The SaaS CX Show

Episode 019: Changing the Sales Process with Neil Stanley

April 08, 2020 Frank Bria Season 1 Episode 19
The SaaS CX Show
Episode 019: Changing the Sales Process with Neil Stanley
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The SaaS CX Show
Episode 019: Changing the Sales Process with Neil Stanley
Apr 08, 2020 Season 1 Episode 19
Frank Bria

Neil Stanley talks with us about how today the average banking consumer is much savvier than in decades past. Rather than relying on a teller or manager to know everything, customers can do the research themselves before walking into a branch.

Show Notes Transcript

Neil Stanley talks with us about how today the average banking consumer is much savvier than in decades past. Rather than relying on a teller or manager to know everything, customers can do the research themselves before walking into a branch.

Frank Bria:   0:00
The SaaS CX Show, Episode 19

Announcer:   0:04
From Founders and CEOs to founders and CEOs. It's the SaaS CX Show. You've found the one-stop-shop for all things CX. Each interview is an in-depth analysis of a successful growing SaaS company building a world-class customer experience for their users. And now for your host, serial SaaS entrepreneur, founder, consultant and adviser, Frank Bria.

Frank Bria:   0:31
Everyone, welcome to the SaaS CX Show by SaaS founders and CEOs for SaaS founders and CEOs. I'm your host, Frank Bria, and today's episode we're gonna talk about the data informed sales process. But first, the SaaS CX Show is brought to you by the SaaS CX group, the number one reason for ideal customer churn, not getting value from your software. Find out how to fix that by downloading our SaaS churn checklist. We cover the seven things you need to have in place to ensure your ideal customers stay, use and love your software. Decrease churn by 10 to 25% in just 3 to 6 months. Find out more on the show's homepage, saascx.show that's saascx.show, and now I'm absolutely pleased to be introducing today's guest, Neil Stanley. Neil is the founder and CEO of The Core Point with over 25 years as a bank executive with multiple banking organizations. Neil founded The Core Point in 2010 with a mission of revitalizing pricing strategies for retail deposits. The company provides clients across the country with enhanced ways of attracting and retaining properly priced retail deposits. Neil, welcome to the show.

Neil Stanley:   1:41
Thank you, Frank. Glad to be here.

Frank Bria:   1:43
Our pleasure. Thanks for taking the time. So let's get started by describing a little bit for those people who aren't familiar with the pricing process for deposits. What you do, what the problem is that you're solving.

Neil Stanley:   1:56
All right. Well, I started banking a long time ago. When I started, it was obvious to me that there were some relatively arbitrary decisions that were made, and the bankers would justify it by, Well, you know, if this doesn't work out, we can kind of tweak it as we go. Well, I thought, who am I to say that that's wrong? Let's just figure out how that works, Frank. So we watched for a while, and what was happening was that when it came time to set the pricing. You know, they set a price and they would see what the market response was. But what was so lacking was the engagement at the front line. Front line would just throw out a rate sheet, it'd have a rate on it for a specific term, and basically they used that as the sales document. But they had no conversation about the substance of that other than can I get you a cup of coffee? And how are those grandkids doing? When we were in last, you talked about them. So it really became an order-taking posture that I saw in the industry, and I thought to myself, Well, are there ways that we can improve on that? So that's really where this system was birthed, was in the idea of moving beyond the order taking posture.

Frank Bria:   3:08
Yeah, I think those people who are not familiar with the banking industry would be shocked by how little sort of analytics or and I won't say, thinking there's a lot of thinking going on, but a lot of process. There's not a lot of process involved in pricing deposits. You go in, you look at that interest rate on your checking account or on your CD, and you know, I've joked. And I know I'm overstating here, but I've joked that it's like they've got a dartboard in the back sometimes and they're throwing a dart at it. But it's fascinating that you are looking at the price as not the commodity in the sales process, but as a piece of the conversation that's missing. Talk a little bit about that component because everyone's been in the bank, I think, and done the whole, like, how are the grandkids conversation around the relationship. But when it comes time to actually sit down and put money, significant money, in a deposit vehicle, I don't think a lot of people are used to having a conversation about whether the rate on that deposit vehicle is gonna actually help them and what the options are.

