We had an insightful conversation with RBC Insurance's Tanya Jeffers-McAllister back when she led the Sales Practice Effectiveness team at the organization.

Read below to discover:

  • How she encourages cross-functional collaboration in her role
  • The best strategies for getting leadership buy-in
  • Why a disciplined approach to change management can help communication

And more!

Q: How is the team at RBC Insurance is structured?

My team is called sales practice effectiveness. Our role is to look at our risk and quality of the business, in terms of our sales and the products that we sell. We enable our leaders and our advisors to be mindful of these things, as they're talking to clients and looking for the right client.

So, I have a team where we support all of our sales channels, and all our product lines. Our products are life, health and wealth products.

My team's responsibility is to enable leaders and advisors to have really good risk quality results. Whenever you're working with a sales team, we also have to partner with other teams.

It's also about how you're going to get 500 people to do the right thing.

Who do I need help from? it's really about a team wrapping their arms around that salesperson. You’ve got to think about building awareness. You have to have a really great communication plan and how we communicate is so important.

We want the same message to go to all of our salespeople.

Q: How do you collaborate with other teams in the business?

You've got to have a really solid communication plan. It's also about working with our communication partners to make sure that the plan that they build is going to really get to our advisors. And they've got to do what's right for the client.

It's also about working with our marketing teams and our business development teams to say, “Okay, we want to expand our market and growth. We need to make sure that our sales people do this in the right way.”

So, what is your strategy for business development? And how can we ensure that the quality of sale that's coming through is also where we want to be in terms of our strategy? So it's about working with partners like that.

It's also working with partners who are specific to sales coaching, because they're working with the advisors to make sure that they know how to sell. It's working with them to make sure that we're in line with that as well.

And then, of course, It's building the awareness and getting the buy-in of not only the sales leaders who are leading those teams, but also the sales advisor.

It's a big foray!

We also need to work with our reporting partners, because they produce the reports that help enable us to get underneath where the areas of concern are, or where there are areas of opportunity.

I like to look at it as if we're one piece of the wheel, with the salesperson in the center

You have all these people that are there to support. And on top of that, you've got to have great negotiation skills, because everybody has their own key priority, right? You have to have great negotiation skills, and you have to be able to talk a lot about impact and influence.

How do you work with partners to do what's best and move things forward? It’s an interesting sequence of events when you have all these people with all these types of personalities working together.

Generally, people in sales have outgoing personalities. They're hunters, and they're focused on the sale. And then you've got people that are in risk and quality, like people on my team are like, “Whoa, hold on a second!  You need to do this. This is the system. There's no gray area!”

How do you bring all these teams together? How do you work with sales leaders to make sure that they're able to deliver the message down to their people as well? It's an interesting world. But that's how I like to look at it.

We’ve got all these people surrounding a sales advisor to make sure that they're empowered to do the right thing.

Q: Do you have any strategies for working with sales leaders to help get buy-in from them?

The truth is, not everybody can be in sales. You usually have people that are charismatic, and  they actually care about people. They bring some sort of dynamic energy to things.

Sales leaders have different styles, but they have to be very demonstrative, because they have to lead a team.

It's really about finding common ground. When you put the client first, when you put the employees first, you can’t go far wrong. There's a give and take, and sales leaders understand that. They're there to drive the results.

But there are also things that we need support in. We need to work together with our partners to get to where we need to be. It's all about the client. It's about the results. And it's about the people.

Q: How do you structure communication between departments?

We take a very disciplined approach in terms of our change management. We even take sort of a project management approach where we've got what you call the lead who’s putting the plan together to bring all the players to the table.

So, you need to bring in your marketing partners, your communication partners, and your business development partners. When we deal with another company, we need to bring in those partners to internal meetings, working with our sales leaders and those that are affected and just building up that group.

It's a very disciplined approach where you will have your weekly touch points to make sure how we are tracking our deliverables, because anything that you want to implement, you always have to have a timeline.

So, you work your way backwards. You have somebody that's driving that. And then you can have different work streams that are working on the communication plan  and on the marketing plan. How does that connect with business development?

That's about working on the people, and the change management around the people. What are we trying to drive, and how is that going to affect them? What's in it for them? Once they recognize what's in it for them, that's how you build that momentum. You also have to get leadership support and keep the leaders engaged.

Then you also also want to make sure that you have what we call change champions.

These are people within the group that are trying to affect the changes that are already ahead of the curve. You shared certain information, you've made them a part of the process, and they're part of this means to give feedback.

You have to ask, does this make sense from a sales perspective? Would a salesperson understand if we were to communicate and say things this way? It's really about building that team and taking that project management approach.

Q: How does a Work From Home environment affect this?

Most of our employees are working from home. That also changes the dynamic. It’s completely different when you’ve got a group of people in a room together.

You've got different personalities and people with competing priorities, and you're able to talk and have that back and forth.

When you're online, everybody wants to talk, and then somebody wants to interrupt, somebody's not on mute, and you can hear a dog barking. It’s just the way of the world now, right?

So, how do you keep people focused? Previously, in a meeting, it was hard to look at your phone or take notes or multitask.

I'm not gonna lie, I've been guilty of being on my phone during a meeting. People will be there typing notes, or answering emails, and it’s hard for them to stay focused.

How do you keep everybody focused and engaged?

It puts more pressure on you to make sure that all the players at the table have a voice. And I think it's harder in this environment, because you're over the phone, or you're on a Zoom call. I think that has changed the dynamics. You really have to be disciplined and make sure that you've got your agenda.

It's got to be clear what the objective of that meeting is. You send out your agenda or your  reading materials beforehand to give people an opportunity. It's really about establishing what  we want to deal with.

You need to ask questions like, how's this going to work? Can you give us feedback? What do we need to change? Are we tracking where we need to be?

I think it’s really about having an agenda and making sure that your meeting has purpose, and that everybody that you want to hear from has a voice.

It can be difficult to lead a meeting of negotiation over the phone, and with a camera.

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