Bank Sales Management – 4 Steps to Boosting Sales of Corporate Finance-Capital Markets

With notable exceptions, commercial bank efforts to boost revenue by selling corporate finance and capital markets products to middle market have not met expectations. This, despite significant investments in investment banking capabilities, product training, and corporate finance training that have kept corporate finance teachers busy for several decades. Why is this? What can sales team leaders and market managers do?

Two Key Factors Reduced the Growth Rates for Capital Markets Capabilities

While the reasons for under-performance vary bank to bank, there are two universal themes. First, marketing strategies. The “service” organization (i.e. the capital markets group) and the field sales force did not mesh. The groups had different objectives and different compensation plans. Many sales people considered the investment bankers arrogant and transactional. The investment bankers considered the relationship managers dim-witted and antiquated. As a result, the two groups could not collaborate to define effective marketing strategies and to exchange the information each group needed to fully take advantage of opportunities.

Second, sales process. Bank sales managers took the view: “RMs are already talking to these companies. They can cross sell or refer opportunities for capital markets.” The sales managers did not see that customers don’t buy capital markets services the same way they buy more traditional bank products. Loans and other bank products have been sold through a “features/benefits/price” conversation. Capital markets products and services must be sold as if they are “professional services,” where ideas and professional competence are the primary value.

What will it take to close the gap? While much progress has been made, the most critical elements are:

1. better definition of market strategy and sales processes,

2. a new approach to training,

3. more focused sales management, and

4. a recognition and compensation philosophy that, at minimum, does not distract sales people from the task.

Better Definition of Market Strategy and Sales Processes

Market strategy, particularly target selection for each capital markets capability, is critical. Specialists and relationship managers must share a common understanding of “what a qualified prospect looks like” for each capital markets product or service. These definitions should be specific, for example: “Manufacturing companies with sales > $50 million who meet criteria for Bbb debt ratings and that are interest rate sensitive.” RMs must know these criteria for each of the opportunities they’re expected to find. These criteria enable RMs to plan their sales efforts and to forecast prospective business effectively. They also reduce the amount of “noise in the system” from opportunities that don’t deserve attention from scarce investment banker resources.

Crisp sales process definitions will help boost the number of opportunities identified and reduce effort expended in sales process. The field sales organizations and product specialists must define (for each product or service):

Sales process steps (from initial conversations through origination to the end of execution) respective roles in the sales process.
Hand-off points (as from RM to specialist and back again).
Information requirements for each service (what information RM or specialist passes to the other).
Service standards for response times to inquiries, lead times for presentations, and other sales support activities.

These definitions provide a framework for RMs and specialists to work together effectively, each knowing what they can expect from the other and when.

New Approach to Training and Sharing Information

To meet client expectations, bank training must prepare RMs for their roles in the sales processes (which differ by product or capability). Depending on the RMs’ roles in opportunity identification and selling, product training and sales training should be modified.

This is not a new problem. For example, in 1998, describing Merrill Lynch’s initial attempts to generate additional mergers and acquisition advisory business, Fortune magazine reported: “[Clients] wanted bankers who came to them steeped in knowledge of their industry and full of creative ideas…That was a problem for Merrill’s M&A bankers, who were generalists… Many bankers simply didn’t know enough about each of the industries to make provocative presentations…” (Fortune Magazine, April 27, 1998, page 138) Data provided by Greenwich Associates and other firms confirm that clients today expect the same from investment bankers and commercial bankers who want to provide the more strategic capital markets and corporate finance services.

Like Merrill, bank leaders now must make specific decisions around how they are organized and how their bankers are prepared to respond to these client expectations of advisors. The same logic applies in small business, middle market, and large corporate banking. Whether you’re offering M&A advice, Treasury Services, mutual funds, or debt financing, product training should be transformed into “customer training” to focus on:

Owner, CEO, or CFO issues and concerns.
The problems that the bank’s capabilities solve.
Questions that will help the RMs assess a customer’s goals and circumstances and draw conclusions about which investment bank capabilities are appropriate and what potential benefit will be created for the customer.
Answers to customer questions, including:
What does this do (explained in terms normal people can understand)?
When does this approach benefit a company like ours?
What are the alternatives?
Who have you done this for?
What will it cost and how long will it take?

Sales training should shift toward a professional services model in which the value comes from the expertise of team members, of which the RM is one. Clients want counsel from people who have been down particular roads before. They are looking for advisors who can take a view or a position about market conditions and other factors. Sales training should prepare RMs to probe these issues deeply and to offer opinions. RMs must be good representatives of the expertise that will later come from the capital markets professionals.

