“It’s important to recognize that new products will only be as successful as the managers and front-line employees who sell and service them”. -Teresa Tschida, Gallup Business Journal

An obvious, but oft overlooked fact – having a well-trained and motivated staff is integral to a successful product launch. Last December I posted a checklist of items that need to be considered when creating an internal training program. Today, I wanted to go in a slightly different direction, and talk about what makes an effective sales team and how you can foster that within a training program.

You might not think of your branch staff as a sales team, but the truth is every customer/member-facing employee has the potential to influence or make a sale; they just have to know how. It can be as simple as a teller mentioning the benefits of mobile deposit to a customer who waited impatiently in a long deposit line; making a sale doesn’t require a sales-specific environment.

Too often banks and credit unions miss new opportunities because they lack a sales culture. Andrew Kahr wrote a detailed article summarizing the issues this February in American Banker, which I highly recommend. He points out that you must consider whether branch staffers are in service or sales positions, and which is ultimately better for your organization. It’s not to say that they shouldn’t be “service-oriented,” but rather how can they incorporate sales skills to better serve your customers/members and support your organization’s goals.

With that in mind, here are the top 4 attributes I think a sales team needs to be successful and some tips on how to incorporate them into your training programs:


1. Perspective

Unfortunately, you can’t use magic to turn everyone into a stellar salesperson. There are some people who are born to sell and others who don’t feel comfortable selling, especially in a branch setting where they might feel it’s too pushy or unprofessional.

What you can do is change their perception of “making a sale.” Training should emphasize that you don’t need to be a used car salesman, especially for RDC. The convenience of RDC is usually enough to sell itself; your branch staff simply need to point customers/members in the right direction. If they are trained to see it not as a “sale,” but as education or a recommendation, it becomes much less stressful and uncomfortable. (For more on this, read the classic book Your Marketing Sucks by Mark Stevens.)

2. Motivation

For me, motivation is more than just being incentivized to sell the product (although incentives are a powerful tool). The best sales people are passionate about what they sell; they are motivated to sell because they believe in the product

Lucky for you, RDC is an easy product to believe in. Focus on the end-user benefits in your training and encourage your staff to envision how the tool could make their own lives easier. If your tellers believe RDC to be a convenient tool, they’ll be more likely to recommend it.

I’ve also seen incentives, especially tied to a light competition, used to get over the initial hurdle of “selling.” One of my clients started a competition between branches to see who could get the most mobile deposit accounts signed up in a month; the winning branch had an awesome pizza party, and adoption rates went way up.

3. Product Knowledge

This one should be obvious, but in the rush to get a new product out, it’s easy to skimp on product training. Every person in your branch, from tellers to managers, needs to understand the product. The level of understanding will vary depending on the product and position – but in general each person should know the major features and benefits. (Read Cachet’s Marketing Handbook, our exclusive whitepaper, for more tips on product training.)

Train the appropriate staff with product demos. For business RDC, your tellers should know enough to refer someone to a trained account manager. But for mobile deposit, the tellers are the front line. Make sure they can not only demonstrate the product, but also provide them with step-by-step enrollment instructions, so they can get people started right from the counter!

You’ll also want your staff to be able to identify potential prospects. A simple chart detailing the benefits of the products and who would benefit from them would be a great start. Include things like account types and reason for branch visit. You can also come up with some questions your staff can ask to better qualify a visitor for your products.

4. Reinforcement

Make sure training is not a one-time event. Implement a system of continuous education, support and encouragement from the top down. Provide guidance and education to your branch managers, and give them tools to do the same for their staff members.

How will your team stay updated about the product and goals outside of your formal training sessions? Your managers should be trained to answer and assist in any new product questions, and you can use internal newsletters and bulletins to communicate new information. Consider tying training and daily tips into a contest or incentive program. (Trainingindustry.com has a great article with 7 tips for reinforcing your training programs.)

When starting a new RDC program, you have the ability to use training to encourage sales behaviors. Consider these four factors when building the program and you’ll go far: Remember – your branch staff are the face of your organization. If they don’t talk up the products, who will?