Wells Fargo Treasury Management offers services that help organizations control payables, receivables, reporting, and manage liquidity.
As leader of a treasury management sales team at Wells Fargo, Jeff Tinker’s team engages a range of buyers across the health care industry (think large insurance providers and hospitals) and the government sector (from states and municipalities to large universities and not-for-profits). He said that from the outside, you might think buyers that fall into these categories would have the same “look and feel” as their peers. They might share a common geography, for instance, and a seller not in the know might assume that two nearby hospitals or insurance providers always have matching needs and always face the same set of challenges. It’s a nice idea. It just happens to be a wrong one.
“No two buyers are the same,” Tinker said. “You might think two healthcare providers in California would have the same needs, and therefore we could treat them the same in terms of our approach and what we propose. But one of the hard realities is that’s not the case.”
Those institutions are likely staffed differently, Tinker added. They could use different systems, and they could be at dramatically different stages in their lifecycle. For that reason, he said, “You can’t just press repeat.”
“That in itself is a big challenge—to not just do the same thing from a selling and messaging standpoint because the buyers look the same,” he said. “You can speak to the big themes around efficiency, or you can talk about risk management, but it can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach.”
A secondary challenge around differentiation: Consultants in Wells Fargo’s treasury management divisions used to rely heavily on information-laden PowerPoint decks, the core of which focused more on Wells Fargo, and less on the range of challenges their clients were up against.
The fact that consultants on Wells Fargo’s treasury management teams can’t just rinse and repeat from buyer to buyer is a definite challenge. But it also has some upside, in the sense that if they can’t simply reprise the same story for a different buyer, their competition likely can’t either. This dynamic creates a tremendous opportunity to create differentiation where it matters most—the customer conversation. And that’s where Create Value Skills comes in.
The training techniques and concepts behind Create Value Skills remain foundational to the way consultants across Wells Fargo’s treasury management teams differentiate their story in the market.
“[Create Value Skills] was where the relationship started, and that was such a fundamental shift for us as a treasury management organization,” Tinker said. “It has evolved in such a way that really anybody who is either new to our sales organization or new to a sales role has got to have [Create Value Skills training]. It’s a critical part of the foundation for our sales team members.”
In fact, Tinker said 98 percent of the treasury management sales team has been trained in Create Value Skills. If you haven’t had the training, he said, it’s because you’re brand new.
“The concept of using a whiteboard and a pen is foundational to how we approach our clients,” he noted.
When Wells Fargo first started rolling Create Value Skills out to its salespeople, there was some organizational resistance to the idea of whiteboarding their point of view message to prospects, Tinker said. Previously, the consultants had relied on PowerPoint decks, and some of the skeptics questioned how impactful the new approach would be with customers. But when consultants began trying the techniques out in the field and seeing what kind of response customers were having to them, the pushback softened, and eventually disappeared altogether.
Tinker’s summarized the shift in mindset with a culinary analogy.
“When you go to a restaurant, you can order guacamole and they can bring a bowl to the table. Or they can roll the cart out, cut all the ingredients up, and mix it in front of you. Which one is more appetizing?”
He added: “That PowerPoint deck could’ve been a copy and paste job. The beauty of the pen and flip chart is that the story is created for you. It’s built for you and customized. Just like that guacamole”
The customer response was really the clincher in terms of making Create Value techniques the training backbone of the treasury management team’s sales approach, Tinker said. In his years as a sales leader at Wells Fargo, one of the most important comments he heard was from the CFO of a client organization, who said “we’ve never had a bank come and talk to us like this.” In another memorable deal, a client told them they “framed up the problem better than we could have, and you helped us look at it differently than we were before.”
When Tinker probed further to see what triggered the enthusiasm from customers, he found that it wasn’t so much the words or the tone of the customer conversations—it was the approach underpinning them.
Looking back, Tinker said it’s interesting to look at Wells Fargo’s treasury management approach and consider the time when they initially decided to engage with Corporate Visions. One interesting wrinkle about the partnership is that when it started, Tinker’s team and his peer sales organizations weren’t underperforming—far from it.
“We were a successful sales organization—we were doing well,” Tinker said. “It wasn’t the sort of thing where we were going, ‘Oh boy, we’re hitting 80 percent of our goal, there’s a real issue here and we’ve got to change something.’ I think that piece is really important.”
He added: “It wasn’t that we had to fix something. It’s that we could be even better. One of the real key things that Corporate Visions helped us do is build something really good and make us even better.”
Shunning complacency and not being “content with good,” Tinker said, is a defining piece of the partnership Wells Fargo has shared with Corporate Visions. And, in true [Create Value] spirit, it’s a personal story they can share with their own clients, who may also be succeeding currently, but still have the potential to do more and achieve performance breakthroughs.
“Things don’t have to be bad in order for you to change,” Tinker said. “That’s one of the core things we think about.”
For Wells Fargo’s treasury management team, the big, overarching result of building Create Value Skills training into its culture is that it prepared its reps to talk to their buyers differently from the competition.
“I still run into old PowerPoint decks focused on communicating our value to the client, but this approach is so much more intuitive,” Tinker said. “The only wish I have is that we’d done it sooner.”
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