This begins with intimate customer knowledge. Generally speaking, RMs know their customers well at a transactional level – specific needs which the customer has decided to address. Generally, they do not know their customers well at the level needed to identify opportunities or capital market services. Key missing ingredients include:

Customer goals, strategies, policies and market positioning (which provide the context for proactive opportunity identification).
Ideas and strategies that are in “entering discussions” and have not moved to the “take action” stage.
Variables (such as commodity prices) that bring risk into the customer’ business.

The sales training must also teach the RMs to position the capital markets group’s capabilities and begin prescribing sales processes. Often, this will include the ability to describe “success stories” that demonstrate capabilities and market savvy.

Finally, make sure your RMs are receiving and reading information that they will need to discuss in sales calls and conversations over meals:

Capital markets activity (rates, players, deal structures, etc.) and current trends/opportunities.
Up-to-date information about internal processes, players, and methods.

More Focused Sales Management

Sales managers (from line-of-business head to sales team leader) must decide how their teams will “play the game.” Since all product suppliers in the bank are competing for sales force mind-share, the sales managers must set a strategy and priorities for sales force attention. With the basic direction and expectations set, there are several important goals for sales managers:

First Priority: Field Coaching

Get into the field to observe calls and to coach…even though you don’t have time.Sales management coaching disciplines drive sales results. If you want to identify more opportunities for capital markets and corporate finance, you have to increase the amount of time and attention you pay to them through your questions and through your time in the field. This is particularly true if you want RMs to do more than spot opportunities and toss them over the fence. If you want them to question deeply to reach the pain and the payoffs that will sell capital markets and corporate finance, you have to be there with them, and you have to model it.
Help the RMs learn to anticipate customer issues and present ideas by asking questions about customers’ plans and strategies and prompting them to anticipate needs and generate ideas. The main rule here is: You get what you ask about. If you ask about ideas and customer plans, you’ll get more of them. If you ask about loan renewals and administrative matters, that’s what you’ll get.
Use whatever information you have about products, internal processes, and success stories to drill and coach the RMs. To be confident speaking to business owners or senior officers, they have to master the language and the stories. Use sales meetings, time in the car or on the plane, or phone time to ask questions like: “How do you describe our private placement capabilities?”

Second Priority: Planning and Review

Create good sales process descriptions and measures so that you can accurately determine where RMs are working in the sales process. You should be able to say to an RM: “To be successful in your territory with capital markets, you need to identify 50 opportunities, make 30 idea presentations, submit 20 proposals, and close 15 deals with an average fee of $X”. This knowledge comes from tracking and studying RM activities so you know, for your market, what the guidelines are.
Help the RMs prioritize their accounts – which accounts should get the “financial advisor” treatment, which match the profiles of companies that would benefit from particular capital markets and corporate finance services.
Insist on planning – a 1-year territory business plan and account plans for the top 5 – 10 customers and 5 – 10 prospects. The planning will (1) help focus the RM’s time on accounts most likely to be productive and (2) help the RM think through customer’s goals, strategies, policies, and obstacles.
Review progress toward targets through:

Monthly business review meetings with RMs, to review their short term action items and forecasted business.
Quarterly account reviews, to revisit their one-year business plans and all account plans – where are we versus what we’d planned, why, and what do we need to do to close the gap?

A Supportive Recognition and Compensation Plan

The basic test we apply is: “Do no harm.” Relationship manager recognition and compensation plans are typically complex because of the large array of products and services available for sale and the impact on a bank’s balance sheet and income statement. Separate recognition and incentive compensation plans. The recognition plan should kick in for activities that drive sales. The compensation plan should kick in for sales results. Having said that, our “no harm” guidelines include:

Create a system of immediate and visible recognition to be awarded based on high quality completion of activities – capital markets or corporate finance opportunities identified, proposals submitted, and so on. You want to stimulate and recognize the activities that will ultimately lead to the results. Use personal notes, peer recognition in team meetings, circulation of good proposals to team members, and other techniques that call attention to both what was done and how it was done.
Establish incentive compensation plans that reward RMs for generating capital markets or corporate finance revenue. To shift RM attention toward certain capabilities, make some revenue count for more in the plan than other types of revenue. (Example: private placement fees might count for $1.25 per dollar of fee, while loan commitment fees might count for 80 cents per dollar of fee). DO NOT run sales contests based on product sales (numbers of installations or revenue by product). The dynamics of these approaches are completely counter to the “advisory” approach needed to position and sell capital markets and corporate finance services (and other bank products as well).
Establish incentives for retaining accounts. This compensates the RM for the time and risk associated with working accounts that are worth keeping but not, in a given year, big revenue generators.

