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Recap - AFT 2017 Spring Summit

Taking Control of the Sales Process in Financial Services

Peter Delano, practice leader at CEB, now owned by Gartner, provided insight and actionable solutions on what the challenger sale means in financial services at the 2017 AFT Spring Meeting in Amelia Island, Fla.

The challenger sale drives growth by taking control of the customer conversation. Delano explained how the traditional approach to selling and marketing no longer works in today’s purchasing environment. Deals are becoming increasingly complex, because customers have access to more information earlier in the sales process than ever before. Consequently, customers are buying in different ways than before, delaying initial contact with suppliers and needing more organizational consensus to move forward.

Delano’s challenger selling team studied thousands of customers and sales professionals around the world, crossing every major industry, geography, and go-to-market model. They revealed because customers have fundamentally altered the way they buy, which vendors need to change how they pitch their products.

It isn’t all about selling, there is marketing involved. The goal is to get to a point where “We no longer are competing on price, were actually competing on business value,” Delano advised.

Delano spoke about how the purchase process in financial services is no different. “[Banks] know more about you than they have ever before in terms of the information that is available to them.”

Adding to that complexity is retail banking is having more decision makers now involved in the buying process. Adding to this is the blurring division between front office and back office from an operation standpoint at a financial institution particularly in a digital environment.

Delano pointed out the role loyalty plays in making a purchase. He delivered some stats about drivers of loyalty. Topping the list at 53% is sales experience; followed by company and brand, and product and service, both at 19% each; and then value-to-price ration at 9%.

The potential drivers of higher performance among sales people, particular in B2B selling, centers around five profiles:

  1. Hard worker. Willing to go the extra mile. “Almost a formula-driven sales approach.”
  2. More opinionated, a different view of the world. They push the customer toward more discussion and interaction. “Nearly 40% of these high performers fit this challenger profile,” Delano said.
  3. Relationship builder. Builds strong advocates and relationships. “Relationship builders are not the strongest performers.”
  4. Lone Wolf. Follows their own characteristics. Delano suggested lone wolves don’t last in financial services.
  5. Problem Solver. Reliably respond to the internal and external stakeholders. Gets stuff done throughout the process.

 “The customer buying journey is significantly different, you have to get in their sooner, perhaps through marketing,” Delano maintained. “Remember half of customer loyalty is attributable to the sales experience.” So, organizations should think about how they tailor, teach and take control of the sale process.

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