• July 19, 2004
  • By David Turner, group marketing director, CODA Group

Extending the Sales Force Out to the Edge of the Enterprise

A great cultural shift is occurring in the banking industry as the sales force is beginning to extend all the way from tellers to the top executives. "Everyone a salesperson" is an innovative new trend laced with enticing incentive programs, and some organizations like FNB Florida, TexasBank, and many other progressive financial institutions are taking advantage of this shift. Obtaining qualified leads Perhaps one of the biggest challenges in the banking industry is generating or obtaining qualified leads. Banks independently determine their own definitions of a qualified lead based on business practices, but the key is to create accountability for the lead generators, while maximizing the sales force's valuable time. A teller or a call center rep interacting with a customer in a simple transaction presents prime sales opportunities. In a mere three- to five-minute exchange a teller or other service representative can perform their normal customer service duties, and also generate a qualified lead for any of the bank's services. Then what happens to that lead? In many circumstances the bank employee fills out a referral form in triplicate, sending one copy to his or her manager, and another to the appropriate salesperson. With this paper trail, follow-up is tedious and nearly impossible to track. Accountability for that referral and the customer care is practically nonexistent and the teller loses the opportunity for any incentive offered. Many financial institutions have bridged the gap with software that connects through a Web interface, where tellers, service reps, or salespeople can submit, update, and check the status of referrals with the click of a mouse. Managers have an overview of each referral and everyone involved is automatically sent an email when referrals are updated or completed, creating accountability for each customer's care across the entire organization. Training
Call centers and banks see a large amount of turnover with employees, stressing the need for training to be simple and to take the least amount of time possible. As long as a teller, salesperson, manager, or service representative at the company can access a Web browser on a computer and fill out simple forms, training for a Web-based system can literally takes 15 minutes or less. As the cultural shift takes place in the banking industry, salespeople from the bottom up are given accountability for their efforts. Executive reports hold the customer service representative responsible for customer care from start to finish. These training and accountability strategies are worth the effort. In just three months FNB's leads generation software had more than paid for itself resulting in a 90 percent increase in customer referrals and lead generation and a 40 percent increase in cross-sell closures. Incentive programs In addition to training being minimal, incentive programs motivate everyone in the company to be a salesperson, resulting in the highest payback in ROI. One of the most popular forms of incentive programs in the financial and banking industry is the point system with referrals. For example, a referral for a car loan might be worth two points, while a home loan referral might be worth 15 points. Organizations can customize their leads generation software to assign point values and can individually track each salesperson's referrals based on their points. Rewards are assigned for certain point levels and everyone in the institution is motivated to sell. The edge of the enterprise in the banking world is the teller or call center--where the frontline service people interact directly with the customer. They're taking incoming calls about issues or questions and sometimes making outbound calls (telesales/telemarketing). All organizations need people in these types of positions at the top of their game because this is an area that represents the most visibility to the organization. It makes strong business sense to help service people perform as sales lead generators. The banking industry is pioneering the cultural shift where everyone is a salesperson. About the Author Dave Turner is the CEO and founder of GroupLink Corp., a software provider for collaborative customer engagement solutions in qualified leads generation, sales force automation, and customer satisfaction. Turner has introduced and managed account relationships with key customers including Lincoln National Corporation, Merita International Bank, New York City, Shell Oil, and Walt Disney World. He has also served on the faculty of Brigham Young University as an instructor of marketing and finance. Contact him at info@grouplink.net or visit www.grouplink.net
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