Bank Sales Corner

Identifying and Developing Bank Sales Leaders

Posted by Ned Miller on Tue, Oct 11, 2016 @ 11:39 AM

Rob Shuford

 

In the second in a series of interviews on identifying and developing bank sales leaders, Ned Miller interviews Rob Shuford, Jr., the President and CEO of Old Point National Bank in Hampton Roads, Virginia. What follows is an edited version of the interview.

 

Ned Miller: What are you looking for in a sales leader?

Rob Shuford: After understanding sales, the most important quality is being able to teach it to others.  And that is the huge differentiator between a great sales person and a great sales leader.  The best sales leaders aren’t necessarily your best sales people, but they are are people who have a solid understanding of selling techniques and methodology and know how to explain that to others. 

Ned: So how do you identify those people?

Rob: In the job interview I ask people to explain how they sell.  Some people say, “I’m not really sure how I do it, I’m just really good at it. “  Others can jump right into an explanation.

Ned: When you were looking at filling the retail sales leadership position at Old Point a few years back, you settled on a very strong candidate.  How did you find her and how did you finally decide that she was the one?

Rob: Well, she’d been in retail sales leadership already and had worked extensively in retail operations.  I knew she had management and operations experience as well as sales experience.  And because of some of the changes that were occurring at the large bank she was working for I knew she would be available. When we sat down and talked it was obvious she had a good, solid personality, that she had  experience in sales, and that she could break it down and explain the sales process.  It was  obvious from the first time I talked to her that she was going to be a great fit.

Ned: We see banks that use producing sales managers, who have responsibilities for not only managing a team, but also responsibilities for managing a portfolio themselves. Do you have that at Old Point?

Rob: We have sales leaders who are expected to generate new business, but they’re not measured on their own individual sales goals.  Their goals get added into the goals of their group.  In other words, if they’ve got a goal of $2MM in new production, that number gets added into the other $10MM for the group. Then their goal is $12MM and they get judged on that number. At the end of the day, I want them to be a sales manager, not a sales person. 

Ned: What kinds of things do you do to develop the skills of sales leaders?

Rob: The biggest area for development is usually data analytics and metrics, because that’s what they’re typically not going to have when they come to you.  Now, there are notable exceptions, chiefly people who’ve been in retail management for a long period of time, particularly in larger banks.

That’s usually the area that they need the most coaching in.  Understanding the numbers is not only useful to them but also useful to me as CEO, and at some level can roll up to a report for the Board of Directors.  

Ned: Are there other things you’ve tried to do to make them more effective in their sales leadership role?

Rob: No, just personal coaching and mentoring.  I try to keep it simple.  Let’s figure out what we want to measure, which is usually fairly obvious.  It can get a bit complicated, particularly if you have multiple lines of business and you’re measuring referral goals.  Loans and deposits are the basics.  Where it gets a little challenging is exactly which loan and deposit numbers you’re going to use.  Are you going to use actual numbers, monthly averages, or year to date averages? Sometimes that can get a bit confusing for the sales leaders. 

You have the version of the truth that’s in all the operational reports, you have the version of the truth that finance uses, and you have the version of the truth that’s most useful for sales metrics.  And they’re not always the same number or the same version of the same number.  There are a lot of different ways to represent the size of our loan portfolio. Seems simple, but it’s actually not. 

Our deposit numbers are the ones that jump all over the place, depending on how many days are in the month, and when pay day is, for example. When we dramatically increased our relationship deposits, one of the interesting side effects was our deposit numbers became a lot spikier, or lumpier, because they were moving around more. 

When a larger percentage of our deposits were time deposits they were pretty stable.  So, as part of our success, we’ve added some challenges with the data analytics, quite frankly. 

Ned:  Is there anything else you’d like to comment on?

Rob: In general, you’re looking for people who have a good blended personality.  If you’re using the Myers Briggs scale, they probably need to have a little more J than P and a little more T than F in them.  And even though a lot of sales people are extroverts, many of the best sales managers are not, they’re introverts. 

