White Papers

Team Management in CRM
Abstract By Ed Ventura
Posted Jan. 10, 2010

As you look around the landscape of financial services you’ll notice that the team concept has been firmly embraced. Asset management wholesalers, both internal and external, are oftentimes working in teams. Retail advisors and their associates who provide services to individual investors are seen as team members; and the buzzwords of the times: collaboration, cooperation, communication and unification, also infer teams/teamwork.
Simply placing multiple individuals into an organizational unit does not constitute a team. A focus on common goals, combined with the motivation to support and supplement one another is necessary to establish a viable team. Essentially, only a group of individuals with the same sense of business purpose who are savvy enough to know their individual strengths and weaknesses can forge the partnerships needed to become a team.
The purpose of this paper is to discuss varied organizational perspectives of teams and to lend some observations and recommendations into the vehicles, both automated and manual, that can best support a group of individuals who come together as a team.
To begin, let’s take a look at the varied factors that contribute to forming a team. In many circumstances the genesis of a team concept within a company is driven by the theory that the whole will exceed the sum of its parts. There is a perception that when a group of individuals is assigned to work together they will have complementary strengths that will offset the weakness of any one individual. It’s as if the organizational gurus of the enterprise pair the yin and yang of their organizations to create the utopian environment of high returns with minimal resources; sort of a mandated yin/yang.
In other cases, teams are formed when individuals from a peer group form a relationship to compensate for their own shortcomings or to maximize their particular strengths. Perhaps one is proficient at cold calling, garnering numerous contacts, but is poor at closing a deal. Another may be wonderful at closing a deal with a known audience, but is fearful of “dialing for dollars.” Their relationship may simply be forged in the coffee room or recognized by an administrative person who supports both of the people. This is the yin/yang of happenstance.
Finally, there is the case where groups of individuals set out to create a team. They are like architects who set out to build a home. This group generally has the tools to design the building, build the house and furnish it; all within a neighborhood known to attract a buyer. Whatever skills they may not have, they go forth and find a subcontractor who will complete the project. They are generally aware of their assets as well as their liabilities and know what they need. This is what we’ll call planned yin/yang (with apologies to Far Eastern philosophers).
Creation of a team requires a multitude of considerations with regard to how the team is managed and how its success is both measured and reported. Considering the goal of a team is increased productivity leading to improved revenue, benchmarks must be understood at the point of team inception.
For a team new to the organization, the benchmark will be the goals established by the team. This will include all dimensions of reporting such as number of contacts, specific activities, revenue and sales objectives. The team will have the luxury of allocating those attributes among the team as they see fit; taking into consideration the roles each team member has defined. The hosting company is generally concerned with the overall performance of the team and doesn’t focus on individual performance within the team; that is left up to the team to allocate among themselves.
For teams that are comprised of existing individuals, monitoring and reporting is more challenging, particularly if a set of individual goals needs to be merged with those of other team members. In certain circumstances, the company for which the team works, tracks the activity of both the teams and the individuals within the teams. The challenge comes from allocating the appropriate activity to the individual team members. This is exacerbated when life-to-date values are tracked. The team must perform the allocation of revenues to reflect the contribution of the specific members, even if their specialty is not making or closing the deal but is in providing administrative, management and/or operational support.
The overall management of a team should be directly correlated to the organizational agreements within the teams. If the organization requires a management overhead, that must be clearly delineated, including the guidelines for management and the consequences of breaking any of the agreements. Also, the sales “credit” must be allocated by looking at the terms and conditions of the agreement. In any event, the roles, responsibilities, and full terms of the relationships among the team members must be spelled out. This will also require notifying the sponsoring organization or company. If there is any conflict between the teams concept of the team with the sponsoring organization, they should be worked out ahead of time. This will minimize the long-term issues that tend to arise when the relationships are not formalized and/or are defined on an ad hoc basis.
In certain circumstances geography plays a role in forming teams. This may be in the form of either consolidation or expansion of territories. The redistribution of accounts within a revised geography may require teams to redistribute their expertise to best support the cultural aspects of the new territory. This will often require a reexamination of the strengths and weaknesses of each team member. For example, if someone has the ability to speak a second language that dominates a portion of the revised territory, they may be assigned a new role to leverage that ability. All of this must be taken into consideration when reporting the success of the team as well as the activity that takes place by the team.
Finally, the goal of a team is to facilitate the segmentation of the assigned client base and to work it in the most efficient manner. If the team segregates its clients within designated ranges, they can assign the appropriate resources to new clients, profitability delineations, client conservations, etc. Assigning resources to focus on the various tiers of the hierarchy will generally lead to increased revenues and reduced expenses; with a natural by-product of saving time.
The keys to developing a team reside in bring together individuals with complementary skill sets and in fully documenting the roles and responsibilities of all, both within the team and with regard to the sponsoring company. Monitoring and reporting on activity to reflect the success and losses of the team is also vital to identify where the team must adjust behavior and roles to maximize their efforts.