ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

3 Keys to Increase Customer Acquisition & Deposit Growth

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Fri, Jun 07, 2024

Working with community banks across the country, we understand that now is an important time to have the right people in the right place, asking the right questions, to address the flow of deposits. In this high interest rate environment, consumers are moving excess amounts from checking accounts to higher yielding CDs and alternative products. This presents problems and opportunities for every bank. Client retention as well as new customer acquisition are the focus. In fact, according to BAI Banking Outlook: 2024 Trends, “the No. 1 business challenge for bankers will be growing their deposits. BAI’s forecast for financial services organizations’ deposit growth in the year ahead is negative, with a forecasted 2.4% decline in deposits. “

With today’s current interest rate environment, inflation and intense competition, many banks are struggling with a flat or declining deposit forecast. There has never been a more critical time for setting the strategy, implementing a plan and leading the charge for deposit growth. Here are 3 steps your bank can implement that are working for community banks across the country to drive growth.

  • Set the Strategy: Leadership must be clear as to the best strategies to drive growth and communicate those clearly, train around the strategy and monitor results. Several current growth strategies include focusing your people on deposit rich industries and creating teams of expertise for serving those clients. Small and mid-size businesses are looking for experts and advice in their industry so this is a long-term focus. Another strategy involves the much needed “financial wellness” advantage that banks inherently have but do not often leverage.

    Recent studies indicate that less than 40% of consumers think they are on track to meet financial goals. Your people must be trained on how to navigate from a transactional event to a broader exploratory conversation.

    A third strategy to consider is better utilizing the power of rewards checking programs. Having well trained frontline personnel ready to effectively communicate the benefits to adding additional accounts to receive benefits can be a game changer. In fact, one recent study validated that there is a direct correlation between the success of a rewards-checking program and the level of employee engagement. Setting the strategy is crucial to leading the charge for customer acquisition and driving deposit growth.

  • Implement the Plan: Keeping the plan simple and visible are two keys to its’ success. Implementing a Success Formula by region, branch, and individual like the sample below is one way to clearly establish the goals and gain the engagement from the branch CSR, as they help establish the activity goals. 


The Success Formula helps the individual and the bank understand where the problem areas are, such as not enough outreach or not enough appointments. By monitoring and updating the Success Formula, the branch manager can help coach their people for skill development, which of course is the long-term goal. Implementing a plan to establish goals and monitor success is key to achieving success with client acquisition and deposit growth.

  • Leading the Charge: Often referred to as Shadow of the Leader, one impactful way to lead the charge is to engage and share how you, the leader will contribute to the growth goals. In most markets, bank execs are very connected to the community and have enormous opportunity to connect and drive new business and growth. Leading the charge should also be through holding Huddles with your teams focusing on specific, established burning platform metrics.  Everyone attends the weekly huddle, reports on activity, no excuses. It is a great way to keep the focus on this important initiative and can create a team friendly and competitive environment.

    The most important component in leading is the ability to not accept excuses. When faced with reasons why they cannot perform, consider asking your people this question; “If I did not allow you to use that as an excuse, what would you do differently?” You may well be surprised with what your people can do when they are forced to take responsibility for their activities and goal attainment.


Creating Transformative Branch  Conversations at Your Bank:  Learn More


Topics: Sales Training, motivating sales people, sales training tips, sales tech

Raising the Bar - The Leader’s Responsibility

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, May 31, 2024

“Did I hire my salespeople this way or did I make them this way?” This is the question every sales manager must ask.

Fixing performance problems always starts with Standards and Accountability. Accountability means taking responsibility for outcomes – good or bad. A sales leader’s primary responsibility is to put the BEST team into the marketplace. Much like a general manager in sports, a director of a theatre company or an orchestra leader of a symphony, you have a job and a responsibility to hire and use the best performers.

Raising-the-bar ultimately begins with you taking responsibility for those you are currently managing. What must you do to help generate their best performance?

