Money Moves

Hitting the target

Wendy Shair

Lawrence Lam (centred)
director of sales and secured lending
Raymond Lam (right)
assistant telesales manager
Kaman Chan (left)
telesales representative
Citibank (Hong Kong) Limited
Photo: Dickie Tam

A career on the sell side gives good satisfaction and more

As the finance sector continues to thrive on innovation and novel business ideas, banking institutions and financial houses alike are pulling out all stops in a bid to expand their clientele and boost sales volume through recruiting and retaining talent.

Citibank (Hong Kong) Limited is a case in point. In particular, the banking multinational is stepping up the scope and scale of its telesales service to meet the fast growing demand for sophisticated financial products and services. First off, the bank looks to employee empowerment.

Truly professional

The Citibank telesales team is integrated strategically into one strong team. This arrangement helps not only with quality assurance but more importantly, staff development, says Lawrence Lam, director of sales and secured lending, Citibank (Hong Kong) Limited.

Mr Lam explains that high-performing staff may seek vertical career development to subsequently assume the role of telesales manager, and move on up to the position of sales head. For those who enjoy diversity at work, there is ample chance for horizontal moves into other banking functions like credit card loans, mortgage, banking, insurance or secured lending. "New joiners to the telesales team will find that the job has a great deal more to offer," he adds.

Professional development has to be supported by structured training though, notes Mr Lam. Sales training essentially imparts product knowledge and sales skills, with a keen focus on governance, risk management and compliance, to help the bank's telesales staff to build up their professional repertoire.

Daily coaching plays a key role, Mr Lam believes. "Our managers monitor performance and suggest ways of improvement," he says. "They are also charged with keeping everybody in the team on the same page and up to speed with market news and our latest products and services."

Mr Lam concedes that the bank's telesales services are result-oriented and that staff do not follow the same routine. "Our sales models are tailored for different customers and our messages are very much personalised," he remarks. "We aim to tap the potential of our existing customer base and so our telesales personnel don't have to make cold calls. The kind of products that we offer our customers must suit their financial needs and aspirations."

This approach plus strict sales procedures and compliance requirements ultimately optimise the interaction between customers and staff. "The preparation work that goes into every customer call is impressive," he emphasises.

Dedication pays dividends

People in the telesales business are typically characterised by a superlative level of perseverance which drives them to work towards worthwhile goals in terms of both sales and careers. Mr Lam adds, "People that look to develop a fruitful career in the field should learn to embrace challenge. They should also understand that our above-par product portfolio doesn't only offer our customers value but it also helps to boost their professional pursuits."

Raymond Lam is very much aware of this. Currently an assistant telesales manager, Mr Lam signed on with Citibank in 2005 as a telesales representative.

"Telesales is certainly an extremely challenging profession. It requires a great deal of updated skills and market knowledge," he says. "In our line of work, we recommend the most suitable products and services to customers without face-to-face interaction and this requires expertise, experience as well as insights into customer behaviour," he explains. "There is more to this job than meets the eye."

This aspect of the job also makes it rewarding, aside from a fair, transparent and performance-driven incentive system encourages good performance.

"Good teamwork and morale helps boost productivity and enhance the quality of our service," Mr Lam emphasises.

Kaman Chan agrees. Ms Chan joined the Citibank telesales team only some two years ago. Now in her role as a telesales representative, Ms Chan feels that she is making good career progress. "The banking industry is so competitive that we are motivated and driven by challenge. With that comes great satisfaction," she reveals. "Rejection is commonplace in the industry. The secret to success is not to be discouraged."

More than a sales job

  • Sales models tailored for different customers
  • Performance-driven incentive system a key motivator
  • Teamwork and morale improve productivity
  • Training and daily coaching boost career prospects

Taken from Career Times 26 June 2011, A3

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