This week I had a very rare opportunity…to participate in an actual NFL draft party. My wife’s great nephew was being considered for the NFL draft and we flew to Michigan to help him celebrate.
As about 30 of his family members, high school and college teammates and neighbors sat around eating snacks, reminiscing and nervously watching the big screen TV, I thought about how this whole process mirrored the commercial sales process. Okay, I realize commercials bankers don’t sit around with coworkers watching the TV anxiously waiting to get a call from a business prospect but there are some similarities. So let’s break out the beer and chips and analyze the similarities…
1. It’s a waiting game. As we all watched the TV hoping our relative’s name would be called you realize all you can do is wait. At this point, he couldn’t do anything to speed up the process or change the outcome. That's true for commercial bank sales too. In the banking world when it’s decision time, the commercial banker can do nothing to speed up the call or change the outcome from the business prospect either.
2. Average players don’t get called. Of all the thousands of college athletes that had dreams of moving to the next level and playing in the NFL, only the "dominate"players actually get the phone call. The same can be said for the hundreds of"average" commercial bankers in the market…no matter how hard they try, only"dominate" commercial bankers actually get the phone call from the business prospect.
3. Talent not notoriety ruled. Some better known college players from big named college football programs failed to get a call on draft night. And some almost unknown players from much smaller colleges did get the call from the NFL. So talent not notoriety was more important in the NFL draft. The same can be said about commercial banking. Some well-known commercial bankers from major super regional banks think their notoriety in the market is all the need to get a call from business prospects. But in the end, talent always tops notoriety.
4. The real work starts after the phone call. As excited as the players are to get the draft phone call, they still have to make the NFL team. As one coach joked…”NFL stands for Not For Long.” So if the players don’t do their job and perform after being drafted, they will be watching the NFL on Sundays rather than playing. That’s true for commercial bankers too. If they don’t do their job after the phone call there are lots of other bankers in the market that can do the job. So in banking like in the NFL draft, the real work starts after the phone call from the client.
Every day is draft day for commercial bankers. Some will just sit around and “hope” they’ll get the client’s business while others will put in the hard work to dominate the market. Only one will get the call. Which one are you?
By the way, my wife’s great nephew was drafted in the second round by the Carolina Panthers!
In aviation, a preflight check is a list of tasks that should be performed by pilots and aircrew prior to takeoff. Its purpose is to improve flight safety by ensuring that no important tasks are forgotten. Failure to correctly conduct a preflight check using a checklist is a major contributing factor to aircraft accidents.
For the last ten years, the banking industry has wrestled with a stagnant economy, historically low interest rates, and a stiff regulatory environment. But the tide of forces squeezing margins could finally take a turn in 2017. In the U.S., a Trump presidency means the financial industry might find a sympathetic friend in the White House, and a Republican-controlled Congress will look at rolling back Dodd-Frank. As banks are gearing up in 2017 to launch their commercials sales team back into the market, shouldn’t they perform a preflight check on their commercial bankers? Here’s 3 skills that should be on your bank’s preflight checklist:
Skill #1- Business Credit Skills...Do your commercial bankers have the skills and knowledge needed to make sound business loan decision at every level? This includes being able to assess the business borrower’s character, understanding how the business operates, adhering to the bank’s credit policies and pricing guidelines, calculating operating cash flow and accurately identifying and analyzing sources of repayment.
Skill #2- Business Sales Skills...Do your commercial bankers have the understanding needed to sell today’s complex commercial bank product and services? This understanding includes being able to identify, research and get appointments with “high-valued” business prospects, and understanding industry and market trends. Business Sales Skills also included being able to conducting an engaging business conversations that build trust and credibility and advances the sales relationship.
Skill #3- Business Growth Skills...Do your commercial bankers have the skills to help businesses develop grow strategies? This includes providing strategies for how the business can increase their market share, branch out into new markets, expand and diversify their product lines and purchase or merge with other businesses.
Do your commercial bankers have the skills to pass this simple bank preflight checklist? If not, your bank has the potential for a major commercial banking accident.
Bank sales success is all about having the right people for the right job! And this starts with really understanding the requirements of the sales job and then assessing each banker’s skills and ability to meet those sales requirements. Although this sounds simple, most banks focus only on “Performance Review” rather than “Talent Assessment.”
In today’s highly competitive banking sales environment, Talent Assessment is the key to having the right bankers for the right sales jobs! Talent Assessment and Talent Development are a connected system that helps strengthen the bank’s overall sales process. Talent Assessment is used to evaluate and assess the bank's overall staff and leadership capacity, as well as individual bankers' sales strengths and weaknesses. A natural follow-up to Talent Assessment, Talent Development is used to make bank-wide improvements and continuously strengthen bankers' sales capacity.