Neil Stanley:   4:14
Yes, great point. So we started to realize years ago, decades ago that the value was in how many dollars this was going to amount to at maturity. If I'm going to set aside some money in savings, I kind of want to know how is that gonna accumulate? And so it's pretty simple math. It's not something you need, you know, vast computer systems to do. What's it gonna be worth in the future? And you'll notice Frank, that any time you look at the digital offerings of online banks, they always show what that's gonna be worth in the future. But just most community financial institutions never had gotten to that point, they just stayed with their rate sheet. So it's really a matter of being able to present through a professional. Yes, we understand digital has some computing power, but how can you arm that professional who has historically been an order taker to be ready, willing and able to present value in terms that the consumer can say, Now that makes sense. So one thing I'll just jump to, it's not just about calculating the value, it's about associating with the alternatives. So if I'm a 70 year old who's got my life savings that I want to manage it, I'm coming to a particular financial institution or calling them and saying, What's your rate on CDs? It's great that you can tell me how many dollars my account's gonna be worth, but wouldn't it be great when I asked the question about maybe I should shop around if the offering then started to expand, like Progressive insurance is known for, well, let me show you what the offers of our competitors look like. And you can see right here with us how we stack up. Very simple, very transparent.

Frank Bria:   5:58
Yeah, people really like that about the Progressive pricing thing. You know, they're looking at those different prices, and it's interesting. You know, no one really does a lot of digging into what's behind that? What the assumptions is it really like? But just having the information just makes them feel better about because again, a lot of people don't really understand where the price fits in the grand scheme of things. I mean, you walk into the grocery store, you kind of know if milk's a little expensive or not. But you know, things that are intangible that don't have a set cost to them, at least that we can see as consumers, it's kind of out there, why'd the bank pick that price? So to have some comparison to competitors is really fascinating. How are you finding the conversation's changing for your clients on the front line? Does this require a different skill set of a person on the front line, or are people able to step up to it?

Neil Stanley:   6:57
Yes, great question, because in the industry that we've seen, over the years we've gone from people being able to process transactions, I need to make it a deposit and I want you to give me some cash, to really engaging with curiosity what your financial needs are. So the processor mentality is one that, hey, we just want you to be exact on the penny. You know, we want to be able to make change, to we've got lots of tools in our tool kit. We need to find what's best for you. So that takes a combination of curiosity, competency, and confidence in that engagement. Those are the three C's we look for. The old mentality of I'm a bank teller, and all I want to do is make sure my drawer balances, doesn't work in this environment.

Frank Bria:   7:46
Yeah, it's interesting. I was having a conversation with the CEO of a software company that does a lot of context center work and one of the things he notices is that as consumers are becoming more sophisticated as a lot of self-service options are available, the front line is actually being tasked with much more challenging questions than they were before. You know it, sort of the idea we used to think, Oh, well, you know, in this day and age, the interactions between people actually is becoming less complicated because people are doing more on their own. But actually it seems to be going exactly the opposite. Those human interactions are now the center point for more complex conversations. You know, it's a more in-depth conversation than it was before.

Neil Stanley:   8:31
That's a great point because the self-serve environment of digital causes people to have a competency level, in general, that's higher than it used to be. They come in knowing more about their options. So if you're gonna add value as a financial professional, you've gotta know more than the counterparty sitting there and that is becoming harder and harder to do.

Frank Bria:   8:51
And you've got to be a better value add because if all you are is a human conversation piece that has a laminated rate sheet, I could have looked that up online, what do I need you for you know? This is a very expensive building to be replacing what could be a mobile app. As your clients start to put this in place, what's the change management process like for them? Is that something that you're involved in? How do you go and train all these tellers in basically a new sales process?

Neil Stanley:   9:23
What a great question. So coming at this from the perspective of a bank CEO having worked my way from trainee up to bank CEO, starting software as a service business, I learned very quickly that what I was doing had to be different enough that it was making an impact that they didn't think they could make on their own. But it had to be similar enough that they could conceptualize it very, very easily because if I was doing something that they just couldn't grasp, even though they thought was really cool, they'd say, ah this isn't for us. So you have to be complicated enough that they need you, but simple enough that they immediately bond with what you're trying to do. So the change management process we typically spend a lot of our time pointing out the fact that this is a turn-key solution, that they have to invest very little of their energy either at the front line or at the management level to implement. Because if they see the barriers, for example, I knew going into this that we didn't want to create an API because the API concept of trying to get data out of their data center and put it in our data center was going to create a tremendous amount of due diligence. And so not that it wouldn't be nice and great to have, but the value proposition for our sales platform, we didn't need that. We didn't have to have that and we could get so much yardage without doing that data integration. So it's always amazing to me, Frank, that I come in, I meet with somebody and I can see the operations person saying I'm gonna kill this. This is an idea that's going nowhere because we don't have time in our schedule to do another data project, right? And as soon as they find out that Oh, you guys are valuable, you're critical to our process because we need you to make sure our URL is not blocked. Well, okay, we got that. And that's all you need? Yep, that's all we need. We need you to make sure we're not blocked, and that opens it up.

