Eliminate Bad Sales
Habits & Good Results Will Follow
“Habit” the dictionary tells us is:
- an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary: the habit of answering a business telephone within three rings.
- customary practice or use: asking about a client’s family.
- a particular practice, or custom: the habit of shaking hands.
- a dominant or regular disposition or tendency; prevailing character or quality: She has a habit of always maintaining good eye contact.
- addiction, especially to narcotics or alcohol or chocolate (we won’t go there).
A bad habit would be quite the opposite, a habit that we’ve acquired that is counterproductive, a barrier to what we are hoping to accomplish and/or something that may even be off-putting to our prospects and/or clients and most assuredly affects our sales results.
Take a minute or two and consider the following list of Bad Habits that may be barriers to your sales success.
Waiting for Referrals or Walk-Ins
Referrals, either from valued clients or colleagues and prospects who call with a problem and/or show up in your office are gifts. You can’t plan on or count on this stream to make your numbers! Neither can you count on leads from marketing efforts. You have to “make it happen.” The only way to make your numbers and to be in control is to set aside a specific amount of time weekly to prospect.
Trying to Make a 20 Minute 1st Prospect Meeting Work
We’ve all had the prospect who grudgingly agrees to see you and tells you that you have 20 minutes to make your pitch. You are grateful to have gotten in to see “Mr. Big” so you give it your all. How many times have you been in this situation and actually ended up getting the business? In our experience, and in a recent show of hands to this exact question in a Relationship Sales Workshop, the answer was “Can’t think of one time!”
Don’t do it! With all the sincerity and warmth you can muster simply say, “Mr. Big, I do appreciate your willingness to see me, but quite honestly I can’t possibly begin to learn about you (for Investment Management/Wealth Management/Private Banking or Lending) and/or your organization (for Commercial Lending, Retirement Plan Services) in 20 minutes. Our organization isn’t about pitching a product or a service. We cannot provide the service and expertise you are looking for without understanding your needs.” We’ve not heard of one situation when the prospect hasn’t reneged and agreed to allow the banker to conduct an appropriately meaningful discovery meeting—and quite likely agreed to a number of follow-up meetings. It is always interesting how much time a prospect has when he/she is talking about him/herself.
This bad habit and the “Tip of the Iceberg” (see next page) are closely linked. If we are not careful, we can let our excitement about our products/services cause us to jump ahead in the sales process and talk about solutions to prospects’ problems too early. Short-cutting discovery and jumping into presentation is a trap you must avoid. Sales are NOT typically lost in presentation, they are lost in the discovery phase. You win opportunities when you spend the time to really understand the prospects’ needs and create a rapport that encourages the prospect to share his/her goals and dreams.
Do you fail to recognize the importance of including key decision-makers or those with heavy influence in the decision? Consensus building as part of discovery and/or between discovery and presentation is vital. Ask the prospect to help identify these key individuals and including them in the process.
With solid discovery, you are not piece-mealing a presentation that doesn’t quite address the issues for which the prospect seeks solutions and is driven to address. Some sales people find value in repeating the mantra, “go slow to go fast.”
Tip of the Iceberg Approach to Prospecting & Selling
Every prospect has more than one need. Just like the iceberg analogy, there’s far more below the surface than meets the eye. However, frequently we don’t drill down in our discovery process with the prospect and we fail to uncover multiple needs. Sometimes this is the result of our single-minded focus on our area of expertise. We’re in front of the prospect to talk about business lending needs so we stop there. Have you ever know a business owner who doesn’t have other financial service needs? Ultimately, we may not be the individual in our organization who would provide the expertise in these other areas, but wouldn’t our organization be far more successful if we’d take a holistic approach to prospect discovery and bring in the other experts as part of what we can do for this prospect?
