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A Checklist for Evaluating a Prospect: 20 Questions for Bankers

  
  
  

prospecting for bankers

Are you broadly conversant in the prospect's industry (market changes, major players, regulatory issues, etc.)?

Does the prospect value long-term relationships for their financial needs?

Does the prospect fit the target profile for the services you are recommending?

Do you have a relationship with any of the prospect's centers of influence?

Do the decision makers know your story and the bank’s story ?

Has this prospect had a successful experience with the bank?

Does the prospect appear to meet our credit and cash flow requirements?

Do you know what drives the prospect's financing needs?

Do you know what is preventing the prospect from achieving their long- and short-term business objectives?

Is there a compelling event that will drive the timing of the buying decisions?

Does the prospect have a relationship with anybody at this bank (previous or current employee)?

Have you identified a value-added service for this prospect above and beyond the immediate opportunity?

Have you identified the ultimate decision maker/buyer?

Is the prospect dissatisfied with the financial services other institutions provide?

Do the decision makers share private information with you or seek advice on their strategy?

Can you articulate to the prospect what differentiates us from our competitors?

Have you customized your sales approach to the decision maker type [e.g., relationship shopper vs. price shopper, driver vs. analytical, etc.]?

Does the decision maker understand your strategy to add value to their business with the proposed solution?

Do the prospect's priorities (e.g., price, structure, flexibility) align with our proposed solution?

Have you introduced a senior bank manager/decision maker to the prospect?

 If you found this checklist helpful, share it with your colleagues.

Next live webinar: “Q&A on Prospecting” with Buck Bierly on August 4, 2014 at 11 AM Eastern. Summer special rate of $99. To sign up go to http://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com or call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771.

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

Special webinar offer: You can receive a $100 discount when you use coupon code tm5tx8bg31 to sign up for any recorded webinar in the Prospecting Strategies Webinar Series. To register for any webinar go to the recorded webinars section at https://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com.

 

The Case for More Sales Calls

  
  
  
bank sales calls

There are a lot of reasons why some bankers won’t make their goals in 2014. But not making enough calls on high potential clients and targeted prospects shouldn’t be one of them.

This was driven home to me recently in a workshop with a team of business bankers at a successful community bank. Midway through the morning a hand shot up in the back of the room. It belonged to one of the senior bankers in attendance, a veteran of many ups and downs in the industry. “We have to make more calls than ever before,” Bill said emphatically. His rationale was blindingly simple, and encompassed both the bank’s business development priorities and credit considerations.

One of Bill’s reasons for increased calling is to stay close to his existing borrowers. He has built strong relationships with most of them but he knows that there are many more competitors on the streets today than there were 2 years ago. And some of these competitors are hungry, offering rates and terms that are designed to tantalize business borrowers.

As data from Barlow and others show, many business customers have become dissatisfied with their current banking relationships over the last 5 years for a variety of reasons (e.g. lack of personal attention, slow turnaround time on loan requests, mounting fees for appraisals, more stringent compliance issues, etc.).

This is not just about BofA or Citibank or RBS Citizens making mistakes that community bankers can feast on. From a customer’s perspective, almost all banks have become increasingly harder to work with over the last decade. The truth is that it’s a time when a prepared and persistent banker could begin the process of taking relationships from anybody.  So as Bill knows, one of the reasons you have to make more calls is to retain your top clients. If you’re MIA for too long, watch out.

I'm not suggesting that business customers are leaving their banks in droves. According to Barlow Research, the percentage of companies under $10 million in sales that definitely plan to leave in the next 12 months is about 7%.The percentage considering moving is about 12%, almost no change from previous surveys that Barlow has conducted in recent years. (Note: Many of the companies in the first group may not be hot prospects for you—some of those “definitely planning to leave” types are really being forced to exit their current banks for credit reasons.)

So why would Bill encourage his Relationship Manager colleagues to be making more prospect calls now? First, his bank does want to continue to grow and there’s only so much additional business he can expect from current customers.

Second, if done properly, it may be easier than ever to get in to see some prospects. (For the short course on doing it properly, download our article on Getting in the Door with Prospects).

Third, it takes time to land a good prospect so if you’re not calling on them now, you can rule out results anytime soon. If you're starting to call on a prospect today who has no immediate need to move, you could be looking at a 12 to 24 month period before you land any subtantive business.

Bill is right about the need to make more calls. It is partly to defend what you have, but it’s also to insure that you meet your business development goals this year and in the future.

Comments? Email nmiller@mzbierlyconsulting.com or add them below. If you found this article helpful, share it with your colleagues.