Step #1 – Take responsibility for your own performance or lack of. Make a commitment to do whatever is necessary to get best performance.

Step #2 – Make your people responsible. Starting immediately, do not accept excuses for lack of performance. Make sure there are consequences for salespeople who show up late or miss meetings. Do not accept excuses about lack of prospecting activity. From now on, when a sales person uses an excuse, respond with: “If I didn’t let you use that as an excuse, what would you do differently?” and “What should you do differently in the future?”

Step #3 – Communicate expectations clearly. Tell your salespeople exactly what you expect. Ask them to repeat what they heard. Ask them to describe how these expectations impact their day, week, month, quarter and year. What will they do, or change, in order to meet these expectations? 

Then ask if they will accept the responsibility of meeting these expectations. They will say “yes.” But ask them if they are “sure.” Again, they will say “yes.” Warn them “It will be hard.”

Next ask them if they are willing to do everything possible to succeed. They will say “yes.” Finally, ask them what you should do if they fail to meet these expectations.

You have now raised the bar on expectations. You must now raise the bar on performance.

Step #4 – Establish ambitious goals and make them known in advance. Often the reason individuals and companies fail to perform is because minimal standards are set and people do only what it takes to meet them. This minimal goal approach sets you and your team up for failure.  Starting today, or as soon as you begin goal setting for your next fiscal year, eliminate minimal acceptable standards of performance and embrace a new and different path, one that includes extraordinary standards of performance.

Learn how to set extraordinary goals – download our ebook below!


Download Free eBook:  The Extraordinary Sales Manager


Topics: Sales Training, motivating sales people, sales training tips, sales tech

Cultivating Business Acumen as a Sales Superpower

Posted by Jack Kasel on Thu, May 23, 2024

Business or sales acumen is the ability to connect with prospects and clients on a deeper level by understanding their unique problems, anticipating their needs, and leveraging knowledge of their business and industry to recommend the best possible solution — regardless of whether or not it results in a closed deal.

The ability to understand a prospect or client’s industry and their market allows a B2B salesperson to understand the big picture. In order to have business acumen, salespeople must understand the forces and factors that impact their industry and it's impact on their clients and potential customers. This knowledge also helps them to differentiate their approach in the sales process. Salespeople with highly developed business acumen are not focused on the sale at hand, but on the broader goal of being a partner and advisor for the long-term.

For those in a producer’s role, whether it’s sales or business development, cultivating business acumen is essential. It allows salespeople the ability to uncover and articulate the challenges faced by the customer or client before they do. This skill involves understanding their problems, the impact of those problems or opportunities, and seeing the world from their perspective.

Business acumen is the key to perceiving the hindrances and challenges impeding their business growth. It’s about comprehending their aspirations to strive and thrive. Every company owner, CEO, or division manager is striving to overcome challenges, bring in new talent, and expand into new markets. Simultaneously, they are thriving by increasing revenue and optimizing costs to enhance the bottom line.

By demonstrating a deeper understanding or business acumen, a salesperson can position themselves as a trusted advisor who comprehends their world. One exercise to test business acumen is to see how long it takes for a salesperson engaged in a conversation with a prospect or customer to introduce their products, services, or company. Are they able to extend the conversation for two minutes, 20 minutes, or even two hours by focusing on the prospect’s needs and challenges before pushing their own solutions?

Developing Business Acumen

In addition to using every industry tool at hand, a well-thought-out pre-call plan can guide a salesperson to organize and articulate the relevant points during the conversation. Instead of entering a sales interaction with the sole aim of making a sale, a salesperson must shift their perspective to building a relationship. They should ask themselves, “How can I establish a meaningful connection with this person?” Developing and exercising their sales superpower – business acumen – is crucial for success in this endeavor.