It Isn’t About Price
One of my favorite former bosses had an expression that fits this situation. He was always quick to point out when a team member was suffering from what he called “stinkin thinkin.” Believing that prospects buy on price alone is an example of ‘stinkin thinkin.’ Prospects buy primarily on the value you create. YOU DON’T CREATE VALUE BY TALKING ABOUT PRODUCTS AND SERVICES IN THE DISCOVERY PHASE! Ask the right questions in the discovery phase and your prospect will TELL YOU THE VALUE SOLVING THEIR PROBLEM will provide for them. Now isn’t that much more powerful than you trying to explain what the value is that you provide? When you ask high-value questions (lots of them) that cause the prospect to think and to evaluate his/her own situation with new insights, you are demonstrating the value that you can add. In addition, the prospect sees the value in having his/her problems solved. The prospect sees the value in having a relationship with you AND having his/her problems solved. Your discovery conversations should provide so much value to the prospect that they thank you for asking and listening and they look forward to your presentation on how you will solve their problems.
Avoiding a Formal Presentation to the Prospect
We hear you groaning. We know what you are thinking: It’s hard work to put together a formal presentation. Yes we agree, and failure to do a formal presentation is a failure to demonstrate to the prospect how you are uniquely qualified to help him/her reach his/her financial goals. Let’s face it- sales are rarely lost to competitors in our business, most sales are lost to inertia—the prospect didn’t feel compelled to “fix” his/her present situation. Taking the time to prepare a presentation that demonstrates your understanding of the prospect and his/her needs, the problems he/she wishes to resolve and the solutions you are proposing is the way you motivate the prospect to take action. By formal presentation we are not talking about a loan commitment letter, or a “thanks for meeting with me, we’d like to do business” letter. We are talking about a formal, written presentation that you present to the prospect, in person; answer questions and explain solutions. In addition to the obvious opportunity to create a “decision point” in the process, you have the opportunity to demonstrate the value you and your organization can provide by laying out the plan for implementing the solutions to the prospect’s problems.
Tackle these bad habits and your sales results will dramatically improve. Need some fresh ideas and approaches to Discovery and Making Formal Presentations? Join us for Relationship Sales May 14-16, 2014.
by Eric Timm Director of TRUSTCOMPARE®
Finally, finally, spring has arrived with the beginnings of another season of baseball (although it might not seem like baseball weather in the Midwest and Northeast when you still wear heavy coats and boots). My annual version of spring training is to boil up a bunch of hot dogs, stock up on peanuts, and sit down to watch as many baseball movies as I can in a single weekend. The classics certainly—Bang the Drum Slowly, Bull Durham, Major League, Field of Dreams–but also a new movie for this season, the 2012 Oscar-nominated Moneyball.
Moneyball, based on the book written by Michael Lewis, tells the story of Billy Beane, the General Manager of the Oakland A’s baseball club, as he works to build a winning team despite competing in a small-market city. Oakland does not have the population of California’s other teams–LA, Anaheim, San Diego, and San Francisco–and is not able to generate the revenues of most teams in the entire major league. Beane’s challenge was to build a winning team while not breaking the bank on player salaries.
Beane was an adherent of a baseball school of thought that uses statistical analysis to attempt to better predict player performance. Author, historian, and statistician Bill James is acclaimed as the father of Sabermetrics, the study of baseball using statistical analysis (even though James gets a good bit of the credit, the first researcher to publish statistical analysis of baseball was Earnshaw Cook in 1964). James coined the term Sabermetrics, derived from the acronym for the Society for American Baseball Research, founded in Cooperstown, NY in 1971 , to foster the research and dissemination of the history and record of the game. James defined Sabermetrics as “the search for objective knowledge about baseball.”
Baseball is unique among major sports in terms of objective data–baseball’s intrinsic interactions generate measurable data points–pitches result in balls, strikes, outs or hits–and these data have been compiled for most of the history of the sport. Sabermetricians look for new ways of explaining past performance and create statistical models to predict future performance. They often challenge traditional explanations, such as a player’s batting average to measure ability. Rather, Sabermetricians reason that runs win ballgames, and a better measure of a player’s skill is his ability to contribute to the total number of runs the team scores. Relatively new statistics like On Base Percentage (OBP) or On Base Plus Slugging (OBS) came about through the research of Sabermetricians.
In the movie, Billy Beane and his assistant Peter Brand challenged the old ways of analyzing player performance, which Brand described as “…a medieval way of thinking” derived from “…asking all the wrong questions.” Aware that the A’s could not compete with large market teams in terms of being able to afford top-dollar players, Brand and Beane changed the way the A’s evaluated players by using Sabermetric analysis to identify undervalued players. Their strategy was to focus on producing the greatest number of runs at the lowest payroll cost.
