If you find yourself with 10 minutes at some point in the day, here are 10 things you can do to improve your team’s chances of success. Pick one that will have the biggest impact.
1. Review the last 4 weeks of pipeline reports and weekly call planners for one of your average-performing team members. See what it tells you.
2. Tell one of your team members to schedule a day of calls with you in the next two weeks. Be specific about the mix of customers and prospects you’d like to meet with.
3. Call one of your bankers and ask him what you can do to help with any deals in his pipeline.
4. Think about how to improve the quality of your weekly sales meetings. If you’re stumped about how to improve them, ask one of your peers to sit in (or listen in) on your next meeting.
5. Arrange time to sit down one-on-one with all of your direct reports to review where they stand with their top customers and prospects. Make sure you get in advance the relationship plans for each customer/ prospect you’ll be talking about.
6. Think about what additional training your team needs. If you’re not sure how to get it, call your Training Department or a banking trade association like RMA for help.
7. Let your boss (or your boss’s boss) know which of your team members deserves special recognition.
8. Assess how well your sales people are using the tools you have provided them with (e.g. Industry information from IBISWorld, RMA, Vertical IQ or First Research, prospect information, call planning templates on your bank intranet, etc.) If you don’t like the answer, do something.
9. Call up a prospect whose business one of your team members failed to land recently. Tell him you’d like to get some feedback on how your colleague could do better in the future. You may be surprised what you’ll learn.
10. Evaluate your own performance as a sales leader. If you’re interested in a checklist that you can use, go to Daily Checklist for Sales Managers.
Interested in more resources on coaching? Download our article on Driving the Prospecting Process: 7 Tips for Sales Managers.
Bonus Offer: Download your complimentary copy of our eBook Prospecting Pointers.
Webinar Alert: If you’re like many bankers, you may wonder whether you’re getting what you could out of LinkedIn. You built your profile, but haven’t updated it recently. You have more than 200 connections but there are things that you suspect LinkedIn might be able to do and you haven’t had the time to research them.
Join Greg Taylor and Ned Miller on June 10 for a fast-paced discussion of taking LinkedIn to the next level. Among the topics they’ll cover are:
* How to take advantage of LinkedIn's research capabilities
* Using LinkedIn to schedule appointments with prospects
* Tips on LinkedIn groups
* Leveraging LinkedIn as a communication tool
For more details and registration information go to:
LinkedIn on 60 Minutes a Week Session 2--June 10, 2013
One of the mistakes that business bankers make in prospecting is not leveraging the full power of their networks. One of the mistakes that Sales Managers make is assuming that everyone knows how to do this. Here are 5 things that you can do to encourage your team to use their connections to get information, introductions and referrals. To view this video, click on the link below.
New Sales Leadership Workshops with Buck Bierly sponsored by Western Independent Bankers Association:
Looking for ways to improve your bank’s sales results? Buck Bierly will be leading two workshops sponsored by the Western Independent Bankers Association in the coming months. He’ll discuss how to:
- Segment your market – focusing on the “right” relationships.
- Develop a market model – proactively strengthening the business relationships on your retention, expansion and acquisition lists.
- Build a relationship development processes – differentiating you and your bank in today’s increasingly competitive banking environment.
- Develop strategies for key relationships – it’s not the value you want add, it’s aligning with the business owner’s “value drivers.” Take the next step to learn more and register today!
Here are five things you’ll never hear most bankers say:
1. “I overprepared for that call.” Winging it is still the most common approach to business calls. Some people would lead you to believe that they can draw on a vast personal reservoir of talent and experience and come out OK. Don’t believe them.
2. “I’d like to meet with you before the training class I’m attending next week to review your expectations and figure out what I should try to get out of the session.” Too many people dutifully appear at training sessions with little direction from their immediate supervisors about what they should be focusing on. That often makes the training less valuable than it should be. (And, for what it’s worth, do you think these same students return back to work and demand an audience with their bosses to review what they learned and how they plan to apply it? That’s why most of the money invested in things like sales training is squandered.)