Compensation and recognition plans must recognize that RMs must invest time to develop their knowledge, competence, and confidence with their customers’ circumstances and with the services they are representing. The plans must recognize the time RMs invest with their customers, learning far more about them than they had to learn when selling ZBA accounts, loans, or corporate trust services. The plans must recognize the risk the RMs take when selling these services; the risks to their compensation and sales production are higher for capital markets and corporate finance capabilities than they are for standard loans and operations-oriented products.

Summary

Sales management coaching drives sales results. To accelerate sales of capital markets and corporate finance products and services toward optimum levels:

Clarify market strategies and sales processes by product, including the specific roles and hand-off points for RMs and specialists.
Increase emphasis on “customer and industry” training. Make sure RMs see a constant flow of market information (about deals, rates, and market activity) that they need when they talk to customers.
Focus sales management attention and recognition on the activities that lead to the results you want (high sales of corporate finance and capital markets products). Field coaching and planning are the highest two priorities.

Nicholas T. Miller, president of Clarity Advantage, helps banks generate more profitable relationships faster with small and medium-sized companies, their owners, and employees. Clarity consulting, communications, sales tools and training help banks recruit and deploy sales team members, choose their best business and consumer prospects and clients, then approach, engage, sell, expand, and retain relationships. Clarity also assists banks with consumer sales and cash management sales. Clarity clients have posted increases in household penetration, cross-sells, deposit volume, and loan volume. Visit Clarity’s website at http://www.clarityadvantage.com where you can subscribe to “The Weekly Sales Thought,” a free eNewsletter and podcast focused on business-to-business selling and sales management.

Corporate Finance Law – Planning Your Exit As a Private Investor

In most cases the greatest financial rewards that private investors see as a result of their investment come not via regular income from the business, but as a lump sum when they end their involvement with the business. The amount of money which is received at this stage can often depend on how well the investor has planned their exit strategy.

Exit strategies
There are a number of exit routes for private investors, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. The most common are:

Public Flotation
Trade Sale
Management Buyout
A management buyout is where key individuals and staff members are offered the option of securing finance to purchase all or part of the interest which is held by the businesses owners or investors. This is often an attractive option when coupled with an agreement that the investor will retain a minority shareholding or will continue to receive income from the business for a number of years because control of the business will pass to people who are familiar with the market and who can maximise the future revenues which the investor will draw.
Maximising sale price of the investment Calculating the value of an investor’s shareholding in a business and the price for which he can sell this stake is more complicated than just working out the value of the business as a whole and then pro-rating this. The price which can be achieved is affected by a variety of factors and it is advisable for a private equity investor to take steps to try and control as many of these factors as possible form the outset of their investment. Major factors which will affect the price an investor can achieve for the disposal of his investment include:
Timing
Information reporting
The more information which a private investor has available about the functioning of a business, its prosperity and projections for the future, the better able he will be to plan his exit to achieve the maximum return on his investment.
Exit by other shareholders
A sale by other shareholders can have the effect of increasing the desirability and value of the investor’s stake in the business, but if all other shareholders sell to a single person creating one shareholder with a super-majority, the investor’s own minority shareholding could be devalued because it’s influence will decrease.

These factors can be achieved through a variety of legal means, such as a shareholders’ agreement, alteration of the businesses constitution, attaching particular rights to shares held by the investor and writing obligations into directors’ service contracts. Because a private equity investor is injecting a substantial amount of much needed capital into the business in which he invests he will be in a strong position to negotiate favourable terms even if he is only obtaining a minority shareholding.

Controlling the factors
There are a number of important rights which the investor should make sure he has when making an investment as these can be invaluable tools in controlling those factors which cause the value and achievable sale price for his investment to fluctuate.

‘Drag-Along’ and ‘Tag-Along’ rights
‘Drag-along’ rights allow the investor to force other shareholders to sell their own stake in the business at the same time as he sells his own. This allows the investor to maximise the sale price as he can guarantee the purchaser a majority stake – effectively selling control of the company even though he does not hold a controlling share himself. ‘Tag-along’ rights enable the investor to prevent his own shareholding from being devalued by a mass sale of shares by other shareholders by forcing those shareholders to require any potential buyer to also purchase the investor’s shares at the same time.
Prohibition and Premption rights
These rights allow the investor to prevent other shareholders from selling their own stake in the business, or alternatively to force other shareholders to offer to sell their stakes to the investor before offering them to outside buyers. Usually the clause which confers this right on the investor will set the method by which the pre-emption sale price is set.

Support For Business Finance – Where Can You Go?

