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Obviously when personnel complain about their job requirements and performance targets there can be some serious sales management underlying the situation. So let's go back and check the basic steps that should have been followed.

First, did you ensure that the employee read and understood the specific and ad hoc duties in the job description or mandate? Don't assume an affirmative response. Go through each element; discuss them and give examples plus once you are assured they comprehend everything, Have the document signed and dated by both parties.

Second, in developing each person's annual performance contract with quarterly, monthly or even weekly targets ensure the employees have formulation input plus accept the sale tools' effectiveness for the target market groups and the potential therein. Do not do a dictated allocation and expect "buy-in" to your expectations- it must be their expectations. This is an important process which should conclude in the joint signing and dating of the contract. Experience always taught us that a bottom-up sales planning approach results in better acceptance as well as higher consolidated targets than expected from above.

Third, the regular reviews don't begin by throwing final figures in front of individuals and simply saying "good"or "bad". To start, ask the employees how they saw sales and customer responses during the most recent period. Then ask what techniques worked best and those which were ineffective. Plus, discuss any environmental differences during the sales period from the assumptions discussed at planning time. Finally, jointly review the performance period day by day, week by week and discuss the positives and negatives from the customers' perspectives and the the organization's. Make the total review customer-centric! In the end, agree on improvements, amendments and motivation ideas which came from all other reviews for the next cycle before jointly signing and dating the record. Give general and specific recognition to each individual based on results, feedback and customer empathy.

You must invest the time in the employees and total process if not you are adding contractual risks which are unnecessary. The sales managers' staff should randomly and informally asked to chat with an executive on the sales environment on an unannounced basis. Every person in the organization wants to succeed personally as well as their customers and their employer. If not there are disconnects in your culture.

Pat Palmer | Sunday, March 26, 2017 | Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

The CBC continues its superficial investigation into banks' selling in a new claim that contact centre agents are pressured to sell unwanted services to customers based on complaints they voluntarily received from various agents.

Let's look at the facts! First, sales agents are hired to sell. Second, they are trained to sell based on customer needs. Third, they are given specific scripts to use approved by management, Since the beginning in the 90's of these Canadian Banks' Contact Centres, which are in Canada, people were selected based on their selling aptitudes and quickly outsold the branch network in key campaigns because they were given screened call lists or answered calls based on ads for particular products. Today, the agents also backup digital channels for chats and sales.

If there are disgruntled agents who think they are "pressured to sell unwanted products" something has got off the rails in isolated cases which the banks would correct if they are aware of the discontent from staff or customers. As with branches if there are gaps in sales planning, people selection, training, sales management, or performance contract processes then they have to be amended/corrected. These problems are generally identified through feedback or objective audits of the processes by outside experts. If complaints/concerns are being suppressed, the audits will isolate these one off problems or cultural/systemic cancers.

Bottom-line is that the agents are trained to be sales people and they operate within set processes. If you haven't had an external review undertaken in the past five years, then it is time to commission one.

Pat Palmer | Tuesday, March 21, 2017 | Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

The CBC now reports that they have received a thousand emails from all Canadian big banks' employees complaining that they were pressured to lie to and cheat customers to meet sales targets! This is very serious stuff for all the CEO's, bank employees (Probably a quarter million people), customers and the public confidence/trust. CBC appears to be pressuring politicians to undertake a parliamentary inquiry.

First and foremost, the banks have to respond with the true information and encourage employees with such accusations to report them, in confidence, to the designated executive office.

Secondly, there should be a review by each bank of its sales planning, performance pay, sales management and customer interface processes.

Thirdly, the banks need to ensure that their customer/staff solution (complaint) centres are well publicized externally and internally.

Initially, public and employee affairs functions must craft a truthful response for their CEO's and have them briefed on any previous concerns voiced internally-verbal or written. 

In the second case, independent auditors should be engaged to undertake the reviews  and test all processes as well as conduct the relevant research internally which is autonomous and open ended.

Finally, and most crucial, the banks have to ensure that their complaint management systems capture all concerns from all customers and personnel from the front line through to all departments and that there is no suppression of feedback anywhere in the organization.

Overall, the sales culture in each organization should be audited to determine if it is people first i.e. customers and staff, and that no trust is sacrificed  in the name of profits.

Even though the situation maybe a tempest in a teapot by disgruntled employees and the CBC is not verifying facts and only reporting negative emotions, the situation has percolated out of control. 

Pat Palmer | Wednesday, March 15, 2017 | Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

"Bankers Who Sell" was a book by my friend Dr. Len Berry and associates Charles Futrell and Michael Bowers in 1985, the year that I was appointed the first national sales executive at Canada's largest bank. That was the beginning of a journey by all FI"s to create sales cultures across their organizations in response to market realities and non-industry competition.

This morning on the CBC National News was a story headlined, "TD Bank Tellers Forced to Sell". Basically it talked about what every retail organization across the spectrum from Walmart to RBC Financial Group must do effectively to prosper and survive/grow- proactively sell through all channels to customers and prospects by all staff from the CEO to the newest recruit or from the branch to the digital world.

Job descriptions where changed to the new realities and performance pay programs where introduced to motivate everyone in the sales and service culture in the late 80's. Titles where also changed to better represent the contemporary roles such as tellers were replaced with customer service officer or equivalent nomenclature to reflect responsibilities. Since the 80's FI's have added many channels that do sales and service with less being done in both activities at branches. So branches in the digital world are going through a transformation with many having universal employees,video/on site Internet capabilities and significantly more self serve machines plus card based business. The sales culture starts with excellent and seamless service across all channels together with opportunity identification.The latter activity has been a critical lead generation responsibility of front line staff everywhere. Personnel in branches see less customers, less often than ever before so when you have a direct contact one wants to optimize the opportunity time. For example staff are generally trained to be alert to service/sales opportunities or use a simple seasonal question to identify needs. This is central to everyone's job. At Walmart they are visibly effective at the process with their greeting questions.

Currently, we have been writing on the decline of branch resources in the digital age and the coming artificial intelligence priority in all channels. Change is the constant.

So if some front-line staff at TD don't feel that they have a contribution to make in a sales culture which has been here for decades, there is truly some misunderstanding or other motivating problems since that organization has been a leader in the required transformation to be "bankers that sell"!

Pat Palmer | Monday, March 06, 2017 | Trackbacks (0) | Permalink


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