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Comfort  In Cross-selling and Upselling for Your Bank or Credit Union

Rebecca Gwaltney
April 1, 2021

Cross-selling or Upselling can be TOUGH but it's Necessary

Cross-selling and upselling are great suggestions for the growth and development of your bank or credit union, but they can be difficult to accomplish if your staff isn't comfortable, doesn’t want to come off as pushy or isn’t sure how to start the conversation. 

With 80% of future profits coming from 20% of your existing members or customers, it’s time to get your staff on board.

Build Confidence with your Bigger Purpose

Cross-selling isn’t just about making your credit union or bank money. It is about retaining your members and customers, offering them safe, trustworthy products and financing that improves their current financial position and saves them money.

Think of it this way... your member is literally right in front of you (in person, chat or phone). You already know what they are asking for, but you as the expert have insight into a product or service that could save them even more money. You can't count on them coming back, you have to take advantage of this chance to help. 

Think of their initial interaction with you as demonstrated trust for your financial institution. It's your job to reassure them they have made the right decision and to enhance their overall experience by developing a deeper long-term relationship.

Believe me, if they don’t have the product or service with you, they most likely have it somewhere else. Don't miss this opportunity to help in more ways than one!

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Cross-selling and Upselling for Retention

You might be interested in ways to grow and develop your bank or credit union.  Aren't we all? Cross-selling and upselling are the perfect way to do just that AND they are also a great tool for retention. Your goal should always be to remain top-of-mind as members and customers search for products and solutions. If you are not there when the time is right, they will find another institution that is. 

Keep in mind that needs-based cross-selling doesn’t come off as annoying. Members are getting suggested product offers all the time as they search the internet. It isn’t new, but your customers are judging your quality of service by the types of products they are getting cross-sold, so make sure your suggestions aren’t random, are well timed, are based on research and their needs.


Cross-selling should be an essential part of your growth strategy. Focus your effort on cross-selling current members where you can count on a 60-70% chance of conversion. Expect only 5-20% for non-members.

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Pre-Call Prep is Essential

One of the biggest no-no's in today's banking landscape is the uninformed cold-call. Especially from a bank or credit union who has an existing relationship with a member or customer. Make sure you do your research before reaching out!

If you have a robust CRM you should be reviewing all recent contact and touch points with the customer. You should also review your current level of service through your core system and if you have a recent credit report on file, definitely take a quick peak.

Reviewing your members or customers credit report is the perfect way to find potential savings. Check out their outstanding loans and credit cards with competitors and offer your lower rate alternatives. Who wouldn't feel good knowing their financial institution is actively looking for ways to save them money? 

Also be sure to pay attention to digital behavior. For example, if someone has recently downloaded a car-buying manual and has visited a loan product page or blog, you can safely assume they may be in the market for a car and considering their financing options.  

Don't be afraid to explore all options with the person you are talking to. As long as you have their best interest at heart, that will come through.

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Build the Relationship, Be Honest, and THANK THEM!

Now I am not saying that every consumer needs to walk out with FIVE products or services. Cross-selling absolutely MUST make sense for the consumer's bottom line.

Sophia Bernazzani's 6 Tips to Learn How to Up-sell and Cross-sell differentiates which approach to use and why. According to this article "Up-selling is encouraging the purchase of anything that would make the primary purchase more expensive. Cross-selling is encouraging the purchase of anything in conjunction with the primary product."

So in banking think of it this way... an up-sell example would be if you can find a way to turn a small unsecured loan into a larger secured loan. 

Say a customer wants to consolidate their credit card debt using your low rate credit card. Then, you notice after reviewing their credit report they have outstanding unsecured debt at another financial institution. You should suggest they roll all their debt into a secured home equity loan so they can receive a lower rate, pay their debt off sooner, and put the extra savings in their emergency savings fund. This benefits both the individual AND your institution.

Be honest, make sure the consumer understands you're recommending something that is in their best interest, and always make sure you THANK them! A nice extra touch is to mail a hand written thank you card after a great conversation. Often it can be the smallest things that make the biggest impact!


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Remember, Consumers Don't Know What They Don't Know

As a loan officer, teller, customer service or member service consultant, or lending sales professional, you are the expert and have the tools you need to enhance your member or customers experience with your financial institution.

Whether you're reviewing a credit report, cashing or depositing a paycheck, or transferring money between accounts, you may see something that opens an opportunity that will benefit the person standing right in front of you. 

Remember Your Cross-selling and Up-selling Goals:

  1. Secure a good relationship with your consumer.
  2. Assure the consumer they have come to the right place and you're there to help them. 
  3. Let the consumer control the "sale," make them feel like it is their idea when you offer them a product that makes more sense, or will build their relationship.
  4. Every person is different so handle each situation as if you were in their shoes. Get to know your consumer. Treat them as you would a close friend or family member.
  5. Shake their hands or send them a Thank You note. Be friendly, professional and personable. 

Consumers may think they have everything at their fingertips and know what they are looking for. But it doesn't hurt to make their experience even better, after all, they are what make your bank or credit union successful.

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