What is the best way for your sales teams to react to this problem?
The Grow loan and DDA balances of 10 percent (for the third time in consecutive years) in a highly competitive market (never forgetting being in recession),
Maintain 100% of customers deemed to be “high value” when customer attrition is averaging 17% and
Maintain current sales team headcount – no additional resources.
Many commercial and small-business sales teams are faced with challenges similar to this. If they don’t get scared at times, they likely aren’t aware of the objectives. Also, considering that (typically) 85percent of salespeople don’t have a defined plan, and 73% do not have a strategy for their top five accounts, a panic attack and fresh resumes could be more likely. If you split groups of salespeople by “finders and minders” or you have relationship managers assigned to attract new business while enhancing existing deposit and loan relationships, the most important thing to achieve your goals for retention and sales is a solid plan of action that begins by choosing the appropriate goals and deciding on the best direction of flight.
Choose the Right Targets
The most crucial component of any flight guideline is the target. “My people are heatseekers,” one sales manager said to me. “Once we set targets, nothing distracts them.” Therefore, it is important to be sure to set specific, clear targets.
The first step is to ensure that the sales team must understand what success means. What is the balance between account retention and account acquisition that makes the model of business work?
After the balance is established, the target must be based on four factors:
Market segments to target and ideal customer profiles.
Priority-tiering criteria for customers as well as prospects.
Value propositions for the target segment are defined in terms of the target customers might be able to.
A specific and limited customer base that lets relationship managers are able to mine for the most.
Establish Guidance Parameters
When you have established your targets, Mission Control (sales managers) should set guidance guidelines that are specific goals and expectations that inform those who are seeking heat what the good flight routes appear to be. The guidelines will inform your salespeople exactly what they should expect and what to do if they’re off-track from a performance standpoint and from a result perspective. The relationship managers must integrate these requirements into their plans.
The most important areas for benchmarks or standards are:
A mix of products, as well as
Accuracy of forecasts.
Discuss Annual Flight Plans
After you’ve set goals and flight route limits, Relationship managers and sales team leaders need to make sure that their flights are planned in a precise manner. The more outrageous their objectives are, the more crucial the plan… And this is the last thing in the world that relationship managers are looking to complete.
“Forget about this,” they tell you. “I need to be calling on customers.” However, if they don’t have a plan, that responsibility is on the team’s leadership. Because sales team leaders can’t call all the plays and supervise eight, ten, or 15 active salespeople, the whole team, as well as the growth retention strategy, are put at risk.
We suggest that sales managers ask RMs to create plans focusing on activities, accounts that they expect to achieve, the expected results, and the resources they require as if they were the managers of their own businesses:
Annual plans for the territory.
Plans for relationships that are critical “must keep” or “must expand” relationships.
Personal development plans for RMs that are tied to specific goals the RM is expected to produce. After the RMs have created their plans, Managers and RMs should talk about the plans as if RMs were independently-owned businesses (franchisees) and Sales team managers were franchisees.
Begin the conversation with a discussion about goals, the goals of the relationship managers for their own businesses and themselves, and their compensation, and for the markets, they operate in. Focus on the ways they’ll reach their goals and what measures they’ll use to determine whether they’re doing a good job. This information allows you as a sales coach to spot any disconnects between their objectives and their plan of action, giving the opportunity to spot possible issues early.
Mid-Flight Check Points
Following initial discussions about the Annual plans, we advise the same pattern for Team leader RM mid-flight checkpoints that offer a place for feedback, inspection, and resetting the course.
Weekly The focus is on activities, deals, observations in the field, behavior, and ability.
Monthly and quarterly – concentrate upon “managing the business”, keeping track of progress against plans, and making necessary adjustments to prepare for the next period.
Semi-Annually A formal performance review.
These methods of coaching influence sales performance and create the right balance between developing new business and retention of accounts. Managers’ demands for sales, combined with the consequences of feedback, alter sales behavior. Each weekly or monthly meeting, the manager and RM discuss “business planned performance” from the written plans to “actual performance,” identify the issues and set plans for the time prior to the next meeting.
Additionally, successful RMs and managers utilize quarterly and monthly meetings to plan out responses for “surprises” such as unexpected demands from managers’ top executives so that these requests don’t create immediate circuit overload.
The Ultimate Benefit
Achieving sales goals that are challenging should bring anticipation, some anxiety, and a bit of nervousness. Similar to how we expect our clients to plan the sales team’s plans, sales managers should expect their RMs and themselves to prepare. Since time is a precious commodity, planning should be focused on the top leverage points: identifying customers, key tasks, and the resources required to meet sales targets.
The ongoing discussions about the plan between the sales team’s leaders and their direct subordinates are the most critical part of the process of planning. These conversations should be regular (at minimum every month) and constant (there’s no way to avoid them) and of value for both participants. For relationship managers particularly, the conversation will ultimately result in clear priorities, and the commitment of the resources will help the RM, as well as the sales staff, requires to achieve its goals. The conversations that are held leave direct employees feeling motivated, focused, and well-supported.