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Sales Coaching Pointers from the Masters


Did you watch the Masters this year? If you're a real Golf Channel addict, you might have heard about the coaches that some of the top professionals turn to for advice. These aren't household names like Coach K, Bill Belichick and Joe Torre; they're more like Jack Lumpkin and Craig Harmon. Who?

Well, these guys are not exactly unknowns. They rank 19th and 20th on the Golf Digest list of top teaching professionals. They don't give away advice for free-a week of lessons at Sea Island with Jack isn't cheap-and they do count top PGA Tour types as students. (Not Tiger Woods, though: Craig's brother Butch was one of Tiger's coaches before his fall from grace.)

But most of the people these two teaching pros advise have a hard time breaking 90. They hack and slice their way around the golf course and if they have delusions of grandeur, it's probably more likely about winning the sixth flight of a Member Guest Tournament than the U.S. Amateur.

Coaching average-performers (whether they're golfers or bank sales people) is clearly different from working with high-performers. What Jack and Craig know is the following:

  1. While not everybody will become great, everybody can get better-eventually. If better means consistently shooting in the mid-90s, great.
  2. There are certain things that you can't coach (e.g. attitude, competitiveness, etc.)
  3. You shouldn't try to change more than one or two things at once. (Too much sales training assumes you need to teach everybody everything all at once.)
  4. You often have to review the basics with people.
  5. Breaking the process down into its component parts can help a lot. (As an aside, that's why slow motion video is now routinely used in analyzing golf swings.)
  6. Small adjustments can produce significant improvement.
  7. You can only make so much progress in a lesson. For golfers it starts on the practice tee but has to move to the course.
  8. Once the basics are in place, it's consistency that matters.
  9. Most average-performers are looking for how-tos and techniques, not theories or concepts to improve their golf game or sales skills. They want to develop confidence handling challenging situations.
  10. Even the best performers can benefit occasionally from objective, expert coaching.  (Phil Mickelson, the Masters winner this year, has coaches who help him with many different things--e.g. conditioning, diet, putting, sand shots, etc.)

So the next time you're looking for coaching inspiration, think about Jack Lumpkin and Craig Harmon.  They know it's about incremental improvement, consistency and confidence. And they know how to help average-performers progress.

For more coaching tips go to  You can also check out our archived webinar on Pre-call, Post-call Coaching at




Buck Bierly on Value Propositions: It Isn't Always About Price


Selling is a form of social influence. Effective sales people influence the thinking of customers, prospects, and COIs. A value proposition is the method of social influence that a salesperson uses (consciously or unconsciously). Here are some specific things Sales Managers can do:

  • Define, articulate, and train your team members to focus on a value proposition that best matches your long-term business objectives. It may not always match the values of a given customer or prospect, but it creates a sharper focus of who you are at a company level and a sales team level. For example: "We are financial experts. An expert identifies, defines, and proposes solutions to a business owner's needs before they become a request."
  • Understand the value proposition that your relationships managers use naturally in prospecting. Make sure they understand their tendencies and talk about when they will have to adjust them on sales calls. Selling service and relationship banking to a price shopper does not lead to success.

Click here to listen to some of Buck's thoughts on value propositions.  

You might also be interested in signing up for the sales training webinar on "Value Propositions: It's Not Always About Price" on April 26. You can register for the webinar three ways: (1) Call Ned Miller at 610-296-4772 or (2) email him at  or (3) go to our Webex website at  and pay the $225 fee (per line, not per person) by credit card. We do provide team discounts for organizations that are interested in using multiple webinars. Call for details.

Small Business Banking: 10 Questions for Sales Leaders


Ready for a quick assessment of your small business sales efforts? Here's a chance to determine where you are.

1. Are your branches actively involved in the small business effort? Good branch managers are knowledgeable about what's happening in the market, have a wealth of contacts in the local community, and know the value of small business relationships.

2. Are your branch managers comfortable talking about your core small business products? If they're not at least "conversationally competent" in your deposit, cash management, business credit and investment products, they probably won't bring them up in conversation.

3. How successful are you selling to both the small business owner and the business? One important measure is the percentage of your business customers who have their personal accounts with you. (And if you don't know where you stand, you need to find out; many banks are surprised at how low their wallet share is.)

4. Can your branch salespeople explain why a business prospect should switch to your bank? If all they talk about is "service" you might have a problem.

5. Do your branch managers make outside sales calls? Not the "I'd like to stop by and drop off donuts" marketing calls that often masquerade as sales calls. We're talking about substantive conversations that focus on ways to help the business owners grow their business. These typically are scheduled calls with a defined business agenda-a plan in other words.

6. If the answer to question 5 is no, why not? Is it a sales training issue? Or does it have more to do with infrastructure-not the right people, not enough people, etc.?

7. If the answer is yes, how would you rate the quantity and quality of the calls? In our experience if a manager is making fewer than 4 or 5 calls a week, the chances are that he'll never get very good at outside calling. There are many ways to gauge call quality but the only way to know for sure is by going on a joint call.

8. Are any silos standing in the way of success? How well do your branch managers team with their product partners from Cash Management, Commercial Lending. Trust and Investments, etc.?

9. How effective are your sales managers as coaches? Be honest now. Are they administering a process or leading one? Putting out administrative fires or training their teams?

10. Are you satisfied with your results? If you're not, what do you plan to do about it?

If you'd like to discuss ways other banks have addressed these and other sales issues, call Ned Miller at 610-296-4772 or email him at You can also visit our website at for more insights on bank sales and management topics.

Bonus tip: Check out the article on "The First Call on a Prospect" that appeared in a recent issue of the ABA's Commercial Insight Newsletter at


Buck Bierly on the 5 Mistakes Bankers Make in Sales Calls



Listen to what Buck Bierly views as the five most common mistakes bankers make in sales calls.

  1. Failing to prepare adequately
  2. Using the wrong question set
  3. Jumping at the first need that surfaces
  4. Not sticking to their plan
  5. Not having a clear idea of what they need to accomplish in the next call

You can download a four minute mp3 file with Buck's thoughts by going to

Note to Sales Managers: This could fit very nicely in an upcoming meeting or training event. If you need some help figuring out how, call 610-296-4772.

You might also be interested in signing up for the April 5 webinar on "The 5 Mistakes Bankers Make in Sales Calls." The webinar begins at 11:00 AM Eastern time. You can register for the live webinar three ways: (1) Call Ned Miller at 610-296-4772 or (2) email him at  or (3) go to the upcoming webinars section of our Webex website at and pay the $225 fee (per line, not per person) by credit card. If you can't make a live webinar, you will be able to view the recorded version within 24 hours of the event. We do provide discounts for organizations that sign up for three or more lines for a live webinar. Call 610-296-4772 for details.



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