Thoughts & Comments
The Bank Blitz Memo: Crossed-Up Sales Efforts
To make more cross-sales, focus on earning the right to ask for them in the first place.

David Martin
Posted 09/25/2009
Chief Training Consultant,

There are few marketers that I admire more than McDonald’s.  The company that pioneered big, colorful pictures of food behind its stores’ cash registers and let us simply call out a number to order a “meal deal” deserves respect.  And “Would you like fries with that?” may be the biggest revenue-generating sentence in the history of retailing.  

But I think the company has begun making a “cross-selling” error at its drive-thru windows lately.  It’s a mistake in the “protocol” that I’ve pointed out to bankers over the years when discussing building productive sales cultures.

That mistake is putting “sales” before service.  Historically, McDonalds’ cross-selling efforts always came after a customer had already placed his order. You know the drive-thru drill: an employee welcomes you and asks if he can help you (goodwill), then he takes your order (service), and only then does he ask if you’d like to consider an additional item (cross-sell).  Once you’ve gotten to tell the order-taker what you know you already want, you’re more likely to be amenable to the suggestion of adding, say, fries or a pie. 

Recently, McDonald’s has rolled-out a number of new products.  That’s of course created a need to make sure customers know about them. And sure, I understand that.

But I’ve found myself becoming a bit annoyed waiting at McDonald’s drive-thru windows lately.  Through the decades, we’ve all become accustomed to hearing a quick, (and sometimes sincere), “Welcome to McDonalds, can I help you?”  We usually know what we want, and have gotten the orders of the other passengers in the car.  We drive up ready to speak.  The focus had always first been on us, the customer. 

Not anymore. Now, drive into a McDonald’s drive-thru, and the first thing you hear is a sales pitch for some Iced Frappa Mocha Whatcha-ma-call-it or something else before you can even open your mouth. The company has shifted the initial focus on what it wants, not what its customers want.   One young lady took about ten seconds pitching something to me the other day before I could speak.  Her pitch was so long that I struggled to remember my kids’ orders.

I’m quickly developing the habit of ignoring anything that is said and waiting for silence before saying, “No thanks.  I’d like a ….” 

Training customers to ignore most of what your employees are saying isn’t exactly a retailing best practice.  I know that’s not the intention, but it’s fast becoming the reality.

This week, I found myself contrasting that with a retailer my family consistently has positive interactions with.  The folks at our local Game Stop store almost always get the cross-sell formula right. 

My wife brought my younger son to a Game Stop so he could use the gift cards he had received for his birthday.  After quickly being acknowledged and offered assistance, they told the young man what games my son was interested in.

Without being asked, the store employee first looked through his used game inventory to see if he could save my son money.  He ended up finding one of the games on his list in mint condition and for less money than we would have paid. 

Only after helping my wife and son with everything they came in for, and having given my son useful information about his purchases, did he suggest a subscription to the store’s monthly magazine.  After he described the benefits and cost savings on products that come with subscription, my wife signed my son up for it.

So they basically paid a few bucks to have Game Stop send them a marketing piece each month.  That’s a pretty genius marketing move. 

Had the young man attempted to sell them anything like a magazine subscription right up front, “No thanks,” would have been the reply.  But he had earned their consideration (and goodwill) by providing great service in addressing first what they came in for.

As fewer and fewer customers are actually visiting our branches, our ability to cross-sell products and services during these visits is more important than ever.  But as we step up those efforts, let’s not forget the importance of keeping our focus on service before sales.           

Take a minute this week to remind your teams that the best way to “make” a cross-sale is to “earn” the right to ask for one in the first place.

What do you think? Let me know!

  Add your comment



ST Posted On 9/25/2009 11:55:21 AM

When I recently went into a Bank of America branch in California, to deposit some checks, the first thing the teller asked me if I would like to use the ATM to make my deposit. When I said no thanks, he went on to ask me if I ever used the atm to deposit checks, and then the teller next to him chipped in and said how the new atm's scan your checks and make it very easy to deposit checks. So I had to actually tell them three times that I did not want to use the atm, maybe this branch is about to be shut down as it was not very busy and it is not the normal branch that I would use. It also did occur to me to ask them if I stopped using the tellers, would that not put them out of a job, but alas, I thought that might be rude, as I only wanted to deposit my checks and go on my way.

Teresa Shouppe Posted On 9/25/2009 11:59:27 AM

Good article. One thing I would like to add for thought is that I don't personally feel it is a good idea to force your customer to start off their dialogue with the word "no." The bank I used to work for wanted us to answer the phone with something like, "Thank you for calling XYZ Bank. Would you like to apply for a home equity loan today?" My feeling was that if the client has called you with some sort of problem or concern, asking them a question that calls for a negative answer, rather than an offer of help, doesn't set a good tone for the rest of the conversation and will make some customers escalate. And now every time I pull up to the McD's drive thru, an automated voice asks me if I want to try a hot mocha with my meal today. So I am forced to start my order with "no" and I don't like it either. And by the way, I have never had a customer answer with "Why yes, I do want to apply for a home equity loan today."

Parkite Posted On 9/25/2009 2:32:19 PM

You actually eat at McDonald's?

Dave Posted On 9/25/2009 2:47:06 PM

Parkite: Dude. If you have kids, you eat at Micky D's.

MNL Posted On 9/25/2009 2:54:40 PM

David, you could not be more right on in this analysis.

Lyle S, St. Paul, MN Posted On 9/25/2009 3:52:16 PM

Right on!!!! A sincere interest in the customer and service that exceeds their expectations will result in a smooth transition to recommending or suggesting a product or service that may fill the customers need or want.

Parkite Posted On 9/25/2009 5:19:51 PM

Dave - I've got a 5 and 3 year old and they have no idea what McD's is.

kazshak Posted On 9/27/2009 11:06:27 PM

I think this is an excellent set of observations. As applied to banking, in particular, I think too many bankers spend their time pushing what their incentive programs will compensate them for, rather than really listening to their clients and trying to solve their problems.

Charles Prince Posted On 9/28/2009 10:35:45 AM

God, I hate salesmen. That's what got banks in the mess they're in. Mixing money with sales folk has never— EVER— been a good idea. Run— do not walk— as fast as you can from anybody who compares a banker with a McDonald's french fry server. You're about to be told to grab your ankles.

Teresa S Posted On 9/28/2009 12:44:02 PM

Well, not sure how the whole "you go to McD's?" is relevant to the topic, but I buy a drink there most days and take it back to the office with me. And since my husband used to work for them I know they have been masters of instituting the cross sell. They actually invented the "meal" concept during his employment there, and now most people don't even remember what it was like to go to a fast food place and order a la carte. The store he worked in had the country's first McD's drive through. How many of you remember going to one that didn't have a drive thru window?? Say what you like about them, but they have stayed ahead of the game on marketing concepts for decades.

Emily Posted On 10/6/2009 2:04:28 PM

What an excellent way to cross-sale. I work at a community bank that puts service first, but still wants us to cross sell. I've always felt that we are dealing with adults and most know what they want and need. That being said, after we have met their needs, why not help them with something they didn't know they needed.
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