Chief Investment Officer
BirdsEye Viewfinding the best relationship managers - take two
Some months ago I wrote about the main characteristic and background of the most successful Relationship Managers (RMs) in the commercial space. I have explored the subject further with several of our forums, and the synthesized result is below. I believe these characteristics and universal and not bank-specific, analogous to Kevin Durant being successful on most every team.
o Organized, following a “system”, unwavering in the face of success (continuing the process even if they reached targets)
o While being prepared with a “spiel”, staying open to listening and pursuing the client’s or prospect’s thread.
o Enjoying the completion of pre-determined processes, especially when it comes to prospecting, call planning and call debrief.
o Some people find the goal itself motivating, while others get stressed in an unhealthy way when goals are put before them. Viewing goals as a game, something to exceed, is ingrained in some people.
o Winning is fun for everyone, but some people enjoy the competition itself, whether it is against themselves or others. A strong desire to win against whatever goals or people you set for yourself is an excellent motivator.
• Handles adversity and rejection well
o The best sales people fail 2/3rds of the time. Rejection is an integral part of the job. Being able to handle it, possibly even turning it into something to overcome, is important.
o Sincerity is critical to success in building relationships. Truly caring about the company and its customers, being passionate about the product and its value, are important elements to success. Having passion lights a fire that can be seen miles away, and is relevant especially to millennials.
• Sense of urgency
o Procrastination is the enemy of sales. Leads and prospect interest decay very rapidly, so hitting the iron while it’s hot leads to better results. A sense of urgency can be enhanced through managerial tools, but it’s much easier when it is inherent.
o Happy people do better in everything, relationship-building included. Others like to be around them, will make time to see them, and will feel better after the meeting.
• Humble winner
o A strong desire to win is a shared characteristic among most successful people. Some handle victory with less grace and more gloating than is appropriate. Humility is better received by all, especially less successful team members. A strong RM will be willing to share credit with others.
o Management should always make a different in their team’s success by finding the keys to individually motivating and rewarding its team. At the same time, hiring self-starters makes management’s job much easier and, more importantly, the odds of success much higher. Self-motivated individuals will calibrate their activities and time investment to ensure victory, and that’s who you want on your team.
• Inquisitive/curious/enjoys discovery
o Listening is a crucial talent strong RMs need to possess, and so is curiosity. Asking pertinent questions, finding out more, is the best lead to understanding and need identification. Wanting to know more is a personality trait you should look for.
• Problem solver
o A strong RM listens well, takes the time to find out a lot about the customer or prospect, and then enjoys finding creative solutions to the problems shared with them. They are tenacious enough to look for ways to improve the prospect’s business even if there aren’t apparent serious problems. They just like to fix things.
• No excuses
o All of us can cite numerous, valid reasons for why we do not succeed in any random activity or area. Some of us take responsibility for failure to the extreme. When an RM does not look for reasons why things aren’t going well, they will focus on whatever they can do to get the job done. Excuses often generate negative energy. Self-reliance in the face of adversity generates strength and job satisfaction.
• State school
o Academic achievement was important among successful RMs, but not at top schools. These are folks who aren’t academically inclined but aren’t stupid either. They get the necessary credentials and learn in the process, but their strength is in practice, not theory.
• 3.0 average – academically more successful with subjects of interest
• Team experience: sports, glee club, drama society, marching band etc.
o Even the most successful soloists in the world work in teams – from Kevin Durant to prima ballerinas. Experience shows that a background in team activities is helpful for relationship builders.
• Family background – experienced adversity (e.g. farm, military)
o Sales in a tough job. Doors get slammed and phones put down quite often. Handling adversity is important; facing difficulty in childhood strengthens individuals and enhances their ability to handle setbacks.
• People connection is a plus (Rotary, coaching kids’ sports teams)
o Strong RMs have networks of contacts throughout their community. Involvement in the community on many levels builds that network to the point that it becomes a tangible asset, a personal brand the RM carries with them wherever they are.
There are many paths to success. The three identified most frequently are:
o Sincere and true caring does shine through and engages customers and prospects alike.
• Competent (smart, solution provider)
o A disciplined approach to sales, coupled with experience and intelligence to yield effective solutions and be appropriately present to your customers is an effective sales style that yields long-term relationships.
o Some folks are simply charming. They are fun to be with, and they are helpful, even if not brilliant.
There is no easy prescription for hiring your best RMs. There are, however, several paths to success that reflect different personalities, backgrounds and characteristics that you can actively hire for. I personally feel that we often easily recognize the gregarious, passionate personality, but we miss the quiet, methodical yet quite effective relationship builder.
Sales people can indeed be taught, but it is much more productive to find those with a natural talent to invest in and nurture.