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:
- 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:
- Coaching “deals” and shepherding transactions through the credit process
- Managing the pipeline
- Informal coaching
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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…