The Sales Manager’s Strategy to Building a Successful Financial Services Team
The financial service industry can be a lucrative career choice for top-performing salespeople. This broad industry includes jobs in banking and mortgage services, life insurance, long-term care insurance, retirement income and investments.
When trying to build a high-performance financial services sales team though, many hiring managers face a dilemma. Managing sales can be difficult. That’s because their sales reps are often asked to play two roles—to be a top-notch salesperson, capable of finding and developing new clients and new business, but also a competent financial consultant, able to speak intelligently to financial services during the selling process and after with both the client and the team at large.
But when looking to hire financial service salespeople, you have a choice.
- Should you search for people with financial acumen and then try to train them to sell?
- Or should you try to find people with high sales aptitude and train them relative to financial services?
Our strong recommendation: start with sales aptitude and train from there.
Qualities of a Successful Financial Services Salesperson
There are a handful of qualities that determine sales aptitude. Relationship building is one important skill in the financial services industry. Insurance agents who can turn prospects into clients take the time to build a rapport with those clients and in doing so create the trust that serves as the basis of a long-term business relationship. Mortgage brokers who consistently look out for their clients’ best interests have a better chance of getting referrals and repeat business.
One of the biggest predictors of sales aptitude though, is Drive. Research has shown that high-performance salespeople share three characteristics: Need for Achievement, Competitiveness and Optimism. Collectively known as Drive, these innate personality traits cannot be taught—you either have them or you do not by the time you are a young adult.
1. Need for Achievement
Need for Achievement is an internal motivation to set high goals and, once those are met, set new goals even higher. People who are high in need for achievement push themselves much harder, and farther, than their peers who simply do not have that same level of ambition.
Financial services candidates who have a high need for achievement are motivated to continue going after new sales and driven to meet, and even exceed, their long-term goals.
Great salespeople are also highly competitive. An outstanding financial sales consultant will definitely be keeping an eye on the production leaderboard. They will also love to “compete” with prospects, trying to convert them to clients. To this individual, sales is a beautiful and exciting test of wills. For a highly competitive salesperson, persuading someone to sign on is just about as good as it gets.
Successful salespeople are inevitably optimists. This is important because rejection is a big part of selling and it actually drives a lot of people out of the sales profession. But not the financial sales superstars. They are wired differently. A highly optimistic individual simply does not take rejection personally. They possess a positive attitude and can quickly bounce back from a “no” because they know that their next call or meeting is sure to be a huge success.
All three of these non–teachable traits must be in place before someone is likely to become an outstanding financial services salesperson. During the screening process, look for a candidate who possesses these traits these and build from there.
How to Identify Top Financial Service Talent
In the financial services industry, core sales aptitude is a must, but you also want to hire an individual who can learn financial principles and speak intelligently about them in prospect and client meetings. It is important to remember that this is something that can be taught, while sales aptitude simply cannot be.
So, how do I hire high potential financial sales consultants?
We recommend using the following three steps to first identify high-potential candidates, and then turn to the teachable skill set.
Resume & Application Reviews
It is nearly impossible to tell simply from a resume or application which candidates have the potential to be a successful banker or mortgage broker. A great candidate could have a poor resume, or someone with a great resume and lots of experience may not have that inner Drive to succeed over the long haul. Before moving any candidates further through the sales hiring funnel, administer a sales assessment test to filter out the low potential candidates right off the bat.
Administer a Sales Assessment Test
Data and technology are now allowing personality test developers to target and identify key characteristics with an even higher degree of accuracy. Certain assessments target certain traits. We recommend The DriveTest®, a sales aptitude test that overweighs the three characteristics of Drive. The beauty of a well-conducted sales assessment is that it will save you time and money by weeding out the pretenders to ensure you are interviewing only high-potential candidates.
The Behavioral Interview
Once you have a pool of high-potential candidates, you are ready to move on to the behavioral interview. The best predictor of future behavior is previous behavior. So, during the interview, ask the candidate to provide consistent examples of times they have engaged in behavior reflecting Drive, and other important traits, such as confidence, persuasiveness and relationship skills.
By following this process, you are much more likely to hire a financial services salesperson who has high aptitude, and paired with the proper training, this individual will perform well for you year after year.
After you have hired a new insurance salesperson or mortgage broker that you know has the sales acumen to be successful, it is time to train them. There are a variety of ways to employ sales training:
1. Financial Services-Specific Training
One strategy for training your new salesperson is to offer a sales training seminar specific to your industry and organization. By offering this seminar, you are enabling your new hire to learn the relevant jargon and technical expertise they will need to sell services and communicate with the team. Paired with your sales rep’s core aptitude, this training will set them up for success within your industry.
2. Create a Mentoring Program
A mentor program can be beneficial for both new hires early in their careers as well as veteran salespeople. A new hire can learn many strategies and company-specific tactics for executing a sale with your prospects, while a veteran may learn a new approach for handling a common situation from your new hire’s fresh perceptive. A mentor program is a helpful way for your new salesperson to pick up on shorthand and selling techniques and quickly learn the ropes within your organization.
3. Practice Sales Situations
Role playing hypothetical sales situations can be very effective for teaching specific techniques, like starting a conversation, handling objections or closing the sale. This can provide early insight into a new hire’s skill set and areas in need of improvement. The opportunity to build basic skills before dealing with prospects and clients directly is especially important for salespeople who are early in their careers.
Finding a high-aptitude salesperson is a process that requires patience, but taking the time to select an individual high in Drive will pay off in the long run. If you know how to identify the elusive traits that great salespeople share and provide new hires with the necessary training, you can stack your financial services sales team with stars.
Start the process today by requesting a free DriveTest® assessment.