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Why technology is a critical factor in managing the new ‘long distance’ relationships the financial services industry now relies on

financial services - Global Banking | Finance

By Tom Castley, VP of Sales, EMEA, at Outreach

The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way people do business in almost every industry, with the financial services (FS) industry in particular witnessing rapid change. 

On a day-to-day level, those working in the FS industry have now grown accustomed to virtual meetings replacing the business lunch, and physical interactions with customers forced to take place digitally. 

Although banks use transactional analysis to discover how people interact with them, they have long struggled to capture the conversations they have with customers effectively to truly understand how they feel. This is now compounded by the fact that these conversations take place across a multitude of new and different platforms.

Despite this, relationships with clients and customers remain crucial and now require even more effort to maintain in the absence of the face-to-face interaction the industry previously happily relied on. 

Fortunately, there are now alternative ways to enhance relationships with customers – and that’s where technology comes in.

Challenges in maintaining long-distance relationships

Businesses in the FS industry are aware of the unique, important role they play for their clients and the importance of strong client relationships. That’s why they hire and train the best people they can find to take care of customers. 

However, the pandemic has catapulted the industry into the unfamiliar territory of having to maintain ‘long distance relationships’. By their very nature, these require each side to be more deliberate, carve out the time to speak to each other, and be more thoughtful in the way they approach business. All of this at a time where so much change is at play, meaning an increased element of risk should things go wrong.

To understand and form long-lasting relationships in the virtual world, FS businesses need to shift their focus from ‘selling’ to ‘understanding’. By using the right technology to listen to clients and prospects, businesses can understand more about their needs and behaviours, which allows them to provide better consultancy and build trust.

Using technology to aid understanding 

The pace of change has increased, meaning the bi-annual customer check-ins of the past need to be replaced by engagement and ‘in the moment interventions’ that react to transactional changes. 

This is where sales engagement platforms (SEPs) come in: the force multiplier that revenue-led organisations need to increase efficiency and improve results at all stages of the sales cycle.

A SEP makes sure that all leads entering a sales funnel go through a predefined sequence of touchpoints. These sequences provide the necessary personalised messages and customer experiences to turn prospects into sales-qualified leads. 

Most importantly, they drive the persistence to contact customers with valuable information, rather than the old ‘try once, leave a voicemail, next customer’ approach that leaves money on the table.

Typically, we predict only 10% of cold calls turn into meetings. Many features of an SEP are designed to ensure high-quality conversations, by providing relevant information about a prospect’s current industry trends or challenges in real time. 

These features rely on technology such as advanced analytics, intent-aware AI and A/B testing – all of which help banks to reach out to their customers in a proactive and targeted way which drives add-on revenue and customer loyalty.

Many organisations are also using sales engagement platforms to ensure that lack of data is never a problem. Sales engagement platforms capture the telemetry of sales and provide team leaders with previously unheard-of levels of visibility and clarity into which representatives are engaging with prospects using the right messaging and approach. This can help leaders to understand which members of the team need further education and assistance.

Looking to the future

The COVID-19 outbreak has propelled the digital shift to an exponential speed, and things will never return to the way they were before. 

We’ll continue to see technology become part and parcel of every part of an FS business’ operations, with those in sales roles ditching their ‘little black book’ and reliance on face-to-face lunch meetings in favour of accurate data and predictive AI in order to close deals.

So, as we transition into a future where remote working is the norm, the successful banks of tomorrow will react first and harness the power of sales technology to interact with customers in a way that’s fit for 2021 and beyond.

Global Banking & Finance Review


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