You have six months to meet your goals for 2015. What do you need to do?
That's one of the questions that forces Bank Relationship Managers to think. Unfortunately, thinking consumes both time and energy so most of us tend to avoid it. (One of the things a teacher of mine used to say was that "Most people would rather die than think--and most do.")
So if you had to think about your sales prowess--as if your professional future really depended on it--what should you focus on? Here's a quick checklist for starters:
1. How is your performance year to date? How do you stack up vs. your peers? How are you doing in retaining and expanding relationships with your key and high potential customers? What does your pipeline look like now and 3 or 6 months down the road? Are you making progress with your key prospects? Where do you see the biggest opportunities for growth? What are the major challenges you face?
2. What do you need to work on to improve your results? Be honest. Is it better product knowledge? A more focused prospecting approach? Quality time to prepare for upcoming calls? A better working relationship with your administrative assistant? A consistent follow-up plan to stay top of mind with your COIs and prospects?
3. Who can help you get to the next level? The obvious answer is your sales manager, but think about where you might find other allies. Are there customers who could refer you to other businesses? Do you need to do a better job of networking internally with product partners in cash management or private banking or capital markets? Can the Executive Director of that trade association of manufacturers become a referral source?
4. What's your plan? Get specific. Write it down. Make sure that you get feedback from your personal board of advisors (e.g. your spouse, your boss, any of your good friends or coworkers who want you to succeed, etc.)
For most of us this is not a 20 minute exercise. But if you've only got 20 minutes to start the process today, do it. Your results in 2015 (and in 2016) may well hinge on it.
Here are some prospecting resources from MZ Bierly Consulting.
1. How to Build a Business Network eBook
2. Recorded and Live Webinars
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- You’re not delegating enough of the gruntwork.
- You’re not clear who you’re going after (translation: Your prospect list isn’t something you really own.)
- You can’t differentiate yourself from your competition—you’re another boring banker.
- You lack product knowledge in key areas outside your specialty.
- You’re a mass generalist not an expert specialist – you try to be all things to all people. (Zig Ziglar said it best: “You cannot make it as a wandering generality. You must become a meaningful specific.”)
- You don’t develop alliances with others in your network, both inside and outside your organization.
- You’re not connecting with prospects on their most relevant and important strategic issues. (Question: Do you know what their 5 year strategy is for their business?)
- You don’t have a defined sales process and find yourself winging it more often than not.
- You’re still waiting for the phone to ring in the age of social selling.
- You’re relying too much on one approach (networking events, CPA referrals, , etc.).
- You underestimate the amount of time it will take to grow your book of business successfully. Prospecting is a long term proposition.
What do you think? What can bankers do to improve their success in prospecting? Please share your advice, insights, and experiences in the COMMENTS section below.
Looking for more tools to help you with prospecting? Check out the following resources:
How to Qualify Prospects Quickly
Leveraging Your Network in Prospecting
Keys to an Effective First Call on a Prospect
Go to http://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com for a complete list of our recorded webinars on prospecting.
Free Webinar: Alternative Lending and Banks with Charles Wendel
Alternative lending companies continue to focus on the business banking space. Increasingly, banks are evaluating how to cooperate with these players since they offer streamlined processes and enhanced risk management, both of which can turn small business lending into a profitable opportunity for banks.
This webinar will summarize the current state of alternative lending, the different lending approaches, the major players and how they work with banks as well as developing trends. It will also discuss the key criteria that banks need to consider when they evaluate whether and how to work with these new lenders.
Date: Friday, August 14, 2015
Time: 11:00 am, Eastern Daylight Time (New York, GMT-04:00)
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Many senior bank executives question whether their sales leaders have what it takes to get the job done. Some banks are redoubling their efforts to train and coach their first-line sales leaders on how to develop their commercial and small business teams. Others are actively recruiting management talent. The smart ones are doing both.
If you’re a sales leader, here are 10 mistakes you don’t want to make:
- Managing everybody the same way.
- Administering your bank’s sales process rather than leading it.
- Thinking that you can be successful from behind your desk.
- Forgetting about coaching the top of the sales funnel while helping your Relationship Managers close business.
- Failing to provide ongoing refresher training to your teams.
- Letting average-performers develop their own prospect list.
- Not strategizing with people about their top customers and prospects.
- Assuming that because you’re always available for quick informal coaching, you don’t need to schedule 1 on 1 coaching sessions.
- Not coordinating with your line of business partners to keep conversations moving forward on non-credit products and services (e.g. Treasury Management, Trust and Investments, Capital Markets, etc.)
- Not maintaining contact with bankers whom you would like to hire, even if they’re happy where they are.