Doug Richards’ recent report on business support in the UK highlighted that there are 3,000 government agencies and most of them simply direct people to other agencies. This can lead to a never ending cycle of being passed from pillar to post and having to explain yourself over and over again. So if you want help with your business finance, where can you go?

Here are the various options open to SMEs in the UK to help you decide the best route for you.

1. Your Bank – the high street banks (RBS, Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds) can certainly give you advice in terms of loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and they can also give you some guidance on developing cashflows and general business advice. Usually the advice is coming from staff who are well trained internally and have seen lots of businesses from the outside but may not have had the direct operational experience of running a business.

2. Your Accountant – accountants come in many guises and it’s important that you understand whether you are dealing with an auditor (responsible for verifying your accounts after the year end), a tax advisor (helping you with Tax and VAT issues) or a firm helping with your bookkeeping, management reporting and accounts. Each of these has different specialist skills and you shouldn’t assume that just because someone helps you with your tax, they’ll also be giving you overall business advice. Equally, you’ll find that many firms from the big four (PWC, Deloitte, KPMG, E&Y) , the mid tier (Grant Thornton, BDO, Baker Tilly) and the fast growing newer firms (Tenon, Vantis, Target) can give you good specific advice on business finance issues. However, make sure that you have agreed this specifically in any engagement letter. Otherwise they might think they’re just keeping your books or auditing your company and you might think they’re advising you on how well your business is performing and highlighting any potential finance issues. The gap between these expectations has caused significant problems for many companies.

3. Your own FD or CFO – If you have your own finance staff then make sure you make the best use of them. It’s easy to dismiss the finance team as being too much in the detail and always taking a negative view but they are often highly experienced and well trained professionals who have a very good insight into your business. Listen to what they have to say and don’t just disregard their views because you prefer to hear all the good news that your sales director is telling you. A good FD or CFO will often have experience from other companies that they can bring to bear in your business.

4. Part Time FD Companies – These have been rapidly growing in popularity for SMEs and can provide an excellent source of support and advice. They provide someone in your business on a part time basis who can guide you from their knowledge and experience in a way that’s particularly relevant to your business. When you can’t afford your own full time FD or CFO these companies (FD Solutions, Secantor, Marshall Keen, FDUK, MyFD) can all provide the support and guidance you require for your business finance in a manner that can be very beneficial for your business. Having an FD or CFO in your business, even on a part time basis can give your company a real boost and can give you a trusted advisor to turn to for advice on your company finances.

5. Government Agencies – As the Richards Review highlighted it can easily end up feeling like you’re chasing your tail when you deal with these agencies and sometimes the time and effort you put in can feel wasted when you don’t get anywhere. Business Link, which provides somewhat of a hub, has a variable reputation depending on your local region. Some of the Enterprise Hubs are more supportive and operations like Finance South East have built a good reputation for clear and relevant advice.

6. Corporate Finance Firms – There are many companies competing in the market to help you raise money for your company. These are businesses in their own right who are seeking to make a profit but that shouldn’t put you off. It means they are incentivised to help you succeed. Generally these firms do charge an upfront fee but most of them earn more of their fees from a back-end success component (a percentage of whatever is raised). Charges will range from £2k to £15k upfront and success fees are generally in the region of 5%, although they can go up to 20%. Beware of companies that either offer the service for free (on the basis that you generally get what you pay for) or that charge a very high upfront fee. There are also some who appear to guarantee an investment providing you pay for Due Diligence (DD). You end up paying £40k in advance and they find something in DD that prevents them investing (which they never really intended to do anyway). Make sure you understand any agreement before you enter into it.

7. Your Friends and Family – In reality, this is where many people go for initial advice. Now unless your friends and family happen to fall into any of the previous 6 categories, it’s likely that their advice may be somewhat questionable. If they’ve had actual experience of the same issues and they’ve resolved it then by all means listen to them. However, you should always think about the source of your advice. Where has their knowledge and experience come from?

The key lessons here are to consider where the information is coming from, whether that information is based on real world experience and training and how relevant it is to your particular business.

Careers In Finance

Nature Of Work of Finance Professionals

A career in finance involves a whole range of functions, such as determining the impact of decisions that are made in nearly all functional areas on the financial front. This includes administering portfolios and formulating personal financial plans for investors, supervising banking operations, evaluating and suggesting company’s capital budgets and strengthening bank relationships.

Professionals engaged in the finance industry deal with how individuals and institutions handle their financial resources, the methods they use to raise money, its allocation, and how they use it. They also assess the risks these activities involve, and recommend various ways of managing them.