One of the biggest challenges facing banks is selecting an appropriate sales Talent Assessment approach. With so many different types of assessment tools available in the market, deciding which ones to use can be confusing. Unfortunately, most Talent Assessment tools are “generic” and were not designed specifically for bank sales jobs. And let's face it, the talent needed to sell banking products and services is completely different than the talent needed to sell widgets!
So how do you select the best sales Talent Assessment tool for your bankers? Your first step is to determine what specific sales success traits are needed by your bankers. For example, for Commercial Bankers your bank’s sales success traits may include... Sales Skills, Banking Industry Expertise, Credit Skills, Business Acumen, Cash Flow Analysis and Business Finance.
So, your bank’s sales success is all about having the right people for the right job... and that requires having the right sales Talent Assessment tools! For over 30 years The Sales Institute has been researching, designing and testing various assessment tools specifically to assess the sales skills and knowledge of bankers. If you are looking for a better way to make sure your bank has the right sales people for the right job...contact us today!
Have you ever had a team of experienced skilled bankers that just couldn’t reach their sales goals? Despite the fact that you worked very hard to build a great sales team…sometimes they still produce only modest sales results. So what’s the problem? Is it too many distractions or lack of focus?
Maybe it has more to do with your bank’s “sales culture” rather than your “sales team.” But changing a bank’s sales culture is one of the most difficult leadership challenges. That’s because a bank’s sales culture comprises an interlocking set of individual values, motivations and cultures.
- Values…The beliefs and ideals that influence individual behavior, attitude and decision-making
- Motivation…The internal and external factors that drive individual actions
- Culture…The organization’s environment that affects productivity and performance
These three elements fit together as a mutually reinforcing system and combine to prevent any attempt to change it. That’s why single-fix changes (Sales Training, CRS systems, Score Cards) don’t have long-term impact on the bank’s sales culture.
Changing a bank’s sales culture is a large-scale undertaking and requires significant commitment from top to bottom in the bank. The most fruitful success strategy starts with individuals understanding their values (beliefs & ideals) and motivations (internal & external) first. The next step is to understand the values (public & private) of the bank’s sales culture to determine what’s helping or hurting productivity and performance.
Changing The Culture
1.Clarify Individual Values: the first step to making any changes starts with identify the individual beliefs of the bankers and how those beliefs are affecting their performance.
2. Cross-check Motivations: Once individual beliefs have been identified, the next step is to assess individual motivations against what motivates and drives the bank’s actions.
3. Compare Values, Motivations and Culture: The final assessment compares the banker’s and team’s values and motivations to the bank’s sales culture.
4. Focus on Important Indicators: Once there’s a clear understanding of all the positive and negative factors that are affecting team performance, then the sales team can focus on those changes to the sales culture that will significantly change the culture.
Please contact me if you’d like to discuss this post.
It’s only natural for bankers to want to be nice to their business clients. But in business-to-business sales (B2B), where the stakes are high and business clients are increasingly more sophisticated and risk-averse, being nice just doesn’t cut it. Being "friendly" is great for retail banking but to be successful on the business side, bankers must challenge their business clients out of their comfort zones and focus on delivering value.
In a recent survey of more than 6,000 sales representatives in numerous industries, B2B sales representatives fell into 5 distinct sales profiles:
1. The Hard Worker is always willing to go the extra mile, doesn’t give up easily, and is self-motivated.
2. The Problem Solver is detail-oriented, addresses service issues quickly, and places importance on post-sales follow through.
3. The Relationship Builder doesn’t want to appear pushy, focuses on customer needs, and is generous with his or her time.
4. The Lone Wolf is a salesperson who is self-assured, difficult to control, and follows his or her instincts.
5. The Challenger always has a different view of the world, understands the customer’s business, and loves to debate.
Most bankers are a combination of these profiles. Over my 40 years working with bankers, most Commercial and Business Bankers fall into a combination of profile 3 &4...they focus on building relationships with their business clients and they prefer to work alone without outside controls or constraints.
There is merit to each of these sales profiles, but only one is the clear winner in B2B complex-solutions selling: the Challenger. The Challenger is defined by the unique ability to use constructive tension throughout the sale and provide value to customers through a three-pillar approach of teaching, tailoring, and taking control.
Challengers use their deep understanding of clients’ businesses to push their thinking and fully engage in the conversations. They are much more than “order takers” or “product pushers.” They’re not afraid to share unique ideas or potentially controversial views. They’re assertive but respectful of their business client. All excellent characteristics when applied properly. Challengers offer business clients a unique perspective, have strong two-way communication skills, know the client’s value drivers and business economics, can pressure the customer, and talk about money.
If you analyzed your Commercial and Business Bankers, how many of them would fit the Challengers profile? The banks with the most Challengers on their sales staff will eventually own B2B bank sales in their market.