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

 

Special webinar offer: You can receive a $100 discount when you use coupon code tm5tx8bg31 to sign up for any recorded webinar in the Prospecting Strategies Webinar Series. To register for any webinar go to the recorded webinars section at https://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com.

For more information on webinars and in-bank workshops, call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771 or email her at susan.lersch@mzbierkyconsulting.com.

 

Hiring Top Bankers: Questions Before Making an Offer

  
  
  
interviewing, bank sales leaders

Recruiting is part of every Sales Manager’s job description. Getting it right involves a lot of work, usually in conjunction with HR and others whose opinions you value.  But before you make a formal offer, I’d encourage you to hit the pause button and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. If your toughest competitor hired this person, how would you feel?

  2. Is this candidate going to raise the bar on performance for the rest of your team?

  3. Is this individual running away from something or to something?

  4. In the interviews has this person demonstrated a clear understanding of the challenges in the job?

  5. Has he explained convincingly how he would address them?

  6. Is the individual a quick learner?

  7. Are you offering her a chance to accomplish something that she hasn’t done yet?

  8. Does the individual have the potential to be better than 80% of your current team members?

  9. Will you learn something new from this person?

  10. If this person turned down your offer, how disappointed would you be?

Your answers to these questions may help you determine whether you've found the right person and, if you have, how aggressively you should pursue the individual.

Here are two other blog posts that may be of interest on recruiting:

Recruiting High-Performers: Why Bank HR Departments Struggle

Where Bank Sales Managers Can Find High-Performers

Check out the comments that three top Business Banking Sales Leaders made on the importance of getting the right people on the bus in a teleconference we hosted. You can download the mp3 by going to:

http://www.mzbierlyconsulting.com/building-momentum-in-business-banking-mp3

If you liked this blog post, feel free to share it with your associates.

 

 

 

How’s Your LinkedIn Profile?

  
  
  

LinkedIn, bank sales

 

How’s your LinkedIn profile? Yes, I know, you signed up for LinkedIn with good intentions and you haven’t spent much time working on your profile. But are your customers and prospects going to be impressed when they reach out to you online?  What would a potential COI think based on a quick view?
 
If the thought of somebody evaluating your potential as a partner based solely on what appears on LinkedIn makes you queasy, you can do something up about it.
 
Use our LinkedIn profile checklist to get some objective pointers on your LinkedIn profile. If you put it together in 20 minutes, you can fix it now with the help of the checklist.
 
For starters, it shouldn’t read like a resume—unless of course you’re looking for a job. You can update your summary with some insights into how you actually deliver value to your customers. You could also add some information that might be of interest to people you’d like to impress—articles, presentations, etc.
 
To download the checklist go to http://www.mzbierlyconsulting.com/linkedin-checklist.
 
If you’d like to get more tips on how to incorporate LinkedIn into your prospecting efforts, sign up for our recorded webinar on “How to Use LinkedIn in Prospecting.” You can register for the webinar three ways: (1) Call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771 or (2) email her at susan.lersch@mzbierlyconsulting.com or (3) go to the live webinar section of our Webex website at https://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com  and pay by credit card.
 
Free Bonus Item: Download our article on How to Build a Business Network

20 Questions Sales Leaders Should Ask Themselves

  
  
  

    iStock 000037027576Small

 

I recently came across a piece in Inc. Magazine by Leigh Buchanan entitled “100 Great Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask.” It’s a thought-provoking list that would be a nice thing to pass along to any business owner. (You can download a copy by going to http://www.inc.com/magazine/201404/leigh-buchanan/100-questions-business-leaders-should-ask.html.)

Many of these questions are relevant for sales leaders, too. Here are 20 that are worth considering, along with their source:

1. What trophy do we want on our mantle? - Marcy Massura, a digital marketer and brand strategist at MSL Group  

2. What counts that we are not counting? -Chip Conley, founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality and head of global hospitality for Airbnb

3.  In the past few months, what is the smallest change we have made that has had the biggest positive result? What was it about that small change that produced the large return? -Robert Cialdini, author and professor emeritus of marketing and psychology at Arizona State University  

4. What prevents me from making the changes I know will make me a more effective leader? -Marshall Goldsmith, leadership coach and author  

5. What are the implications of this decision 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years from now? -Suzy Welch, author

6. Are we changing as fast as the world around us? -Gary Hamel, author and management consultant 

7. How likely is it that a customer would recommend our company to a friend or colleague? -Andrew Taylor, executive chairman of Enterprise Holdings

