In Part 2, I am going to focus on another way to increase sales to banks, generate sales leads, shorten sales cycles, and maximize sales effectiveness using sales intelligence.
A metric vitally important to any bank's profitability is the cross-sell ratio. It is a metric banks use to measure the average number of products sold to customers. That metric correlates with the profitability of the bank.
Wells Fargo has led US banks in this metric. That ratio stood at 5.9:1 in Feb. 2012 ("The Art of the Cross Sell", Forbes Feb. 13, 2012 issue). Sales intelligence includes the quote below articulating their strategy:
"The core of our vision-based strategy is “cross-selling”— the process of offering customers the products and services they need, when they need them, to help them succeed financially. The more we give our customers what they need, the more we know about them. The more we know about their financial needs, the easier it is for us to work together for them to bring us more of their business. The more business they do with us, the better value they receive and the more loyal they become. The longer they stay with us, the more opportunities we have to satisfy even more of their financial needs. That’s the mutual benefit of cross-sell."
Although many banks don't publish their goals for this metric, sales intelligence can uncover this: “We expect to sell at least one more product to every customer every year” intones the Wells Fargo company handbook.
Another well-known bank in the Top 20 US Banks considered the cross-sell ratio so important they listed the following in their 2012 Annual Report/10K under Strategic and Reputation Risks:
"Our failure to effectively “cross-sell” our products and services to customers could have a negative effect on our revenue growth and financial results.
Selling more products or services to our customers, or “cross-selling”, is an integral part of our business model and is key to our ability to grow revenue and earnings during the current period of slow economic growth and regulatory reform
This can limit our ability to sell more products to our customers or influence us to sell our products at lower prices, reducing our net interest income and revenue from our fee-based products. It could also affect our ability to retain our existing customers.
As our competitors increase their cross-selling efforts and new technologies require us to spend more to modify or adapt our products to attract and retain customers, we may face difficulties in increasing our cross-selling ratio, or the average number of products sold to existing customers. Our failure to sell additional products or services to our existing or new customers who instead purchase such products from our competitors could have a Material Adverse Effect on Us.”
This type of sales intelligence is an indicator of how receptive their C-level executives will be to a sales campaign re: increasing your cross-sell ratio.
If you can tie your USP to helping to increase a bank's cross-sell ratio, your chances of generating leads at the C-level executive level will jump dramatically and lead to increasing sales to banks.
At the time a customer opens a checking or savings account, the Personal Banker or Branch Manager should be having a conversation that focuses on the overall financial needs of that customer. Some banks require their frontline sales people to have a structured approach to that conversation, and provide a form with questons to be asked and information to capture. In some cases, the banks put this form online so the frontline sales people can update it either during or after the conversation. This is sometimes referred to as "profiling" the customer.
This is folowed by the bank's Onboarding process which is a set of activities for frontline sales people to execute communications with the customer at various time intervals, e.g.. in first 10 days, call to make sure they recieved their checks and/or debit card, 30 days ensure they sign up for online banking, etc.
Folowing the initial conversation with the customer, and during the onboarding process with other conversations, referrals are created to let bank managers in other Lines of Business know the customer has a possible need for their product or service so they can follow up with a call to discuss that need and set a meeting.
The quality of these conversations is a major determinant in increasing the cross-sell ratio. The better the questions that are asked, and the more that is leaned about the financial needs of the customer, the more referrals that can be generated to increase product and service sales.
This is the basis for a bank to increase their sales to customers, and increase their cross-sell ratio.
Here are some examples of what those financial needs of the customer could be for products or services by Line of Business (LOB):
- Personal: Loans, Mortgage, Home Equity Line of Credit, Credit Cards
- Small Business: Optimize Cash Flow, Finance Growth, Lines of Credit, Finance Equipment, Remote Deposit
- Wealth Management: Retirement Planning, 401Ks, IRAs, Investment Planning
- Private Banking: Portfolio Analysis, Risk Management, Wealth Planning
- Corporate Banking: Financing, Equity (IPOs) & Debt Offerings
- Insurance: Auto, Business, Home, etc.
So what types of solutions are available to help banks increase their cross-sell ratio?
