Part II: It’s Time to Engage Your Tellers in Sales

July 22, 2011 (comments: 0)

Coaching to the “I’m just a teller” attitude

As I am sure you know all too well, some people are more willing and able to engage in selling than others, so there will always be a few people who just can’t get there. At the same time, there will be a few tellers who are naturals. For the rest, we need to help them adapt to a changing role for tellers in the delivery of sales and service. I do not have any magic words to coach the reluctant, but I do have an opinion on how to maximize the overall performance of the teller team.

I believe there are two key factors that need to be addressed early on. First is fear; many tellers are just plain scared of engaging the member/customer. They are afraid of not knowing what to say to begin the conversation, afraid of not knowing what to say if the member does want to talk about a product offer and afraid of annoying the member if they are not interested at all. 

The second factor is motivation. Tellers are busy most of the day. Adding the steps of presenting offers and capturing leads increases their workload—so it’s all about giving them the right motivation to take those activities on. I recently visited a credit union branch where tellers were engaged in lead generation. One teller generated about 90 referrals in a week. Phenomenal! The closest teller did about half that many. When questioned on what motivated her, she said she liked being recognized as the top performer. She was motivated by the recognition of her peers and her managers. Her enthusiasm yielded the additional benefit of motivating her peers to do better. Working as part of a team where everyone’s contribution is tracked and recognized is a powerful message all by itself. Recognition is always the #1 motivator as revealed in industry surveys (even over money).

I have heard it said that all emotions stem from two—love and fear. So, how can we help tellers to stop fearing sales activities and put them on a path to loving their success, if not the activities themselves?  I believe the uncertainties that underlie their fears can be eliminated or at least dramatically reduced by taking a few key steps.

1. The organization should make certain that the offers being made to members have real value. When the teller feels comfortable that the offer really is good for the member, then they are more comfortable delivering the message. If the teller needs coaching to understand the value that is ok. 

2. Knowing that the answers to most potential member questions are at their fingertips will also eliminate a lot of anxiety. Even though tellers receive product training, creating scripts or “cheat sheets” with key details provides support for tellers who are just getting started and gives them a safety net in the early going. Knowing that you are there to catch them if they fall may be just enough motivation to take the next steps.

Coaching is always challenging, but it’s easier when the basics are in place to move the team forward.

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