On the “2nd Talent Assessment and Development Conference 2014”, in Sales Team Optimisation session, we had Mr. Kalidas Ghose—Deputy CEO cum Head of Retail Banking at VPBank—talked about salesforce building, using his own case study from the salesforce of VPBank.
Starting out by introducing VP Bank, a 21-year-old and famous bank in Vietnam, Kalidas shared the vision of VP Bank, which is to focus intensively on individual customers and build a strong foundation in terms of products, distribution, human resources, technology, process and risk management. Undertaking this aggressive growth strategy, along with the large transformation of the bank, VP Bank’s implementation of their plan mainly depends on their huge sales team.
Taking a glimpse at the salesforce build out at VP Bank: Currently they have 207 branches, over 3,100 POS sites, over 8,200 salespeople and hundreds of sales managers across 60 provinces in Vietnam. As for the salesforce, VP Bank recruited roughly 6,500 to 8,200 salespeople within two quarters only and is expecting to see a figure close to 12,000 including personal bankers, mobile bankers, telesales agents, direct sales agents and POS-based agents by the end of 2014. These numbers show how large and specialised VP Bank’s salesforce is despite serving nationwide only. Carefully trained with knowledge about the job, along with good soft skills and traits, VP Bank’s salesforce brought 40% more customers to the company in the first half of 2014, and is expected to achieve 80% annual growth by the end of the year.
So the question is: How did they do this despite the talent-acquisition challenges facing Vietnam?
Competitive pressures and increasing inflation have added to challenges on the talent management front. A look at Vietnam’s talent cycle shows that talent retention poses a critical problem for a large majority of the respondent organisations (88%). Three out of four organisations reported that they face a challenge with talent attraction, and over 60% face a problem with talent identification. Facing the same exact issues, VP Bank identified the four main challenges to be addressed:
A nascent industry: A lack of qualified resources, skills, management skills and training programmes for both the young, fresh workforce and supervisors requires a strategy to modify the recruitment criteria and the development and recruitment of talent, as well as how they are motivated.
War over talent: On average, external recruitment found 19% of salesforce members, while 70% of them came from competitors. This often results from a high attrition rate in the banking sector, in which over 15% of new hires leave within the first year and less than 50% of new hires fill newly created roles.
Retention/motivation: There’s high competition between key players over remuneration schemes, and diversified, non-commercial benefits.
Performance management: For rapid built-out, it’s important to set standards and maintain productivity.
As Kalidas said: “Recruitment is important but training and performance management are core focuses.” VP Bank has created a full salesforce building model to recruit and maintain talent, starting from the profiling step, in which social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, online recruiting websites and offline channels, such as schools, forums and even competitors, are used to assess talent. After that, the screening takes place, in which VP Bank applies many approaches to fully examine candidates, like phone interviews, self-introduction, group exercises and face-to-face interviews, to ensure that the candidate matches the job requirements. After being recruited, new hires are placed through a monthly process of training and performance management to continually improve work efficiency.
The training programme of VP Bank prepares employees for every stage of their sales career path, from new recruit to senior collaborator, personal banker, team leader and department head. Each stage of promotion requires an intensive training course to prepare them with all the knowledge and information needed for the new position. Along with the chance to get trained and promoted, VP Bank’s salesforce also receives many different types of benefits, from common ones like recognition, team building and contests, to sales club membership and meetings with department heads.
In the end, the performance of each and every individual salesperson is evaluated through dashboards and analytics. With careful monitoring and performance measurement, each salesperson can be identified and observed in terms of his own strengths and weaknesses so that he can be coached and trained appropriately. This close collaboration between the business unit and recruitment, between the business unit and the sales efficiency and strategy centre, as well as the link with the business intelligence centre, helps maintain the relationship with the best talent while allowing diversified sourcing, matching appropriate interview approaches with candidates, and creating a two-way, integrated training programme with feedback; hence VP Bank’s salesforce can be fully optimised to improve sales.
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