8. Did my employees make progress today? -Teresa Amabile, author and Harvard Business School professor

9. What should we stop doing? -Peter Drucker, management expert and author  

10. Do we have the right people on the bus? -Jim Collins, author and management consultant

11. What do we need to start doing? -Jack Bergstrand, CEO, Brand Velocity  

12. Are you satisfied with your current role?  If not, what is missing from it? -Charles Handy  

13. Do your employees have the opportunity to do what they do best everyday? -Marcus Buckingham, author   

14.  Do you see more potential in people than they do in themselves? -Adam Grant  

15. To whom do you add value? -Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood, co-founders, The RBL Group   

16. Why should people listen to you? -Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood 

17. Who are four people whose careers I’ve enhanced? -Alex Gorsky, CEO, Johnson & Johnson 

18. How do you encourage people to take control and responsibility? -Dan Ariely

19. How do I stay inspired? -Paul Bennett, chief creative officer, IDEO

20. How is business? Why? -Thomas A. Stewart, executive director, National Center for the Middle Market

Action Step: Good coaches are adept at asking questions. This is a chance for you to ask yourselves some questions that might lead to valuable insights about managing your team. Let me know what you discover in the process. 

If you are not currently receiving our newsletters and blog posts directly, send an email to linda.agosta@mzbierlyconsulting.com to be included.

 

 

Prospecting Tips for Bankers on Developing a Niche (Video Blog)

  
  
  

Can bankers interested in developing new business benefit from developing expertise in one or more segments or niches? I think they can.

Niches can be a springboard to success in banking.  Specialists with strong personal brands often attract quality leads. Their expertise is what separates them from the competition.

But even generalists can benefit from a focused effort to develop more detailed knowledge in 2 or 3 areas for new business development. If your market includes a major medical center, you could devote time to becoming more knowledgeable about what’s going on in health care. If your branch is near the court house, maybe you should be targeting lawyers.

Before settling on any niche, talk to your sales manager. If you have an idea about what you’d like to focus on, that’s great. If you don’t, your boss might have some suggestions.

This short video includes some other thoughts that might be helpful to you. To get my comments, click on the link below.  

 

Special webinar offer: You can receive a $100 discount when you use coupon code tm5tx8bg31 to sign up for any recorded webinar in the Prospecting Strategies Webinar Series. To register for any webinar go to the recorded webinars section at https://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com.

For more information on the Prospecting Strategies Webinar Series, call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771 or email her at susan.lersch@mzbierlyconsulting.com.

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 (Live session on June 16, 2014)

 

Can Branch Managers Prospect Effectively?

  
  
  

branch manager calling, prospecting

Last week I received a call from a Training Manager at a community bank. She had been asked to put together a sales training program for their branch managers as part of the bank’s new small business initiative. Most had never had any formal training on how to call on businesses.

As more banks focus on the opportunities in the small business market, many line managers and training directors have been forced to rethink what skills and knowledge branch personnel need to be effective on outside calls. Where do you start? Is it just a training issue or is there more to it?

Based on our work with banks around the country, it’s clear that branch managers need training in three areas:  business products, credit and sales. The goal in product training is not to turn the managers into experts, but to help them identify possible opportunities. Credit training is about creating a similar level of proficiency; what you’re really looking for is conversational competence in basic concepts. That, coupled with an understanding of how credit requests are handled internally, is usually enough to get branch managers comfortable discussing loans and lines of credit for small businesses.

What banks intent on developing a proactive small business calling program need to do is design a process that gets their branch managers in front of the customer and prospects with an intelligent plan. Bank sales leaders need to agree on a number of things before launching a training program:

1.    What a good small business customer or prospect looks like from the bank’s perspective. Understanding which customers and prospects to pursue shouldn’t be left up to branch managers. A target profile that explains what you’re looking for can go a long way toward eliminating confusion and misunderstanding.

2.    What resources the bank will make available to the sales teams. Industry information is valuable but isn’t free. Will you supply prospect lists? How about sample letters?

3.    How much time you’d like the branch managers to devote to calling on small businesses. This may be when you decide whether to establish different expectations for different markets based on demographics, perceived potential, etc. It can also lead to a review of any potential infrastructure issues that may impede your bank’s overall progress.

4.    The approach you want branch salespeople to take when they call on businesses. Are you emphasizing products or relationships? How should a branch manager prepare for a first face-to-face meeting with a prospect?

5.    How the bank will define results. Some banks have fallen into the trap of counting only things like accounts opened or products sold, without looking at the P&L implications of the effort. If the balances never materialize and the fees are waived, what have you accomplished?

6.    The role of the first-line sales managers. If you want your branch managers to change their behaviors, what adjustments will their sales managers have to make? Are they able to provide the ongoing direction, feedback and coaching the sales teams need? If not, what support and training will they require?