What do you think? What can banks do to improve the performance of sales leaders? Please share your advice, insights, and experiences in the COMMENTS area below...
Free Webinar: Alternative Lending and Banks with Charles Wendel Alternative lending companies continue to focus on the business banking space. Increasingly, banks are evaluating how to cooperate with these players since they offer streamlined processes and enhanced risk management, both of which can turn small business lending into a profitable opportunity for banks. This webinar will summarize the current state of alternative lending, the different lending approaches, the major players and how they work with banks as well as developing trends. It will also discuss the key criteria that banks need to consider when they evaluate whether and how to work with these new lenders.
Date: Friday, August 14, 2015
Time: 11:00 am, Eastern Daylight Time (New York, GMT-04:00)
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Cold calling is sometimes a banker's best option. For some inexperienced branch managers and business bankers that can lead to cold call reluctance. Here's what to do if you find yourself procrastinating or dreading the thought of making a cold call to a prospect.
If you would like to download a transcript of this video, click on the link below.
Cold Call Reluctance
Free Resource for Bank Sales Managers: Download your copy of "Coaching the Prospecting Process: Tips for Sales Managers" by going here.
Archived Webinars on Prospecting: Go to http://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com for a complete list of our recorded webinars on prospecting.
What do you think? Please share your advice, insights, and experiences in the COMMENTS area below...
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What is it about the number 3? Some people consider it lucky. It is sacred in many religions. In some traditions 3 is considered the number of harmony, wisdom and understanding.
Heroes are often offered three choices or three tests. Others overcome difficulties on the third try.
Counting to three is common in situations where a group of people wish to perform an act together. (Now, on the count of three, everybody pull!).
Basketball coaches know that three word commands are easy to remember. See the ball. Slide your feet. Everybody box out.
Well, on 6/3/2015 I’m going to suggest to bankers that 6 things in 3 word snippets might change your business development results this year. Here they are:
- Leverage your network
- Ask better questions
- Assess your performance
- Develop internal COIs
- Use LinkedIn better
- Celebrate small victories
If one of these looks like it will help you make progress in landing more prospects and meeting your sales goals, do something with it—in the next 3 days!
Final tip: Be sure to click on the hyperlinks for more details.
The novel Anna Karenina begins with the observation that “Happy families are all alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own particular way.” That’s probably true of sales teams as well, whether they’re composed of bankers or pharmaceutical sales representatives.
Having spent time recently with both happy and unhappy bankers, though, I’ve been struck by how the mood of teams is determined to a large degree by their leaders. Bank sales managers can have a huge impact on the morale and performance of front-line personnel.
What specifically do the best sales leaders do? What are the secrets to their success? Here’s a partial list:
- They show up. Managing remotely is tricky, but frequent visits interspersed with regular communication by phone and email make a difference.
- They’re engaged in the day-to-day activities of their team. They know what calls people are going on this week. They stay on top of pipelines. They’re always asking questions.
- They see themselves as coaches. They want to make everybody on their teams better, not just the people who are behind on their goals. They have one-on- one coaching sessions on a regular basis with all team members, usually at least every two weeks.
- They’re big on strategy, particularly regarding lead generation. They devote time to analyzing how to pursue opportunities in a market and how to identify and approach prospects.
- They’re comfortable sharing their expertise. They are quick to tap into their own personal networks to help their teams acquire new clients.
- They’re consistent in their messaging. You always know what their priorities are.
- They go on a lot of joint calls. You can coach them on what you want them to do and (usually) they do a pretty good job following your guidance. (Note to all Relationship Managers: Make sure that you brief them in advance of the meeting. They don’t like to wing it. And be prepared to debrief every call you go on—it’s a chance to get some great coaching.)
- They’re always looking for ways to recognize good performance. They also know how to celebrate big and small victories at the individual and team level.
- They invest in people. Providing training is one of their priorities. They’re also constantly on the lookout for things that will enhance productivity.
10. They keep things in perspective. They know that their attitude has a huge impact on the success of their team.
Post Script: I shared this list with two sales leaders who have been successful building what I would call happy (and successful) commercial teams. Here are their comments:
Bank Sales Leader #1: “I would add that joint calling lets the managers demonstrate that they are also using the sales tools which they profess are so important. Additionally, this simple activity can reinforce that the program works. I also believe that this demonstrates that the manager is not afraid to get into the action, specifically if you are calling on prospects or customers with opportunities in the pipeline. Sales teams need to know that we do what we preach as managers.
Lastly, if the manager demonstrates energy and positive attitude, this can “rub off” on the RM. I’ve found that the manager’s perspective becomes the RM’s perspective rather quickly. If the manger is down, the staff is down. If the manager believes “we can do it”, the staff generally responds in kind.”
