The Coach Approach: Reinvigorate Your Resource Managers: Stressing Accurate Sales Forecasting and High-Quality Leads Will Boost the Bottom Line
Hubbard, Erin, The RMA Journal
In the December-January 2013 issue, we met Megan, a 10-year veteran banker from National Bank. Even though Megan was working harder than ever before, she had begun to fall short of her sales goals.
After an exhaustive and futile struggle to restore her pipeline and strengthen her relationships with the lawyers and accountants most closely affiliated with her prospects--in other words, her center of influence--Megan determined that being a relationship manager was not enough for her clients anymore. The traditional methodology of cold calling, blitzing, and waiting for the phone to ring was not working. Her current client relationships were eroding and her job wasn't much fun.
Through research and objective examination of her strategies, Megan knew she had to become more than a "banker." She had to reinvent herself as a resource manager--a true trusted adviser. (1)
Megan is not a lone wolf at National Bank. It was the proper coaching, guidance, and tactical support of her manager, Steve, that helped transform her into the resource manager she is today. As regional business banking manager, Steve leads 10 bankers, including Megan. He, too, recognized the wayward turn sales numbers had taken over the last three years. Impressed with Megan's success, he began to guide his nine other sales associates toward adopting this new and client-focused sales strategy.
Though initially sales numbers were improving, Steve recognized that progress still fell short of forecasted results. During Wednesday morning sales meetings, when his team discussed the previous week's calls and reviewed upcoming deals, everyone seemed optimistic about their potential leads. Yet when he followed up, Steve discovered the forecasts rarely mirrored reality. Effectively wielding the extraordinary power of his sales force hinged on accurately forecasting deals most likely to close, Steve concluded. Accurate forecasts would allow the team to focus more intently on deals with a high likelihood of closing and ignore those likely to go away.
Lack of forecast accuracy is not an issue unique to Steve's organization. In the 2012 Sales Performance Optimization Study conducted by CSO Insights, more than 50% of respondents reported that they needed to improve their forecasting capabilities.
A case study in CSO Insights' Sales Management 2.0 eBook, Volume 2 featured the global insurance firm Aon Corporation. In that analysis, Joe Demmler, vice president of global marketing and regional director of sales and marketing, noted that consistent improvements to pipeline accuracy and forecasting were significant to a successful sales transformation. "Aon is very focused on forecast accuracy--that is, what will close, for how much, by when," said Demmler. "Our objective was to exceed an accuracy rate of 80%, and that has been accomplished."
As reps spend more time on high-quality deals, the chances of high-performing opportunities being lost to the competition or ending in a no-decision are reduced. The importance of accurate forecasting was confirmed for Steve when, one day, he found Megan visibly frustrated, shaking her head at the phone and scowling at her inbox. Her resource manager strategy had hit a wall. By increasing her number of sales opportunities, Megan had also increased the amount of deals that would not close, no matter how doggedly she pursued them. Creating more opportunity essentially meant watching more deals go by the wayside. Steve desperately needed more accurate forecasting to coach Megan through this challenging time.
For Steve, more accurate forecasting meant more time spent gathering information--an impossible task, given that it already took him long enough to prepare and analyze existing spreadsheets and reports. His best option, then, was to encourage frequent use of the bank's customer relationship management (CRM) system for better data aggregation. …