Occupations in Finance

The finance sector has a wide range of occupations to choose from. You can become a portfolio or credit manager, security analyst, opt for the insurance sector, or become a corporate financial officer, financial consultant or lending officer. Below are some of the additional roles that you can pursue:

– Bank Manager

– Financial Analyst

– Accountant And Auditor

– Appraiser and Assessor of Real Estate

– Budget Analyst

– Claim Adjuster

– Examiner

– Investigator

– Cost Estimator

– Tax Examiner

– Revenue Agent

Job Opportunities in Finance

The job opportunities in the financial sector are equally vast and varied, a few of which are given here. All of them offer a highly rewarding and satisfying career.

Commercial Banking – The commercial banking sector employs a greater number of finance professionals than any other area of the financial services industry. Jobs in the banking industry have a direct client interface with people from all sections of the society, which offers opportunities for clientele development. The starting point would be as tellers, after which people shift to other areas of banking services like credit card banking, trade credit, leasing and international finance.

Corporate Finance – This would involve employment in a corporation, generally as a finance officer. The main job responsibilities would entail securing financial resources for developing the business of the company. The money can be utilized to make acquisitions to expand the company and secure its future.

Financial Planning Consultancy – You may set up a financial planning consultancy of your own or seek employment in an existing one. This work involves helping individuals in planning their finances for their children’s education, or their retirement needs. It requires answering questions and educating clients about risk factors, to help them to invest their money wisely. Being employed in a corporate setting is also an option, with a job profile related to future financial planning. It would require a firm understanding of investments, estate and tax planning.

Investment Banking – Investment banking pertains to helping investors in buying, trading and managing financial assets. This field offers opportunities to work in world-renowned investment banks like Salomon Smith Barney, Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch.

Insurance – The insurance industry has achieved revenues of over trillion dollars. It is one field that has tremendous scope of absorbing finance professionals. The work is mainly about managing risks and identifying problem areas. According to estimates, it employed nearly two and a half million people in the U.S. in the year 2005. One could work as an underwriter, customer service representative, actuary or an asset manager, in this sector.

Financing Solutions – What is a Merchant Banking Operation?

In today’s diverse and unpredictable economy, the need for a sustained profit plan and long term growth strategy has become essential for both individuals and corporations. Merchant banking principally involves providing financial services and advice for individuals and corporations. Merchant banking operations consists of providing clients with a variety of financing options to sustain long term growth.

Merchant banks tend to have operations in a variety of countries throughout the world allowing them to offer an extensive network distribution to help their clients explore opportunities with alternative finance options.

In banking, a merchant bank is a financial institution that primarily invests its own capital in a client’s company. Merchant banks provide fee based corporate advisory services for mergers and acquisitions, as well as other financial services. Merchant banking operations focus on commercial international finance, stock underwriting, and long-term company loans. These banks work with financial institutions with their primary function being stock underwriting. They also work in the area of private equity where the securities of a company are not available for public trading.

The most common private equity investment strategies include venture capital, leveraged buyouts, distressed investments, growth capital, and mezzanine capital. Leveraged buyout generally means that they acquire majority control over existing or mature corporations. Growth capital and venture gains means they invest in newer or rising corporations without acquiring majority control.

Today, merchant banks are involved in a number of tasks such as credit syndication, portfolio management, mergers and acquisitions counseling, and acceptance of credit, etc. Their investments include private equity, structured equity, and bridge debt. They generally invest in private or public companies to finance growth, acquisitions, and management/leveraged buyouts and recapitalizations. In some cases, they provide an invested company with short-term financing for a particular project, or provide short-term liquidity.

Merchant Banking operations can focus on a particular country or they can expand their operations in other countries. They can assist sustainable companies undergoing a financial restructuring requiring short-term liquidity. These banks provide their partners with financial analysis, capital structuring and strong industry relationships. They provide the corporate lending, leveraged finance, and investment banking and industry expertise. Merchant Banking operations provide all types of domestic and foreign banking transactions, corporate finance services, product knowledge, and management services.

Global merchant banking operations provide individual and corporate investors with the opportunity to participate globally for access to international investment opportunities, providing global companies access to a particular market, and opportunities for co-investment.

When searching to partner with a Merchant Banking Service Company in order to enhance your business operations, you should find a well established, full-service merchant financial services company. You want a large, credible firm that can demonstrate a good track record. Ask the merchant banks how long they have been in business and who some of their customers are, particularly from your market, so they can demonstrate their experience and understanding of your needs.

Merchant banking operations provide the support, knowledge, and resources to effectively assist clients and corporations with improving, expanding, and sustaining their business and business investments