08.25.2017

Customer-Centric Sales Still the Exception

Financial services are paying lip service when adopting a customer-centric sales culture, according to the findings of a global survey published by Pegasystems and conducted by Forrester Consulting.

Although the wide majority of financial services firms and banks realize they must shift from product-based to relationship-based selling to remain competitive, only one-third of banks have successfully made the transition, noted the report’s authors.

The survey, which polled 250 financial services professionals in Canada, United States, the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Japan, and Australia, found that 79% agree that institutions will move away from product-based selling to focusing on customer relationships in the next five years. However, only 31% deploy relationship-based sales models today to any significant degree, including just one percent who fully leverage it. Another 29% are still deeply stuck in product-based selling approaches that often prioritize booking revenue over the real needs of each customer. The rest, 50 percent, use a mixed approach to navigate these new customer demands.

Increased customer expectations for personalized banking experiences are driving banks toward this alternative way to engage, but most banks aren’t yet delivering. Seventy-six percent of financial services professionals say customers want more personalized product recommendations based on their needs and goals. However, today only 28% of banks feel they fully support the personalized needs of customers.

How can banks successfully shift to relationship-based selling? Of those furthest along in their relationship-based selling journeys, 92% are either already implementing AI, or plan to do so in the next 12 months, indicating AI will be a key differentiator between leading and lagging financial services firms and banks. More specifically, 88% of respondents who feel they need a higher level of audit to ensure suitability believe AI can help match the right product with the right customer, which isn’t consistently happening today. In addition, nearly all survey respondents (99%) believe a unified customer relationship management platform is either very or somewhat valuable to supporting customer engagement.

Banks view the lack of real-time customer insights as the top barrier to instituting a relationship-based sales approach, identified by 63% of respondents. They also cite pressure from fintech competitors (59%) and insufficient customer profiles (47%). But banks that can overcome these obstacles and make the transition to relationship-based selling reap tremendous benefits. Of the respondents who have shifted to this new selling model, 85% indicated their customers are more loyal, and 81% reported increased customer satisfaction with products.

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