The one with the most media attention is CRM systems, e.g. Salesforce.com. They enable banks to record the financial needs of customers, the phone calls and meetings they have with them, the status of sales in the pipeline, etc. From my experience, the use of CRM systems at banks is most often in Commercial Banking where the prospect is a Small Business or a large company. Then it is important to record all interactions with many people at that business, rather than just one individual.
Analytics tools that can sift through large amounts of data, and come up with predictive information based on the behavior of customers. These tools can tell you if the customer is likely to leave the bank causing attrition, what products or services would be of interest to that customer for customer retention, etc.
New, modern core banking systems that modernize banking IT, reducing administrative complexity and delivering the kind of efficiency and intelligence that enable banks to survive, thrive and compete profitably. Banks have held off for years in implementing new core systems because of the complexity, length of time, and resources needed. The trend is picking up to make these difficult decisions to be competitive.
A new, innovative technology has been introduced by Econiq that can actually monitor the quality of key sales activities of the frontline sales people (Personal Bankers, Universal Bankers, Mortgage Specialists, Branch Managers, etc.) that occur with prospective and existing customers during the entire sales process. This includes monitoring everything from the initial conversation with the customer (questions asked about financial needs, information given in response) through all key sales activities to the eventual sale of products and/or services.
This monitoring provides insight into the sales behavior of frontline sales people throughout the entire sales process, e.g. how much information do they capture on the financial needs of customers during conversations, how timely are they passing on referrals, how good is there follow up with customers, etc.
This tells Branch Managers who needs more coaching. Econiq enables them to set specific goals for each employee, have Econiq measure those employees' progress, and alert them if not on track, so corrective action can be taken. Their customers see referrals increase by 45% - 65% in the first 6 months causing the cross-sell ratio to climb where the additional products and services sold have high profit margins, e.g. Investments, Wealth Management, etc.
The message here for solution providers is to position your USP to helping banks increase their cross-sell ratio to generate leads, increase sales to banks, shorten sales cycles, and maximize sales effectiveness.
This is the first part of a 10-part series on 10 Ways to increase sales to banks using sales intelligence.
Many salespeople prefer to deal with bank managers lower on the organization chart. They are less intimidating, and the natural tendency for many salespeople is to stay in their comfort zone. In some cases, they may focus on selling to the IT organization because their product is a technology solution.
If your goal is to increase sales to banks, generate leads, shorten sales cycles and maximize sales effectiveness, you need to get outside your comfort zone, and reach out to the C-level bank executives that run the bank overall (CEO, President, or COO) or a Line of Business:
- Retail, Consumer, Commercial, Wealth Management, Private Bank, etc.
The key to doing this effectively is to align your unique selling proposition with business goals the C-level executive has, and, in particular, with the metrics used to measure the progress toward attainment of them.
Let's take an example. The CEO of one of the Top 50 US banks headquartered in upper NY State gave a presentation at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Nov 2012 Conference. The theme of this presentation was "Keys to Winning". One of the most important keys was "Operational Excellence". The metric associated with this was their "Efficiency Ratio".
This is defined as Expenses/Revenue. The lower the ratio, the closer they are to Operational Excellence.
The CEO emphasized they had a target of 55% which equated to Operational Excellence, when their ratio at that time was 65%.
If one bank incurs $ 65 in expenses for every $ 100 of revenue they generate, the efficiency ratio is 65% (65/100). If another bank incurs only $ 55 for every $ 100 they generate, their efficiency ratio is 55% (55/100). It is obvious which bank will have a higher profit on the bottom line.
So how does this relate to Sales Intelligence?
You can find the goals a bank has, and the metrics they use to measure progress toward those goals, in the following:
- Investor Presentations (as in this case)
Once you have uncovered this important metric, all communication to the target C-level executive should refer to how you can help him/her attain that 55% target (assuming you can show examples where you helped your customers reduce expenses or increase revenues).
This includes letters, emails, phone campaigns, etc. Your chances of either getting a meeting with that executive or receiving a phone call from one of his staff significantly increases over what you would achieve with an uninformed cold call.
Now you are speaking their C-level language which sets you apart from your competition who is probably selling at a lower level in the bank speaking the language of technology, features and benefits.
There is no magic here - you have to be persistent, creative, professional, etc. using your best sales skills.
If you do that combined with great sales intelligence, you set yourself up for success by increasing your sales pipeline of banks!