They go home at night and do a lot of thinking about how they can improve what’s going on.  They need to be empathetic, but they also need to have the ability to think through problems and not be scared of data analytics.  It’s a different type of job than just being a sales person.  They need to be pretty versatile.

Ned: When I work with sales leaders, one of the things I’m trying to gauge is whether they can reflect on what needs to be done. The intuitive sales leader who says, “Watch me, it’s not hard” doesn’t help most analytical sales people.

Rob: No, you’re exactly right.  There’s a place in the sales training process for role play.  There’s a place in the sales management process for joint calling.  But in the sales training process, nothing replaces being able to write it down, step by step, and say, this is one way, and maybe one of the best ways to be successful.  That’s invaluable because that’s the way most people are going to learn it.

Ned: The same thing applies to sales leaders.  There’s a certain percentage of people who have the patience and the ability to coach people effectively.

Rob: One of the things that we try to get across to some of those more intuitive or innate sales people is that it’s great that they’re really successful.  But if they are able to understand it in a way that could cause them to replicate their success more frequently, they could be so much better than they could even imagine.  And so, we don’t just cut people loose just because they’re really good at it, and say, okay, you get to go do what you want.  They still need to participate in the training and in the methods that we use because everybody can get better.

Here are some blog posts on sales leadership that you might have missed:

What CEOs Look for in a Bank Sales Leader

Don't Lose Your High-Performers

Will This Experienced Banker Be on a Performance Plan Next Year?

Consultant Bares All: 20 Secrets for Bank Sales Leaders

If you’re looking for a speaker for a sales conference in 2017, call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4773 or email her at Susan.lersch@mzbierlyconsulting.com. Buck Bierly and Ned Miller can also work with you to provide day or half-day workshops for your teams on a variety of topics.

Webinar Alert: Ned Miller will be speaking in a webinar  sponsored by VerticalIQ on October 25 at 12 Noon Eastern on “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Relationship Managers”. For more information go to http://bit.ly/2dSozLU

Topics: coaching, sales leaders, bank sales managers

Don't Lose Your High-Performers

Posted by Ned Miller on Tue, Jul 19, 2016 @ 11:30 PM

Can average performing bank Sales Leaders retain and develop high-performers?

When my client, the head of commercial banking for a regional bank, posed this question I knew he had already formulated an answer. Bill had lost some high- performing Relationship Managers recently to community banks. His real question was whether there was any way to prevent that going forward.

Let’s be clear. There are some offers that are impossible to refuse. Your high-performers (HPs) get calls from recruiters all the time. If somebody puts together an incredible package for one of your superstars, there may not be much you can do other than extend your congratulations and move on. [Note: This should not be a total fire drill. In much the same way that football coaches have to think about who is going to go in if a running back twists an ankle, Sales Leaders have to be thinking about their bench strength. They also have to have a short list of candidates whom they have been courting in the event that an opening occurs.]

My client’s question may have more to do with the fact that he has weak Sales Leaders in several key markets.   Some of them are probably in the wrong slots. They were effective as Relationship Managers—in some cases, they were legitimate “A” players—but have struggled in leading others. Some continue to manage significant commercial relationships, which usually means that they spend more time worrying about their own personal production than coaching their team members. (See Buck Bierly’s post on Why Producing Sales Managers Struggle.)

Commercial Team leaders often devote more time to running interference with credit requests than they do coaching sales. While this is obviously important, it may not help their teams develop the necessary skills and strategies to build relationships with key prospects and COIs.

Many bank Sales Leaders (and not just Producing Sales Leaders) believe that “A” players should be left alone, that they don’t want or need coaching, and that the best thing to do is spend all their time with their “B” and “C” players.

This is where the word “micromanagement” usually crops up. Sometimes the high- performers are even allowed to opt out of a bank’s sales process—“Andy doesn’t need to (fill in the blank—use the CRM system; update relationship plans on key clients and prospects; participate in regular sales meetings or 1 on 1 coaching sessions; etc.)

