Under what circumstances can there possibly be too much focus on sales goals? The short answer is when it leads to employee behavior that is perceived as pushy and annoying and it’s damaging the member or customer relationship.
In part one of our series, Goal Setting Practices That Annoy Customers and Demotivate Staff, we advised against setting sales goals that are too aggressive for the customer onboarding process, a time when you’re trying to build a new member or customer relationship. Hold your breath – we didn’t say have no goals.
Certainly, your employees need to sell, and they need sales goals, but when you focus them only on numerical goals such as “10 credit cards a month,” the outcome can be a lot of product pitching. This can annoy the member and destroy the customer experience and loyalty instead of reinforcing it. In this post we’ll point out how managing sales activities can complement staff sales goals AND get better results. We’ll even give some examples of those activities.
Focus on Sales Goals in Banking Could Damage a Customer Relationship
An age-old debate asks, “What’s more important, activities or results?” Depending on who you ask, most will say results. I (Bob) personally have often told certain employees, “I don’t care how much activity you generate. What I care about is the results”. When you narrow the discussion to sales activities versus sales results, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who votes for activities over sales. Unfortunately, this belief can give a misleading impression of reality.
No doubt, sales are the lifeblood of any business. However, what if you get sales results but damage customer relationships in the process? What if you focus on sales results but results are still sub-par? What if the sales results are not where they should be AND your staff is annoying customers or members because staff focuses on the goal and resorts to product pitching to get the numbers up instead of generating business from a well-nurtured customer relationship? Are you starting to recognize this downward spiral? It will likely lead to more closed accounts, fewer referrals and lower satisfaction scores.
Put Less Focus on Sales Goals and More on Sales Activities
Yes, your staff must be highly aware of their sales goals but they must be equally focused on sales activities that lead to sales results. That’s how your staff achieved past results. There is no denying that sales is a numbers game and if the numbers are in line, chances are the results will be also. So then logically, the amount and quality of sales activities they perform today will create tomorrow’s results. Focusing on activities in a systematic manner naturally increases results. You have to manage those activities that have proven to lead to sales results. Manage these activities and the results will take care of themselves.
When you focus people only on numerical goals such as “5 home equity referrals,” you get a lot of product pitching. This can annoy the member and destroy customer loyalty instead of reinforcing it. Instead, be sure to also set activity goals. The following activities reinforce behaviors that get results:
- Turn in 5 member or customer profiles each month for review and enter into your CRM software
- Enter notes in the profile after each contact
- Turn in 5 pre-call plans for review and enter into your CRM software
- Anticipate questions before make a follow-up onboarding call
- Call “suspects” for an appointment
- Network (chambers, associations, LinkedIn and other social media)
- List key influencers that can lead you to prospects and ask for 3 introductions per week
- Write thank you notes after in-person meetings as appropriate
- Make 4 joint calls each month with colleagues in another business line
- Managers complete 3 employee observations per month
- Plus others that you found work in your organization
All of these key activities or behaviors are called leading indicators because they impact future results and performance. Sales goals are lagging indicators because they are after the fact. See our post Your Branch Managers Are Too Focused on Sales Results for further clarification of leading and lagging indicators.
Relationship Management and Sales Leadership
The key to making this work is your sales leadership. Sales managers must select the core sales activities they are confident will get results when consistently implemented by a skilled salesperson in a sales process proven to work in your organization. Then managers must ensure the activities are completed by periodically collecting the pre-call plans, inspecting the profiles and other activities, coaching and holding people accountable.
This sales management function is important so as not to allow an effective concept to deteriorate into people doing a lot of useless busywork without results – which is the whole reason so many people argue that results are more important than activities. But with activity goals and effective sales management, you will get a better result than with a sole focus on numerical goals.
Some of you may be thinking, “Our people have been through sales training but the results are not to my satisfaction. They’ve been taught skills but there’s no proven sales process that we can rely on. Our managers are not doing the activities you stated.” If so, take a couple minutes to read Five Ways High Definition Banking® Differs From The Other Guys and then give us a call.
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At High Definition Banking®, our goal is to help banks and credit unions generate revenue. However, we know that selling through customer relationship management beats transactional selling over the long term. To learn why, read our post, Declining Branch Traffic – Armageddon or Opportunity?