This is the beginning of a 10-part series on how to use sales intelligence in selling to banks.
When using sales intelligence in selling to banks, the first question any software company should ask themselves is: "What is the best entry point in any bank organization for us to have the most success in selling to banks?"
In other words: "Who do you want to hear your unique selling proposition that will have the greatest impact in generating sales leads for banking software and shorten the sales cycle?"
While many will say it depends on the banking software you sell, I contend that thinking in those terms is the wrong way to look at the question.
I believe the correct way to look at the question is to find out
- what bank management thinks are their business priorities, objectives and goals and
- what metrics they use to measure their progress in attaining them
Many banks publish goals for these metrics they want to attain. The challenge is to align your unique selling proposition with the attainment of these metrics. When you do that, you create the opportunity to target your unique selling proposition to senior executives that run the bank at the highest level.
My contention is that you have the greatest impact on your sales success and shortening the sales cycle when you gain the attention of senior executives that set budgets, approve purchases, and are the Economic Buyers of software products and services.
While it is always easier to enter the organization at a lower level, your software product or service will have to be signed off by senior executives that run the bank in the end.
This 10-Part Series will cover the major challenges banks face in 2013 through 2015 and how your software company can use sales intelligence to help increase sales of banking software in an effective and cost-effective way.
With banks now focused on revenues and profitability, let's increase your sales of banking software!
Look for Part 1 of this series next week. I look forward to your comments in discussing how to use sales intelligence in selling to banks.
In my last post, I outlined seven tips to improve sales prospecting results. These were focused on gathering sales intelligence on target accounts and important decision makers in those accounts.
Here are some more tips:
1. Call in to the IT department to find out if there are any projects related to the business issues you have identified or the market space your company is in. This will tell you two important things: a) your target executive probably initiated the project and funding; b) you can be much more specific when you email/call them, especially if the project has a name you can refer to;
2. Create something unique and very relevant to catch the attention of executives. Remember the Annual Report, 10K and the quarterly earnings transcript? There will either be a theme, strategic business goal, initiative or something else that is unique you can identify that you can align with your product or service.
They key here is to come up with a subject line (for an email) that piques their curiosity and gets them to open it and read it. Here are three examples of subject lines that have been successful:
- "Your response to Jim Smith about margins" (Jim being an analyst from the earnings call)
- "The goals in your 10K"
- "Your competitors are doing it" (this one always works well - if you have case studies or stories about their competitors)
The subject line should be no more than 30-35 characters, shorter if possible so it can be seen easily at a glance on mobile devices. The email should be short (no more than 100-150 words). You have to prove this was not a form letter sent to many recipients. Best to send on a Tuesday or Wednesday morning before 8 am - your chances of them reading it will be better.
Without referring to your product or service specifically, your call to action should be related to offering ways to help address the business issues or challenges they face - this can be a meeting, phone call, sending them a case study, etc. It is important to not pitch your product at this point.
The key objective is to get them to respond to your offer to help with a quick reply.
3. After sending the email, phone the prospect the next morning before 8 am. You want to avoid the admin screening your call.
One of three things will happen:
- You will get the executive on the phone. Great! Ask them if they read your email about (subject line) and why you felt it would be important for them, showing you did your homework. This is your chance to engage, be positive about how you can offer ways to address their challenges. Keep it to 3-5 minutes, ask them for a meeting or to reply to your email;
- You get the executive's voicemail. If it is their voice and not their admin, leave a specific message that begins immediately with the issue(s) you have discovered and how you have helped others/their peers solve them. The message should refer them to the email subject line, and be no longer than 30-45 seconds. Close with your phone number, letting them know you will call back;
- You get the admin, they came in early. Leave them a specific message for the executive to look for the subject line of your email and have the admin schedule a meeting if he/she is interested in meeting. Don't depend on the admin, call back until you get to the executive. Switch your calling to after 5 pm if mornings don't work.
Good luck in your sales prospecting!
Ever wake up in the middle of the night worrying about your sales prospecting efforts and the lack of new prospects in your sales pipeline?
Successful sales prospecting is about knowing your prospect thoroughly and aligning your value proposition to communicate relevant value. Do this right and you will grow your sales pipeline.
