Still trying to improve your cross-sell ratio? Building a platform where consumers can cross-buy is a better option, writes Brian Caplen.

The buzzword in banking used to be cross-selling. The logic went something like this: the easiest people to sell your services to are your existing (hopefully happy) customers. So if you could take every standard deposit account customer and make them a car loan, income would rise. If you could then take a portion of these customers and get them to switch their mortgage too, income would rise even faster.  

Banks that could improve their cross ratio from one to two products per customer to three to four would be on track for a good earnings season.

But bankers who are still debating the merits of cross-selling may find they are talking yesterday’s language. In a world of open banking, ecosystems and apps, winning banks will be those who master the art of cross-buying, not cross-selling.

It’s a question of making sure the bank’s products and services are competitive and well marketed in all the different forums where sales may be discussed and transacted – the bank’s own ecosystem, price comparison sites, apps specifically for a single product such as mortgages or insurance. Even on the bank’s own platform there will be opportunities for customers to cross-buy from more specialised fintechs who can better fulfil their needs. But banks will also need to be on other platforms too, persuading potential clients that they are the best option. Where ever consumers are making a purchase or a decision with a financial underpinning, banks need to be there.

The days when the sales team hit the phones in the morning are over. Now that sales expertise needs to be focused on making the bank attractive in all the multiple online places that customers frequent. 

Brian Caplen is the editor of The Banker. Follow him on Twitter @BrianCaplen

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