5 Sales Lessons Financial Institutions Learned during the Pandemic — and What to Do Next

By Jane Kang

Financial institutions have weathered downturns before, but they’ve never had to overhaul their entire way of working — overnight. The hurried pivot to a remote workforce threw business and sales processes into disarray, accelerating the need to invest in new digital technologies.

But where is the industry now? How do financial organizations turn challenges into opportunities that will drive future growth?

Here are five lessons learned from the pandemic so far, and strategies financial institutions can implement to create competitive advantage moving forward. COVID-19 brought these opportunities to light, but they are growth drivers that will outlast the pandemic and define success in the new normal.

1. It’s time to eliminate organizational silos and bridge the gap

The move to a remote workforce has made any disconnects between functional areas of the business far more pronounced. How can you connect and support teams when they aren’t located together?

Success moving forward will depend on creating seamless visibility and real-time collaboration across your front office and middle office teams.

By breaking down silos and removing internal friction between front office distribution teams and their middle office counterparts across product, marketing, legal, risk management, portfolio management, and more, you’ll set the business up to win more retail opportunities and institutional mandates.

With shared, 360-degree CRM visibility across the organization, teams can all work together to simplify and speed up the RFP management process — in real time and in context of a single source of truth. It will also help sales teams streamline referral management and handoffs, collaborating seamlessly with other groups to drive cross-sells and upsells to capture maximum wallet share.

2. Managers need new ways to support employees

Faced with limited access to face-to-face interactions, financial organizations must rethink how managers can continue to empower and engage their newly remote sales teams.

Implement collaborative tools to help drive alignment and accountability around tasks, priorities, action items, and fast-changing client initiatives. With the right tools and processes in place, managers can not only track and discuss pipeline, deals, and performance together with their reps in the context of CRM, but also provide personalized feedback and 1:1 coaching around that live data in real time.

When you enable managers with these kinds of innovative tools to support their sales teams, everyone benefits. They’ll nurture your employees to grow and learn, arm them with new ways to build stronger relationships, and drive employee and client retention.

3. The most successful client relationships are built on empathy

The economic fallout from the pandemic is causing clients to feel anxious about their financial well-being. To address their concerns and rapidly shifting needs, front-line sales professionals need to show up with both confidence and empathy to guide their clients through this crisis. Bankers and advisors must support anxious clients addressing investments, accounts, and loans that impact their overall financial plans, while asset managers must expect to help clients as they seek to shift their assets and re-shuffle their portfolios.

In order to provide empathetic support, you need to first understand your client. And that understanding is rooted in a 360-degree view of the account and relationship history. Focus on building data-driven account strategies that capture critical information about everything from your clients’ goals, family and life events, and risk profiles, to real-time CRM data around their financial accounts, financial holdings, and product penetration.

Using applications that leverage analytical output to customize client engagement results in a 36% increase in sales. When armed with real-time client data and insights into the client relationship, front-line employees are able to predict and preempt potential account risks, and better deliver customized guidance and timely support that clients expect — and need — more than ever.

Think of it as leveraging data-driven account strategies to deliver data-driven empathy — both of which help you build trust, foster stronger relationships, drive client and asset retention, and ultimately, grow the business.

4. Process efficiencies are necessary to offset margin pressures

As with any economic downturn, financial organizations are grappling with the effects of fee and margin compression. At the same time, lenders and advisors are overwhelmed by the large uptick in volume produced by increased delinquencies, regulatory relief programs, expanded remediation and forbearance programs, and more. They simply don’t have enough bandwidth to keep up.

Firms must streamline processes and become more efficient in order to remain relevant in the future. According to McKinsey & Company, 10%–30% of asset management firms saw lower costs due to increased process automation and administrative efficiency.

But how should you go about doing this?

  • Start by consolidating your business-critical applications within a single source of truth to help reduce costs and increase productivity.
  • Next, leverage customizable templates inside CRM to streamline onboarding for advisors and reps stepping in to perform new internal functions.
  • Finally, look for ways to build standard best practices directly into your teams’ existing workflows and automate low-value, repeatable tasks wherever you can.

Investing in these areas will help free up advisors and reps from time-consuming manual activities like data entry, so they can spend more meaningful time supporting their clients, producers, and investors around high-value issues.

5. Client engagement will never look the same

When we can’t meet face-to-face, we need new ways to strengthen relationships, and that means reimagining client engagement. While back-to-work plans vary by financial institution, one thing remains constant: Digital engagement is critical if you want to retain your clients and grow your portfolio.

It’s important to engage in a highly personalized and accessible way in order to manage retention. Given the right tools, advisors can proactively reach out to clients on a 1:1 basis and seamlessly collaborate with them in real-time around their most complex needs. Empower your advisors to provide personalized financial prudence, timely re-financing support, and contextual advice to help support clients during anxious economic uncertainty.

When corporate banking institutions digitize their relationship models, they have the potential to increase revenue by up to 25%, decrease costs by up to 15%, and improve return on capital by up to 10%. Moving forward, leading organizations will adapt how they interact with clients through new, mobile channels so they can connect and build trust from anywhere.

Improve engagement and sell from anywhere

Financial service institutions can implement all of these strategies with Quip and Salesforce. Built into the Salesforce platform, Quip embeds real-time, collaborative documents inside Salesforce records so both front-office and middle-office teams can get on the same page with seamless, 360-degree visibility of every account, no matter where they’re working.

With Quip, key process documents like account plans and close plans are driven by real-time client data, so sales reps can focus on understanding client needs and deepening relationships. And, by empowering teams to transform sales processes, Quip helps keep data and processes inside Salesforce, establishing a single source of truth.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, companies of all sizes and industries are using Quip to stay connected in real time and accelerate decision-making, all in an effort to meet short-term goals and set the stage for longer-term recovery and growth. To learn more about how Quip can help in the financial service sector, watch these short videos for commercial banking and wealth management organizations.