In today’s fiercely competitive marketplace, corporations of all sizes are vigilantly focused on cash management, and on improving cash flow forecasting. At the same time, the seemingly endless stream of compliance regulations, capital management concerns and aging technology infrastructures are driving companies to seek outside support to address these challenges.
For banks, the premise would appear to be a simple one: offer an attractive mix of products and services to entice new clients and increase spending from existing ones. Yet the reality is that the current market for treasury and cash management services grows more complex, and the options available to corporates are more diverse than ever, including the choice to buy and access treasury management systems directly, completely bypassing their banking relationships.
Successfully selling cash management solutions today – including everything from remote deposit capture, to accounts payable automation, to merchant processing – requires bank sales forces and relationship managers to possess deep knowledge of a vast portfolio of products and services, as well as the skills to persuasively present and deliver them. Given that banks lived for years off revenue from selling credit services, for many organizations this requires a significant upskilling of their teams, as well as the means to measure and reinforce those skills over time.
In concert with the dynamics of the banking environment, corporate treasurers are more taxed than ever (no pun intended!). A recent Treasury Strategies survey highlighted the growing pressures: 65% of respondents agreed that the scope and importance of treasury functions will continue to grow in future years, expanding into areas such as commodities, supply chain financing and insurance. Yet treasuries remain under constant cost pressure, with limited budget for staff or resource investments that might drive additional efficiencies in the face of new responsibilities.
So what can banks do to compete more effectively, and ensure their Relationship Managers are up to the task of selling treasury and cash management services to today’s dynamic buyers?
Enable your RMs to be product educators and problem solvers
The challenge of “know your customer” is critical when selling to corporate CFOs and treasurers. Long-term, profitable sales relationships occur as a result of investigating the customer’s true needs, which in some cases, even the customer may have trouble identifying.
Given the menu of potential products and services available, RMs must be able to ask probing, diagnostic discovery questions about their customer’s current cash management challenges, both today and projecting into the future, and make appropriate recommendations about where to invest. In many banks’ organizational models, RMs serve as the sales “hub” around which other, most specialized teams reside, requiring them to also work as effective collaborators and referrers to peers who can provide additional support and services.
Too often institutions that are new or inexperienced in cash management sales try to push products their clients don’t need, or even worse, fail to present products that could actually benefit their clients because they lack a full understanding of the use cases and benefits.
Given the growing adoption of technology in treasury departments, relationship managers must also possess a solid understanding of the automation, connectivity and financial messaging options available to their corporate customers, and the pros and cons of each. This is especially important for regional or community banks who must compete with their global counterparts who are able to package products more competitively, and at lower cost.
Be prepared to defend your most critical client relationships
Again and again the data shows that its more expensive to acquire new customers than grow existing ones, and while most banks would agree that referrals and cross-selling/upselling additional services to corporate clients is a critical component of their revenue stream, many RMs are ill-equipped to defend existing customer relationships when faced with new competitive threats or price wars for commoditized products such as mortgages and CDs.
Once your professionals have effectively engaged with a customer, it’s critical that they can articulate your value proposition and differentiate it from your competitors. But these conversations must go beyond simple product features – almost all of which can be found on any bank’s web site. Based on the customers’ answers to your discovery questions, RMs should be able to:
- Clarify the implications of the stated cash management issues for the customer
- Know what additional costs, delays or revenues are at stake, including the potential cost of switching vendors, and
- Articulate how much the bank’s solution could potentially save the client, both in hard dollars and process savings
Accept that you can’t manage what you don’t measure. While many banks are investing in additional training or new selling methodologies to help their RMs adopt consultative skills and expand their portfolio knowledge, the majority still lack the means to measure the effectiveness of that training and give executives confidence in their team’s performance.
With help from Qstream, forward-thinking banks can:
- Quantify RM capabilities by transforming their critical content into scenario-based challenges that reinforce the knowledge and behaviors that matter most for their unique cash management selling environment. (And our minutes a day, mobile-first approach means that your team can focus on valuable customer-facing activities without distraction.) Qstream’s predictive insights engine continuously analyzes the responses collected to provide real-time management updates and skills fluency heat maps that help training and enablement teams identify costly gaps and develop remedial strategies before revenue or critical customer relationships are at risk.
- Improve their team’s response to competitive threats since new scenario-based challenges can be deployed quickly, often in just a few hours once content is approved, ensuring that competitive messaging – even short-term promotions or offers– are swiftly and effectively reinforced with field teams. Real-time analytics then help measure critical recall and understanding of competitive kill points, and alert managers to reps that might benefit from additional coaching.
- Manage adherence to new compliance or regulatory mandates by improving retention of new business processes and supporting long-term behavior change. The recent volatility in actions related to Dodd-Frank and the DOL rule in the US are just the latest examples of financial market compliance changes that will require corresponding adjustments in how financial services sales teams conduct business. For banks who must respond to these changes, Qstream can help to not only provide quantitative evidence of the mandated training and education requirements, but our clinically-proven approach can also help reduce the risk of expensive fines and loss of brand reputation resulting from violations.
The one thing financial markets of all kinds hate is uncertainty, and that is equally true for corporate finance officers who must manage the demands of internal business operations, market volatility, and regulatory requirements to support growth. Qstream is helping banks of all sizes address these challenges and improve the quality and impact of customer interactions while expanding RM capabilities. How can we help you? Request a live demo today.