Beane has been GM of the A’s for the past 17 years and the team has been consistently successful despite having one of the lowest team payrolls in all of Major League Baseball. For example, in 2001 the A’s had a 102-60 record and finished 2nd in the American League West Division, facing the New York Yankees in the Divisional Series (the Yankees won the series 3-2 and subsequently lost the World Series to Arizona in 7 games). The amazing fact about the divisional series matchup is that the A’s total team salary in 2001 was only 30% of the Yankees total team salary ($33,810,750 vs. $112,287,143). The Yankees spent $1,069,401 per win for each of their 105 victories (including the ALDS, ALCS and Worlds Series games) versus the A’s per win cost of only $325,103.
In digging up the supporting data for the above example, I got completely derailed by the incredible amount of data available online for baseball statistics…I could easily write 5 more pages of detailed analysis but- lucky for you- we do not have the space available in this issue. If you are interested in seeing how the Yankees and A’s compare on several measures for the entire 17 years of Billy Beane’s tenure, visit http://data.trustcompare.com. Use the username and password of “tcdata” when prompted and you can view my detailed analysis, including some snazzy graphs that illustrate Beane’s successful strategy by comparing the A’s and Yankees over time. I found that the data makes a compelling example of the benefit of both understanding your business and using data to help build a successful organization.
Despite baseball traditionalists’ rejection of statistical analysis over the years, most major league teams now employ Sabermetricians to conduct extensive analysis of their statistics as an aid to decision making–including Bill James serving as a consultant to the Boston Red Sox. How is this relevant to our industry? Sabermetrics as a practice is a form of benchmarking–compiling and analyzing data to discern meaningful information to support decision making. Metrics can be compared to prior years, peers, or the entire industry universe as a tool for effective planning and management. Building a data set of performance measures over time creates a valuable repository of information you can use to analyze your performance. An important step in benchmarking is simply making a decision to begin collecting data.
I have a bias towards benchmarking and metrics in general, but even before working with Loyd to build Trustcompare™, I strongly believed in data-driven decision making. Maybe it is my training as a financial analyst coupled with my love of computing, but I always believed in data analysis, when complemented by industry experience and general knowledge, as a vital management tool. In an interview on statistical analysis in baseball, Pat Gillick, Hall of Fame General Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, Philadelphia Phillies and Seattle Mariners, said “You have to use every tool available to you or you’re just not doing your job.”
What tools do you use to analyze your business? Are you Beane-like in your ability to deeply mine and use the data available to your organization, or are you missing a key component in building a successful, profitable organization? Trustcompare strives to do for the trust industry what Sabermetrics does for baseball, and while it might not be quite as sexy as the national pastime, we believe there are important benefits to a greater understanding of the metrics driving your business. The most important benefit? Namely, America’s other national pastime–achieving higher profits. It is now time, as they say at the ballpark, to PLAY BALL!
Education vs. Training
by Gary Holtzman, former Training Director and Sales Manager of a Pennsylvania Community Bank
Recently I was on a call to a prospect and we were talking about the development needs within his company. When I told the business owner that I was willing to do the training in four half days over a period of four months, he sort of turned white. His next statement to me was, “Don’t you do training over the internet? We could save a lot of time and money that way.”
A goal of the executive was to have his customer contact people increase and refresh their sales skills. With his goal in mind my response to him was two of my favorite training questions: “Do you know how to swim?” and “If you had a son or a daughter that you would want to learn how to swim, would you use the computer to teach them the skill?”
Teaching people to be competent in interpersonal communication, whether it is interviewing a prospect, building a winning team, conducting a presentation or delivering excellent customer service requires skill. The development of a skill is very difficult to do using a computer. The development of a skill requires education, practice, observation and positive constructive feedback from a “coach.”
Many people call the delivery of knowledge training when in fact it is really just education. Upon graduating from a university, many of us have the education, but do we have the skill?
