Building Sales Capability in Financial Services: Key Takeaways from the Sales Operations Institute

Recently, the Sales Operations Institute brought together industry and corporate leaders to discuss how to build and maintain a coherent and effective sales strategy for corporate advantage. Representatives from Mindtickle (including myself) attended and ran a session with sales operations leaders that focused on building sales capability within financial service organizations to deliver enhanced customer experience


The discussions highlighted that most organizations are facing similar challenges when building sales capability that drives customer experience. The key issues identified fell into three areas – readiness program effectiveness, content adoption, and sales personalization at scale. Here are my takeaways: 


Effective readiness programs require alignment with sales methodologies


The biggest challenge identified by many of the participants was in creating alignment between readiness programs and sales methodologies. While most highlighted that they had a significant amount of sales training content available, that content didn’t necessarily fit within their existing sales processes, which garnered poor adoption.  


To ready sellers effectively requires specialized knowledge of not only the products and services but also the sales process. This must also align with the strategic objectives of the organization, which is crucial to obtaining top-down buy-in. Some of the leaders noted that their strategy was sometimes inconsistent between cross-functional teams, which further impeded training effectiveness. This strategic disconnect again highlighted the importance of gaining top-down buy-in across the organization before adopting solutions to improve training effectiveness.


The group identified several solutions that they believed were necessary to deliver effective sales readiness programs:

  • Leverage product champions or a network of product excellence to build content and get buy-in across the organization. 
  • Understand the daily life of a salesperson and map out their process so training can be aligned to sales methodologies.
  • Put in place and communicate a leaderboard to promote success within the organization.
  • Standardize playbooks to ensure there is consistency in how information is presented to customers.
  • Measure what’s working and what isn’t. By identifying gaps and opportunities to add value, the effectiveness of readiness programs can be constantly improved. 
  • Wherever possible, look for opportunities to automate processes to save both time and cost.


Content adoption is crucial


Many organizations have created a plethora of sales content, but this is only effective in building sales capability if their people are aware of it, can access it, and know how to use it. 


To enable content adoption, some of the following approaches identified were:

  • Personalize and prioritize what content is pushed to salespeople.
  • Identify what readiness content is required at each stage of the sales process and surface them in the flow of work.
  • Leverage tools that are easy to use and add value quickly to encourage adoption.  
  • Track engagement and coach to the specific skill gaps of the individual.
  • When assessing tools, ensure that the sales stack is integrated so there isn’t duplication across tools. 


Customers demand personalization


One size fits all models are no longer acceptable. Customers (and salespeople for that matter) have come to expect everything to be personalized to their needs, which has created new issues when building sales capability. This is particularly problematic in financial services where risk management is paramount and consistency is essential. 


To personalize, organizations need to be able to develop content and use tools that are consistent and compliant while providing enough flexibility to adapt to individual customer needs. 


Some of the identified ways to enable personalization at scale included:

  • Enabling front line managers to improve how they coach sales reps. Coaching not only builds sales capability more broadly but can also help salespeople understand how to personalize a solution to individual customer needs whilst being consistent with the sales process. 
  • Leveraging technology to enable just in time learning opportunities. These may be tailored to specific customer situations so that salespeople can create a more personalized experience. 


These solutions each form part of an overall process of enabling and empowering salespeople. It’s human nature to sell within your comfort zone, but to build sales capability organizations need to expand the breadth and depth of each individual’s so that they can sell more effectively. 


To learn more, download our full eBook: Driving Customer Experience from the Frontline of Financial Services