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A Twist in Branch Sales Activity

August 24, 2021

Sales activity at financial institution branches experienced an uptick over the past year. The incidence of consumers who experienced cross-selling at branches increased, which resulted in sales of additional financial products and services. Consumers are shifting away from applying for accounts and services with branch personnel to applying via self-service devices in branches. These are among the findings from the 2021 edition of the Consumer Branch Monitor, a study conducted annually by Phoenix Synergistics (a unit of Phoenix Marketing International). The study included a nationwide, online survey of 2,000 consumers ages 18 or older.

When branch users were asked about the acceptability of cross-selling at branches, a significant majority (80%) say it is acceptable for a teller or other representative to ask them about their interest in additional products while they are at a branch conducting other business. Four in ten (43%) indicate cross-selling would be “very acceptable,” representing an increase from 35% in 2020. Branch users ages 18 to 49 are more likely than older branch users to find cross-selling “very acceptable.”

In addition to the growing acceptability of cross-selling, there has been an increase in the number of branch users experiencing cross-selling while at the branch. A majority (53%) of branch users indicate that a teller or representative has suggested a new product or service while they were at their primary branch. Branch users ages 18 to 49 and those with household income of $100K or more are more likely to indicate they have been cross-sold products at a branch. Four in ten (39%) branch users requested additional information about products or services in response to cross-selling, and one-third (32%) ultimately applied for a product or service. Incidence of both of these activities has increased when compared to 2020.

A significant number of branch users report that, in the past year, they have participated in some type of activity at a branch to obtain information about a product or service in which they had interest. This is particularly true among branch users in the 18 to 49 age segment. Branch users report a wide range of information-gathering activities, including speaking to a branch representative, using appointment banking, and picking up brochures about products and services.

While sales activity at branches is increasing, methods of applying for accounts and services at branches are shifting. Overall, more than one-third (35%) of consumers indicate they opened a new account or service in the past year (up from 27% in 2020). Among these, close to half (49%) report applying at their primary branch (unchanged from 2020). Of those applying at a branch, a majority (56%) did so with branch staff (down from 67% in 2020). Meanwhile, incidences of using several types of self-service devices to apply for accounts and services in branches increased when compared to 2020.

Bill McCracken, president of Phoenix Synergistics, stated, “The concept of the branch as a sales center has been talked about for years. Evidence from our research indicates that branch sales activity, in the form of cross-selling, is indeed increasing. However, in an unusual twist, those opening accounts and services at branches are increasingly using self-service devices to apply, while usage of branch personnel when applying has declined. Financial-services providers need to monitor branch sales activity, particularly the in-branch methods that consumers use to apply for accounts and services, as they design and implement branch transformation and configuration strategies.”

These are among the findings from Phoenix Synergistics’ latest study, Consumer Branch Monitor 2021, which features 2,000 online interviews with consumer financial decision-makers ages 18 or older.

Phoenix Synergistics, a unit of Phoenix Marketing International, is the leading provider of multi-sponsor marketing research for the financial services industry. For more information, contact Bill McCracken, president, Phoenix Synergistics, email bill.mccracken@phoenixmi.com

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