How to Use Reporting to Optimize your Financial Services Sales Process

Financial Services Reporting

Clear, accurate sales performance data can help you gain deep insights into the performance of your sales process, and inform you and your team’s actions and decisions.

If you report on your financial services sales, but have inconsistent data about what leads to those sales, you’ll struggle to identify the real issues.

So, how you can ensure you’re getting the most out of sales reports and that they’re optimizing your team’s performance and financial services sales process?

Customer data has become a currency. Customers are overwhelmingly open to banks, insurers and investment advisory firms using their data and, in turn, reaping customer benefits.

The importance of data keeps growing. It’s not just impacting financial services sales reps, but teams across the board. Sharing and gathering this data will help you understand what converts leads into customers and adapt your sales conversations based on it.

The importance of sales reporting and task tracking

Sales is a high-pressure job: your goal is to convince people to part with their money for something you offer—day in, day out.

Because of that pressure, it’s easy to take the route of throwing everything at the wall in the hope that something sticks. In other words, your team may be jumping on every lead and opportunity, burning themselves out, and not knowing what really worked in the end.

Sounds stressful and unpredictable, right?

Luckily, there’s a way out, and it’s called activity-based selling. At its core, activity-based selling focuses on the things you can control—the process behind selling and the actions you take—instead of what you can’t control: someone’s decision to buy or not.

To make the most of your reporting, you’ll want to have a CRM as a central place for your sales team to log all of their activities. This can include:

  • Prospects they are reaching out to
  • Leads with whom they’ve established contact
  • Qualified leads
  • Proposals sent
  • Scheduled follow-up meetings and calls
  • The number of prospects at every stage of the pipeline

The result of this is a simple but powerful visual view of your pipeline: a sales dashboard. It will give everyone a clear understanding of all leads currently in the pipeline.

If one of your rep’s pipelines starts to dry up and there are only a few leads left to work with, you’d want to notice it sooner rather than later.

When you and your reps catch this pattern early, they can take targeted action to fill their pipeline with new prospects before their sales quota for the month starts suffering. You can advise them as they take this action.

The best visual sales dashboards are those that let you see up-to-the-minute metrics instead of waiting for weekly reports. It’s easy to make more informed decisions when you’re confident in and can fully trust the data you see.

How to ensure your team sees the benefits of reporting

If your team believes they can do their job well enough by relying on their gut feeling about past performance and current leads in their pipeline, they won’t necessarily see the reason to capture detailed data from their sales conversations.

Two stats from CSO Insights’ Sales Operations Optimization study illustrate that many salespeople don’t trust the benefits of the data on their CRM:

  • Only 24.9% of sales professionals expressed high confidence in the quality of the data in their CRM system
  • Only 25.3% of sales professionals fully agreed that CRM enhances the productivity of salespeople

That’s why building strong activity-tracking habits with your team is so important. If they don’t enter their activities regularly, they’ll end up with incomplete data that they don’t feel responsible for.

Bad data will cause your sales reps to focus on the wrong leads, follow-ups and proposals. With the right CRM and data, the reporting you’ll do will always help you and your sales team to take the right actions in all ongoing deals.

What does bad data look like?

Let’s say you’re reviewing the past month’s sales reports for your investment products, and the number of leads that didn’t become customers or went cold is higher than you predicted it would be.

You’ve also noticed there were more leads this month than usual, but the close rate has dropped. Because there’s not enough data in your system to provide context for these unsuccessful sales conversations, you make an assumption that your lead generation must be off—after all, you have more leads, but fewer sales.

However, if your reps had logged their calls and communication attempts with these prospects into your CRM, you’d have learned that:

  • More leads were highly qualified than usual, meaning your lead generation has improved, not deteriorated
  • The time of year (such as summertime or winter holidays) is the reason people are difficult to reach or reject a sales conversation at this time
  • There were many out-of-office replies with email attempts

Details like these are crucial in decision-making across the entire sales process. As a manager, your first step involves identifying where you lack accurate data and communicating the value of it to your team.

Accurate reporting can save you valuable time in the long run and help you invest your resources accordingly. 

To ensure your team is fully on board with this approach, make it easy for them to log all their data. Define which activity needs to be tracked for simple and productive reporting, and drop everything else.

Focus on your team’s collective performance

The most effective teams have a clear understanding of the importance of every role, including their own. They are able to identify and acknowledge how their skills, tasks and actions interconnect.

A lot can be learned from collaboration, regardless of individual skillset. Playing to and pooling each other’s strengths will maintain a culture of learning and transferable knowledge.

Your sales reps need to be collaborators and team players. When one of your reps falls off the track, it’s a temporary setback; when your entire team loses sight of the goal, the consequences could be serious.

By having a full, in-depth overview of your team’s performance, you can see the areas of struggle for individual reps and decide what needs to be done to get them back on track. 

Harvard Business Review, who conducted more than 4,000 surveys to better understand what makes great teams, found that supportive context is among the key conditions of high-performing teams. This includes:

  • A reward system that reinforces good performance
  • An information system that provides access to the data needed for the work
  • An educational system that offers training
  • Securing the material resources required to do the job

When you openly communicate results with your team, you’ll encourage your reps to identify when their skills and experience can help another team member facing a sales challenge.

