Capstone Marketing Blog

CPAs: How Not to Cross-Sell Like Wells Fargo

  • Wells Fargo employees opened unneeded accounts for customers, forged client signatures on paperwork, and begged family members to open ghost accounts.
  • Employees opened duplicate accounts, sometimes without customers’ knowledge.
  • Employees used a bank database to identify customers who had been pre-approved for credit cards and ordered the cards without asking them.
  • A homeless woman was talked into opening six checking and savings accounts with fees totaling $39 a month when all she needed was one account for direct deposit of her Social Security disability benefits.

I could go on but I’m disgusted.

These manipulative and unethical activities were carried out to meet the bank’s aggressive sales goals.  According to the Los Angeles Times story Wells Fargo expects employees to sell at least four financial products to 80% of their customers and top Wells Fargo executives urge employees to shoot for the “Great 8” — an average of eight financial products per household. These services are meant keep customers tied to the bank and less likely to switch to competitors.

Ironically, Wells Fargo is the nation’s leader in selling add-on services to its customers. And, they have it all wrong. As a former Wells Fargo manager said, “It sounds good, but in reality it doesn’t benefit most customers.”

This is the crux of the issue. Cross-selling additional services to clients is meant to benefit the customer, solve a problem, and fill an unmet need. The motivation behind cross-selling should be based upon service, not sales.

Your clients want you to bring them solutions.

Your CPA firm’s clients will pay for additional services only when you have earned the work. They must be extremely satisfied with the services you currently provide. The additional services must provide value to the client.

These next few months are an excellent opportunity for you to identify the needs and concerns of your clients. What services does your firm offer that could solve these needs and concerns? Cross-selling is about continuing to build client relationships (read my blog post, 12 Steps to Better Client Relationships) and solving client problems, not meeting sales quotas at a client’s expense.

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One thought on “CPAs: How Not to Cross-Sell Like Wells Fargo

  1. Jack Kolmansberger

    That’s pretty bad… maybe it is just a marketing term, but I prefer to use cross-serve over cross-sell. It reminds us that our purpose is to do the right thing for the customer.

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