There are at least three problems with this approach:

  1. What got the “A” players there won’t keep them there forever. Things are changing too fast. If they’re not getting better, they will have problems staying on top.
  2. Your “B” and “C” players will start rebelling: “If Andy is given a pass on using the process, why do I have to follow it?”
  3. Without a consistent process throughout the bank, Sales Leaders can never understand what they did right or wrong. They have no way of making needed adjustments.

If your goal is to retain high-performers, you have to commit to spending time with them. That means that your strategy has to include:

  • Blocking out time to make more calls with them. Not just one call. Spend a full day calling with them at least once a quarter. You’ll learn a lot.
  • Coaching them on a regular basis. 1 on 1 biweekly coaching sessions are still critical for HPs. They think they don’t need you. They will tell you that everything is great. Don’t fall for it. All top performers crave attention. Strategize with them. Help them get the internal support they need. Open your network to them.
  • Having a development plan in place for your HPs. This is something you and your HPs need to develop together and review regularly. Find ways to make them better. (And keep your boss (and your boss’s boss) apprised of what you’re doing.)

Bottom line for bank Sales Leaders: If you want to retain and develop high-performers, don’t leave them alone.

Agree or disagree? Share your comments in the space below or email me at nmiller@mzbierlyconsulting.com.

 

Topics: bank sales, bank relationship managers, coaching, bank sales managers

7 Sales Leadership Rituals that Matter

Posted by Ned Miller on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 @ 11:46 AM

Rituals are routines. At one level, a ritual pulls at you, as opposed to things which require discipline or conscious effort. Bank sales leaders have to design positive rituals to drive change.

Without rituals, team members often lose focus and honest attempts to change behavior fizzle.  In the time we have at work, we need to make intelligent decisions about where to spend our energy. The urgent— phone calls, email messages, interruptions of all types—is always going to force bankers into reacting. But particularly when the will is there but the discipline isn’t, new rituals provide a framework in which breakthroughs often take place. Rituals enable us to structure our lives in the face of competing demands.

The best sales rituals have certain common elements:
*They are very specific: “You must turn in your weekly call planner with all the calls you have scheduled for next week by the close of business on Friday.”
*They occur at a scheduled time: “Our weekly sales meetings are on Monday at 8:30 AM.”
*They are widely accepted by all as critical to sales success and become, in essence, non-negotiable: “We review our relationship plans on all of our Key Customers and Key Prospects with our Sales Managers twice a year.”

To change a behavior—eating too many cookies after dinner, something which I can relate to—requires that we substitute another behavior—perhaps drinking a glass of water or eating a piece of fruit when the craving for chocolate chips strikes.

What are some rituals that all Sales Managers should institute? Here are 7 to start with:
1. Holding Monday morning sales meetings
2. Reviewing your team’s pipeline and weekly call planner every Friday to prepare your key message for your weekly sales meeting
3. Establishing quarterly reviews of Key Lists with each banker to review progress on developing relationships with top customers, prospects and COIs
4. Scheduling 1 on 1 time every two weeks to coach each salesperson
5. Riding with team members at least once each quarter to observe their calls
6. Doing pre-call, post-call coaching with one team member each week
7. Holding some form of educational session at least once a quarter for the entire team

Changing habits is hard. Our capacity for self-control is limited. Over time rituals become a source of comfort to individuals, midwifing new behaviors that can become automatic and relatively painless.

Are there any sales leadership rituals that you would add to this list? If so, include them in the comments section below or email them to me at nmiller@mzbierlyconsulting.com

Topics: sales training, coaching, sales leaders, sales culture

Developing Bank Sales Leaders

Posted by Ned Miller on Tue, Apr 12, 2016 @ 09:18 PM

Leadership Development Dark Colorful Elements

Top-performing Bank Sales Leaders are skilled at:

  1. Building a Bench: Everybody loses people.  But the best sales leaders are able to recover quicker because they are always recruiting. It translates into less time without key slots filled. (The very best also occasionally hire a top performer when they don’t have an opening.) 

