|Looking for sales in all the right places (October 2008)|
Three years ago, First Citizens Bank and Trust set its branch sales goals by blending art with science with the use of the Perform system by Pitney Bowes MapInfo.
The $7 billion assets bank, based in Columbia, S.C., is an orthodox, consumer-focused bank with a solid base of small business customers that operate in the region. Heading into its current budgeting process, managers who used to be skeptical that a mere application could come up with the “right answers” are fine with it—even inclined to make fewer manual adjustments to annual sales goals.
Today, decisions are based on a statistical analysis of a given trade area in addition to employee knowledge of the market’s potential. Branch environments, micro markets, and customer data are evaluated and used to group branches into peer segments for comparison of performance. Baseline performance expectations are established along with the ability to rationally assign goals based on profitability, attainment cost, and risk of failing.
“The technology has really helped us look at the trade areas within a geographic region and see what targets are feasible for a branch,” says Kate Stackhouse, senior vice-president and director of sales integration.
“The application essentially allows us to compare our branches with those in trade areas having similar characteristics,” she explains. This shows the bank whether a given branch is underperforming or on target, “instead of relying on intuition and memory of past performance.”
Stackhouse notes that the budget development process used to be laborious, manual, and somewhat inconsistent from branch to branch. But senior management wanted branch buy-in and didn’t want to force the issue. “We didn’t do a hard sell of the technology in the first year, because we didn’t want everyone to feel that they were being forced to use a system they didn’t believe in,” says Stackhouse. “By giving the staff time to get used to it, and seeing how the information was derived, they got a better sense of the technology.”
Better planning; accurate figures
As a result, the bank is “doing a better job of activity planning at the branch level,” says Stackhouse. “Staff aren’t, for instance, wasting time with a lot of solicitation if data shows that the market is saturated.” The software helps in strategic assessments of products that are doing well versus products that aren’t gaining traction. “Some branch teams have done a good job with household growth [e.g.,number of accounts per household], others have done well with a particular type of product,” she says. “Gaining visibility into where branches need improvement helps us refine sales training and telemarketing scripting.”
The bank, which this June announced its intention to merge with Community Bancshares, Inc., has sought growth in the metropolitan markets of Augusta, Ga., Charleston, and Columbia, S.C., among others, in addition to maintaining a presence in heritage markets. Stackhouse says the bank is blessed with a loyal customer base. Now, better marketing technology will help the bank know them better and leverage the information they have.
In addition to Perform, the bank is working with an internally developed customer database to determine which existing customers haven’t received outbound telemarketing calls and have a gap in their product holdings. If customers haven’t been in touch with the bank for a while, they may be at risk for attrition.
Such proactive outreach is beginning to show results, notes Stackhouse. If a trade area is performing well and progress with customers look good, it’s time to attract new ones. BJ
The electronic version of this article available at: http://lb.ec2.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/sb/ababj1008/index.php?startid=56
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