3.“Price wasn’t the real reason we lost that deal.” That may be what everybody would like to believe. Sometimes it’s what customers tell you. But the truth is that often the other side did a better job of identifying needs and portraying its capabilities to the prospect. Sometimes you were beaten by a better prepared, more capable banker.
4.“Can you spend some time with me reviewing my account plans? I’d like to strategize with you about some of my key prospects.” Some form of account planning is introduced in all sales courses. How long it survives after the training is a function of management’s commitment to instilling a disciplined process around planning. Salespeople will only do account plans if you insist. But here’s a secret: most bankers do like to strategize about winning new business. Based on our experience working with bankers for over 20 years, the best way for them to get their thoughts together is by putting their plan in writing.
5. “I’m a lousy negotiator because I can’t afford to lose a deal on price.” The perverse incentives based on volume—as opposed to incentives based on profitability—make it hard for some bankers to negotiate well. If I am judged on loan outstandings and not on the profitability of my portfolio, I am more concerned about getting the deal booked than earning another 25 basis points. (There are other reasons too, but this is often the most challenging.)
So what does this mean for Sales Managers? Your job is to provide a structure for your team that improves their chances of success. Don’t look to your average-performers to come up with today’s best practices on their own. And even if they said all the right things, it’s really about doing them. A big part of coaching is making sure people know the difference.
Resources for Sales Teams
* How to Prepare for the First Call on a Prospect
* The 5 Steps of an Effective Sales Call
* Acquiring New Relationships and other mp3s
Many bankers defend to the death yesterday's prospecting "best practices” that are not always productive. See if any of your team members are holding on to any of the most common.
1. “I believe in getting involved in the community.” I do too. Bankers should be encouraged to join non-profit boards. It’s a way for younger bankers to develop leadership skills that can pay dividends later in their careers. Bankers of all ages should also attend events that support the worthy causes of local organizations.
But let’s not confuse being active in the community with developing new business. Yes, it’s possible to parlay your contacts into leads, but it’s not a given. And, for most bankers, going to events shouldn’t replace sales calls.
If you believe in the mission of an organization, do something to support it. If you can leverage your involvement in some way to help you find new business, great. But that’s almost always going to be secondary.
Coaching Takeaway: At least once a year talk to all your team members about their community activities. Make sure that bankers don’t confuse Chamber lunches with business development calls.
2. “I like to make joint calls on prospects with my Cash Management (or Merchant Services) rep.” I’ll buy that, but only after you have made at least one call on the prospect by yourself. If you haven’t spent time learning about your prospect’s business yet, don’t trot out any of your business partners.
While you could make the case that every business needs some level of cash management support, your job as a banker is to find out what your prospect’s specific needs are and then decide which of your specialists should appear at your side. Remember, it’s about priorities—theirs, not yours.
If you bring a Cash Management rep in too soon, you may miss a better opportunity to assist a prospect with a more pressing need.
Coaching Takeaway: Don’t let your bankers squander the valuable time of product specialists. Make sure that every joint call is part of a sensible relationship strategy.
3. “I take a CPA out to lunch every week.” And what do you have to show for it? According to most estimates, only about 25% of CPAs are in a position to make referrals to bankers. So, if you’re buying lots of lunches, make sure that you’re dealing with the minority who can and do refer business.
You need to assess the quantity and quality of referrals you have received. If you haven’t seen many—or perhaps more importantly, closed any—you may be hanging out with the wrong accountants.
Coaching Takeaway: Every banker should have a list of current and prospective COIs. Review the list at least every 6 months. Pay particular attention to whether your team members are seeing referrals, and if so, whether they are able to close any business.
4. “Since all business owners are credit-driven, I use credit as a lead product in my prospecting efforts.” Many commercial and business bankers lead with loans. High-performers differentiate their message by focusing on the prospect’s or client’s next need, not on what they’re comfortable selling.
A mature business uses more than 10 different financial services, not just loans. Look for the “best way in the door,” the need that will begin a relationship (which is not necessarily a loan).