Implementing a culture of supportive autonomy drives more effective teams. Linda Hill, co-author of ‘Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader’, defined supportive autonomy as giving people the room they need to succeed on their own, but also remaining hands-on enough to provide support when it is needed.

In other words, balancing your own involvement and giving your reps the power to lift up the entire team can dramatically increase your team’s performance. With sales reports that show them how the team is doing across the full pipeline, they can see which parts of it they can focus on to fill any gaps they’ve noticed.

Financial services goals

Set goals and expectations

The financial services industry faces mounting regulation and compliance pressures, so the clearer your team can be on their expectations—and the way it affects their progress towards goals—the better.

Clearly defined, data-driven sales goals for your team are essential if you want them to consistently achieve high performance. They also help you make simple adjustments in case of obstacles. This will make the most sense if we use an example.

Let’s say the sales target you’ve set for one of your financial services is 70 new customers per month. From here, you need to work out:

  • How many leads your team needs to contact to close one sale. For example: for every five leads they talk to, they close one sale: a close rate of 20%
  • How many leads your team needs to talk to in order to hit their target. In this example, to make 70 new sales, they’ll need to talk to 350 leads that month
  • How many conversations they need to have per day to make this happen. On average, this will translate into about 15-20 conversations per working day with new customers across the team

It’s difficult to make significant progress without setting clear, pre-defined goals. When it comes to optimizing your financial services sales approach, simplifying the process to make things clearer is an important step. 

Holding regular meetings is the perfect opportunity to discuss how individual sales conversations are progressing. Meetings driven by weekly reports will reveal patterns and trends in your team’s progress.

They’ll also encourage a little healthy competition between your sales reps, provide the space to speak up and share their thoughts and learnings, as well as spark accountability for results.

Get your team involved in goal-setting

The best way to set sales team goals is to involve your team in their creation and to break down each goal into milestones. This way, your expectations are clear and transparent, and they know they’ve had a say in it.

In other words, the earlier example with the number of required conversations per day makes sense, feels realistic and drives activities from your marketing team. Your sales team will feel more motivated and invested in working to achieve these goals.

If there’s a lack of leads due to regulation changes, or leads are hard to reach, your team can immediately flag this with you and you can adjust these goals and expectations as you go.

Using tools like contact timelines can help identify which activities are the most important to focus on, and paves the way for solutions and easy ways for your reps to check in with you with their progress.

Using relevant tools can also allow you to remove any excessive steps that may be complicating or delaying areas of the pipeline.

Other simple, but effective steps you can take to measure goals include:

  • Providing simple checklists for salespeople to use regularly and holding regular one-to-one meetings.
  • Checking in with staff during meetings provides a safe space to discuss targets and goals that are not being met.

Setting aside a window for honest, professional discussions using open-ended questions sets up the ideal environment for inviting solutions.

There are many segments and different departments within the financial services industry, so it’s important to consider the time frame of the customer journey. For example, are they long-serving customers who will be with you for a while, or short-term customers who require a brisk service?

Ultimately, the standard formula should still be a mainstay when it comes to your overall process:

Identify problems, propose the solution, and define the ideal outcome.

Financial services pipeline

Develop a real-time visual dashboard to view each pipeline stage

How can you make these goals and required actions easy to log and monitor, both for yourself and your sales reps?

The key to productive goal setting and sales activity planning is ensuring you have the right tools. They’ll help you organize, track, measure and manage sales information on your terms, in a way that best suits your financial services pipeline.

With a CRM solution like Pipedrive, you can fully customize your visual dashboard to suit the metrics you care about the most, such as:

  • A snapshot of your deals (new, won, lost) for each of your services and tiers
  • All activities
  • Emails sent and received
  • Calls made
  • Revenue forecasts

These insights will allow you to identify bottlenecks in your pipeline, training opportunities, and ways to improve your team’s close rate.

Take steps to invest more and build your team

According to research from the Sales Executive Council (SEC), quality coaching is known to improve long-term performance by up to 19%.

Take an interest in individual performance by investing in coaching programs for each sales rep, not just training for your team as a whole. Also ensure that you’re talking to your salespeople to uncover preferences and patterns, and discussing feedback, both positive and negative, in more depth than you typically would in a group meeting.

Research published in the Harvard Business Review found that high-performing teams share nearly six times more positive feedback than average teams.

Holding debriefs at the end of a defined period will encourage not only consistency, but also data accuracy within your team. The more specific and measurable the goal, the more achievable it becomes!

Ultimately, adopting a healthy relationship with your reporting habits will restore faith in your sales process. You’ll empower your team to work more efficiently and focus on the right leads—and hit their quota regularly.

Check out the ebook below for everything you need to know about defining your sales process for the financial services industry or read one of the other features in this series.

Previous article:
Sell More Often with This Haven of Time-saving Tactics
CRM Financial Services
Next article:
How to Define a Pipeline Strategy for Financial Services