San Francisco, CA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 08/02/2018 -- Sales incentives – particularly for sales and service people working at the point-of-sale – has come under scrutiny in Australia and New Zealand recently, with trade unions and legislators citing the way staff are incentivised as a reason why some customers face undue pressure at the point where they are completing a retail transaction.
In New Zealand, Financial Markets Authority (FMA) CEO, Rob Everett, told local media that most of what's wrong with financial services stems from the way people get paid, "the way they get incentivised to sell product; to give advice".
In Australia, following The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry's revelations into widespread misconduct by Australian banks, consumer groups are baying for blood from what they call a profit-based sales culture.
Share Piper, who is CEO of international sales consulting and strategy firm, Attain Sales, condemned the cases of widespread misconduct and unethical pressure sales, but has appealed for calm in a brewing storm that will at least vilify, if not threaten, the right of organisations and salespeople to sell products and services at a profit.
"While this controversy involves the financial and banking services sector, who are being roundly condemned for moving from a customer service-centric industry to a profit-based sales culture, it's just the thin end of what could be an attack on free-market capitalism throughout the Western world.
"There is nothing wrong with selling goods and services for a profit. Commerce is the foundation of the free Western world and we should be concerned at the spread of socialist ideas under the guise of consumer protection."
Piper said sales is hard work and people will not do it – or will not perform adequately – if they are not appropriately remunerated. Having sales processes and incentives curtailed would lead to a decline in profitability and ultimately job losses.
Time to stop thinking of sales as a numbers game
It's time to stop thinking of sales as a 'numbers game' and shift back to using technology, information, and empathy in offering customers a product that they need at a price they can afford.
The problem is not with selling, or incentives said, Piper. "It is fundamentally a failure to care and, at the very least, a failure to provide adequate information. There are no excuses really – if point-of-sale software solutions like Vend can put information about buying habits and customer needs at a shoe salesperson's fingertips, why can't they do the same with banking technology?
"When you try to sell something to somebody who needs it and can afford it, selling is easy and everybody benefits. Trying to sell something to somebody who doesn't need it and can't afford it is not only unethical, it's a lot of hard work and wasted resource. On top of this, you will justifiably invite greater regulation and compliance that will make trading more difficult."
Piper offered the following sales tips for financial companies:
1. Invest in technology that helps with understanding the customer's needs and background.
"Since the recession the sale of financial products has come under increasing scrutiny around the world. The sales of financial products must be accompanied by a real needs analysis and thorough understanding – at the point of sales – of your customer. No excuses."
2. Revisit the incentive structure.
"Incentives are another area that is going to come under scrutiny, and not just in New Zealand or Australia. Keep in mind that money isn't always the biggest motivating factor - vision, purpose, a clear career path and recognition can also be powerful motivators. Look to incentivise customer care as well," said Piper.
3. Review how the staff asks their questions.
"Where you have someone, for example, sorting out their finances for a planned holiday, it's ok to ask, 'do you have your travel insurance sorted?' To then go on and ask 'how about your credit card?' and 'are your home and contents covered while you're away?' is getting pushy.
"You should know your customer well enough – with point-of-sale data on hand – to get away with one salient question. It's the difference between needs selling and a splatter gun approach, which is just messy," said Piper.
He concluded that banks can keep regulators and consumer lobbyists at bay by taking pro-active action to ensure their point-of-sale tactics are professional, informed and needs based.
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About Attain Sales
Attain specialises in systems, training and coaching to improve Sales Performance.
Sharn Piper +64 27 733 4333
https://attainsales.co.nz/ and https://www.vendhq.com/
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