  2. Spending more than 50% of their time coaching: They make lots of joint calls. But they also allocate time to 1 on 1 meetings with their team members. And the conversations aren’t just about deals. Top Bank Sales Leaders view every conversation with one of their people as a coaching opportunity.  They have figured out how to balance administrative, internal meetings and (here I editorialize) the really important stuff (See #1, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.)

  1. Developing team members: The best are committed to developing their people. That means improving their bankers’ skills and enhancing their chances for success. It invariably begins with creating an annual Development Plan for each RM. 

  2. Finding their successor: The best know who is going to succeed them, in large part because of all the coaching they’re doing.  Needless to say, it makes them highly promotable. And this often helps them attract high-performers to their teams.

  1. Strategizing on the best opportunities: They help their RMs think through opportunities. They also are adept at relationship planning—essentially, what to do when there is no immediate transaction with a top client or prospect.  They are master teachers, who take advantage of strategy sessions to reinforce the bank’s sales process and best practices.

  2. Eliminating obstacles: The best Sales Managers are ruthless in removing obstacles to free up people’s time. They’re also quick to identify anything—tools, training, market movements—that could give their team an edge.  

Important message for Bank Management: Developing your Sales Managers means that you have to:

  1. Commit to their ongoing development. This means investing both time and money. Your time matters—as does the time spent coaching and mentoring by other bank members of your leadership team. But so does footing the bill for professional development, which could include training, experiential learning and outside coaching.

  2. Find ways to coach your Sales Managers. There are lots of opportunities: 1 on 1s, sales meetings, quarterly business plan reviews and joint calls should all be built into your plan.

  3. Create together an Individual Development Plan for each Sales Manager. You will need to agree on two to three areas to focus on for improvement in the next 12 months. The regular 1 on 1s you have will provide ample time to review progress and make any mid-course coaching corrections needed.



 

What do you think? What can bank management do to develop the next generation of top-performing sales leaders? Please share your advice, insights, and experiences in the COMMENTS area below.

In a future blog post we'll publish comments from successful Sales Leaders on this article.

Looking for a coach to coach your Sales Leaders? Contact Ned Miller at 484-433-2378 or email him at nmiller@mzbierlyconsulting.com

 

 

Topics: Sales Manager, business development, coaching

A Checklist for Bank Sales Leaders

Posted by Ned Miller on Wed, Apr 06, 2016 @ 09:38 PM

As a Sales Manager you need to assess the behaviors of your sales team periodically. This checklist will help you determine what specific things you are currently doing to improve the results of your team and highlight areas that you may need to work on to take your coaching to the next level.

To download a copy of the Bank Sales Leader Self-Assessment, click on this link.

Sales_Checklist.jpg

 

Looking for more resources on prospecting?

Go to http://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com for a complete list of our recorded webinars on prospecting.

Check out these articles:

How to Qualify Prospects Quickly

Keys to an Effective First Call on a Prospect

Questions about any of our onsite consulting services? Call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771 or email her at susan.lersch@mzbierlyconsulting.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: prospecting, coaching, bank sales managers

6 Critical Coaching Routines

Posted by Ned Miller on Wed, Feb 24, 2016 @ 11:38 PM

sales_management_tasks.png

Bank sales leaders have to design routines to drive change. Without routines, team members often lose focus and honest attempts to change behavior fizzle.

In the time we have at work, we need to make intelligent decisions about where to spend our energy. The urgent— phone calls, email messages, interruptions of all types—is always going to force bankers into reacting. But particularly when the will is there but the discipline isn’t, new routines provide a framework in which breakthroughs often take place. They enable us to structure our lives in the face of competing demands.

The best sales routines have certain common elements:

  • They are very specific: “You must turn in your weekly call planner with all the calls you have scheduled for next week by the close of business on Friday.”
  • They occur at a scheduled time: “Our weekly sales meetings are on Monday at 8:30 AM.”
  • They are widely accepted by all as critical to sales success and become in essence, non-negotiable: “We review our relationship plans on all of our Key Customers and Key Prospects with our Sales Managers twice a year.”

