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BirdsEye View

professional calling

Following up on the comment regarding the use of first names, I received a flurry of emails.  Becky Vaughn Furlough, EVP at Trustmark, wrote:  "In reading your comments regarding first name usages, I being from the deep south, of course, am familiar with all the situations listed. We were raised to call adults and others we didn't know well by Mr. and Mrs. and their last name, out of respect. Most of us in my general age bracket still do that until asked by the person to call them by their first name. I do agree that is truly the best approach. I have taught my children to do so and my children are teaching my grandchildren the same. They will often use Mr. or Mrs. with their first name, i.e. Mrs. Anat instead of Mrs. Bird, just another Southern twist.

However, due to the crime and evil nature of many people in this world we all need to review our practices of using last names on name plates for employees, listing of employees in directories providing full names, etc.

because of possible stalkers, harassers, robbers, rapists, and worse. Many will go to all lengths to locate a person and we may make it easier for the criminal by making potential victims of our employees by providing last names too openly. Things are just not like they used to be and we have to always look at our practices from a viewpoint of how we may be putting our associates at risk."

And Rick Green, CEO of Stillwater Bank, wrote:  "I hope people call me Ricky Joe till I die. Mr. Green was my grandpa."

My most recent BirdsEye View about sales generated the most buzz of anything I've written in the past five years.  Thanks to all of you who wrote back, commented and subscribed to the newsletter.

Given this level of encouragement, this next article is about effective sales management through a structured calling program.  This plan works for both customers and prospects, and increases the "close ratio" of calls meaningfully.  Give it a try!

On the personal front, things are kind of quiet, which is a good thing:  Paul, Liat and Gil are all preparing or in the midst of finals; Arik is getting ready for football training, Isabella is almost four years old and Guy and Asi are doing great in their respective jobs.  My garden is full of roses and I'm loving it!

I cooked for myself for Mother's Day, which is a special pleasure for me since I love to cook and I know the food will be good haha.  The menu is posted on the website under BirdDroppings.  The whipping cream was especially delicious, but the best part was having family with us, including Dave, our Marine, who is now 100% better after recovering from his injuries in Iraq.  I count my blessings!  

Anat

 

 

Article synopsis:    Customer and prospect calls are often done without much forethought.  A professional approach to calling is integral to effective sales management, and produces results.

 

PROFESSIONAL CALLING



Calling on both clients and prospects is an intricate and often difficult activity, yet it is at the core of successful banking relationship development. I recently learned from Bob Jones, President and CEO of Central Trust and Investment Company, an interesting and most effective way to structure your officers' calling efforts, whether they are commercial bankers, wealth management executives or retail professionals.


At the core of the program are four call categories, each with its own point value:


1 point - Internal center of influence

2 points - External center of influence

3 points - Intermediate (second or more) prospect meeting

4 points - Proposal presentation


All calls are expected to take place face-to-face, with the exception of customer or prospect-preferred pre-planned telephone appointment.


Calls involving bringing a colleague from another line of business are worth additional 2 points.


A minimum expectation is 4 calls a day and 24 calls a week. Vacations are not exempt; the officer should plan for them in advance and log in enough additional calls to make the 24 extra points. While this might seem harsh, examine any of your star performers and you'll see that this is what they do naturally. It is an important part of the discipline of call management.


Note that this expectation compels calling officers to make the most out of the 200 or so calls they have the capacity to make every year, since they can't reach their point minimums by logging in countless 1 point calls.


Setting the expectations is but the first step toward a successful calling program. Building in forethought and call planning is another important element to the program. All calls should have three elements:


  • Pre-call planning session

  • Agenda

  • Post-call debriefing


The pre-call plan involves several aspects:

    • Who will run the call

    • Who will handle what questions

    • Who's got the "stop sign" (a signal for the speaker to stop)

    • Who is responsible for "reading" the client

    • What's the client's psychology (e.g. are they numeric; detail oriented; talker vs. listener etc.)

    • What's the goal for the call

    • Call time expectations; who is responsible for ensuring the call ends on time


The call agenda is then built from the pre-planning meeting content.


Before the meeting ends, the lead person should ask the prospect or client two key questions:


  • Was this call a good use of your time? Did you get value out of the interaction?

  • What else can we do for you and what can we do better


Further input should be shared candidly among the calling team: what worked; what didn't; what could we have done better. Brutal candor is essential to get value out of this part of the debrief. In addition, the group needs to agree on next steps and the people responsible for them (without a neck on the line, things fall between the cracks way too often).


Calling on both clients and prospects, whether as an individual or in teams, is the lifeline of client retention and acquisition. Wrapping it with a clear set of expectations and a simple process such as the one described above can facilitate increased call effectiveness, improved teamwork across banking silos, and, ultimately, greater client satisfaction.