Bank Sales Leader #2: “I absolutely agree with this article. One very key component that is missing and I would add is that the sales leader must always be positive. Even in difficult times, challenging credit criteria and demanding customers and prospects the leader needs to be a partial spin doctor and always see the light at the end of the tunnel for the team. The positive attitude and confidence of a leader are contagious.”
OK, sales leaders, what else would you add? Share your thoughts in the space provided below or email me at email@example.com.
Question: I am currently considering joining a networking group. This group limits members to one from each industry, however, when I attended the first introductory meeting there were three other bankers who wanted to join. I wonder how this group will approve applications if we all apply? The group appears to be a well-organized one and the leader seems genuine in getting referrals going.
To download a podcast with my answer--or a transcript of it--click on the link below.
Q&A on Networking Groups
Interested in a series of fast-paced refreshers on prospecting? Check out any of our 10 archived webinars on Prospecting Strategies:
Building a Good Prospect List
Leveraging Your Network to Get in the Door
How to Use Your LinkedIn Network in Prospecting
Preparing for First Calls on Prospects
Industry Research as a Differentiator
Business Operations Meetings: Building Strong Relationships with Business Owners
Delving into Financial Operations: Selling to Financial Change
The First 3 Calls on Prospects
Following Up on Proposal – Persistent or Pest?
Getting the Most Out of Networking Events
Go to http://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com or contact Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771 for more information and team discounts.
Tax season is over. It is probably OK to start calling on CPAs again in search of referrals. But before you do, here are 6 reasons why you ought to be asking some of your clients for introductions too:
- If you believe the research from national firms like Barlow and Greenwich, most of your business clients would be delighted to assist you.
- Most CPAs feel obligated to refer at least two other bankers when asked for a recommendation; your satisfied clients don’t.
- Your customers probably won’t be in a position to critique any proposals you make to the people they refer you to. That’s often how accountants “add value.”
- Customers often give glowing testimonials; circumspect accountants are usually reluctant to do so.
- Established CPAs may be asked for referrals by scores of lenders. Many business owners are never asked.
- Your clients usually don’t make a big deal out of “reciprocity.”
For more thoughts on why you ought to be spending more time with your satisfied clients, check out this video.
Looking for specific tips on how to ask for referrals? Check out this article How to Ask Customers for Referrals
You might also be interested in signing up for one of our recorded webinars on the topic at http://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com
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Editor's note: This blog post is one of our most read. It may be a stretch to compare it to a classic Mustang, but that's a chance we'll take.
With apologies to Stephen Covey, here are my “7 Habits of Highly Unproductive Salespeople (banker version)”:
1. Be reactive. Wait for what walks in the door. Don’t ask your satisfied customers for referrals—they know you provide great service and will send you any leads they have.
2. Put (anything other than customers) first. Problem loan reports. Compliance issues. Operational matters. No experienced banker gets canned for failing to make his sales goals.
3. Don’t worry about preparing for calls. Industry research--who has time for that? Developing specific questions for a first meeting with a prospect? Just ask ‘em to tell you about their business.
4. Strategize alone. Your Sales Manager (a) doesn’t know your customers/ prospects well; (b) doesn’t have time; and/ or (c) probably wouldn’t add much value if you talked about your strategy.
5. Think about what you need to sell first, not what your customers and prospects need. You’ve got goals to make.
6. Don’t make time for professional development. Training is for “junior” people, not veterans like you. Heck, if you’re like most commercial bankers, you believe that you’re in the top 20% of your peer group when it comes to business development skills. This is known in some circles as the Lake Wobegon effect—where all the children are above average. (Special offer: If you’d like to assess which stage your relationship building skills are in, go to The Progression of Relationship Development Skills )
7. Keep reminding yourself that knowing how to do something (like prospecting, say) is the same thing as doing it. And, if anybody questions your current results, you can come up with any number of excuses (“Our credit policy is too restrictive.” “We’re not even close to market pricing today.” “We need to do more advertising/ build more branches/get more creative on structuring deals, etc.”)
To read more articles on sales leadership topics visit our blog at Bank Sales Corner Blog
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A few years ago Greenwich Research reported that almost half of all business customers couldn’t recall any calls in which their bankers had furnished a new idea. When asked what the most memorable topics discussed were in their meetings with bankers, the most common response was “nothing.”
What then would business owners like to talk about? To find out the answers, watch this brief video.
To download a transcription of this video, click on the link below.
Would Your Prospects Pay for your Next Call?
More resources--Check out these mp3s on:
Acquiring New Relationships
Building Your Personal Brand