At the start of this year lots of “financial experts” made predictions about banking and business trends in 2016. Most of the predictions had more to do with “Silicon Valley” than “Main Street” banking except one…the so-called “financial experts” predicted an explosion of Online Loans! Next to “Federal Regulators,” nothing strikes more fear in Community Bankers than…Online Loans! Since 2008 Community Banks have struggled to generate enough revenue to keep their shareholders happy and grow their bank. With retail branch traffic and revenue drying up, making small business loans was the only sure way community banks could weather the recent financial storm. So if the predictions about Online Loans were true, it would be a major threat to community bank revenue opportunity.
There has been a decades-long trend of consolidation in the banking industry, particularly among community banks that are traditional small business lenders. Coupled with the higher risk of small business loans, this consolidation has made traditional bankers reluctant to lend to small business owners as the economy has recovered.
Alternative Online Lenders such as Kabbage, Fundation, and OnDeck have risen to meet this opportunity through unique online underwriting technologies and are experiencing strong growth in serving this market. New entrants, new partnerships with traditional banks, and a wave of new capital flowing into this segment of lenders were predicted to set the world of alternative online small business lending on fire in 2016.
So far Online Loans has not been as big a threat in 2016 for Community Banks as predicted. But that could all change in 2017. With more Fintech companies looking for ways to capture more of the banking share of market, it’s only a matter of time when Online loans will catch fire. So what can community banks do now to prepare to compete with Online Lenders? There are three traditional ways to compete…Community Banks can either provide small business loans that are cheaper, faster, or better!
1. Cheaper…Community Bank spreads are already razor thin so competing on price with online lenders is definitely not the right answer. The online lenders have less overhead expenses and no branch network to fund so they can offer their loan services at a lower rate than community banks.
2. Faster…Let’s face it, online lenders have automated the loan approval process to provide small business clients a quick turnaround. Very few if any community banks can turn around small business loans that fast without taking some enormous risks. Community Banks can streamline their current loan approval process some but it still will be tough to compete with the Online Lenders on speed.
3. Better…Bingo! Online Lenders can’t provide true personal service to small business clients. They do only one thing…make online loans! And most small businesses need a lot more than just a loan. Community Banks can offer small business an on-going partnership that provides valuable information as well as help with other cash flow and financial challenges and pitfalls.
Providing better customer service is the key to Community Banks being able to compete with Online Lenders. By offering better customer service than Online Lenders it will help encourage small business clients to continue their relationship with the bank through good times and bad.
It’s the 4th quarter and time is running out for your bank to reach its sales numbers. If your bank is like most banks, 80% of your bankers are probably not going to meet their loan, deposit and fee income goals. The good news is that the other 20%, the top producers are going to make up for the other 80%. Your top producing bankers are looking forward to the 4th quarter because they know they are going to benefit from all the work they have put in all year.
So here’s the question of the day…what can all of your bankers do to make the 4th Quarter better for everyone?
#1) Have your bankers meet with your top 10 or 15 existing business clients to get a firm idea of what their end of the year and 2017 needs are going to be. The last thing you want your bankers to do is let your existing business clients ("low hanging fruit") discuss future banking needs with a competitor banker first.
And when your banker finds out what their client’s needs are, they should do whatever they can to capture it in advance – ask lots of detail questions about their needs, get started gathering financial data and setting up meetings with key bank managers and product experts - but do everything they can NOW to secure their client's business in advance.
#2) Next, have your bankers do the same thing with their short list of "hot business prospects" they have identified. Once again, your bankers should contact them and do the same thing - arrange dates for sales calls, ask questions about their future challenges and next year’s priorities, create a since of urgency for the end of the year and let them know that the bank is ready to take care of their needs - and them make sure to follow up with them in person every week or two!
#3) Schedule product and sales training for your bankers now! Just short one-hour refresher training to help your bankers improve their knowledge and selling skills. Make sure your bankers have fresh ideas, techniques and strategies in place by October. Now is the time to get your bankers sharp, to reinforce effective sales activities and techniques so they are ready to go.
#4) Remind every banker of their sales goals numbers and the sales activities they are expected to perform to reach those goals! If your bankers are not clear about their own personal sales goals numbers or what sales activities they must perform, they will not make their goal.
#5) Have your bankers commit to making at least 1 sales call per day to either an existing business client or hot prospect for the rest of the year. With every sale call your bankers will improve their chances of reaching their annual sales goals.
I can’t guarantee that 100% of your bankers will reach their goals by the end of the 4th quarter but I can guarantee that you’ll create a lot of sales opportunities…for the 4th quarter and 2017! And isn't that what you really want?
Reality Check…Banks can’t shrink themselves to greatness! In other words, just cutting staff and reducing operating expenses isn’t always the best way for banks to be successful. In fact, as in the cartoon suggests, sometimes the bank’s budget cuts and workforce reductions can cause more problems. Not saying some budget cuts aren’t necessary but sometimes banks can cut too deep.
