CRM Success Is an Evolution
Wells Fargo banks on CRM process improvements for capturing new business.
For the rest of the December 2004 issue of CRM magazine please click here
Wells Fargo's business development officers (BDOs) are no strangers to CRM. The new-business unit, which seeks out clients among SMBs with up to $500 million in annual revenues, launched its current effort seven years ago with the in-house installation of a SalesLogix system intended to drive and manage all sales activity. A typical BDO territory can encompass as many as 3,000 opportunities for Wells Fargo, which directs its BDOs to sell multiple financial products to each new customer. "SalesLogix, frankly, is the lifeblood of the BDOs," says Chris O'Connell, senior vice president and national sales manager for Wells Fargo's commercial banking unit. One of the keys to streamlining the new-business acquisition process is what Wells Fargo calls an Opportunity Checklist, which categorizes the known and unknown attributes of a prospect, making it easier to identify gaps in understanding a potential client's needs. O'Connell credits such improvements with shaving off two or more interactions per client opportunity for some of the experienced BDOs. "[We] have allowed them to shorten the amount of time it takes to get a request from a prospect for a proposal," she says. The bank did not hit the ground running with all of these improvements at initial launch, however. Jay Bauer, consultant with STI Systems, who has worked with Wells Fargo's business development managers to refine the CRM strategy over the past five years, says that the bank's SalesLogix system was underused for the first two years it was in place. "The system was being used as a management reporting system; it wasn't used as part of the BDOs' day-to-day life. We got involved and we've taken the system from there to an eighty-to-ninety percent user acceptance," he says. Wells Fargo worked with Bauer to upgrade the SalesLogix system and clearly define a sales process, both with the BDOs and in the SalesLogix front end. The process represents both sides of a new-business proposal. "In a bank you cannot do anything without a credit manager involved," Bauer says. SalesLogix allows the business development staff to track activities with both their prospects and colleagues. The chief payback to this improved coordination is fewer unpleasant surprises in the form of client proposals rejected by the guardians of credit approval. "Bringing in the credit managers and relationship managers earlier means they can see and follow the sales process, which gets [more] people involved with the prospects, so less are declined by the bank," Bauer says. O'Connell says that shifting the CRM strategy to more clearly address the needs of the BDOs has paid off. "We have stressed over the past couple of years that this isn't about providing management reports for us, but about effectively managing your territory to generate more business for the bank, and put more money into your pockets." The Payoff The refinements to Wells Fargo's new-business sales process have
  • helped Wells Fargo bring a new business region on board and running 40 percent over projections for the first half-year of operation;
  • cut by two or more interactions per opportunity the time it takes to get a request from a prospect for a proposal;
  • shortened the amount of time necessary to process approvals;
  • boosted user acceptance to about 90 percent.
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