To change a behavior—eating too many cookies after dinner, something which I can relate to—requires that we substitute another behavior—perhaps drinking a glass of water or eating a piece of fruit when the craving for chocolate chips strikes.

What are some routines that all Sales Managers should institute? Here are 6 to start with:

  1. Holding Monday morning sales meetings
  2. Reviewing your team’s pipeline and weekly call planner every Friday to prepare your key message for your weekly sales meeting
  3. Establishing quarterly reviews of Key Lists with each banker
  4. Scheduling 1 on 1 time every two weeks to coach each salesperson
  5. Riding with each salesperson at least once each quarter to observe their calls
  6. Holding some form of educational session at least once a quarter for the entire team

Changing habits is hard. Our capacity for self-control is limited. Over time coaching routines become a source of comfort to individuals, midwifing new behaviors that can become automatic and relatively painless.

Questions/ comments? Add them in the space below.

Video Alert: Tips for Sales Leaders on Time Management

In this video Ned Miller shares 3 ideas to help Bank Sales Leaders manage their time more effectively.

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Looking for a Speaker for a Sales Conference? Buck Bierly and Ned Miller are frequent speakers at banking conferences and bank sales meetings. They have a reputation for delivering sales and sales leadership "how-tos" in a dynamic, engaging manner.

Offering a range of keynote, half-day and full-day programs, their approach helps salespeople and sales leaders gain a competitive advantage in every step of the sales process.

For more information about how we may be able to assist you at an upcoming sales meeting or conference, call Ned Miller at 484-433-2378 or email him at nmiller@mzbierlyconsulting.com.

 

Topics: coaching, sales leaders

First Things First: Weekly 1 on 1 Coaching

Posted by Ned Miller on Mon, Jan 18, 2016 @ 03:34 PM

 

 

Coach

 

It’s easy to get distracted. Urgent requests crowd out things that are often more important. We find ourselves spending the day reacting. If we don’t schedule priority activities into our weeks, sometimes they just don’t get done.

 

What types of activities do Bank Sales Leaders need to keep front and center? While the answer really depends a lot on your particular situation, here are the ones that most Sales Leaders need to allocate time to:

  • Identifying and recruiting talent for your team

  • Training team members to improve their skill sets

  • Reviewing pipelines

  • Making joint calls to observe your bankers in front of customers

  • Coaching

Let’s take a look at coaching. Sales Leaders know that coaching can have a huge impact on the results of their teams. And yet, for a lot of reasons, many bankers complain that they don’t do enough of it. (See my recent blog post Tips for Time-Starved Bank Sales Leaders.)

 

And to complicate matters, what I’ve observed is that a lot of the coaching that does get done falls into the category of deal or transaction coaching. While it’s important, it’s not enough.

 

Your team members also need help in identifying the best opportunities in the market. They often struggle with building momentum with desirable prospects, starting in some cases with how to make an initial contact to get an appointment with a decision-maker.

 

While some coaching can take place in group settings like a weekly sales meeting or a post-mortem of a deal for the whole team, the most effective way to develop team members is 1 on 1 .

 

Some of this can be “in the moment” or spontaneous, on the fly coaching. Sauntering by and chatting with one of your reports about an upcoming call on a major client clearly can be of tremendous value. But coaching can’t be just walking around.

 

You need to schedule time with each of your bankers to address important performance issues. Our recommendation is that for most business and commercial banking teams, these 1 on 1s should be for 45 to 60 minutes every other week. They’re best done outside of prime calling time—early in the day or late, often on days when there are other meetings.

 

What can you cover? Plenty, including a more detailed review of pipelines, calling activity, strategies for upcoming calls and, most importantly, specific developmental issues that you and the banker have decided to work on. Here’s a sample agenda:

 

Possible Topics to cover:

  1. Calendar

  • Review of last week’s calls and other lead generation activities (e.g. networking events, meetings with LOB partners, etc.)