When developing a skill, knowledge is usually provided first through a book, a lecture or, yes, the computer. But what comes after the knowledge? As a training and development consultant and professional I am often frustrated by leaders who spend dollars for me to come into their organizations to build skills. On every experience, I encourage and help the organization develop a training plan which includes three phases: preparation for training, the training sessions and the follow-up practice and coaching of the skills that were taught during the training sessions. When I leave, they assure me that reinforcement is going to take place. Unfortunately, I discover training dollars are wasted when I call back six months later only to find the follow-up plan was pushed aside by other “priorities.” Skill development seldom takes place in this type of a situation.
There is another practice that is disturbing among companies. It usually occurs when the economy slows and sales are suffering. The solution to slow sales is often thought to be solved by the practice of cutting nonessential spending.
Guess what is one of the first areas that are cut when it comes to nonessential expenses? If you said training, perhaps you experienced this phenomenon. Keeping in mind that I am a professional trainer, it is just opposite of what I have learned competing and coaching in my younger days.
When a team is struggling, should you cut back on the training or practice? My experience and mentors tell me no. The coach usually practices harder or more efficiently. Coaches seldom, if ever, cancel practice. Allow me to use an old coaching cliché, “When the going gets tough…the tough get going.”
It only makes sense that when sales are difficult, why would you not increase the emphasis on training and building skills so your team members may compete on a higher level? Now is the time to examine your sales behavior, reinforce the successful behavior, learn new skills and correct or eliminate what is not working for you.
Today there is much emphasis being placed on technology and doing the job in the shortest time possible. What you should ask yourself if you are a leader making training decisions is, “Do I just want to get it done and tell the team how to do it?” or “Do I want to develop the skills so the team can do it and do it right?” I once had a very wise man tell me “quality” and “quick” are opposing values. It is very difficult to do both at the same time. You must decide how you want to complete the task.
Gary Holtzman, a former Training Director and Sales Manager of a Pennsylvania Community Bank is a survivor of the Pohl Consulting and Training, Inc. Sales Management and Sales Training Workshops. He’s a refugee of the financial services industry and currently provides sales and sales management training to health care providers.
The Last Word
with LOYD POHL
You can’t manage time!
This reality has hit home recently. I’ve been running our time management programs for several clients recently. It seems that topic is back on the top of the list for a lot of organizations.
We are all finding that the world is going faster and faster and everyone seems to be struggling with balancing their “time line” with their “stuff line.” Whether you are bank executive, a bank employee or a vendor (or a consultant), you are facing this challenge.
There are a number of reasons for this:
No, I actually do not blame technology. Technology is what is allowing us to survive and still communicate, but there are some issues technology is causing. The main problem – from my perspective – is that with email coming to cell phones, you can’t seem to get away from work. The lines between work time and personal/family time are getting blurred. I am getting responses from my clients (bankers) at all hours of the evening and morning.
We have done some trend analysis with TRUSTCOMPARE™ data that I know anecdotally will apply across the financial industry. The ratio of managers to total staff has gone down significantly since 2008, and the ratio of officers to total staff has also gone down markedly since 2008. Result: Productivity has gone up but the work load for the officers and managers has grown significantly.
The regulatory environment has had a negative impact on productivity or, said another way – managers must dedicate a significantly larger amount of their time to managing the regulatory responsibilities. Exams are taking longer, vendor management alone can consume a lot of time, keeping up on the regulations can take a few more days at conferences than you used to invest in, and – heaven forbid – if you have a regulatory/compliance problem you are buried.
First we must acknowledge that the pressure on earnings will make it impossible to return to the “good old days.” We have to learn to cope – adapt to the new world!
Turn off work. Go home. Turn off the business cell phone. Get a business cell that is not your personal cell. Take time for you and your family. It will make you happier and more productive when you are at work.
Structure your department around the new world expectations. More specialization/specialists will help you cope. A manager cannot do everything! As an example: The regulatory environment is pushing down the size of departments that need a dedicated compliance/risk management FTE.
Managers – GET RID OF YOUR ACCOUNT LOAD. Yah, there are always a few key clients you have to keep as the manager, but limit them to 5 relationships. You cannot serve any more clients effectively while serving your organization as an effective manager/leader.
Outsource! Use consultants to help you do things you could do but don’t have time to do. Hiring consultants are not a sign of weak managers – it is a sign of a manager who knows how to improve productivity.