CXO Bytes

Building the Sales Team of The Future with The Right Skills


With drastic and long-term changes hitting the operational environment, CEOs in financial sector need to ensure competitive edge for their companies. This is where the common sentiment in enterprises across the world is that a technological and skill revamp/upgrade is a must. The challenge is to implement a skill development strategy that doesn’t take years to transform the organization because the financial sector is all about consistently hitting the targets and scaling.


Importance of upskilling in post-pandemic world

As a whole, the industry hasn’t yet overcome the challenge of upskilling. However, the need can no longer be ignored or postponed. In today’s dynamic scenario, companies that lead the charts are those that have mastered the art of building skills and capabilities, especially by leveraging the digital technology. Enterprise CEOs are increasingly acknowledging the fact, and taking steps that go beyond the conventions of training batches of employees on specific skillsets. While upskilling workforce is a must, in the modern world of business, one must not think of the workforce as a constant. People keep coming in, and some exits are inevitable at any given time. Thus, what’s needed is not just to create a ‘training schedule’, but switch to flexible tech-based solutions that provide employees with the skills and capabilities that they need to improve performance.


With the pandemic, the pace of digitization and the relevance of digital technologies in the long-term schematics has increased manifold. The roles of traditional bankers, wealth advisors, investment firms, and sales teams in non-banking financial firms as well as insurance companies has changed now. Almost in every arena, sales teams are using digital channels to pitch the products, build the relationships, and to provide support to the customers. The remote working ecosystem adds further challenges courtesy of the heightened data security needs. Thus, a holistic outlook necessitates digital upskilling for the financial sales teams.


The goal of any financial sector entity is to achieve targets, and generate greater revenues. For this, it is important that the sales teams perform optimally. Despite setting reasonable targets, and factoring in the uncertainties prevalent, a sizeable portion of most financial companies’ sales workforce misses out on the targets. When that happens, the implication is that the organization is not able to achieve the performance that it ideally should. There is a lot of potential that is not being unlocked due to skill gaps.


Key areas of upskilling for financial sales teams

To overcome this, financial enterprises need to evaluate the technological and behavioral skills of their best performers, benchmark them, and enable the overall workforce to replicate the same. For instance, alongside the ability to work on advanced cloud-based CRMs and using analytics etc, good salespersons also need to be empathetic, clear communicators, flexible, and ready to imbibe new skills, processes and observations to consistently improve their output. The leadership has to ensure that adequate technology and interpersonal skill development tools, resources, and trainings are available for all. To meet the challenges of the new normal, here are some of the skills that any future sales person must have.


Digital Branding – About 82% of the customers look up sales personnel, the companies and product information etc online before engaging the sales teams in conversations. If the brand’s or salesperson’s digital footprint across platforms like LinkedIn is not strong, there would be less chances of success. Hence, companies and sales workforce, need to be well-versed with digital marketing dos and don’ts.


Accurate lead qualification – Successful salespersons chase few leads, but hit more conversions, whereas those that struggle are often found to be chasing a lot of leads with less success. This could be due to lack of ability to accurate early-stage lead qualification. Significant time and energy is often spent on chasing leads that were unlikely to convert anyway. Instead of those, accurate lead qualification ability can help the personnel channel their efforts towards converting the right leads.


Product knowledge – With almost every organization’s website detailing basic information, terms and conditions and other standard information, customers expect the sales personnel to not just reiterate those details, but offer next level of detail that can drive decision making. Thus, there is a need to have comprehensive and multi-dimensional product knowledge, and ability to guide the customers on how and why a particular product will benefit them.


Empathy – Today’s consumers need reassurance. Times are tough with financial security and ROI being on top of the agenda for every customer. That’s where an empathetic approach that allows the salespersons to understand the individual needs and challenges of each individual and offer solutions that are best-fit for them, is a must. Representatives that just try to push in whatever product they have, without responding to the individual’s unique concerns, are unlikely to convert leads into sales consistently.


Communication skills – Reputable organizations and customer-centricity is often judged by the speed, content and quality of response. If a callback is promised then the call should be made as soon as possible. If a customer seeks information on email, then that email should be sent promptly. Poorly drafted emails, inability to communicate clearly or failing to callback/send emails, are some of the definitive ways to poor performance, and should be avoided at all costs.


Impact of upskilling on business growth

A survey by PwC revealed that many of the CEOs whose companies have undertaken upskilling initiatives, reported witnessing an uptick in number of sales, ROI, innovation as well as the abilities of their sales teams in tackling different scenarios. The banking, insurance, wealth management and non-banking financial companies need to achieve this upgrade of skills without taking their teams offline for training programs. Thus, an ideal option for these financial industry stakeholders is to adopt advanced tech-driven CRMs which go beyond being performance trackers. Through integrated AI, individual data analytics, and other such tools, a world-class sales CRM can also be a platform that enables identification of key skills, skill gaps between individuals and insights on how to plug those gaps in real-time.


This kind of digitally-driven upskilling is key to building an agile and future ready sales workforce that would keep financial companies relevant and thriving in the years to come!

(The author is Mr. Rajesh Sabhlok, Managing Director – Asia Pacific, Vymo and the views expressed in this article are his own)

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