Frank Bria:   11:27
That's interesting. Well, I think it's more than just that you don't need the API integration. I think the API integration might erode your value proposition because one of the things that I've seen a lot of, especially in the banking system piece where it is front line where there's a lot of customer experience pieces in there, you know, if it's just an API and you gotta hook into an existing system. The customer experience is now left to the IT department inside the bank, and they're not the customer experience people, I'm sorry they're just not and I've seen a lot of mistakes happen. I've seen a lot of, you know, we don't really want to do that. So we're gonna skip that step and the customer experience gets eroded in some of that software. So the fact that you can own and keep that customer experience and sales process the way you designed it, I think it's probably a strength.  

Neil Stanley:   12:21
Yes.  

Frank Bria:   12:22
Yeah, It's probably also a function of the banks you work with because, you know, an API hook for a lot of those folks is expensive, and they don't want to do it either. So it's like win-win. So I'm gonna ask you to split the baby here, Neil. Is the value proposition of your software more the data that you're providing or is it more the revised experience that you're providing? You have to pick one.

Neil Stanley:   12:48
I have to pick? Okay. You knew where I was headed with it, I didn't want to pick, but I would say it's more the process than it is the data. The data is vital to the process because you have to arm it with information that's valuable, but it's really breaking it down into a sequential sales process. So, you know, one of the things that we've used several paradigms to think about, what we do. One of them is Bloomberg. We never posted anywhere the folks of Bloomberg might be a little bit, you know, proprietary about their world, but basically we built Bloomberg for retail bankers. Think about how a Bloomberg Terminal works. You're getting all this information about securities, so that data is important. But more importantly, I think, is that the concept of Uber. Every banker now, every bank executive knows what an Uber is and compares it to a city bus and a taxi. And they see how simple and easy Uber has made getting around. It's transparent, you know exactly what it's gonna cost, you don't have to waste time making payments, and we have basically taken an Uberized things that the bank does. For example, you know, for anybody who's not in banking, this is gonna seem really strange. But if you're a banker, you think that the only CDs you can offer are six months, 12 months, 60 months and 24 months, those even monthly terms. Yet most people would go well, why can't you just give me a CD that matures when I want it, like on my birthday or tax day in 2022 right? Why couldn't we do that? And if you ask a banker about that, they'll go, we've never done that before. Yeah, I understand that but it's not rocket science. And so some of the things we do are just to take them out of that paradigm that they've grown comfortable with. And so system-wise, it's not that hard, but they need the confidence that their disclosures will be okay, that their systems will be okay, that we're not going to break something from a regulatory standpoint, they need somebody holding their hands so that learning curve is very short so that they are up to speed and going without anyone being critical of them. So I would say that's the most valuable thing we do because when I first started Frank, I had worked at an organization that would glean ideas and we would do it ourselves. We would build things ourselves, and so I thought everybody would do that. And then when I got out into this realm I thought Oh, I need to protect our ideas. I need an NDA with everybody we show any of our tools to and people would say, Oh, that's such an interesting thought. But that's not reality, because you can show them all of your stuff. You can spill it right in front of them, and they're gonna look at and go, yeah, we've never done that before. And that's their conclusion. So with our service, Frank, what we do is we bring that sense of complete confidence that we've got this network of bankers who have explored this, they already know how this terrain is worked and walked, and we can do it for you. And that's really what our software's service ends up being is this series of processes and products and training that fit together in a turn-key package?

Frank Bria:   16:12
Yeah, I love that you, I kind of figured you were gonna pick that one, so I'm glad. I'm glad you landed on the process side, but it's true, the data is kind of the barrier to entry I think for a lot of this stuff. And this dynamic, I think, flows through so many of data-centric or data-powered applications these days. But people think it's all about the data, but we have more data than we can use. We generate more data than we could possibly leverage. I don't care how many AI modules and how many machine learning algorithms you put out there, the true transformation is in how that data is presented and how it creates a different experience for people. That's really the power of the data. So I mean, you know, let's just be clear to everyone who's listening. You got great data in there. It's some great tools and some great data, but you're leveraging it for a revised process.

Neil Stanley:   17:11
Yeah, well, great point. You know, we're in this week we had this surprise Fed Rate cut. Now that's going to impact all of my clients. So I cannot say that data is irrelevant because I've spent a whole bunch of time gathering the most recent data and then presenting it to our clients to help them make decisions about how to set that pricing, and I could have done all the philosophizing I wanted, but without knowing where the competitive posture is, where the competitive offerings are, it just kind of sounds like Well, you know, you're kind of back to that dartboard again. Where with the data, now, with confidence, we can say, Okay, here's how we apply strategy to the existing landscape, and that data is essential. But, it's also essential that we have the philosophies, the theories that have been time-tested so that we can present with confidence the offerings.