Coaching Takeaway: Make sure that your sales team is “conversationally competent” in a broad range of products. Begin with a simple account planning process that discusses more than just credit products. Change the questions you ask in pre-call/post-call discussions. Ask about long-term needs as well as immediate needs. Talk about more than just credit needs.
5. “These are my customers.” Many RMs build walls around their clients, effectively insulating them from product partners, branch managers and, in some cases, senior management.
Coaching Takeaway: To institutionalize relationships your bankers need to introduce the right people to their clients. That starts with you, but would include any others who could add value.
6. “I don’t need LinkedIn.” Maybe not, but more and more bankers are using it to identify, research and educate prospects and COIs.
Coaching Takeaway: Make sure your team knows what LinkedIn can do. Show them that it has the potential to assist in their networking efforts, prospecting research and personal marketing. If you’re looking for some insights, check out our recorded webinars on “Leveraging LinkedIn for Business Development” and “Getting More Out of LinkedIn” at http://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com. (You can also call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771 to learn more).
Coaching Resources: Check out our mp3 tips for sales leaders and team members at http://www.mzbierlyconsulting.com/mp3-page/.
If you haven’t downloaded our eBook “Prospecting Pointers” go to http://www.mzbierlyconsulting.com/prospecting-pointers-e-book-download/.
In a recent webinar on “Developing an Effective Referral Network,” Buck Bierly discussed how bankers can leverage their customer base for introductions and testimonials. Here are 9 things Sales Managers can do to support their teams in getting more customer referrals:
1. Make sure everyone has a list of satisfied customers to approach for referrals.
2. Identify the right times to ask for referrals-- after they’ve closed a transaction, when the customer expresses satisfaction with the relationship, if they haven’t asked recently, etc.
3. Discuss how to position the request. It should be a big deal, not just a throw-away line at the end of a call.
4. Share with your team a plan for a typical call to ask for referrals.
5. Review the pros and cons of talking about actual prospect names (Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, etc.) versus a broad description of a target segment (dentists).
6. Go over the reasons why a customer might not be prepared to give referrals. Rehearse the responses to common objections.
7. Get people to commit to one “satisfied customer” referral call per week for the next 8 weeks.
8. Talk about the calls in your weekly sales meetings. Give people a chance to talk about what’s working and what’s not. Publicize any victories.
9. Don’t let people give up to soon. They need to ask at least 15 or 20 customers to determine whether this works or not.
You can register for the archived webinar on “Building an Effective Referral Network” three ways: (1) Call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771 or (2) email her at email@example.com or (3) go to the Training Center section of our secure Webex website at https://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com and pay by credit card.
- Overemphasizing prospecting… “Don’t forget your High Potential and Key Clients”
- Not providing direction on which prospects to target. . . “Build a list of the prospects you want to do business with”
- Not coaching bankers on how to leverage their network (and that includes senior management, directors, etc.). . . “Use client referrals and testimonials to get appointments”
- Not having a process for generating leads. . . “Coach the top of the funnel”
- Seeing yourself as the Super-Rep…. “Teach them all to fish”
- Not understanding your bankers’ default value propositions . . . “Coach to the value proposition that you believe in”
- Defining success too narrowly… “Celebrate the small victories”
Looking for more resources on prospecting? Check out the following:
Q&A on Getting in the Door with Prospects
Coaching the Prospecting Process: Tips for Sales Managers
Leveraging Your Network in Prospecting
Call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771 to find out more about our new archived webinars on prospecting.
Are your Sales Managers dinosaurs? To find out, answer these questions objectively:
- Do they spend more time handling administrative matters than coaching?
- Are they more likely to be at their desk than out with their team?
- Do they think weekly sales meetings are too frequent?
- Are their sales meetings mostly pipeline discussions?
- Do they only coach low performers and “junior” people?
- Do they wait to be asked to go on joint calls with their team members?
- Are they reluctant to require people to use the bank’s CRM system?
- Are they concerned about being perceived as micromanagers when it comes to reinforcing the bank’s sales process?
- Do they focus primarily on closed business reports?
- Are they skeptical about sending experienced people—including themselves--to sales training refreshers?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you may be dealing with a dinosaur. Download our diagnostic tool The Progression of Sales Leadership Skills to assess what stage your sales leaders are in.
