In Sales, no amount of hard work will pay off unless you understand the entire process from end to end, including MIS and reporting.
This story is from my days as National Head in a Small finance Bank. We were the last amongst the Small Finance Banks (SFBs) to launch and were trying to compete with the established private and small finance banks. I was heading a team sourcing current accounts in a market saturated with current account offerings.
The problems were many: team morale, training, no defined sales process, poor knowledge levels and lack of co-ordination with branch teams. We started with hiring, training and knowledge transfer. Weekly reviews and quizzes, Rewards and Recognition(R&R) programs, branch visits, catchment areas combing, etc.
Understanding The Sales Process
In 3 months I saw the average incentive being earned by the sales executives multiply 2.5X. Yet, the overall number or value of current accounts under our business remained stagnant. The team of Regional Heads and I had a brainstorming session. We tried to understand the flow from start to end – from the time the accounts were logged in, till they were processed and opened. Despite racking our brains, we were unable to find answers. That is when we decided to re-create a day in the life of a sales executive. We sourced and logged in the account opening forms ourselves to go through the sales cycle. Everything went smoothy till we got to the point when we had to get the forms scrutinised at the branch. The Branch Operations Manager entered a particular product code to identify the type of account being opened. Unfortunately (for us!), the product code was tagged to the Branch business unit and hence would reflect under their business.
The Power of Product Codes
Our findings led to more R&D, until finally we decided to create a new product code to tag the business under our Strategic Business Unit (SBU). Since there were no separate business unit codes, this was the only way forward.
What followed was an intense training series in which we emphasised the need to enter the specific product code so that the accounts sourced would be tagged to our SBU. Needless to say, the number and value went up by 10X the next month.
The Sales executives were indifferent to the product code as incentives were linked to their individual employee codes, which were correctly mentioned in the form. It was at the SBU level that the product codes made a huge difference in the Management Information System (MIS).
To educate and create in them the commitment for the SBU goals was the task cut out for us.
The Sales Lessons
1. No amount of hard work will pay off unless you are smart enough to understand the entire process from end to end, including MIS and reporting.
2. As a Sales Leader, you must understand the flow and logic of the Business Intelligence reporting intelligence to ensure that you get due credit.
3. To ensure commitment of the team towards the organisational and SBU goals, clarity in communicating the WHY behind the goal and how it impacts them at an individual level is required to be communicated clearly. Our most important task as Sales Leader is to create a sense of urgency and desire to win in the sales team. To ensure that the team understands that when the organisational goals are achieved, the winning teams become more strategically important for the organisation.
4. A Leader cannot achieve great things alone. The best plans fail if the team is not energised and passionate about winning. And to create a winning team, the Leader must inspire a winning mindset. With clarity, open communication, empathy , conviction and “walking the talk”.
If you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together.