Active selling time

Vertriebsaktive Zeit

New thoughts on an old idea with great leverage

The answer to the question “What does a customer advisor actually do?” could be very simple. “Advise customers,” one would think. The actual situation, however, is quite different. “In fact, customer advisors in corporate banking, for example, often spend only about 25 to 30 percent of their working time on preparation, follow-up and the actual customer meeting,” explains Dr. Oliver Lieber. For some considerable time, the Senior Manager at zeb has been investigating what really keeps customer advisors of financial service providers busy. Together with his colleagues, he has now developed a modern cloud service (software as a service) which promises new insights into this key sales topic.

“Measuring the so-called active selling time—or net market time—is not new,” says Dr. Lieber. What’s new is that we  have systematically considered this problem from the customer perspective. Up to now, many institutions have filled out cumbersome Microsoft Excel tables. This involved a relatively large effort for customer advisory services and for analyzing. “Now we have created a simpler and more accessible web interface based on our cloud platform, Digital Services Hub, which minimizes the workload for customer advisors. This significantly increases acceptance.” And not only that: modern business intelligence reporting also makes analyses and benchmarking—i.e. comparisons with others—more convenient, easier and faster.

The front end is no longer Microsoft Excel. It is a web interface which is accessed via a browser. The interface is supported by a database that stores the entries in compliance with data protection regulations while ensuring that they cannot be traced back to individual consultants. An automated interface for visualization via Microsoft Power BI enables extensive analysis. “This proprietary zeb development via our digitalization platform considerably simplifies the often time-consuming manual processes for measuring net market time,” says Sven Krämer, the zeb Partner responsible for the Digital Services Hub. “It is also a perfect example of the customer-oriented digitalization of our own range of services as consultants,” he adds.

Many customer advisors complained that they had too little time for their core task. “In this context, we offer a solution that meets the needs of both the customer advisor and the customer—as well as the bank,” says Dr. Oliver Lieber. It requires a ten-minute effort per day during a survey phase of usually two weeks. Thanks to the strict anonymization, the approach has proved popular with works and staff councils. 

The data collected very quickly reveals the time sinks in each institution and where processes should be improved. The measurements provide transparency and clear evidence. “They help us to make comparisons within the institution according to customer segments and regions. When including other anonymized institutions, we are able to create a meaningful comparison group by selecting total assets and other characteristics,” says Dr. Oliver Lieber. 

A direct comparison highlights areas of potential. “The target in corporate banking is to reserve 50 percent of the time for the customer. If we can help to increase that time from 30 to 45 percent, this is an enormous lever and corresponds to a 50 percent gain in active selling time,” adds Tobias Schnitzler, zeb expert for corporate banking.

In retail banking, it is also immensely important to increase active selling time. “In order to obtain the most informative results possible, we have differentiated and structured the activities to be measured in both corporate and retail banking. We thus offer both business segments an ideal optimization basis,” explains Dr. Ulrich Vornbrock, zeb expert for retail banking.

The final tests are currently in progress. The first surveys with savings and cooperative banks will follow in September. This concept is primarily aimed at regional institutions. “In principle, however, it is scalable to any requirements and also adaptable for international use,” says Dr. Oliver Lieber.