Selling to Millennials: 4 Ways that Banks are Retooling Their Approach

Millennial customers are quickly becoming key to the growth strategy of financial institutions, particularly in hyper-competitive markets where customer churn remains high. As the banking industry evolves its products and practices across the board to meet millennials’ specific preferences and expectations, the impact of this new generation is fundamentally changing the way banks need to prepare their service reps for success.

While millennials tend to judge a bank on the basis of its digital capabilities, they still also expect a human connection to advise them. The challenge for banks is being able to balance the two – with a new set skills required to meet millennials on their turf – working consultatively and cooperatively to assist them with their financial strategies.

Here are four ways banks are preparing their sales and service teams for success with this new generation of clients:

  1. Understand millennial preferences and how they differ.
    he recent Forrester Research report, May the Force of the Millennials Be With You, characterizes millennials as “digital natives.” They not only embrace technology – they grew up with it and crave it. They’re multi-taskers constantly on the go. They respond to social selling techniques and expect seamless access to information anytime from anywhere.

    To millennials, the successful banking rep is more of a trusted advisor. Deep knowledge of a broad and changing product line is just the starting point. Sales reps need important industry context to help these next-generation clients achieve their goals – and how to apply it given regulatory requirements that govern customer dialogues.

  2. Define the capabilities needed to meet customer expectations, and actively monitor their uptake.
    Millennial expectations place a significant demand on sales executives, not just on sales reps. Executives need to take stock of their sales programs to assure they address the required capabilities – and to scale out this knowledge so they can adequately coach and manage reps’ capabilities by location, business unit and region.

There’s growing recognition that systems for managing process and activity metrics at many institutions miss a vital element in managing performance – the capabilities of the sales people themselves.  A new category of business analytics derived from sales capabilities platforms are helping leading financial institutions to make sure their sales reps have the skills and knowledge it takes to win customers while meeting regulatory compliance requirements.  They provide a window into an institution’s human capacity to attract and retain customers, including market and industry knowledge, as well as mastery of key selling skills such as prospecting or competitive differentiation.

  1. Measure capabilities proactively to reduce risk to the organization.
    Institutions are using these “people KPIs” as a powerful way of demonstrating compliance essential to mitigating regulatory risk as they build out millennial-friendly skills.

    For example, using a mobile sales capabilities platform from Qstream, a global retail banking firm with over 15,000 sales reps, was able to ensure associates understood AML requirements in their daily work, as well as mastery of a changing product line.  The approach delivered significantly better retention of compliance information than traditional approaches such as computer-based training. Data and insights as to the level of knowledge were available by region and rep.   What’s more, the associates really liked the program and the ability to access it conveniently in minutes a day from any mobile device.

  2. Coach strategically, using data to personalize and save time, without micromanaging.
    Institutions are also realizing the role of data-driven coaching in shifting their sales team to new and evolving capabilities. For example, a diversified, community-based financial services company with nearly $2 trillion in assets needed reps to expand the sale of new and innovative solutions while retaining existing businesses – a task requiring extensive consultative selling capabilities. By using a sales capabilities platform, the financial services firm achieved an average 10% increase in rep proficiency at delivering a retirement narrative as well as connecting it to the digital experience and other financial engines.

With a thoughtful eye on sales operations technology, the change that millennials bring is helping banks to drive value while meeting the changing preferences and needs of their customer.


Lisa Clark is vice president of Qstream, provider of a mobile sales capabilities platform used by leading brands in technology, financial services and life sciences, including 14 of the world’s top 15 pharmaceutical companies, to manage the effectiveness of their sales channels and front-line managers. Qstream’s scientific approach has been validated in more than 20 randomized control trials to boost performance and durably change behaviors in just minutes a day using any mobile device.

Written by Lisa Clark