In this post, I review seven tips on how to know your prospect. In the next post, I reveal three ways to use this information to improve sales prospecting:
1. Review the Letter to Shareholders from the CEO in the Annual Report. You can often find both the areas of business success and the areas where the company's performance is not measuring up. In addition, it will give you a picture of the business priorities the company has;
2. You can find more thorough information in the Annual 10K Report. You will find categories like key corporate initiatives, strategic lines of business, financial review and analysis of results, areas of risk, factors that could cause the business to underperform or in some cases fail.
3. Another source to always review is the quarterly earnings call transcripts. It will contain comments from the CEO & CFO about the quarterly results. These transcripts include questions from analysts that follow the company. The better analysts ask probing questions that force management to address specific business problems that are not evident or avoided during the initial presentation.
4. Identify the key business owners of the critical business problems and initiatives that you uncover. This requires you to learn the roles and responsibilities of their management team. They are usually identified by title or function, but not always. For example, the SVP of Retail Banking may seem the logical choice for anything related to increasing revenue with additional financial products for customers, but the VP of Marketing may own the initiative to segment most profitable customers and determine which products would be most appropriate to market to the right customers at the right time.
5. Call the administrative assistant of your target executive to verify the executive is the person responsible for the specific business issue or intiative you have uncovered in your research. There may be a pause, but wait to see the answer you get. It will tell you whether or not this admin can be a valuable asset to you. If she/he can confirm or not, that allows you to probe more on the organization and who the relevant players are in making a decision in this area.
6. Find case studies of your customers in the same industry that have faced similar business challenges and solved them with your product or service. It is important to learn the names of the key executives and the ways in which they benefited.
7. Use Google's new search function to find background information and current news related to the people you have identified as participants in the decision process. It is important to have very timely information.
Now that we have done the homework, we can talk next about how to use this information to improve sales prospecting in the next post.
I have been saying how important it is to do research on banks and bank executives before reaching out to them. Knowledge is power and the more you have on your target accounts, the more likely will be your success in gaining their attention and turning them into high quality leads.
Very often, salespeople do not have a lot of time to get the latest sales intelligence on their accounts quickly and easily before going on a sales call or even writing an email or making a phone call. Google has made it easier than ever to help you with the new release of their search page yesterday, May 6th.
The link below will take you to Sam Richter's step-by-step instructions on how to use the new Google search capabilities. If you have never heard of Sam, he is well-known for his book, "Take The Cold Out of Cold Calling" which gives you a wealth of information on how to gain in-depth sales intelligence on accounts and decision makers in those accounts. It is definitely worth the read. I do not get a dime if you order the book
Use this link to see 7 ways and more to use new Google search
Make it work for your sales prospecting as well!
What is the one key attribute of a great salesperson? I say consistency over time, just like I would rate a great basketball player or great baseball player. It is not what you do for one, two or three seasons, it is what you do over many years that matters.
Of the top performers I have known, another thing is true - they discipline themselves to allot a certain percentage of time for sales prospecting all the time. It is the only way they will have the pipeline they need to close sales and consistently exceed quota.
With that in mind, here are five ways to improve sales prospecting and increase your win rate:
1. Talk to your best source of information, your customers. Find out if they have peers in their industry or groups/social media they belong to where they share thoughts and ideas. Start building a list with the connections a customer has to others and the groups they share ideas with. Ask your customer if they mind if you use their name when you contact others. Even if they don't want to, you can always drop the company name in any sales prospecting you do. Either way, you start to improve your odds of getting "hits" while sales prospecting. This technique is already proven in the way "connections" are used in LinkedIn, one of the most successful business social media sites;
2. Make a target list of accounts that you want to penetrate each quarter. From that list, make a list of executives you need to reach. First, see if they are in the list of connections you have built in # 1; if so, leverage the relevant customer for a referral; second, create a profile of each executive. The profile should contain as much relevant information as possible about the current business problems, issues and challenges they are facing. Use resources like Hoovers, OneSource, ZoomInfo and search engines to find this information;most importantly, see if you can find speeches or presentations they have given in the last 3 months.
