerpt

Wow, did I hit a hot button on the topic of tellers cross-selling.

In a recent column I asked readers if they thought that tellers should try to cross-sell bank products when they are serving customers or they believed tellers should just concentrate on doing their jobs as quickly as possible. The author of the best response, as usual, would be named President for a Day of Schmidlap National Bank, and I'm happy to report that I've never received more responses in five years of Schmidlap contests.

Naturally, readers came out on both sides of this issue.

Mike Kearney of SunTrust Banks Inc. in Atlanta said: "Timing is critical. The teller window is the wrong time even if the bank has the right product."

But Michael White of the consulting firm Michael White Associates in Radnor, Pa., talked about the great potential of this practice. "People have money parked in many places," he wrote. "Employees who take the time to talk with customers uncover previously undisclosed assets and new sources of funds for products that better meet customer needs."

How can you reconcile these opposing views?

Lorraine Mascino of Unitech Systems suggested this: "Have a few lines dedicated to clients who just need to get in and out and the remaining lines dedicated to individuals who have a little more time."

A respondent who requested anonymity said, "Tellers should not cross-sell, but they should identify who should be cross-sold," and they should be trained to readily identify what products a customer may open to and then direct them to other personnel in the branch.

Josie Callari of $22 billion-asset Astoria Federal Savings in Lake Success, N.Y., had similar advice: "When a payroll check is being deposited, why not suggest a direct deposit? If a money order is being purchased, why not suggest a checking account? Why not refer a customer to a financial consultant if a large check is being deposited?"

Gordon Shaw of Management Solutions Group in Tampa concurred. He wrote: "For years managements have attempted to turn people into selling machines, and still most of them still have little knowledge of the customer and his needs. They request and even exhort contact people to push product without a clue as to what is important to the customer."

This dovetails with the observations of Larry Huffman, the chief executive officer at $470 million-asset Kankakee Federal Savings Bank in Kankakee, Ill.

"Every employee should be engaged in cross-selling. This, however, means smart cross-selling primarily through being a good listener rather than a fast talker. …