Training and Management Consulting Group, Inc.

Selling Skills for the Bank Environment

With the banking marketplace more competitive than ever, a banker’s ability to communicate effectively with customers and prospects is essential to retaining customer relationships and increasing revenue. A key factor in their ability to do their jobs effectively and profitably is their understanding of the customer. By understanding their customer’s needs, bankers are better able to recommend and sell specific product solutions that meet those needs. In addition, by having and using an organized process for communicating with customers, bankers will be more professional in their approach to customers and be better able to service all facets of the relationship.

Selling Skills for the Bank Environment was specifically designed to provide bank employees with the enhanced knowledge and skills necessary for communicating effectively with customers and meeting the competitive challenges in banking today. The two-day program addresses all parts of the the customer development process. After completing the program, employees will be better able to:

  • Understand their role as salespeople
  • Communicate more effectively with customers
  • Identify key customer concerns
  • Connect customer needs with appropriate bank products and services
  • Present relevant features and benefits of bank products to customers
  • Address customer concerns, objections, and resistance
  • Complete the sale
  • Provide ongoing service

The program’s content has been designed to reflect the reality of bank employees today and will be directly relevant to the everyday opportunities and obstacles faced by your employees in their jobs. Case studies and role plays are used to highlight actual sales situations and develop skills.

Day One  

Your Career in Sales 
Effective salespeople know how to communicate, but they also must be able to motivate people and change their behaviors. The greatest salespeople have a special ability to nudge people to take actions in their best interest. This model is designed to flush out the participant’s doubts and objections about the value of sales, and it does so by showing that selling is something that most people do naturally. Selling is defined as “the art of establishing belief and then raising that belief to the level of action.”

Participants are encouraged to differentiate between professional salespeople and poorly trained salespeople and bothersome sales practices. The trainer emphasizes the role of sales training and practice in shaping professional selling skills. Participants then establish a “baseline” of their existing sales skills in an exercise that challenges them to prepare and deliver a brief sales presentation.

Features and Benefits 
This module focuses on the “nuts and bolts” selling skills of using both features and benefits effectively. Features are defined as descriptions of “what the product is, how it works, how it’s made.” Benefits explain “how it works for you, why it will make you happier, wealthier, stronger, more confident”.

To practice using features and benefits, participants are challenged to return to the “baseline” selling skills exercise and improve upon it.

Customer Sales Map 
The Customer Sales Map is a graphic depiction of the sales process
, from identifying a lead or a prospect through closing the sale and building the relationship. The map is divided into two major sections: prospecting and sales presentation. The prospecting phase emphasizes the skills of probing for need, using interest-generating ideas and investigation. Prospecting ends with the identification of a qualified prospect and a commitment to continue the sales process. The sales presentation is taught using a four-step process embodied in the acronym MAPA-Mention, Ask, Present, Ask. This process forces participants to remain flexible and focused on prospect needs, rather than rigidly reading a sales presentation script. The sales process concludes with handling objections, erasing doubts, and closing the sale.

The sales map provides structure for the prospecting and sales process and also the training program, and helps the participant visualize each step leading to a successful conclusion, so that the skills of each step may be mastered in turn.

Prospecting I, Breaking the Ice and Qualifying  
Breaking the ice of a sale is like getting acquainted with a stranger. The less you talk and the more you listen, the more you learn-and the more the other person probably will like talking to you. This module emphasizes effective use of both closed questions (requiring short factual answers) and open questions (eliciting feelings, opinions, and thoughts).

This module also explores how to break the ice with “probes-for-need”. These are defined as carefully directed inquiries likely to hit a topic of interest that the prospect wants to discuss. Participants learn that good probes should be creatively worded and delivered in a confident, interested tone of voice. Participants practice creating and delivering probes in a brief exercise, and the module concludes with a discussion of how to effectively support comments which indicate “acceptance” on the part of the prospect.

Prospecting II, Interest-Generating Ideas and Agreeing on Needs  
Probes-for-need are a somewhat passive way to break the ice, in that they allow prospects to open up and explain their needs, whatever they may be. Using interest-generating ideas (IGIs) is a more active and focused way to break the ice with a prospect, because it presumes a need and offers a powerful benefit-oriented way to meet it. The module teaches guidelines for creating or evaluating the best IGIs: They are brief, benefit-oriented, do not directly sell anything, and appeal to people who have the targeted need. Participants then practice creating and delivering IGIs. This practice and feedback is designed to reinforce effective prospecting skills, including: 1) the importance of brevity; 2) the importance of appealing to basic instincts; 3) the importance of emphasizing benefits; 4) the importance of effective delivery and active listening.

