Bank Hires Special Trainer to Teach the “Art of Prospecting”

As seen in Cross Sales Report

What does it mean to be a proactive sales organization? One key element is training employees, and financial institutions often find that it takes an outside trainer to have the credibility to make a difference.

For example, Bank of the Sierra ($400 million, Porterville, California) began a series of sales training seminars early this year, says Susan Treganza, VP/Director of Marketing. She says that the training has made employees more comfortable with selling, and has led to more cross sales.

Treganza says that the bank differentiates itself as a local bank offering personalized service. Nonetheless, the bank wants to raise its profile as a strong “prospecting” force, she says. Rather than emphasizing sales, the bank is teaching its employees at 10 branches the “art of prospecting,” she says.

“The art of prospecting is feeling comfortable contacting non-customers and asking for their business,” she explains. All of the bank’s 240 employees, who are considered key “customer contacts,” are encouraged to “keep their eyes and ears open, listen for clues, look for new businesses, and stay active in the community,” she says.

Early this year, the bank hired Deborah Gavello, President of Deborah Gavello & Associates (Placentia, California), a sales consultant, to train its 35 lenders, 20 CSRs and 10 operations managers, says Treganza. The lenders’ training was a two-day session, and the CSR/operations managers’ training session lasted one day.

Day one of the lenders’ training session focused on telemarketing and how to get appointments, Gavello explains. This session covered organizing calls, reaching the right person and giving a strong benefit statement.

Gavello says effective ways to reach decision-makers by phone are:

    * Getting the prospect’s direct line.
    * Calling early in the morning or after hours.
    * Using an upbeat voice.
    * Asking for the prospect by his or her first name.
    * Leaving a good voice mail message.

The second day of lender training focused on how to be more effective on officer calls, says Gavello. She says lenders were accustomed to “sell the bank and talk about its products and services.”

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