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“There are two things people want more than sex and money…recognition and praise.”
      –Mary Kay Ash

My friend Daniel is a seasoned Middle Market relationship manager who early last year joined a community bank after years at a major global bank. He was charged with bringing in the kind of C&I business that he had focused on for over 20 years and that his new employer coveted in an effort to diversify its largely CRE portfolio. I knew that he was very excited about the opportunity. (Yes, bankers, there is life after working for one of the big banks.)

Daniel inherited a small portfolio—one that required a considerable amount of credit work in Daniel’s estimation–and in his first year had success developing additional business with it. His biggest wins were with new clients, though, and he quickly became the number one producer in his region.

When I talked to him recently though, Daniel was not as upbeat as usual. Yes, he had received a nice bonus check. Yes, he liked the other people on his team. Yes, he had a robust pipeline of new deals that were moving along nicely. So what was the problem?

He relayed that his boss, the head of commercial lending, had rarely spent time with him during the year other than to inquire about the state of deals in his pipeline. Daniel was OK with that, although there were times when he questioned whether his new boss really understood the sales cycle for bringing over a true commercial relationship.

What bothered him was more recent. When bonus checks were passed out a few weeks ago, Daniel’s boss didn’t acknowledge the work that had gone into what Daniel considered a pretty solid performance. His boss referenced the commercial accounts Daniel had picked up and observed, “Well, we did give you some opportunities this year.”

Some sales managers still believe that “it’s all about the money.” Well, when it comes to recognition, high-performers like Daniel do have an interest in money—it’s the way they keep score. 

But, they are also interested in other things including recognition. Daniel’s boss clearly fumbled the ball on this. Part of the challenge is that no two bankers are exactly alike when it comes to recognition. Some cringe at public displays; others thrive in the limelight. Some love the idea of the Chairman’s Club cruise while others would just as soon take a nice check and stay home with their families. Good sales managers know what drives the individuals on their teams.

Daniel’s manager would do well to consider spending more time getting to know and coaching his high- performers. There may not be a lot that he can do to assist Daniel with a particular prospect. But in addition to asking “How can I help you with that opportunity that you are pursuing?” he needs to show that he appreciates the great work Daniel’s doing, and that he’s committed to doing everything he can to make Daniel even more successful.

All this has to be genuine. Daniel’s boss needs to back up his words with actions. And he can’t let high-performers get off easy if their performance starts to slip.

Mary Kay Ash, who built her own wildly successful cosmetics company using incentive programs and other strategies (not just pink Cadillacs) to give her employees the chance to benefit from their achievements, knew the score. Salespeople like praise and recognition.   

Relationship Managers: Do you have any comments on this subject or experiences to share?

Bank Sales Managers: Am I being too critical of Daniel’s boss?

I’d welcome your comments in the space below.

Feel free to share this article with others. If you would like to read my regular posts on bank sales and sales leadership then please sign up at Bank Sales Corner Blog  If you have questions about how I can help you develop the next generation of your bank sales leaders, email me at nmiller@mzbierlyconsulting.com or call me on 484-433-2378.

Looking for more insights on coaching? Check out these other articles of interest on sales leadership:

Coaching Pointers for Sales Leaders (3 words max)

Don’t Lose Your High-Performers