We partner with Objective Management Group (OMG), the pioneer and industry leader in sales evaluations. According to OMG, these are some of the qualifying competencies that contribute to helping salespeople develop business acumen:

  • Able to Stay in the Moment
  • Self-Limiting Beliefs Won't be an Obstacle
  • Knows Why a Prospect Would Buy
  • Asks about Everything
  • Not Vulnerable to Competition
  • Meet with Decision Maker
  • Uncovers Actual Budget
  • Will Discuss Finances
  • Knows Decision-Making Process
  • Can Influence the Decision-Making Process
  • Handles High-Ticket Pricing
  • Need to Be Liked Doesn't Get in the Way

Salespeople who are successful at developing their business acumen superpower have a frame of reference of continual learning. This includes their desire to fully understand their client’s goals and objectives. In fact, according to Amazon CEO, Andy Jazzy, the second a person thinks they know it all -- or even just enough -- is the second their career generally starts to stall out. Those who continue to grow into greater and greater success, on the other hand, remain hungry for learning. "The biggest difference between the people I started with in the early stage of my career and what they're doing now has to do with how great they were at learning," states Jassy. 

Home Page Banner Sales Tech Webinar-1



Topics: Sales Training, motivating sales people, sales training tips, sales tech

Relationship Selling Begins with Asking the Right Questions

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, May 17, 2024

According to the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer, “Only 59% percent of the 32,000 global respondents to the firm’s 23rd annual trust and credibility survey trust financial services to do what is right, compared to 75% who trust technology and 71% who trust education and food & beverage companies — the top 3 most trusted industries. In the United States, 57% of consumers trust financial services, an increase of 9 percentage points over 2022 findings. 

These numbers show a huge opportunity for financial institutions and fintechs — who bridge the most trusted industry sector to financial services — to build greater trust.”

This is not new news to those who work within the industry. In fact, most organizations and advisors have been working long term to be more customer-focused. The challenge is for advisors to be focused on relationship selling, asking probing, sometimes assertive questions without coming across to customers as sales-driven.

Assertive (not aggressive) salespeople win more business than others. These people care so much about doing the right thing for their clients that they are willing to risk the relationship and the sale to ensure the prospect or customer makes good decisions. Does this describe you and your people?  

What does assertiveness have to do with effort and execution? If done properly, the early relationship building conversations and meetings will help to qualify or eliminate a suspect. If done well, this will streamline a salesperson’s efforts and pipeline, giving them more time and energy to focus on finding and building relationships with better prospects.

During initial conversations, a financial advisor, banker, or insurance agent is gathering information that leads to a next meeting and eventually to a presentation meeting. It is through the intelligence that is gained and utilized in building superior solutions that your presentation meetings will lead to decisions. This is the focus of relationship selling because any proposal or recommendation is built around the specific client’s identified problems, growth challenges, and revenue goals.

In the process of relationship selling, the skill of asking the right questions, the right way, at the right time is critical. In an effective selling system, for a prospect to qualify they must:

  1. Have compelling reasons to buy, to make a change, or do something different
  2. Have the capability and willingness to invest the necessary time, money, and effort
  3. Be willing and able to make the decision to fix the problem and be able and willing to make the money decision

Uncovering all of these issues requires that a salesperson asks many questions and some of these questions require a salesperson to be somewhat assertive. They could consider and use questions such as:

  • How will you go about telling your current broker / banker / relationship that you are no longer going to do business with them?
  • If you don’t have enough money, how will you solve the problem?
  • The budget you have won’t be enough to get you the outcome you want. What part of the solution do you want to eliminate?
  • What will you tell your partner/executive when they say they don’t want to make the change?

Are your salespeople prepared to ask these types of questions? And think about the relationship building aspect of these gutsy questions:

  • Based on our experience, expertise and knowledge about your business, your best action is this:  ______________.  If that doesn’t work for you, we might not be a good match.
  • If I treated my clients the way you’ve been treated (by your current provider), I would expect to be fired.
  • When we finish our presentation, which will include budget-appropriate solutions to all of the problems you’ve identified and answered all your questions, I’ll ask for you to make a decision on whether we’ll do business together or not.
  • Maybe the most important thing for you to consider is “fit”.  If there isn’t a fit between our two companies, then our products and pricing really don’t matter.

