How Banks Can Overcome Roadblocks to Generating Internal Referrals

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Banks thrive on referrals. Not just from existing customers, but from internal referrals between departments and staff. For example, the bank teller referring a customer that made a large deposit to an investment advisor. Or the wealth management department referring a fixed-rate mortgage based on lower rates the bank is offering customers with high credit scores.

It’s much more cost-effective to sell additional products to your existing customers. It’s a way of generating a lot of extra profit at very little cost.

All referrals are tracked in the bank's CRM system; goals are reached, incentives are paid. The bank and the employees all benefit.

It sounds easy; everyone is on the same team. But there can be roadblocks.

Mindset Roadblock

By nature, some people are more cross-sell savvy and aware than others. Others "just stay in their lane". They don't put referral opportunities into the CRM system not because they are selfish; they are simply focused on their job and only their job.

Management Roadblock

If the department manager doesn't support the referral initiative, there will be a problem. For example, at one bank we worked with, the commercial lending team would take referrals but never reciprocate. Part of the reason was that the team leader told the others, "just focus on lending and don't worry about the others." Their paycheck or opportunities for a raise didn't depend on showing cross-sell opportunities.

Technology Roadblock

Let's be honest, there will always be some bank employees that have a "technology block". Technology doesn't come naturally to them, they don't remember the process, or they're so inundated with other tasks that they forget to take the time to enter information into the bank's CRM system. If a friend from another department was in their office, they would surely tell them about the referral. But putting it into the CRM system is "too difficult". If you are using a CRM system that is not user friendly, this technology roadblock will be even more common.

How can a bank overcome these roadblocks and generate internal referrals?

To be measured, referrals need to be tracked. Ideally, they are tracked in a CRM system like Crowe CRM for Banking that is built specifically for the banking industry and uses a modern, user-friendly interface.

It goes without saying that everyone should receive training on how to use the CRM system and how to enter referrals. If training is done well, this will remove the "technology roadblock".

Here are a few additional strategies that have worked for other banks to increase internal referrals.

Impact their paycheck

Most banks will pay a commission for referral fees, but only if the referral was entered into the CRM system. Often, taking a hard line on "Not in CRM, No Credit" will motivate employees to take it seriously.

Reward The Effort

With the right CRM system, management can easily pull reports that show not only successful leads but also attempted referrals. Some departments are limited, legally, on how much they can incentivize a person to make a referral. So why not reward based on the attempt, not only the closed deal. Management can also use these reports to identify "referral superstars" that are making the right efforts but need extra coaching to identify opportunities that result in a closed deal.

Highlight the Wins

People love to feel recognized. One bank we work with will share referral success stories in a monthly internal email. They sponsor "the million dollar club" for bank employees who have done a good job of referring closed investment business. Once a year, they host a dinner and give awards, which also includes the top referring teller. 

With the right strategies, supported by the right CRM system, every bank can maximize internal referrals and grow their business. 

About Crowe CRM for Banking

Crowe works with 1,800 financial services organizations across the country, including more than two-thirds of the top 100 U.S. banks. With Crowe CRM for Banking powered by Microsoft Dynamics 365, you can get a true 360-degree view of the customer – with a single view into all communications, interactions, operations, and relationships.

To talk about banking industry success stories and how we can help your bank to reach new goals, contact Crowe at 1-877-600-2253 or

Crowe CRM for Banking on Microsoft AppSource

By Ryan Plourde, Crowe, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Gold Partner,

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