For more insights into the new world of leading bank sales teams, check out our blog posts on Sales Leadership or view our archived webinars on coaching at https://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com.
You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a complimentary 30 minute phone consultation to discuss ways to improve your team’s results.
1. Make sure the Relationship Managers know which individuals in their network to ask for referrals.
Start by helping your RMs construct a list of at least 10-15 satisfied customers. Have them think about anybody who has thanked them for their efforts. Include any business customer who has referred them business in the past. You can encourage them to add others to the list in subsequent sessions, including former customers, people they know through business and community organizations, and professionals like CPAs and attorneys.
2. Help the RMs build a Short Prospect List for a Satisfied Client to be sure they understand the concept.
Don’t assume that all of your RMs will make the right connections without your guidance. Help them identify which of their prospects their network contacts are likely to know.
3. Strategize with them about when they’re going to ask.
Is it better to do it over a meal? Should they wait for a high point in a relationship—after they’ve closed a loan or resolved a problem, for example?
Get your RMs to schedule a face to face meeting with each person on their network list to talk about referrals. Waiting for high points can take longer than many RMs think. Lunches (and breakfasts and late afternoon beverages) are all good ideas, partly because people may be more relaxed and less likely to be interrupted than in the office.
4. Make sure your RMs know how to ask for the referral.
Rehearsing this in advance with your RMs can help boost their confidence and improve their chances of success. Things to go over in your coaching include the following:
- Make sure there are no relationship problems or unresolved customer service issues simmering.
- Position this as a big favor.
- When they show their short prospect list, encourage them to think about how much assistance they can ask for. This is obviously a function of how well a contact knows a prospect, and how comfortable he is interceding on their behalf. Some may be prepared to pick up the phone and call a prospect personally to set things in motion. Others may be willing to provide a written testimonial; some people may agree to letting them use their names when calling.
5. Get your RMs to make a commitment to asking for referrals.
This isn’t magic. You can help your bankers from getting discouraged if their calls don’t produce immediate results by setting some realistic expectations. They need to ask at least 15 or 20 customers to determine whether this works or not. Get them to agree to set up a minimum of one call a week for the next 10 to 12 weeks to ask for referrals. Your job is to insure that they don’t give up too soon.
Did you miss our recent webinar on Getting in the Door with Prospects? If you did, you can view it in our archive of recorded webinars.
Here are some of the things that Buck Bierly covered:
- What to do if you don’t have a warm lead
- Is cold calling your best option
- Referrals from satisfied clients, your business network and COIs…where to start
- Reasons why bankers avoid asking for referrals
- Why customers give referrals
- Anticipating referral reluctance
- When to ask and how to ask your network for referrals
- Value statements, value propositions and value drivers
You can register for the recorded session three ways: (1) Call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771 or (2) email her at email@example.com or (3) go to the Training Center section of our secure Webex website at https://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com and pay the fee for the webinar by credit card.
Live Webinar Alert:
August 13 The First 3 Calls on a Prospect
Most Sales Managers accept the premise that the majority of salespeople will achieve their sales goals if they follow a focused and disciplined sales process combined with flawlessly executed consultative sales skills. Unfortunately, based on our experience working with hundreds of sales professionals, there isn’t a lot of evidence to suggest that Sales Managers are providing direction and feedback on anything but the sales process (“what to do/not to do” - goals, priorities, reports, etc.), leaving salespeople isolated to figure out “the how to” using their own sales strategies and skills.
We’ve often heard the argument that “experienced” salespeople don’t need to be coached on “the how” because they are hired and paid for their experience. This way of thinking can lead to not only frustrated salespeople, but also average results with salespeople stuck in the “comfort zone”, unable to adapt to changing goals and new market forces.
A recent conversation with a bank Sales Manager highlights the nature of the problem and his lack of understanding of how salespeople develop, refine their skills and achieve breakthrough sales results:
How are you coaching your salespeople?
Sales Manager: I have weekly meetings.
What happens at the meetings?
