Banking on Data to Drive Sales Effectiveness

Many institutions use pipeline reports to monitor the performance of their sales team. But what are frontline bankers doing to fill the funnel in the first place? To figure out what works and what doesn't, you need to take a data-driven analytical approach.

Sales managers in retail institutions need to be able to answer fundamental questions: What selling strategies are bankers using? Which selling behaviors produce the desired results? Are conversations with customers adhering to customer service standards? With deeper insights into selling activity, bankers are better able to deliver a superior customer experience, and managers are able to set performance standards to which they can manage and train bankers.

Opportunities to optimize a sales team are more easily identified when managers have access to data such as calls attempted, connections made, length of calls, script adherence and outcomes. This activity data allows managers to gauge performance against benchmarks and across groups. Additionally, technologies such as speech analytics monitor sales conversations and flag keywords or emotions that prompt further review. With this sales intelligence in hand, bank leaders can close the visibility gap, establish best practices based on proven standards, optimize team performance and gain new confidence in forecasting and revenue goal attainment.

Pipeline data provides managers with details such as how long an opportunity has been open, estimated close date, and general information on the prospective company. But, these reports tell you nothing about how the deal is being worked and the activity that is driving the pipeline — all details that are integral to ensure accurate forecasting. That’s why activity data cannot be overlooked. Bankers outbound sales activities are what drives the pipeline, so digging into activity data provides managers with a true understanding of what’s happening within their business.

Establishing a New Mindset

Changing up the status quo and instituting a data-driven sales culture can be overwhelming for everyone involved. Where does one even start? The first step is to determine the key performance indicators (KPIs) you need to monitor based on your business model, strategic objectives and sales goals. Is your goal to set appointments? Is it to sell directly over the phone? Increase customer service satisfaction? Establishing clear goals helps you sort through the data clutter and focus on the insights that matter most.

For Belmont Savings, 80% of the business came from face-to-face meetings, so the bank wanted to ensure that bankers were effectively leveraging phone conversations to drive branch traffic. Belmont Savings could have established a requirement that each banker have five phone conversations per day, there would have still been no insight into the quality or complexion of the calls being made. How long did the calls last? What was the outcome? Once Belmont Savings began tracking these details automatically, the performance and accountability among bankers shot up.

Measuring sales call activity and performance in such a way gives banks a holistic view of the sales force, helps managers understand how past sales activities generated specific results, and shows how the bank is meeting customer needs. Applying these lessons with frontline sales staff means more accurate benchmarks for current branch teams, and helps set the standards for new and future bankers. By observing both qualitative and quantitative call performance, specific call parameters can be set to give bank managers the peace of mind that their teams are adhering to the correct and proven behaviors that deliver superior customer experiences.

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Realistically, adoption of new data-centric methods and technologies will probably take some time, and you can’t expect your bankers to master new techniques immediately. To be truly effective, sales training and onboarding need to be a constant, evolving process, not a one-day session.

It’s critical that sales staff understand how and why their outbound activities will be measured. Then, once you’ve identified the selling and service behaviors from your most successful reps, you can set benchmarks for the rest of the team. But be sure to work closely with them so they know exactly what is expected of them. The earlier this is done, the more each banker can prepare, adjust their approach accordingly.

Managers can’t be afraid to over-communicate, especially early on in the process. Hold morning kick-off meetings with the staff to review the performance activity and highlight specific areas for improvement. That way, each banker has a clear set of goals every day. In the end, the name of the game is keeping the lines of communication open between branch managers and bankers.

How banks hire, onboard, train, and manage sales representatives can no longer be based on “gut instinct.” With data surrounding sales activities, branch/sales managers can identify top performers and replicate their success more quickly. Underperformers can be flagged more quickly, and managers can pinpoint where and how they’re falling short. By understanding which sales techniques are successful and which aren’t, managers significantly improve sales effectiveness.

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