When a bank fails to create value for its clients, management often looks at the symptoms without understanding the root causes. Blaming either incorrect product pricing, inadequate marketing or a poor value proposition in isolation is missing the point, because there are often a number of factors that come into play. One of the key factors, however, is whether leadership is driving a sustainable client-led strategy that truly puts the client first.
One of the first ways in which a customer encounters this is when dealing with frontline staff – perhaps a sales consultant who is pressuring the customer into opening an account with the bank. While some banks may think that a service mindset is one thing and a sales mindset another, this is not the case – in fact, they are interdependent. A client-led strategy should focus on service at all times because it is possible to create value for clients with every interaction. By understanding how to turn service queries into opportunities to solve client problems proactively, the difference between a sales conversation and a service conversation fades away. All conversations become value conversations.
However, this requires a major behaviour and mindset adjustment on the part of salespeople, and on the part of the leaders who drive them to excel.
Driving Behavioural Change
Banks therefore need to focus on how to break the habit of ‘hard selling’ and this invariably requires changing the sales mindset. This kind of change can only come from the top, where a company defines its sales culture. A leader must be empowered in order to drive organisational performance, continuous improvement and appropriate people practices. Executing with speed and precision is a key game changer.
Because empowered leaders understand that problems arise from a combination of factors, they are in a position to find out the root causes and they understand how to address any associated behavioural symptoms. Often, behavioural symptoms are the most difficult to isolate and therefore to change, because they stem from a particular mindset that needs to be challenged. Only a good leader can shift mindsets and therefore behaviours. It is sustainable behavioural changes that lead to the good sales habits that make an organisation successful.
Very often, organisations fail to develop their leaders, or they may not identify what leadership skills are required for a particular position and resort to teaching vague, unfocused leadership concepts that don’t take into account the specific context, mindsets that need to change, or the required business results. As a result, it can be an enormous challenge to translate learning into action in a business environment. This makes it difficult for leaders to become real agents of change and bring about the changes required in staff members – at least to the degree that these behaviours will become habitual and therefore meaningful.
Defining The Real Learning Challenge
Some development programmes are very theoretical, not simulation-driven, so you often find that on-the-job application is lacking, or the leader becomes immersed in administration once back in the office, and the learning is wasted. In other words, the learning does not address the real business challenges faced in the workplace, which makes application a challenge.
In addition, it is important to understand that a leader-led sales strategy does not augment other sales learning solutions – in fact, leaders have to be agents of change in terms of mindset and behaviour before great conversations with clients can take place. Leaders need to lead by example, showing consultants how to have the right conversations that will ensure consistent, sustainable business. In effect, one needs a paradigm shift. A learning solution that fails to take this into account will not have a lasting effect within the organisation.
The real learning challenge, therefore, is how to equip leaders with the tools to drive change.
Banks Also Need To Address Challenges In The Sales System
At the same time, banks should support their intention with a variety of different components – technology, systems and processes, measurement – to ensure that the onboarding process is effective and will embed profitability for the bank.
Bank channel management has become a vital factor when it comes to improving service to clients. This is but one of the enablers that must be well defined as all enablers should complement one another, so the consultant can be clear about how to deliver to the client. You must have the right enablers and be able to link those to the proposition in order to actually deliver on promises.
What Does A Leader-Led Strategy Look Like?
So what is a leader-led strategy and how does it influence sales behaviour in a bank? Simply put, such a strategy seeks to nurture sales leaders and managers within a company, empowering them with tools to apply their learning on the job and also drive frontline behaviour change. As change agents, these leaders can implement a sales strategy that changes mindsets, which changes behaviour – and ultimately has a meaningful impact.
Here are five ways to make a leader-led strategy work for you.
Leverage social learning. Leaders should embrace the effect of ‘social learning’ to drive consistent sales behaviour within teams. It is this that sees behaviours translated into good habits.
Solve problems effectively. This involves the meaningful gathering, analysis and interpretation of information in order to facilitate decision-making involving people practices.
Operate with a strong results orientation. Nurture the ability not only to communicate a vision but to translate this vision into sales results by driving individual and team productivity.
Seek different perspectives. Teach sales leaders to encourage individuals to contribute ideas that might lead to improved organisational performance.
Support others. Sales leaders should have the ability to lead the ‘people organisation’ by showing authenticity and supporting individuals in overcoming challenges.