So what should a bank do when facing tough economic times?
1. Make sales your top priority… Stop pretending to care about sales and really get serious about it. If your bank’s President isn’t clear what’s specifically happening down in the branches to improve sales, it’s probably not happening.
2. Establish specific sales actions for everyone…Selling consists of every banker doing specific sales actions over and over again. If your bankers are not clear about what specific sales actions they are required to perform every day, they are probably just "wishing and hoping" for sales results.
3. Confirm that everyone knows how to perform those sales actions correctly…There’s a “right way” and a “wrong way” to do everything. Most bankers have never been shown the “right way” to perform sales actions. Doing a sales action incorrectly is more destructive than not doing it at all.
4. Require that every manager provide regular sales coaching… Selling is tough and bankers must be constantly motivated to keep selling. Motivating bankers is the number one job of their manager.
5. Trust but verify…Trust that bankers are performing the established sales actions correctly but double-check regularly just to make sure. It ain’t “micro-managing” it’s just doing your darn job!
6. Be patient but practical… If a banker is really struggling to make sales, the manager has three choices…Training, Transfer or Terminate. Be patient but don’t wait forever to replace a poor performer.
If your bank is trying to shrink itself to greatness and it’s not working, maybe you should try something else. But don’t wait too long because your ship may be sinking!
The other day as I was talking with Kerry, a banker in Texas and he mentioned an amazing new way he’s motivating his branch’s sales team…Bingo! Well to be exact, it’s more like “Product Bingo.” Here’s how it works… to help motivate his branch sales team to cross-sell bank services, Kerry created a Bingo card with 16 boxes. Each box had the name of a bank product that could be sold or referred by the branch staff. The rules were simple, like in regular Bingo, the first branch staff member that crosses out 4 squares in a row wins Bingo. And the first branch staff member that crosses out all squares wins Blackout.
Now I know the first thing you’re thinking…this could be bad for the customers. In light of some recent bank scandals, what stopping the bank staff from selling a customer a bank service they didn’t need? I mentioned this potential issue to Kerry and he said you can avoid this problem by creating the appropriate culture in the branch. A culture of looking for opportunities to help the customer not push bank products. He also emphasized that management must reward “quality” over “quantity.”
Since implementing the Bingo game, Kerry said he has seen significant improvement in referrals and branch sales. And as a side benefit, the branch sales staff was more excited about referrals and cross-selling.
Well not to be outdone, I took Kerry’s Bingo idea and applied it to one of my community bank clients. But instead of “Product Bingo” I created “Sales Activity Bingo!” My Bingo card had 16 boxes but each box had a business sales activity Branch Managers were required to perform. These sales activities included…Getting an appointment with a prospect, Following the Sales Call Format, Using Reference USA to research prospects, going on a joint call with a Commercial Banker, etc. Nothing wild, just those basic sales activities that help generate business sales.
The rules for my “Sales Activity Bingo” are also simple… Any Branch Manager that crosses out every square in 30 days will win a prize. We still have about 15 days to the end of this Bingo game but already I’m seeing significant changes. All the Branch Managers are now more focused business sales activities and they are more motivated. It will be interesting to see the final results at the end of the game in mid-October.
So what do you think? Will this work for your sales team? Do you have another game or competition that you’ve used to motivate your sales team? If you do, please send them to me at Cfisher@thesalesinstitute.com
If you would like a free copy of Kerry’s “Product Bingo” card or my “Sales Activity Bingo” card, click here!
For years, just about every bank had “Training & Development Departments” that were responsible for coordination and conducting staff training. These Training and Development Departments (often called T&D) could range for one “training coordinator” to massive departments with dozens of internal and external trainers. Unfortunately, most T&D Departments spend the majority of their time and money focusing on the “training” side of their jobs rather than the “development” side. So what’s the difference between training and development? Here are a few key differences…
1. Event vs. Solution…Training is always an event. Whether online or classroom, training is always treated as an event that bankers must carve out time to focus on. Development is subtle and is more focus on providing a solution that will help the banker perform in certain situations and conditions.
2. One & Done vs. Ongoing…With training you set aside some time for the training event and when it’s completed, it’s done. Even if there is some follow up after the training, to the bankers, it still feels like the event is done. Development is more ongoing, evolving and expanding to correct the next issue or challenge.
3. Fixed vs. Flexible…Despite every effort to tailor and customize training, when it is delivered it is fixed and does not change. And those additional training issues that surface during training are often delayed for the next training event. Development is flexible and can adapt and changed based on the immediate needs of the bankers.
When banks choose to focus on training, they hope the training sessions will give their bankers everything they will need to do their job. But when banks focus more on development, they know the process is flexible enough to be adapted to meet today’s needs as well as future banking needs.
If you would like to learn more about how development can help your bankers improve their sales performance, please contact me.
Sales Performance Coach