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BirdsEye View

sales process execution: a blast from the past

Quote of the week: "People don't care about how much you know until they know how much you care"

Hiroshi Ueno, my good friend in Japan and IBM consultant who translated by books to Japanese and now translates this column, which is published in Japan, wrote in response to my last articoe about the root causes for the 2008 crash: "The root cause of US financial crisis is no doubt excessive liquidity, and it is the root cause of every bubble economy phenomenon, just as it was so when we experienced asset inflation in late 1980s, after which we had to deal with a long slump. The crisis was confined in Japan, because Yen was not a global currency, because Japan's Govt. bonds were not held much in other countries, and because we did not have so many synthetic financial instruments at that time.

What we have to think now is how to recover ourselves. After the great crash, US economy did not come back to full health by New Deal Policy, although it was helpful to stimulate the domestic demand. We need to remember that America finally regained prosperity at the time of WWII, when the demand came from outside US. After the long slump, Japan's economy was revitalized by US booming demand (and somewhat by Europe), which absorbed exports from Asian nations.

It is rather ironic that one country's slump after a bubble economy was relieved by another bubble economy in another nation. But the point is that two economies regained good shape by demand from other geographies.

I sincerely hope that the US does not create outside demand in a wrong way, and it is a small relief that you have Democrat President for this moment. What we need to ignite is the demand for better world and not that for a quick remedy based on destructive activities."

Ron Kiefer, SVP City National Bank, wrote: "I'd suggest an additional bullet point for your Root Cause analysis -- temporary blindness to traditional risk:reward ratios. Borrowers and lenders alike behaved as if the crash in home prices would never come, that the bubble would never burst. Then one day...POOF!!! And so many seemed surprised by what is now described as the inevitable outcome.

Too many of the players lost sight of the difference between "price" and "value" when it comes to residential real estate. While prices were rising, the underlying values arguably continued to grow at something akin to the normalized level of 1.4% per year. The market is now taking back the difference (with a vengeance). "

And Rick Thayer, SVP with First United, said: "The Altman article is good reading, but it may be worthwhile to dig a little deeper as to the sources of liqudity that caused low rates and the subsequent yield chase. As a society we have been living beyond our means for years, and we have elected leaders and representatives that have enabled our disfunctional behavior. Debt driven consumption generated much of the negative balance of trade. Add to this the Chinese government policy of artifically retarding growth in personal wealth and you have a formula for unprecented foreign financial investment in our country. Bottom line: If we want see the root cause of much of our current problems, we need only look in the mirror."

On the personal side: Dick and I spent a glorious week in Barcelona. I love that city! To learn more, click on www.anatbird.com and choose BirdDroppings.

Sales management is an oft-meligned process in banks. Most claim it doesn't work, or, if it does, employees flee the bank for calmer grounds. As many of you know, I certainly disagree with these assertions. The article below was written by a colleague of mine from days of yore, Bob Baroni (a.k.a Drill Sergeant Slaughter). Bob was an outstanding regional sales manager at Roosevelt Bank in St. Louis, and the article below demonstrates how intense and meticulous the sales managemnet process must be for it to be successful. Take his advice to heart - his results were amazing. Especially in today's difficult environment, doing more with what you've got is essential. This article is yet another in the series I have been offering on that very topic.

Article synopsis: Times are getting tougher, and effective sales management can be one bright spot in 2009

Sales Process Execution: A Blast From the Past

Many articles have been written about the sales process and why it doesn't work in so many banks. The best one in my book remains an article written by Bob Baroni, who was a Market President at Roosevelt Bank in St. Louis 15 years ago. It's really a "Diary of a sales manager" article. The article is so good because (1) Baroni DID execute and had stellar numbers to show for it, and (2) He hits the nail on the head very crisply. I'd like to share it with you in its entirety.

Your branch managers have just completed their annual sales and marketing plans for the upcoming year. They understand what their production objectives are, and what impact those objectives have on the bank's earnings. By now, all sales unit staff members should clearly understand and agree to their individual production goals. Weekly sales meetings and conference calls are scheduled for the entire year. Seems like everything is in perfect order for a fantastic new year, right?

Hardly.

At this point, all you have is a plan. What the sales manage must do is to ensure the plan is executed. This article, written as a diary of a sales manager, describes how the sales manager affects the branch at the local level through continuous inspection and feedback.

  • Friday night
    • Examine the weekly sales cycle. This night, as on all others, each branch sales manager totals up the branch's production for the day before leaving, and reports the information between 4 and 6pm.
  • Monday
    • At 8:55am, the regional sales manager calls selected managers to get them to immediately email their daily action plans for review. Off the email goes, and the RSM has three minutes to finalize last-minute details to ensure the day is a sales success. Such details may include reinforcing with his staff the sales activities needed to maintain half the day's production and ensure performance.
    • At 11:55am the RSM conducts his mid-day review. This process takes several minutes. Production is added up to determine if half the day's production objective has been achieved in three hours.
  • Tuesday
    • A sales conference call is scheduled for 8:15am. Each manager will be called upon to describe their No. 1 sales success and provide input on how to increase referrals by 50% for the week. The sales manager also remembers they must report the name of any sales person who achieved a "triple play", a "quad" product sale and a consumer loan application. Winners get their name added to a drawing for a dinner of two at a choice restaurant.
    • At 8:45am the call must come to an end. Before the office opens at 9am, meeting notes and sales expectations are emailed to each branch, reinforcing what was discussed and agreed upon. After briefing the branch supervisor about the call, the branch sales manager reminds their staff that today is Super "Two's Day". Those who sell a product package and take a consumer loan application between 9-11am will receive regional recognition and a small reward.
  • Wednesday
    • Bright and early, the RSM emails a list of all the Super "Tow's Day" winners along with a summary of the previous day's production. This summary indicates who is on target to achieve and exceed the week's production goals as reflected on the weekly sales plans.
    • But wait! Wednesday is a special day too. It's the day when each branch aims at doubling the average daily number of package sales. There is a last-minute fine-tuning of the daily sales plan, then in come the customers.
  • Thursday
    • At 10:45am the RSM picks up a sales tip or two from the debriefing for increasing the cross-sell ratio of each of their sales people and decides to implement them before noon. This is important because each Thursday the minimum expectation for the day is 2.4 sales for each sales session, and the employees with the highest ratios receive regional recognition and incentive.
  • Friday
    • Extended hours. It's a great opportunity to achieve the week's production objective before Saturday. A quick sales meeting at 8:30am lets the staff know exactly where the branch stands and what sales activities will put it over the top. If the sales manager is successful in clearly identifying the sale activities and behaviors necessary to get the job done, their staff can get a jump-start on Saturday to begin working on next week's goals.

This is where Baroni's article ends.

Sounds intense? Sales management is an intense process. Micro-managing? Not really, just maximizing every minute and every sales resource, and doing so while having fun (did I mention that a "small reward", as mentioned above, can be stale Easter candy or slightly used toothbrush?).

The bottom line is: the shorter the period between act and recognition, stimulus and response, the greater the sense of urgency instilled in the troops, and the results and fun that follow. I know you're nodding your head and saying, "This would feel so oppressive in my bank". Listen to Drill Sergeant Slaughter (Bob Baroni's "handle): this process works, and the troops will be better off for executing it as well.