Cross Selling in Banks with Implementation of a Relationship Banker Strategy

The Lab Consulting

A Relationship Banker (sometimes called a “Universal Banker”) wears many hats: Teller, Loan Salesperson, Customer Service Rep. He or she is the front-line person who brings more of the bank to the customer—and more profits by cross selling in the bank than a single-skilled teller. That’s why the Relationship Banking strategy is important and such an emerging trend for increasing cross selling in the banking industry today.

Our previous article described how to design a successful Relationship Banking model transformation for regional banks, including the in-going research, KPIs, and benchmarking required. In this article, we’re going to wrap up the series—and our various banking case studies—by showing you how to implement a Relationship Banker transformation to increase customer engagement and cross selling. And we’ll list the steps you must take to measure and monitor its effectiveness, ensuring continuous improvement in your bank.

An action plan for implementing a Relationship Banking strategy to increase cross selling in banks

Here at The Lab Consulting, we call our action plan a Process Improvement Record, or PIR. It’s the vehicle we use to map out the implementation of any project we design. And note that everything we include in the PIR—whether for a Relationship Banking strategy transformation or any enterprise-wide initiative—can be accomplished without any new technology required. Keep that in mind as you read the following stories from these various case studies:

Relationship Banking Strategy Example 1: Re-structuring Investment Sales and Administration processes

As we noted in our previous article, an important part of the up-front work in these relationship banking strategy engagements was benchmarking. We needed to see how each bank stacked up against its peers.

When we scrutinized these banks’ investment operations, the findings were often eye-opening. The ratio of accounts per client-facing employee, too often, was far below the industry average.

The question was: Why?

Deeper digging revealed the answers. As it turned out, many banks’ investment management clients were assigned too many people (such as a customer service representative, investment advisor, and trust administrator), regardless of the size of the account.

For those banks exhibiting such over-staffing, we recommended that the banks impose new logic on their staffing model. For example, we typically recommended that accounts below $1 million get only one person assigned to them. And for the accounts above $1 million, they would only get a maximum of two.

Making these simple changes—and remember, none of this required any new technology—immediately tripled each bank’s capacity to handle accounts. Their accounts-per-client-facing-employee KPI skyrocketed. Their people were able to handle more accounts and increase cross selling. They were leaner, smarter, and more productive.

And all of this new structuring meshed neatly with the new Relationship Banker strategy.

Relationship Banking Strategy Example 2: Cleaning up the commercial lending process to reduce cost and increase cross selling in bank branches

These banks had all developed their own systems for processing commercial loans. They typically worked like this:

  • A relationship manager would make the sale.
  • A commercial loan administrator would type the information into the system.
  • The underwriters would review the information and approve the loan.
  • A “closer” would process the closing documents.
  • The “closer” would send the package off to the relationship manager, who would hand off a check to the client.

It seems straightforward. But each bank’s process was rife with inefficiencies.

As it turned out, the underwriters would continually discover that essential information was missing. It had never been collected from the customer in the first place by the relationship manager.

This would force the underwriters to stop, well, underwriting. They’d need to kick the application back to the relationship manager, who would need to bother the client for more information. The process basically started over from scratch. You can imagine the effect this had on cycle time, not to mention the customer experience.

Meanwhile, whatever happened to those loan admins? Who was managing them?

Today, those underwriters can make loan decisions in 24 to 48 hours. The cycle process was slashed by weeks. Customer satisfaction soared. And we were able to remove 30 percent of the labor from the process. Even relationship bankers had more time to cross sell in the bank instead of chasing down missing customer information.

Four tools for ensuring sustainable improvement and increased cross selling in the Relationship Banker strategy implementation

Most big-box consultancies will do the upfront research. But after that, you’re on your own. They’ll hand you a huge to-do list, and promise that if you follow the instructions, you’ll improve.

We don’t work that way at The Lab. We stick it out through completion. We’re there for the implementation. We want to ensure that everything works as promised. And when it comes to continuous improvement, we provide four essential tools to accomplish it:

  • Bank Cross Selling Improvement Tool 1: KPI dashboards. These dashboards act as a speedometer for senior leadership. They measure the throughput of the groups. Leveraging hard data, they spotlight the areas that are improving—and those that are lagging. Hint…you can increase cross selling in the bank by implementing the right metrics (We also train the customer to use the KPI dashboard efficiently, so they know what to look for and can take fast action.)
  • Bank Cross Selling Improvement Tool 2: Cross Selling Activity Trackers. These are mechanisms that help the client to measure productivity. They can be as simple as an employee tick-sheet (“I worked 8 hours and completed 5 of these”), or an IT-type element (“I started this at 10:02 and completed it at 10:15”). Trackers allow the client to, say, add a column to a spreadsheet that lets them calculate a ratio and reveal productivity KPIs.
  • Bank Cross Selling Improvement Tool 3: Retail Branch Huddles. This is our term for the different types of management meetings we put in place. We help managers prep for their daily “huddle” with their direct reports (“Who’s here today, and who’s out? Yesterday’s queue lines were at 2.5 minutes; we need to cut those down.”). We also help managers in their weekly meetings with their supervisors, in which they both review the KPI dashboards and look for areas of improvement.
  • Bank Cross Selling Improvement Tool 4: The audit. This provides vital information for the executive committee: Are the huddles being done? Are they effective? Are the KPIs being put to good use? So the lower-level reports get the tools, and the senior-level leadership gets the accountability. It’s top-down and bottom-up.

Bottom line in increasing cross selling in retail banks: Is the Relationship Banker strategy right for your bank?

It may seem daunting to change your branch model from teller lines to customer reps doing transactions at their desks. But in our experience, it’s easier than it seems.

The Relationship Banker strategy is the undeniable way to increase cross selling in banks. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to slash costs, boost efficiency, improve the customer experience, and increase revenue. Contact The Lab to learn more, and get a free no-obligation quote on a Relationship Banker transformation.


For 2021: We have updated our bank client offering. Much of these findings and implementation results can be reviewed in the 3-part-series of “Big Rocks for Banks” below. Find out how to strategically lower costs, increase operating leverage, improve customer experience, and automate what previously wasn’t automatable in your bank.

Find them all here:




Schedule a call