Frank Bria:   18:02
Yeah, well, I think what we called in math necessary, but not sufficient. I wanna fast forward a couple of years here, Neil, and get your perspective. You know, you and I both know because we've been in this space for a while that people have declared banks dead for probably the last 10 years. They're still around. The small ones are still around. You know, there's a lot of people who said the small ones would be all gobbled up by now. That's not true. So what is, you know, five years now, 3 to 5 years from now, with all the digital transformation, that's going on, what do you think the branch, the banking experience, the sales experience looks like in the future?

Neil Stanley:   18:37
Yeah, I think you're going to see this dichotomy between branch experience and digital experience. I think you're gonna see something evolved that looks like you're getting the best of both at all times. I really believe as we're working today and in so many ways with video, I think you're going to see more and more of the ability for someone to contact their banker to get that nonverbal communication from their banker. Now, whether or not the consumers all expose their camera when they're doing this, I think it'll be maybe a one-way street where Hey, I want to see and talk to my banker and I expect him or her to have video, but I don't necessarily want to expose my video, which is when you go to a branch, you're obviously there in person. When you're digital you kind of on your own a little self-serve. This kind of gets the combination. I do believe that we'll continue to shrink. We've shrunk about 200 banks a year. I think we're gonna stay on that pace for a while, but I think there's going to be an innovative group of financial institutions who are going to have a place in our society, not just the big banks, but the big banks obviously have a head start in many ways on technology. There's a lot of financial institutions who the leadership can't keep up because they are stuck in that mode of we've never done it before. It's the ones who are saying, Hey, we don't plan to be Bank of America, we don't plan to be Chase, but we're going to be our best version of ourselves and people will care about that, right?

Frank Bria:   20:18
Yeah. I mean, there's definitely room for that. You know, I call the top four banks in the United States IT companies not banks anyway. There's such an IT infrastructure there that they're a lot more tech company now than anything else. It's fascinating.

Neil Stanley:   20:38
Yeah, what we can't do is be the local grocery store that everyone loves, but nobody shops at because they're going to Costco to actually buy stuff.  

Frank Bria:   20:44
That's right.  

Neil Stanley:   20:45
That's what we can't do. We have to be engaged in value proposition that people say now that's what I'm looking for.

Frank Bria:   20:54
Right and there's some work to do there. I think the community bank, the smaller community banks and the regionals probably have some work to do in branding. You know, every bank I've been to and asked them, so what's your unique value proposition? And it's always service, we're service. It's like, well you and everybody else, you know? So there will have to be, I think, some experience shifting, and probably some. There will probably be some banks that say, Hey, actually, we're gonna be the best bank for this type of customer, but not this type of customer, which right now a lot of them don't want to do because, you know, you don't want to scare anybody off, but I think that kind of selective marketing is gonna have to come into play.

Neil Stanley:   21:39
It might be interesting to your audience too that the banking industry is doing very well. Now, we're not every quarter higher in terms of earnings than we were the previous quarter, but this is a very healthy time for the bank industry earnings. Even though interest rates are going down as we speak. But it's healthy and that means also healthy in loan demand. So earnings and loan demand is strong, so what that does is it produces energy. It's a question of where will that energy be directed. What will they do with that energy?

Frank Bria:   22:14
Right, absolutely. Lots of fun stuff to talk about banking, you know, you and I can talk about this for hours, we have in the past. Neil, thanks so much for being with us today. I really appreciate it. One last question for you before I let you go, people wanna check out what The Core Point's up to, where is a great place for them to go?

Neil Stanley:   23:47
Yes, we have a website. It's thecorepoint.com. Where there are lots of things. The most notable thing that people, though, like to go to, is under our resources there are articles and publications. It talks a lot about the things we do most of the time in terms of banker reference. Obviously a little less on the software as a service side. But you get a sense of how we're engaging. We've never bought out advertising. In the 10 years we've been doing this, we've never paid advertising. The way we've gotten our name out there is to do presentations, to do publications, and I spent a lot of time sending out stuff out on LinkedIn, as you know.

Frank Bria:   23:47
Obviously. Well, no, I was gonna say Neil sends me every interest rate movement article. If you want to find out what's going on to the interest rate market in the United States, follow Neil on LinkedIn. He will tell you. Neil, thanks so much. I really appreciate your time today. It's been a pleasure to talk to you.

Neil Stanley:   23:47
My pleasure.

Frank Bria:   23:47
And thanks so much for being with us on the SaaS CX Show. I've been your host, Frank Bria. Just a quick reminder, if you want to reduce customer churn by 10 to 25% in the next 3 to 6 months, check out our SaaS churn checklist. It covers the seven things need to have in place to ensure your ideal customers stay, use and love your software. Download it now at saascx.show. That's saascx.show. We'll see you next time. Make it happen.