  • Upcoming calls including any with the Sales Manager or partners

  • Prospecting initiatives

  • Non-selling time activities (e.g. research, customer service, credit)

  1. Pipeline

  • Review of opportunities in each stage of the funnel

  • Strategies to move customer/ prospects to next stage

  • Review of any stalled deals

  • Discussion of lessons learned on lost deals

  1. Coaching

  • Review of action items from last meeting if not already discussed

  • Review of progress on banker’s individual development plan

  • Reinforcement of sales skills

  1. Next Steps/ Action Plan

 

Don’t forget the coaching component (#3). Sales success is the result of having an articulated process, holding people accountable and coaching. Amping up accountability alone isn’t enough.

 

So remember, first things first.

  • Commit to scheduled 1 on 1 coaching for each sales team member. The open door policy does not count.

  • Get the dates and times in everybody’s calendar for at least the next quarter. No cancellations.

  • Use a structured agenda for each session.

Let me know if you have questions or comments. You can email me at nmiller@mzbierlyconsulting.com or share your thoughts in the space below.

Looking for more tips on coaching? Check out MZ Bierly Consulting Articles on Coaching

Topics: coaching, sales leaders, sales culture, bank sales managers

6 Common Coaching Errors on Prospecting

Posted by Ned Miller on Mon, Nov 09, 2015 @ 06:50 AM

mistake

Prospecting is one of the toughest things bankers do. If you’re a bank sales leader, your bankers need you to be on the top of your game as a coach. Here are 6 coaching mistakes you can’t afford to make:

  1. Not providing direction on which prospects to target. . . “Build a list of the prospects you want each of your team members to do business with.”
  2. Not coaching bankers on how to leverage their networks (and that includes customers, COIs, senior management, internal partners, directors, etc.). . . “Teach your team how to use client referrals and testimonials to get appointments and build momentum.”
  3. Not creating a process for your team on generating leads. . . “Coach the top of the funnel.”
  4. Seeing yourself as the Super-Rep and stepping in to clinch the deal for your bankers…. “Teach them all to fish.
  5. Not understanding your bankers’ default value propositions . . . “Coach to the value proposition that you believe in.”
  6. Defining success too narrowly… “Celebrate small victories (e.g. getting in the door with a hard to reach prospect, scoring a second (or third) appointment, making a proposal, etc.)”

Looking for more resources on prospecting? Check out the following:

How to Qualify Prospects Quickly

Leveraging Your Network in Prospecting

Keys to an Effective First Call on a Prospect

Go to http://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com for a complete list of our recorded webinars on prospecting.


 

Topics: prospecting, coaching, sales leaders

7 Minute Tasks for Bank Sales Leaders

Posted by Ned Miller on Mon, Nov 02, 2015 @ 07:03 AM

Business man with checkboxes

 

Sales leaders are always pressed for time. (See Tips for Time-Starved Bank Sales Leaders.) But if you do find yourself with 7 minutes at some point in the day, here are 7 things you can do to improve your team’s chances of success.*

 

  1. Tell one of your team 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.
  2. Call one of your bankers and ask him what you can do to help with any deals in his pipeline.
  3. 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 they share with you in advance their relationship plans for each customer/ prospect. (What, no relationship plans? Send me an email at nmiller@mzbierlyconsulting.com and I’ll forward you one.)
  4. 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.
  5. Let your boss (or your boss’s boss) know which of your team members deserves special recognition.
  6. Assess how well your sales people are using the tools you have provided them with (e.g. Industry information from IBIS World, RMA, Vertical IQ or First Research, prospect information, call planning templates on your bank intranet, CRM, etc.) If you don’t like the answer, do something.
  7. Call up a prospect whose business one of your team members failed to land recently. Tell them 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.

 

*All of these assume that you have built a sales process that incorporates market management principles and guidance on building relationships with customers, prospects and COIs. If you haven’t, call me at 610-296-4772 or send me an email at nmiller@mzbierlyconsulting.com. We can get you started.

