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April 18, 2008 by Gonzo

GonzoBanker of the Month: Luke Mansour, Synovus Financial Corp.

041808-1aThis month, we honor Luke Mansour of Synovus Financial Corporation for his commitment to realizing the Gonzo potential of real-time sales reporting to support growth and contribute to a meaningful sales culture.

Name: Luke Mansour, Sr.

Official Title: Director of Sales, Synovus Financial Corporation ($32 billion), Columbus, Ga.

Gonzo Title: Cultivator of the Real-Time Sales Reports 

Alma Mater: Luke graduated with a degree in marketing and advertising from University of Georgia. “I specialized in marketing research but it was just background for the more complex stuff we do here at Synovus,” Luke said.

Previous Gigs: Prior to Synovus, Luke was part of the family owned and operated Mansour’s Department Store in Georgia. Luke reminisced that upon arriving at Synovus, “I had no banking background but I did know how a sales organization operates.” Luke’s success is proof, in GonzoBanker’s view, of the payback that can come to organizations willing to cross-pollinate with hires outside their industry.

GonzoBanker Claim to Fame
Imagine a sales reporting structure that is more Amazing Race than fingernails on the blackboard. Synovus has achieved exactly that, developing the best sales reporting system the Gonzo team has seen in the real world. As opposed to some naïve concept from corporate, the system supports the bank’s growth strategy and lets the branches and regions manage themselves. “We have a unique environment where we’re challenged to drive a sales strategy through a decentralized structure,” commented Luke. “Our sales reporting system helps us get our hands on the information we need to execute.

Creating a comfortable mesh between sales culture and sales reporting hasn’t been easy, but the effort has yielded rewards. By utilizing a vast data warehouse to create an extensive library of individualized Web-based data sales reports, disparate bank constituencies are able to find meaningful support for their initiatives. Here’s something cool: on the retail side, branch reporting is updated daily to show a full branch balance sheet and other key indicators. Meanwhile, the sales performance report has become a sort of scorecard for the individual bank CEOs. The commercial side has a similar daily sales report tuned to generate energy around Synovus’ emerging commercial strategy.

What’s different about Synovus’ sales reporting environment than other banks? They have invested the time and heartache to really automate things. “We’ve been impressed with how automating reporting has helped keep our attention on our growth initiatives,” said Luke. “With manual sales reporting as the support, most sales cultures are dead on arrival. By automating about 95% of the reporting through the core system and data warehouse, we have a tool that is real time and that the sales team wants to use. People are on these reports daily trying to figure out how they rank.”

Doctor, Doctor
With the eye of a diagnostician, Luke sees sales reporting as a tool to identify problems so they can be fixed more quickly. To Luke, a simple report is a better report. “Four columns versus 30 columns will do just fine,” he maintains. “When reports are too complicated or elaborate, it’s easy to just get lost in the data.”

Luke also stressed the importance of being able to drill down quickly to get to the pertinent information. “For example, one of our team members, Wendy Northington, has just completed a project to make sure reports are cataloged by branch family.” Tremendous credit also goes to Josh Harbin who has turned query building into a fine art. “If we can’t pull a report up in 10 or 15 seconds, we don’t want it. Josh has helped make that an achievable goal,” Luke stated.

A key part of Synovus’ success is to design the reports based upon branch and market manager priorities. “Don’t think you know it all,” warns Luke. “If the field staff wants to see a report a certain way, that’s the way it has to be.”

Lessons Learned: It’s About Data Organization
Luke recommends keeping a notebook by your side at all times, “so that every time you make a mistake, which will be a lot, write it down so you don’t do it twice.” Luke also noted that data organization is the linchpin for sales reporting. Writing a report isn’t necessarily the hard part, according to Luke, adding that “even an old sales hog like me can do it.” It’s about knowing where all the information is and how to get to it quickly. “In retrospect,” he concluded, “I would have spent more time understanding how the data is organized, instead of just rushing to develop a report.”

I’d also like to thank…
Luke was not shy about giving credit to his team and his colleagues for the success of the sales reporting system, from the nitty gritty, down-in-the-trenches database developers, who Luke described as “the real heroes of the piece,” to the individuals who gave crucial, top down support. “We simply wouldn’t have gotten there if Richard [Anthony – CEO] and Fred [Green – President] weren’t totally committed to the project. Luke also gave a shout out to Scott McGlaun, Leila Carr, Jeff Kennedy, Karen Farrell, Irene Leyva-Orr, Wesley Odom, Debbie Jimeson and Kevin Howard – each instrumental to the success of the project 

When he’s not automating sales
Spending time with his wife and three boys is the name of the game for Luke, who says, “They are my hobby.” With two older boys in junior varsity and the younger playing baseball for a traveling team, Luke noted he’s always been a big supporter of youth sports. “But once my kids get to a certain age I don’t coach them anymore.”

You Gotta See This Movie
A fierce Bruce Willis fan, Luke called out “Die Hard” as his favorite movie of all time.

What’s Playing on MP3?
Luke confesses to not having an MP3 player, but country music is what he tunes in to when the radio is on. “Shift Work” by Kenny Chesney is the song du jour.

GonzoBanker thinks Luke and his team have rolled out a best practice example of sales reporting. Cornerstone is proud to donate $250 to The Jack Parker Scholarship, which has been awarding college and vocational institution scholarships to the children of Synovus family team members since 1988.

Article by Diana Ferguson. Thanks, Diana, for your dedication to the GonzoBanker of the Month series!

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