Do you record and systematically listen to new-account conversations in your branches? If not, how can you possibly know how much account and revenue volume you're forfeiting through inadequate selling? Do you have Operations rather than Sales activating new cards?
The blind lead the blind. EVPs and SVPs who never sold to consumers manage banking officers who maintain the tradition of not selling. In part, that's because the go-getters wanted to deal with commercial customers, not consumers. When Merrill Lynch was No. 1, the most highly compensated individual often wasn't the CEO, but rather a sales manager.
To sell more, elicit new customers' full financial purchase information right away. We say, "Here's a direct deposit form. You can fill it out later." Get the facts about customer assets, accounts and transactions. Use these to guide immediate cross-sell.
In this space, there've been numerous columns about branch and other consumer banking operations, very few about selling. Maybe when growth came more easily, selling was beneath bankers' dignity. To sustainably increase equity value, it's not enough to cut expenses. Banks have to sell.
Andrew Kahr is a principal in Credit Builders LLC, a financial product development company, and was for six years the founding CEO of First Deposit, later known as Providian.