From guesswork to gold
Moving the Sales Process from Guesswork to Gold
Crowdsourcing the sales conversation to find the ideal response to customer concerns and dramatically improve proficiency in closing sales.
With the economy still struggling and people worried about their investment portfolios, the world of investment and financial services has become increasingly competitive. Financial advisors today are faced with many challenges that were not even on the radar just a few years ago:
• Market volatility still exists and uncertainty remains high. Global markets face numerous crises adding to instability.
• The Internet has led to more informed investors and also misinformed by hype and misleading information.
• Bailouts and protests have created negative feelings and distrust of the financial industry.
• Market consolidation had led to the top ten commercial banks controlling half of the industry’s assets.
• Firms need to deal with regulatory changes and managing complex privacy and security issues.
With all the uncertainty in the market, sound financial advice is more important than ever, but the trusted relationships that financial advisors have worked years to build are deteriorating over lack of trust and investor frustration.
One thing that has not changed and may even be truer is the need for personalized expertise and contact between financial advisors and clients as critical decisions are made. With clients increasingly quick to turn elsewhere if they feel their needs are not being met, the conversations that take place become even more critical to the success of the financial advisor.
A number of financial services companies are waking up to the importance of optimizing the proficiency of their personal interactions. Many of them have spent hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars on business intelligence systems, enterprise social platforms, CRM, training, etc. to improve the conversations. The problem is that by the time information from these massively complex systems flows through the organization it is outdated. They are also passive systems that do not drive performance and are deployed on hope: hope that they actually get used; hope that the information is relevant; hope that the data is not manipulated; hope that executives will make the right decisions from the data and hope that employees are saying the right thing when talking with customers and prospects.
The reality is that while many of these systems look great on paper, they get an abysmal rate of less than 5 percent user adoption and provide no tangible improvement. As hope grew to frustration, these companies began to look for a different type of solution. For five of the top 10 financial services companies, their search led to iDealResponse, which provides a verbal response management solution that is able to measure and improve performance in sales conversations. It is the first enterprise system that drives continuous improvement to what is being said by frontline employees. iDealResponse provides a social framework for peer-based rating and ranking of the content and delivery of responses to the most common and challenging customer questions. This provides an active intelligence platform where the best responses are consistently tested, calibrated and practiced by the team so everyone is proficient and confident with their responses to the customer.
Using iDealResponse, these financial services companies follow a simple, yet effective process:
1) Advisors formulate and practice a response – A common question is sent to each advisor and they formulate their best idea for responding to the question.
2) Record the response – Each advisor calls the iDealResponse system to record their best response to the question.
3) Collaborate – Peers anonymously rate each other’s responses on a sliding scale and capture the elements of an idea that they like.
4) Calibrate – The system identifies the best response(s) using a rating and ranking system. The team reviews the highest scores and best elements – such as accuracy, compelling, clarity and tone – to create the ideal response to the question.
5) Share – The ideal response is pushed out to all team members. All recordings are saved in a knowledge library where advisors can go and see how individual responses were rated on different elements and listen to the recording.
6) Track and correlate the results –Identify connections between your improvement and results, such as when I give x response at a more natural pace, I am able to get past the gatekeeper more often or I increase the size of my deals. This is important for user adoption and continuing the process to be able to identify how a little effort results in worthwhile returns.
The process of creating more proficient conversations has produced dramatic results in closing sales for these top financial services companies in just a few weeks. One manager said his team saved six accounts valued at more than $450,000 in just one week.
Another manager located in Florida reported, “We saw tangible success in just 60 days for our new trainees using the iDealResponse system. One of our new financial advisors practiced responses to objections. When the advisor presented a $500,000 investment to a prospect, she said to start with only $50,000. The advisor used the response he and the team had practiced to close the larger deal. He is sure he wouldn’t have signed the $500,000 to start if we had not used iDealResponse.”
Each of the four financial services companies is reporting dramatic improvements. Typical results include:
• 100 percent increase in sales leads
• 60 percent increase in service upsell
• 50 percent increase in customer satisfaction
• 17 percent reduced call handling time
• 195 percent improvement in verbal knowledge
Perhaps one of the best measures of the success financial advisors are realizing is that every one of the companies is reporting an adoption rate above 90 percent. Because their advisors are increasing their sales, they are eager to use the system.
By making incremental improvements in their proficiency each week, financial advisors are creating new baselines of performance. For example, companies are reporting their top salespeople have increased sales almost 20 percent. But it’s not just the top salespeople – others who typically performed at lower levels are also exceeding previous sales levels attained by the top performers.
A financial advisor in California states he has closed a $400,000 deal due to iDealResponse. “I was able to close a $400,000 deal because of all the real world practice from iDealResponse. I was hit with ‘Why should I work with you? What makes you different? It’s not a good time to be in the market right now.’ It was like everything we had just practiced came up. I was totally prepared because I was able to talk through their concerns leveraging my peers’ ideas.”
Another benefit of iDealResponse is the improved confidence advisors have in knowing they have the right answers and in dealing with high net-worth customers. A financial advisor in Hawaii said, “When I went into client meetings, I often got off track, messed up or otherwise tongue-tied. After using iDealResponse, I knew what to do in client meetings because of what I learned from my peers. This practice is the main reason I have been able to close large deals as a new financial advisor.”