If you want to join the world of banking you will have to compete on a level that your mind and body may not realize. It may sound easy to sit at a desk sipping coffee and talking to customers all day, but it really does involve some essential skills and knowledge.  Here are what I believe to be the top five skills that you will need:

1. Sales Skills:

The main job of a personal banker involves being able to talk to customers and sell them products. While this may sound easy to some people, it is one of the toughest jobs around. There is more to sales then having product knowledge and listing features and benefits of your products. In order to be good at sales you need to be fearless and understand how to accept a “No”.  In this business a “No” is not what you want to hear when you are looking at your huge sales goals, but be prepared for this rejection because you will not always be able to sell every last product your bank offers to each customer. You need to understand that every customer that says no to you is a step towards getting someone to say “Yes”. With any new position it will take some time to build up what I call “sales courage”, so don’t get too upset if you take your first couple of rejections personally.  You have to understand that this is just business and not get so caught up in making it all happens so quickly.  Also, taking some time to find a good sales coach or mentor is essential.

2.  Organizational Skills:

If you want to be able to juggle information and paperwork you need some good ways of organizing each piece of information that you get throughout the day.  The single best way to stay organized is to take some notes when you talk to customers.  It shows you are really listening to what a customer needs and that you are completely focused on helping them with their banking needs.  I would also suggest keeping a spreadsheet of accounts that you have set up and potential customers you have talked to and were not ready to make a commitment at the time of your conversation.  I personally use an excel spreadsheet for information and a calendar on outlook to stay organized with your appointments throughout the day.

3.  Building Rapport:

In order to have a high level of customer satisfaction it is very important that you build some personal rapport with your customers and reach them on an emotional level.  Make sure you take an interest in your customer’s life and ask them several questions about what goals they have for the future. If you show your customers you are a trusted advisor to them and not a product pusher they will give you more respect and be more willing to do some business with you and your company.  When customers are talking about their personal lives it makes them feel comfortable and when a customer is comfortable they are better able to make decisions.

4.  Active Listening:

In order to be an advocate for your customers it is imperative that you actually listen to them! Sounds simple, right? However, many times I will go into a place of business and have to repeat my name and information about why I am asking for help.  This is frustrating for customers and it will lead to the quickest “No” that you have ever seen.  This goes back to taking notes and not working on other things like e-mail while a customer is sitting in front of you.  They deserve your full attention and you want to give it to them!

5. Emotional Intelligence:

In the world of banking and especially banking that involves selling you have to have full control of your emotions. It doesn’t matter if you are having the worst day of your life you need to keep a smile on your face when you are talking to your customers. Whatever is happening to you in your personal life needs to leave your mind when you walk into the bank!

There are several more skills that could be listed here, but I believe if you have these five essential skills you will do well in your personal banking or other sales related career.