The challenge facing the banking industry is to transform its salesforces – to empower, educate and engage its people to succeed in their new role.

In the first post in this series, I explored how the banking salesforce will need to evolve in response to digital technology and connected customers. This time, I’ll look at how banks should empower, educate and engage their salespeople to succeed in their new role.

They need to take an orchestrated approach that effectively drives the transformation with momentum, and treats salespeople as the strategic assets they are. The first important element is to empower the salesforce with the right tools and the right people to satisfy a demanding customer base.

Digital tools that support in-person sales processes can help create seamless, personalized interactions with customers who may have begun the process in a different channel. Mobile-first and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) can support the salesforce’s need for comprehensive customer information, for example, before meeting in person to complete an interaction started on a digital channel.

The acquisition of digital talent is a key enabler of the banking salesforce of the future. This is a clear call to action for HR leaders, especially in Western Europe where 60 percent of bank employees are older than 40. Banks must reposition themselves and their industry as employers of choice for young talent with digital skills.

The second important requirement is using digital means to endow the salesforce with digital skills. Many banks have started to offer courses on digital for employees or customers. Not all have realized that for this digital training to be successful, the learning experience too needs to be digital.

Employees benchmark their work experience against the exceptional digital experiences they enjoy as consumers. Especially when the topic is digital, it makes little sense to use traditional delivery methods rather than streaming video, gamification, mobile training and other digital tools.

The way to train needs to be fundamentally rethought, and the two dimensions that are most directly impacted are design and format. The abundant, world-class digital training content from YouTube, Vimeo, SlideShare and TED can provide inspiration and even materials for banks.

Finally, to unlock the power of digital, the banking salesforce must be truly engaged to its digital revolution, and the bank to its digital transformation. Digital is a cultural transformation. Banks must deliberately plan their cultural transformation to support their becoming a digital organization. They must also engage their salesforce as it takes this demanding leap.

The salesforce must be committed to digital, not only to ensure its own transition but also to educate and engage the customer. A high-value customer experience cannot happen unless the customer is educated and encouraged to exploit the advantages of digital channels and processes.

In recent years, we have found that cultural transformation is smoother and more successful when the organization adopts a disciplined approach. In the past, such initiatives were typically slow, based on theoretical values, and “owned” only by leaders and nominated change agents. Today, they can be rapid.

The focus should be on habit-forming behavior that is embedded in employee touch-points (HR processes, business goals), and “owned” by everyone on a voluntary basis. Ambassadors emerge naturally from the gamification and social environments. The introduction of non-monetary reward systems that utilize points, badges and public acknowledgements can also promote the expected behavioral changes.

My final post will look at the next wave of disruption and what it will mean for the banking salesforce. For now, you can read more here: The banking salesforce: Now what?

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