3.Gain their attention. Although it is never easy to reach decision makers, you will have given yourself a leg up by doing #'s 1 and 2. Now you have some options:
- Using phone or email, open your comments by mentioning one of your customers by name as someone who referred you - your chances of a good response will triple at the least
-If you can't mention a name, use a company name as an example of a company you do business with from the list of connections
- Use a quote or other relevant information of theirs from a presentation or keynote speech they gave. If you can print a part of it, and send it direct mail with comments about how you have input from his/her peers about how they have addressed similar problems, you will have a great chance of getting a meeting;
- Use email with a very personalized message regarding one or more of their most pressing business problems. Let them know you would like to discuss ways some of their peers have addressed similar issues; the more personalized the email, the more likely they will respond to your call for action;
4. Prepare for the first meeting. Take the information you collected in # 2, and prepare a well-thought out list of questions you could ask that would get them to let you learn more. For example, they may have a goal of increasing profit margins by 3%; your question could be" "I know one of your goals is to increase profit margins by 3%, how would you prioritize the actions you can take to make that happen? When they see you have done your homework, your credibility rises, the conversation will expand, and they will start to trust you - a key to increasing your win rate
5. If you still can't get their attention, and you followed this advice, the timing might not be right. Persist. Keep abreast of events at their company. Look for trigger events that you might be able to leverage like pending acquisitions, initiatives that are announced, promotions (especially theirs), etc.
If you do not reach them this quarter, roll them into next quarter.What matters in the end is your ability to show them you care about helping them with their issues and concerns, not about selling your product.
You will become much better at sales prospecting and your win rates will go up!
Suppose you have been given a major bank as a target account by your VP, Sales. Your company has never done business with this bank before and your software solution ranges in price from $ 500K to $ 5MM so the VP gave you a huge quota based on the large size of the bank.
You need to reach the key bank executive(s) that can authorize that kind of expenditure. But you also know that will be very hard with all the gatekeepers preventing you from getting to them.
What should you do?
One way to gain the attention of senior executives is by using personalized marketing with emails. By that I mean fine-tuning your message based on finding out as much as possible about the executive to give you a 360 degree view of that person. You can then align the benefits of your software solution with problems, challenges and other things they care most about.
Listed below are some important sources of information you absolutely need to read if you expect personalized marketing to generate leads with senior executives at banks:
- Annual Report
- Investor Presentations
- Quarterly Earnings with Earnings Call Transcripts
- Press Releases within the last 3 months
For each executive, you want to find specific items such as:
- Their history of accomplishments, where did they work before, do they get things done?
- Goals, objectives or plans they have for next 1 - 3 years
- Problems/issues they must address if they are to be successful
- Quotes that give insight into how they view ways to solve these issues
The list could go on but, hopefully, you get the idea.
Now you need to do two things:
- Look at your customer base to see if there are other banks that solved similar problems with your software solution; make sure to speak to the support people on these banks to ensure they are happy with the results they see from using your solution
- Sit down with your SEs, support people, other salespeople to come up with ideas on how to help the executives solve their issues with your solution
Finally, the hardest part:
Remember, these executives don't know your company or you. Make certain:
- The subject line is short, simple, relevant and timely or it will be a victim of the delete key. It must let the executive know the message is specifically meant for them and that you did your homework before sending it.
- The first sentence of the email should be in the form of a question, e.g. With Reg E changes about to hurt your customer profitability, are you looking for ways to increase wallet share of your customers? (This would have come from your research)
- You must emphasize you would like to discuss ways to address his/her issues, do NOT try to sell your product in the email - too soon - stay with their issues
- It will be important to include what I call a "teaser" to show credibility by referring very briefly to the fact you were able to help other bank(s) address similar issue(s)
- The email should be no longer than 100 - 150 words max - executives don't have the time - get to the point - make it short
- Last but not least, you got their attention, now you need a call to action that is easy for them to respond to. Here is something I found works well - give them three one-line choices they can check off in an email reply, this also helps get them to reply:
__ Call me so we can discuss
__ Call my admin so we can schedule a meeting
__ Send me more information
__ Other - please specify
If you get them to reply, you have started to engage them - don't rush to sell your software solution, stay with better understanding their problems/issues and discussing ways to address them - they will let you know when the time is right to discuss product.
These are the remaining hot opportunities for banking software companies selling to to banks.
