Bank presidents sometimes ask us to evaluate the effectiveness and skills of their sales leaders.  As a starting point we use a grid that lays out four stages in the progression of sales leadership. In our reviews, usually about 20% of the front line sales managers are operating in Stage 1 and between 40 and 60% are in Stage 2.

Here’s a quick summary of the characteristics of Stage 1 sales leaders in commercial and business banking teams:

  • They play primarily an administrative or technical role. Most are either bureaucrats or credit officers, not coaches.
  • There is a large span of control (more than 12 team members). In some cases, the sales leader is a producing manager.
  • They allow a wide variety of business development and relationship management processes within their teams. Frequently heard comment: “As long as you make your goals I leave you alone.”
  • The focus is on closed business, not on lead generation or other stages in the sales funnel.
  • They are not usually holding weekly sales meetings; they tend to have them monthly, quarterly or “when we need one.” Pipeline discussions predominate.
  • Coaching, when it occurs, is usually in a group setting, not 1 on 1. For commercial and business banking teams, most coaching begins and ends with credit, not with formulating a sales strategy.
  • Stage 1 sales leaders do not successfully institutionalize customer relationships. The RMs own the relationships, not the bank.

Here are some of the characteristics of Stage 2 bank sales managers:

  • They are beginning to articulate processes for building relationships.
  • “Best practices” are transmitted sporadically to team members.
  • Accountability is a major focus.
  • Coaching is reserved for low-performers, not the core of the team.
  • They track activities and activity levels (“How many calls did you make this week?”)
  • Sales meetings center on reviewing pipelines and closed business.
  • Joint calling is now part of the leadership process. . . but mostly to close business.

In an upcoming blog post we’ll talk more about the practices of High-Performing Sales Leaders (Stage 3 and Stage 4). For a preview, check out 7 Sales Leadership Rituals That Matter.

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