I put up the results, you know the pipeline, and everyone gets to see how well they are doing relative to each other. The salesperson who’s at the bottom knows where he stands; can see that his performance is “light.”
It is true that some “peer pressure” can motivate, but what do you think he’ll do differently as a result of his ranking at the bottom?
I’m hoping he’ll fill his pipeline.
How do you think he’ll do that?
He’s got to get better on execution.
What type of execution?
Prospecting. We are unknown in this marketplace and he’s not very good at getting in the door with prospects.
Have you coached him on how to do this?
Yes, I told him he needs to see at least five prospects per week.
In the above example the sales manager tells the salesperson “what to do” (make five prospect calls per week), but fails to address the more likely underlying problem: the salesperson’s struggle with the same old obstacles, using old habits and ineffective skills. Obviously, the salesperson will try harder because he is under greater pressure to fill the pipeline, but he may not succeed if he doesn’t have the skills to gain meetings with prospects, ask the right questions to learn about the prospect’s goals, operations, values, priorities and needs or gain the next appointment, all skills needed to close business and succeed.
It is not surprising to hear salespeople report that the only time they receive any developmental coaching feedback is during performance reviews or sales training workshops.
If you are a Sales Manager, you need to hear this! The “what to do” is not the “how to do it”. Salespeople are starving for developmental skills coaching! Of course they need feedback on sales goals, results, wins, losses, etc. but you already provide enough of that. Salespeople are hungry for direct, specific and practical coaching on what they are doing that’s effective, and what they ought to be doing to increase effectiveness.
Success in today’s dynamic marketplace requires a greater focus on skills, effectively persuading prospects to meet, determining needs and priorities, focused listening, differentiating the organization beyond price, sales planning and negotiation skills. Sales Managers who can help their salespeople develop these skills accept their full responsibility to ensure salespeople have the focus, discipline, and highly refined strategies and skills to thrive.
Catherine Flynn is the owner of The Bluestar Group, a skill-intensive sales development and coaching company for relationship-focused selling. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re looking for more how tos, join Buck Bierly for new live webinars on
Getting in the Door with Prospects and The First Three Calls on a Prospect.
If you can’t make the live sessions, the archived versions will be available in the recorded section of our website at https://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com.
Questions about our live and recorded webinars? Call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771 or email her at email@example.com.
How do you learn how to play golf? You can watch the Golf Channel. You can read instructional books ghost-written for top professionals. You can take lessons where they’ll videotape your swing and compare it to the swings of touring pros
The correct answer is that you learn to play golf by playing. All the other stuff can help, but only if it’s followed by rounds of golf.
What does that have to do with learning how to network? And, more significantly, what does it mean for Sales Managers?
You can make a strong case for talking about the importance of networking in your sales meetings. You can encourage people to read books and articles on networking. You can even send people to courses on how to become a better networker.
All these things can help. But none can replace actually going to networking events and trying to apply the concepts. It’s just like golf: you can take a lesson but if you don’t practice what you’ve learned you’ll forget it.
Most of my clients have figured out that the first time people try a new skill or technique it will feel awkward. So, unless somebody encourages them to try it again, there’s a real possibility that they won’t. So that’s one way that Sales Managers add value.
There are obviously other things that Sales Managers do to improve the likelihood that their Relationship Managers will get better at networking:
- Get people to go to the right events. What might be right for Jill may not be the best use of Jack’s time,
- Make sure that people have a plan for each networking event. Maybe it’s a list of customers to talk to. Perhaps the goal is to connect with a particular prospect. Having clear objectives matters.
- Follow-up immediately afterward to see what your people got out of the event. Be curious about whom they talked to.
- Go to some events with them and observe how they operate. You’ll probably have some more things to talk about when you debrief the session.
- Ask people periodically whether the events they’re attending regularly are providing an appropriate ROI.
You don’t have to be a great networker yourself. But if you believe being active and visible at community and trade association events is important, you have to walk the talk.
Upcoming webinars: Getting in the Door with Prospects on July 16 and The First 3 Calls on a Prospect on August 13. Go to https://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com to register or call Susan Lersch at 610-296-477 for more details.