Communication Tools of a Professional Salesperson 
This module covers several communication skills that are not specifically addressed in the Customer Sales Map: 1) investigating; 2) listening actively; 3) paraphrasing; 4) observing nonverbal behaviors; and 5) using silence effectively. Many salespeople have never learned these skills in either their academic or professional work. The module emphasizes that effective selling is built on positive communication in which neither party is rushing to a conclusion or tuning out. The module identifies the most important areas to investigate in selling financial services including the timing of the decision, the volume of business, the decision-making process, the customer’s attitude toward the financial institution, and the customer’s risk tolerance or need for safety. The section on active listening skills focuses on avoiding distractions and withholding judgment during the investigation process. paraphrasing is the art of acknowledging what prospects have said by repeating ideas back to them without adding judgment or information. The ideas for effective nonverbal communication include effective eye contact, use of documents and papers during the sales process, and gestures to avoid because they convey negative meaning (e.g., doodling = boredom, rubbing back of neck = irritation). Ideas are presented on how to use silence effectively to advance the prospecting call. The module concludes with ideas and exercises on how to close the prospecting phase by obtaining a commitment to continue from a qualified prospect.

Day Two
Sales Call I - Sales Presentations 
This module revisits the Customer Sales Map and previews its second major section, the Sales Presentation. The importance of structured, planned and practiced sales presentations is stressed. The main reason for conducting formal sales presentations is that prospects aren’t just buying product features and benefits. They are also buying the salesperson’s credibility and endorsement. By “touching all the bases” in a sales presentation, the professional salesperson creates credibility. A Sales Call Planning Worksheet is introduced for organizing data about prospects and preparing for a sales call.

The first step in the sales call is a Summary of Needs, which recaps the prospect’s basic objectives as obtained in the prospecting phase. In an exercise, participants practice scripting and delivering a Summary of Needs.

Next, the module discusses the MAPA sequence of Mention, Ask, Present, Ask as a structure for the sales presentation. The sequence provides some assurance that both the “mention” and “present” ideas are understood and accepted by the prospect before the call proceeds further. It also helps the salesperson “read” the prospect’s feelings before venturing to suggest a specific proposed solution. In teams of two, each participant then scripts out and practices a Generic Product Presentation using the MAPA sequence. The instructor closes the module by debriefing the exercise and emphasizing that belief need not be raised to the level of action until the sale is closed.

Sales Call II - Supporting Acceptance and Answering Questions 
This module trains the selling skill of recognizing positive indications of “acceptance” by the prospect and building on them by supporting them. Likewise, the participant learns how to recognize neutral expressions, such as questions and negative expressions which may be either ”objections” or “doubt”. The three-step module for supporting acceptance is to : 1) Note the acceptance and agree with it; 2)Encourage the prospect to expand on it; and 3) Re-emphasize benefits that have been accepted.

The models for answering questions, objection, and doubt encourage participants to always acknowledge them calmly, without irritation, and consider them to be an opportunity for delivering professional sales service.

This module then gives participants an opportunity to practice these skills in an exercise that also uses the MAPA sequence to make a specific product presentation. This is an extensive exercise in which each participant plans a sales call, using a worksheet, and has it critiqued by the ‘client” on a Sales Call Evaluation Form.

Sales Call III--Handling Objections and Doubt, Closing the Sale 
This module follows up on the skills taught earlier of recognizing objections and doubt, and it provides more training in effectively responding to these negative expressions. The training emphasizes that for most sales to move forward, the prospect must be convinced that the salesperson has made a sincere attempt to answer objections or doubt. These expressions should never be brushed aside. The model for handling objections has three steps: 1)Acknowledge it but don’t agree with it; 2)Answer it; 3) Confirm that the client has accepted the answer. The module includes an exercise in which participants anticipate common objections and devise answers.

Doubt is defined as an indication of concern that promised benefits will be realized. The same three-step process used in handling objections also may be employed to erase doubt. In addition, doubt can be erased by re-emphasizing a benefit and using such ammunition as testimonials, illustrations, or demonstrations.

The module concludes with ideas about effective closing techniques, with emphasis on three types of closes: 1)assumed; 2) either/or; 3)authority.

As a result of the employee’s increased knowledge, skills and confidence, the bank will benefit from:

  • More effective and knowledgeable employees
  • Stronger customer relationships
  • Increased productivity
  • Increased revenues and profitability

TMC Group, Inc.
Tel: 561-362-0709
Fax: 561-362-9135
3200 N. Federal Hwy. Suite 206-17
Boca Raton, FL USA 33431

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