Imagine if salespeople were gutsy enough to have these types of conversations. They might fear that they would lose more business. But suppose that wasn’t the case. Suppose by being more assertive, salespeople eliminated the tire-kickers more quickly. Suppose this led to the elimination of think-it-overs and actually helped prospects to trust them and make decisions more quickly.  Imagine if salespeople stopped making presentations to people who could only say “no” and never had the authority or intention of saying “yes”.  What would happen? Salespeople would sell more, more quickly at higher margins.  They would stop wasting time, stop getting delays, and start building relationships built on trust.

Home Page Banner Sales Tech Webinar-1



Topics: Sales Training, motivating sales people, sales training tips, sales tech

3 Barriers to Connecting with Prospects

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Fri, May 10, 2024

In today’s world of banking and insurance, it is increasingly more difficult to get the attention of a prospective buyer after only a few outreach attempts. We are all busier than ever before with multi-media coming from every direction. So, how do you stay consistent (and persistent) in your outreach with a prospect while remaining sensitive to their daily lives and the distractions they face?

It has always been a difficult task for advisors to be able to reach the prospects they call and email each day. They call…and they email…and they keep following up, wondering if anybody will ever do one of two things: 

  1. Answer the phone.
  2. Return a voicemail/reply to an email.

While certainly not a new development in selling, engaging with prospects has become increasingly and dramatically more difficult. If we go back to 2009, it took around 8-10 outreaches on average to engage with a prospect. In today’s world, that number had risen to 16-18 attempts. Keep in mind that these are averages. Sometimes it takes even more attempts to get the prospect to pay attention to you.

Why has the number of outreaches required more than doubled in the last decade? There are three main reasons: 

  1. Distraction: Prospects are busier than ever before and are constantly battling the numerous distractions that come their way. Their mobile device buzzes and they have to look. The email notification on their phone or computer sounds and they can’t resist. Some have estimated that the typical person picks up and puts down their mobile device between more than 100 times each day.
  1. Competition: There is more of it than ever before and it’s fiercer than ever before! In financial services, competition from other financial institutions is only a small portion of the battle. With online companies and non-traditional providers, competition can be, and is, literally any company.
  1. Commodity: Unfortunately, in some industries including banking and insurance, the prospect believes that the vendor calling them and the vendor they currently use are essentially the same. The prospect just doesn’t see any meaningful difference. To them, a bank is a bank. An insurance broker is an insurance broker. A technology provider is a technology provider.

Of these three reasons, #3 is the most concerning (or it should be). And here’s why… If you don’t differentiate yourself from your competition by providing value, your prospect will do the differentiating for you. But they won’t use a measuring stick of value. They will more often than not use a measuring stick of price.

Here is another sobering statistic about the world of modern-day selling. While the average number of needed attempts has increased to at least 18, most salespeople quit after less than 5 attempts. Maybe they think the prospect is being rude by not replying. Maybe they think that, “in the good old days,” people used to return calls. Regardless, the world has changed. Advisors in banking and insurance must be very proficient at breaking through these three barriers, standing out from all the other bankers, and be memorable.

If you or your team need help refining your value proposition, we can help.  Just reach out to one of our Sales Training Experts.

Home Page Banner Sales Tech Webinar-1



Topics: Sales Training, motivating sales people, sales training tips, sales tech


    Subscribe Here

    Most Read

    Follow #ACTG


    About our Blog

    Anthony Cole Training Group has been working with financial firms for close to 30 years helping them become more effective in their markets and closing their sales opportunity gap.  ACTG has mastered the art of using science-based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss our weekly sales management blog insights from our team of expert contributors.


    Recent Blogs