Are you interested in reprinting an article from our blog in an internal bank publication? You may do so provided you reprint the article in its entirety and indicate that it was originally published in Bank Sales Blog, a publication of MZ BIERLY CONSULTING (http://mzbierlyconsulting.com). If you would like to find out how to add members of your organization to our mailing list, contact Susan Lersch at susan.lersch@mzbierlyconsulting.com with your request.

 

 

Topics: bank sales, coaching, sales leaders, bank sales managers

Tips for Time-Starved Bank Sales Leaders

Posted by Ned Miller on Tue, Oct 13, 2015 @ 11:06 PM

bank sales leader

All bankers today are pressed for time. Responding to the array of regulatory compliance, credit administration and other internal demands for information can eat up a large chunk of a banker’s day.

Sales Managers struggle too, and not just in the banking industry. In a report by The TAS Group on “The Key Role of the Sales Manager”, researchers estimated that managers send about a third of their time on the leadership activities that drive sales results:

  • Planning—15%
  • People development—11%
  • Proactive review of territory plans, relationship strategies, call plans, etc.—11%

The TAS study reported that managers spend the bulk of their time firefighting and reacting to urgent issues (23%); reporting to management (12%); administrative tasks (15%); and with customers (13%).

Most bank Sales Managers I know complain about spending their days reacting. (One senior banker described it colorfully as “running around with his hair on fire.”) They have way too much to focus on and feel like they’re never going to catch up with the torrent of emails that arrives daily. They uniformly feel they are spending too much time “in the weeds” and too little time coaching and developing their team members.

In their day to day activities bank Sales Managers end up focusing on accountability and administration, not on coaching and developing their Relationship Managers. They are plenty busy doing the following “urgent” things:

  1. Coaching “deals” and shepherding transactions through the credit process
  2. Managing the pipeline
  3. Informal coaching
  4. Holding the team accountable for calling goals

What gets left out? Here’s a partial list:

  • Periodic relationship reviews to identify all loan, deposit and fee opportunities in the customer base, not just loans
  • Updates on progress that team members are making with Key Prospects
  • Making joint calls to observe team member’s sales skills
  • Scheduled one on one coaching sessions every few weeks that go beyond discussions of pipeline

Why does this occur in many community and regional banks? Based on my experience working with hundreds of Sales Managers over the last 15 years, I’d suggest three possible reasons:

  1. Some bank sales managers get little formal guidance or specific training on how to manage their teams. Although most have been through some form of sales training, they are left pretty much on their own when it comes to how they lead and coach their teams.
  2. Some Team Leaders are basically Super-RMs who spend their time managing their own portfolios and generating new business. A few years ago a community bank Sales Manager told me that he devoted 100% of his time to developing business and the rest of his day to managing his team. Translation: “I get paid to book business, not to coach.”
  3. Some Sales Managers fall back on the “I have experienced bankers” defense. For them, requiring team members to complete relationship plans on key clients and prospects, for example, smacks of micromanagement. Formally reviewing a banker’s prospect list every quarter to check for progress and strategize is something that would be nice to do, but gets lost in the frenzied day to day activity.

What can bank management do?

  • Figure out what you can eliminate or simplify that would enable Sales Leaders to spend more time on the things that will have the biggest impact on revenue: coaching, planning, reviewing performance, riding with team members to observe their sales skills, getting in front of more prospects, etc. Be ruthless in pruning anything you can that will free up Sales Managers to do what only they can do. If you can find 2 hours a week for each Sales Manager that can be then allocated to any of the above activities, you will see significant improvement.
  • Invest in sales management training for your front-line managers. And if you do, don’t make it a one shot deal. Sales Managers need periodic refreshers.
  • Reward Sales Managers whose teams put numbers on the board and who succeed in developing their people.

Agree or disagree? What do you think? Please share your insights and experiences in the COMMENTS area below...

Topics: bank sales, coaching, sales leaders