Mutual fund company Colonial Group Inc. has launched a training program to teach bank employees how to sell both traditional banking and investment services over the phone.

The Boston-based company kicked off its first of several programs two weeks ago at Bank of Boston Corp., said Craig Howard, senior vice president, director of Colonial's bank division.

Colonial is training about 25 Bank of Boston loan officers and account managers, with three one-hour classes every two weeks for a total of six weeks, he said.

A telemarketing program "turns the bank into a sales culture," Mr. Howard said.

The training program is part of a banking industry trend toward consolidating efforts of various departments to drum up new business. He said one or two employees at every bank branch should have telemarketing responsibilities.

Even though Bank of Boston's telemarketers will also promote traditional banking services, such as opening checking accounts and offering loans, each student-employee is required to spend one to two hours every week setting up appointments with customers for Bank of Boston's brokers.

One of the keys to a good telemarketer is knowing how to respond to apathetic or even recalcitrant customers on the phone, Mr. Howard said.

For instance, what if that customer already has a broker?

"Many of our clients already have brokers, but they found they liked to use our investment counselors for a second opinion," is one suggested response.

Colonial has a similar program going at Chase Manhattan Corp., where it is helping bank brokers establish regular communications with loan officers and branch managers who have contacts with small-business owners.

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