San Francisco, CA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 08/02/2018 -- A media and regulatory spotlight on how banks sell products and services to customers in Australia and New Zealand – particularly at the point-of-sale – could spread to become a broader problem for sales professionals throughout the Western world.
Bill James, who is director of international sales consulting and strategy firm, Attain Sales, said salespeople in the retail environment should be concerned when media start labeling traditional sales practices as morally repugnant.
The specific example referred to as 'repugnant' by Australasian media was where a bank customer service officer tried to sell insurance – called 'loss of income protection' – to a parent with young children. The customer service officer drew attention to the fact that this person's young family would need to be provided for, should something unexpected happen.
James said, "Selling products or services at the point-of-sale is challenging because the customer service officer or salesperson has very little knowledge about the circumstances of the customer – they have not had the opportunity to research background; to really get an understanding of needs.
"As a consequence, the salesperson has to resort to asking a lot of questions which some people – engaged in another activity like paying a bill or depositing money – may find intrusive and out of context. But to sell a product without knowing that it fits the customer's circumstances is also wrong."
James said that solutions may come from point-of-sale software providers like Vend, because the software could be used to provide important information – gleaned over time from multiple transactions – about a customer's needs and problems.
"I think the whole impersonal thing about point-of-sales selling is a big part of the problem. Accurate customer profiling – including previous purchases and historical responses to sales offers – may enable a more personal and accurate engagement.
"People get offended when a salesperson has made no attempt to understand them, or their needs, asks too many questions and tries to foist a product or service on them that they don't need," said James.
It is also important for salespeople to be transparent.
James said don't blindside your customer with a question that's close to the bone, like who will provide for your young children if you die?'
'Let them know where you are getting the information by referring to your point-of-sale information. For example, 'I see here that you're a dad. Have you ever thought of income protection insurance?'
"Use your tools, use the information you have on hand – or get better at information gathering using technology – and use tact.
"We can see both media and governments are becoming more and more intolerant of sales tactics. We require a much higher level of skill and a barrage of badly chosen questions is simply not the answer," said James.
The New Zealand media attention about point-of-sale selling techniques follows a recent Australian banking inquiry – The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry – which has been billed as the greatest scandal in Australian corporate history.
The media attention has led to New Zealand workers representative union, First Union, calling for an inquiry into banks' sales culture, while regulatory bodies like the local Financial Markets Authority are talking about closer scrutiny of how salespeople in the banking sector are incentivised.
"We're going to have to get a lot smarter about how we make product recommendations to upsell in the future, or the sales profession is going to find itself hamstrung.
"What has been acceptable in the past will simply not be acceptable in the future. With regulation becoming widespread it would not be a surprise if many of the sales tactics we apply today become illegal at some stage in the future" said James.
About Attain Sales
Attain specialises in systems, training and coaching to improve Sales Performance.
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