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The Power of Messaging: Tips for Bank Sales Managers

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As a high school basketball player I heard my coaches repeat certain messages day in and day out. On offense we were encouraged to “hit the open man.” On defense our coaches told us to “see the man; see the ball.”

As a consultant I have observed how sales coaches effectively deliver messages to their teams. Recently one senior commercial banker remarked to his boss, the bank president, that he was impressed by how Chris frequently reminded them of the importance of the sales process that the bank had embraced. Chris repeated the three word summary that they had heard in all the training sessions: “Identify, plan, execute.”  He felt that the repetition was valuable.

What makes for an effective message? In my experience the best messages are clear, concise, and consistent. Wells Fargo, which has long highlighted the importance of cross selling as a driver of profitability, uses the phrase “Eight is great.”  Bankers throughout the company know by heart that this is one of the keys to the bank's success. It is short like “hit the open man,” it is easy to remember, and my guess is that it does keep people on track.

The messages that your sales team needs to hear from you should be equally pithy and memorable. In this environment, many bankers are reluctant to prospect; some come up with a litany of reasons why prospecting is difficult. “I'm too busy.”  “We’d just turn them down.” “There's no demand for loans.” “They're happy with their current bank.”

Setting aside for a minute the possibility that some or all of these are true, you still need to let people know that prospecting is a critical sales behavior. How can you deliver that message?

 Certainly, you can take advantage of your weekly meetings. If you want to drive home the importance of acquiring new clients, some portion of your meeting should include a discussion of prospecting. In addition, your weekly sales reports should also differentiate between calls on customers and prospects. Discussions of pipeline opportunities should do the same.

The power of your messages regarding prospecting can be amplified by other members of your organization. For example, if the bank CEO or the head of commercial banking uses the same terms and phrases in conversations with all team members, your message is likely to stick.

So my advice is to spend some time brainstorming with other sales managers what specific messages your team needs to hear today. Boil them down to three or four that you want to use over the course of the next 3 to 6 months. Like the banker who recognized the power of repetition in the phrase “Identify, plan, execute,” you may begin to see changes in people's thinking and behavior.

But remember that you may have to repeat yourself a lot. That's what basketball coaches do to make sure that their teams remember what they need to at crunch time.

Interested in more on coaching? Check out our archived webinars at or visit our blog for more articles at




Are You Engaged in Prospecting?


I don’t know whether this assessment (which is shamelessly adapted from the Gallup Q12 ) will get me into trouble with Gallup. But my guess is that if bankers tasked with acquiring clients answer it honestly and then—and this is important—talk about it with their managers, some good things might develop. Let me know what you think at

Answer True or False

  1. I know what is expected of me when it comes to acquiring new clients.
  2. I have the materials and equipment I need to prospect.
  3. In the last month, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work on new business development.
  4. There is someone at work who encourages my development as a salesperson.
  5. A big part of my job involves bringing in new client relationships.
  6. My associates are committed to prospecting also.
  7. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress in prospecting.
  8. This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and improve my skills in business development.


You can download our recent article on “Getting in the Door: How to Work with Gatekeepers” by going to For more information about our resources on prospecting, call Whit Midkiff at 727-741-0766.


Copyright © 1992-1999 The Gallup Organization, Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved.


Employee Engagement (And Why It Matters to Sales Managers)


So are there any bank CEOs out there who don’t say people are their most important asset? Probably not, but most bankers wouldn’t dis motherhood and apple pie either.

But how those assets are doing is rarely discussed publicly, unless you’re Dick Kovacevich, the retired CEO of Wells Fargo.  For a number of years their annual report included a brief discussion of their ongoing effort to gauge the level of satisfaction and engagement of their employees. They use the brief survey instrument developed by The Gallup Organization-- the Gallup Q12– which emerged from Gallup's pioneering research over the last two decades with thousands of organizations. According to one Wells annual report, the bank’s employees are “satisfied and happy in their work by a ratio of seven to one, in the top quartile, about four times the national average for all workers.”

If you’re not familiar with the twelve measures of employee satisfaction, you can skip to the end of this piece now. What has always been scary to me about Gallup’s statistics is the percentage of the American workforce that is “disengaged” --the number I’ve seen is about 26%. These folks are not just bored or underemployed; their negativity makes me wonder whether they’re going to go postal some afternoon. (OK, I’m exaggerating here, but stay with me.)

What struck me was how many of the twelve indicators can be influenced by good managers. If you are guiding a sales team, your efforts on all save #10 (see below) would be crucial.  Giving people clear direction; providing the tools and training needed; coaching week in and week out; making sure people are in the right positions—it’s all there and, if you believe The Gallup Organization, it all matters.

I don’t know how the Wells’ numbers compare to other banks’. What I do know is that if sales managers work hard at supporting the individuals on their teams, good things will happen, including:

  • Lower staff turnover
  • Higher customer satisfaction
  • More consistent sales results over time

So how engaged are your sales team members today? And more importantly, what are you doing about it?

Here are the Gallup Q12:

  1. I know what is expected of me at work.
  2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
  3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  4. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  5. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  6. There is someone at work who encourages my development.
  7. At work, my opinions seem to count.
  8. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
  9. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
  10. I have a best friend at work.
  11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
  12. This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

Copyright © 1992-1999 The Gallup Organization, Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved.

For information on how MZ Bierly Consulting can help your sales teams reach higher levels of engagement and results, email Ned Miller at or call 610-296-4772. Go to our website for information on programs and services.


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