A large consumer banking company was experiencing challenges in its diverse, nationwide sales organization under an aggressive acquisition strategy. The company’s brands, sales process and approach, and sales teams lacked a unified vision for how to differentiate the company among its competitors in a changing market.
“What we try to do is understand what the customer wants and provide them that solution,” explained the company’s VP of Sales. “In other words, we don’t go in there just trying to sell them something without first understanding what it is they want or need. And we do that through the discovery process, by asking questions and getting them to be very specific, so that once we understand their situation, we can put together a proposal that addresses their needs.”
While the basic tenets of The Counselor Salesperson™ may seem overly simplistic, they have endured over the decades and remain vital and relevant in today’s selling environment. Wilson Learning’s adage “People love to buy, but hate to be sold to” rings just as true today as it has in the past.
The Importance of Management Involvement
Within what was a traditional, hierarchical organization, it was not the norm for sales leadership to “sit through” training. The deployment strategy this company used was to involve senior and mid-level managers in the training alongside the reps. Not only did this send a message of the importance of the initiative, but it developed the leaders’ capacity to execute the sales process and, as importantly, coach and reinforce it.
“We now have tools that help us assess where our account executives are in the sales process and what we need to do to advance the sales cycle. Management involvement is really the key to keep it going,” expressed the VP of Sales.
Wilson Learning research clearly shows the impact that coaching has on performance improvement. We found that when managers are provided with a combination of new coaching skills and training in the skills that their employees learned, performance improves between 32–55% or, on average, 41%.
The Power of Creating an Inclusive Learning Culture
The salesforce, including managers and support staff, also completed The Versatile Salesperson™ program. People who work closely with the salespeople, including training, customer database management, and product development, attended as well.
“What we attempted to do with The Versatile Salesperson, in addition to teaching employees how to work with different types of customers and recognize different styles, was to get them to start thinking about value instead of price,” explained the VP of Sales. “We are also giving them better training on what our products and services can do, how they interact, and how they impact customers so that we’re able to show value to customers and overcome the price argument.”
Despite the complexity, the company focused on a few simple ideas: listening to the customer, selling to value, and applying interpersonal versatility. The core concepts, skills, and tools from both learning solutions upskilled teams and leaders to accomplish all those things and more. The training positioned the company differently in the marketplace as a provider of value, rather than just competing on product and price.
That year, the organization experienced unprecedented growth, with its loan volume growing at 33%, compared to an industry growth rate of 5–6%.
“Our partnership with Wilson Learning has given us a better, more focused sales team, one that knows what they need to do and how to go about doing it,” remarked the VP of Sales. “We can point to those kinds of results as proof that something is working right.”