In my previous post in this series, I outlined six ways that the 2020 financial services customer will have changed from the consumer of 2010. This time, I’ll explore what this will mean for banking and insurance salesforces, especially as artificial intelligence and intelligent machines start to work with people to deliver new customer experiences.

Here are the six characteristics of the 2020 customer and some thoughts on what they mean for financial services companies:

  • Smarter thanks to algorithms:  Banks and insurers need to create a more real-time and personalized offering.
  • Ready for VR/AR: Financial services companies should add these technologies to their channel mix.  
  • Empowered by personal robots:  In future, your sales representatives and your bots could be selling to consumers and their personal bots.  
  • Used to service on-demand: Financial services companies need to offer the same level of personalized care to mass customers as they do to private product clients.
  • Ready to share data with firms they trust: Data ethics and security are core capabilities for tomorrow’s financial services group.
  • Still social beings: Selling complex products still demands a personal touch.

To boost sales in this context, financial services companies need to look at digital-for-digital, human-to-human, and digital-for-human sales capabilities. Their future salesforce will thus comprise both intelligent machines and people working together to provide service and advice to customers, each complementing the other’s strengths. Let’s look at each in turn:

Digital-to-digital sales

Since the first investment banking robo-advisors came to market, they have come a long way. Betterment and Wealthfront, among the first of them, today have billions of dollars in assets under their management. They have been followed to market by the likes of Charles Schwab.

We’re also seeing bots used in other segments of the financial services market—for example, Goldman Sachs’ unsecured personal loans brand, Marcus, delivers live, personalized support through a robo loan advisor. 

Consumers have an appetite for such services. Accenture Financial Services’ Global Distribution & Marketing Consumer Survey for 2017 finds that 74 percent of insurance customers are willing to receive computer-generated advice about the type of insurance coverage to purchase.


As technology levels the playing field and further commoditizes financial services products, banks and insurers will set themselves apart by developing distinctive human traits as creativity and storytelling. We’ll see many leading financial services companies focus on helping their salesforces develop storytelling as a sales competency, for example. We may see more banks get inspiration from fashion, retail and other industries known for customer service when recruiting and training salespeople–Che Banca in Italy tapped people from these industries when it need to build a salesforce.


The lines between human sales and robo -advisors will blur in the financial salesforce of the future as organizations strive to provide the best digital capabilities to support their people. Che Banca, for example, services most customers using digital channels but has some branches to provide higher value advice for products like mortgages. In addition to its salesforce, it also offers a robo-advisor.

People and machines selling together

Financial services companies that want to excel in sales in the future will be defined by their ability to evolve their corporate cultures to take advantage of emerging technologies and of the new business strategies that those technologies drive.

Machines and artificial intelligence will be the newest recruits to the salesforce, bringing new skills to help people do new jobs, and reinventing what’s possible. Technology isn’t a threat to the salesforce, but an opportunity to improve performance and the customer experience.

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