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In a previous blog post Are your Sales Managers in the Bottom Half of the Class? I introduced our framework for assessing the sales leadership approach of front-line sales managers. In our work with thousands of bank sales managers in retail, small business, business banking and commercial banking, we have found that a relatively small percentage operate consistently at stage 3–somewhere around 15%– and only 5% perform at stage 4. A look at the specific characteristics of each stage might explain why: 

A Stage 3 Sales Leader:
1. Leads a fully defined sales and sales leadership process
2. Understands the key role of messaging and uses weekly sales meetings to establish top priorities
3. Focuses on the importance of and the use of the processes that will lead to sustainable performance
4. Balances accountability for activity and results with skills coaching
5. Does bi-weekly, 1-on-1 coaching with each team member; the coaching focuses on growing key market management and relationship development skills
6. Aligns coaching with each team member’s “stage” of development
7. Uses joint calling to observe skills and model behavior, not just to close business

The results of the team are consistent (70 to 85% of team members make all their business goals).

A Stage 4 Sales Leader:
1. Holds team members accountable for using the fully defined processes
2. Consistently messages and re-establishes priorities
3. Focuses on coaching lead generation and lead source development
4. Uses a well thought-out balance of accountability and coaching
5. Customizes 1-on-1 coaching for each team member
6. Sees role as growing and developing team members and consistently moves team members to Stage 3 skills
7. Uses joint calling to continually fine-tune each team member’s client conversations and relationship development strategies

The results of the team are very consistent (>85% of team members make all their sales goals).

Why do so few bank sales managers attain these levels? At the risk of oversimplifying this, there are a variety of impediments that sales managers face:
* Not enough time—Some community and regional banks are cursed by the producing sales manager model. When a producing sales manager finishes what for most is the main event (producing) they often have little time left over for coaching.
* Not enough training/ coaching—In many banks sales management is still in an embryonic state. Many sales leaders get little sales management training, often nothing more than a generic coaching class as an appendage to a sales training program for their teams. What’s worse is that few get any ongoing guidance and direction from management on how to do their jobs better.
* No process—Surveys confirm that a high percentage of banks either do not have a defined sales process or don’t follow the one they allegedly have.
* Star syndrome—The results of many commercial and business banking teams are often driven by a handful of high-performers, who heroically contribute 80% or more of their team’s production. (And if one of the stars is a producing Sales Manager, the rest of the team suffers.)

Banks whose sales managers coach with discipline see 20-30% more salespeople reach their goals. Banks that have and follow formal sales processes grow revenue 15-20% faster than those without them.

No matter how we examine it, sales forces that operate with greater rigor realize greater sales results for their effort. Banks that continue to treat sales as an ‘art’ will struggle against their more disciplined competition.

Focus, consistent messaging, holding bankers accountable for both their bank’s process and results, and regular coaching spell the real difference between the top 20 % of sales leaders and the rest.

Question for Executive Management: What stage are your sales leaders in?
Question for front line Sales Managers: What changes do you have to make to become a consistent top performer?

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

Identifying and Developing Bank Sales Leaders

Sales Leaders: Are You Doing All You Can to Boost Prospecting Results?

7 Sales Leadership Rituals That Matter

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.