5. P2P PAYMENTS/MOBILE APPS
The big buzz at this year's BAI Retail Delivery Conference & Expo was around peer-to-peer (P2P) payments. Major players including S1 and FIS announced that they have teamed with PayPal to offer banks mobile or online P2P solutions. Meanwhile Fiserv has started to offer a new P2P personal payments service to the 3,000-plus financial institutions in its online payment network. In many ways the personal payments space is the last bastion of the personal check, but perhaps with these new developments, that will finally start to change.
6. CORE SYSTEMS
Many large U.S. banks are using core systems that are decades old, and observers have repeatedly said the applications are not up to the task of processing transactions in real time, as the market now demands. As consumers from every demographic grow increasingly comfortable conducting business on the Web, new standards are emerging regarding the customer experience. When dealing with Internet giants such as Amazon and PayPal, consumers conduct transactions in real time, or at least close to it.
Many banks' core systems, however, can't offer that same convenience. "There are a lot more interactions on the Internet, so a core system is going to have to handle a lot more requests and traffic. It's also going to have to respond with greater speed," contends Erich Litch, SVP and GM, consumer services, at Fiserv (Brookfield, Wis.) Electronic Banking Services.
Citigroup is said to Be First Big Bank in Core Overhaul: was a headline that caught wide attention. They are switching the entire North American banking operations to a core processing application.
7. REG E CHANGES
Bank of America and Citigroup are taking a higher-and less profitable-road than other banks by not offering fee-based overdraft protection to debit card users who exceed their available balance. But many other banks in the industry can't afford to abandon the entire revenue stream, leaving them with a marketing and technical challenge to get customers to opt in or out of overdraft protection by summer.
The technical and operational challenges posed by the changes to Reg E hit three touch points:
a) marketing, or how to effectively reach those customers who currently drive the most NSF/OD revenue;
b) compliance, how to receive and create an audit trail for the requisite opt in or opt out decisions;
c) core banking, how to integrate the rules associated with the new preferences into the bank's core processing application.
Many banks have outsourced most of the technical and operational tasks associated with marketing and compliance to a marketing vendor. This will be fertile ground for vendors who can address these issues.
These are the seven hot areas for banking software. Do you have others you want to contribute?
I will be covering seven hot opportunities for software companies selling to banks. Here are the first four:
Major banks have a dilemma: They want to make it easier for customers to do wire transfers, but face the prospect of inviting fraudsters into their systems.
In 2009, fraud attacks on online business banking escalated so rapidly and with such staggering losses that the FBIi and FDICii were moved to issue multiple warnings of the dangers of online banking. Well-funded cyber criminals executed a full-scale assault on authentication, leveraging widespread infection of end-user computers with banking trojans to sneak into online banking accounts completely undetected. Additionally, they perfected methods of moving large sums of money out undetected via wire, ACH, and bill pay, often resulting in six and seven figure fraudiii . It is expected to get worse before it gets better.
2. PFM – Personal Financial Management
Most banks have just a fraction of the average consumer's wallet. According to a September 2009 report from Forrester Research, adults own an average of 8.2 financial products, but generally have no more than two or three products at any one financial institution.
PFM, which aggregates a consumer's financial information in one place, is widely perceived to be among the "stickiest" services a bank can offer. According to research from Digital Insight of Calabasas, Calif., an Intuit division that sells FinanceWorks to banks, households that use FinanceWorks tend to have higher average account balances and average one more product with their banks than other households.
PFM looks to be an ideal way for banks to improve customer experience and loyalty and to leverage their online banking platforms.
Software that provides customer-profitability data so that bank representatives can focus their attention on those who have a greater likelihood of buying another product is a very important area for banks to address. You can sell them the wrong products and never make a dime off of them. It's about giving the frontline personnel the ability to look at a given moment, what's in the customer's wallet today and what's missing from that wallet that can be sold profitably to that customer.
4. RISK MANAGEMENT
Banks looking to manage the risks and costs of increased lending activity are going to depend on technology -- including more-sophisticated credit risk-modeling capabilities, to do so. According to TowerGroup's 2010 consumer lending forecast, "Financial services institutions will increase IT investment for integrated credit risk management, and new loan collections and portfolio risk management solutions.”
i FBI Alert, Fraudulent Automated Clearing House (ACH) Transfers Connected to Malware and Work-at-Home Scams, Oct 2009
ii FDIC Special Alerts, August and October 2009
iii Washington Post, Security Fix – Small Business Victims, 2009