If you're interested in more of my thoughts on this topic, you can download the presentation I gave at a recent small business banking conference entitled “Can Branch Managers Prospect Effectively?” To get a copy of the presentation, go to http://www.mzbierlyconsulting.com/can-branch-managers-prospect-effectively.

 

 

 

10 Things Bank Sales Leaders Can Do to Retain Top Performers

  
  
  
bank sales top performers

What are you doing to retain your top performers?

My friend Bill called this week to let me know that his star performer had just accepted a job offer at another bank. Headhunters had been wooing Andrea for the last several years. He wondered whether there was anything he could have done to retain her.

Losing an A player is serious—for you, your team and your bank. Although occasionally it’s about money, more often than not the reason top performing bankers leave is because they’re not getting enough attention from their sales manager.  They might create the impression that they don’t need you, but most actually want you around. Here are 10 things you can do to show some love to your high-performing bankers.

  1. Spend time strategizing with them about big deals in their pipeline

  2. Get in the trenches with them and help close deals

  3. Provide additional resources to help them generate leads—more administrative or credit support, for example

  4. Get your boss (or some other bigwig) to take them out to lunch

  5. Send them to a professional development event in a cool place

  6. Have them mentor a new hire

  7. Create a career development plan for them (and be sure to review it with them)

  8. Recognize them in the way the means the most to them

  9. Take them and their significant others out for a social event, dinner or game

  10. Assign them any plum referrals from Executive Management

In Bill’s case, I don’t know if any of these would have made a difference. If you’re worried about losing a top performer, though, and any of these ideas look promising, what are you waiting for?

Special webinar offer: You can receive a $100 discount when you use coupon code tm5tx8bg31 to sign up for any recorded webinar in the Prospecting Strategies Webinar Series. To register for any webinar go to the recorded webinars section at https://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com.

For more information on the Prospecting Strategies Webinar Series, call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771 or email her at susan.lersch@mzbierlyconsulting.com.

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? (Live session on June 2, 2014)

Getting the Most Out of Networking Events (Live session on June 16, 2014)

 

 

6 Questions for Bank Sales Leaders About Process

  
  
  
bank sales leaders

 

  1. Are you holding weekly sales meetings with your team?

    Comment: If you’re not running weekly meetings, you’re missing out on a wonderful chance to re-establish priorities, identify opportunities for coaching and recognize performance of team members in front of their peers. You can run the meetings face-to-face or by phone. In our experience, they should last no more than 30 minutes and should be first thing on Monday. Why Monday? To send a clear signal about the importance of sales to your team.

     

  2. Do you have scheduled 1 on 1 coaching sessions with each member of your team every two weeks?

    Comment: This is a cornerstone activity for all sales managers. Each session should be scheduled in advance—a best practice is to lock these in the calendar for the next two quarters. There’s lot to talk about: pipeline, calling activity, upcoming calls, and relationship strategy. Click here for a sample agenda for a biweekly 1 on 1 coaching session.

     

  3. Are you organizing strategy sessions for large opportunities with all appropriate business partners (e.g. Treasury Management, Trust and Investment Management, Credit, etc.)?

    Comment: Strategizing alone is rarely as effective as doing it with team members.

     

  4. Do you have a short list of candidates whom you would like to hire? If yes, are you meeting regularly with them?

    Comment: Top performers may not be ready to jump ship today, but you have to stay close to them if you want to attract them in the future. 

     

  5. Do you invest time in bringing new hires on board?

    Comment: Developing a plan is the first step. If you don’t have a plan, you’re not doing anyone a favor—you, the new RM, or your unit. Here’s an article that might be useful on Onboarding Your Next Star Performer.

     

  6. Do you have development plans in place for each RM who is on your team?

    Comment: If you do, are you making progress? If not, what’s stopping you? 

     

New program for Sales Leaders: Buck Bierly will be offering a fast-paced workshop for community bank sales leaders in San Francisco on June 25-26 under the auspices of the Western Independent Bankers Association. Learn the skills that high-performing leaders use to drive results. For more information go to Leading Sales Teams in Business Markets.

 

Special webinar offer: You can receive a $100 discount when you use coupon code tm5tx8bg31 to sign up for any recorded webinar in the Prospecting Strategies Webinar Series. To register for any webinar go to the recorded webinars section at https://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com.

For more information on the Prospecting Strategies Webinar Series, call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771 or email her at susan.lersch@mzbierlyconsulting.com.

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? (Live session on June 2, 2014)

Getting the Most Out of Networking Events (Live session on June 16, 2014)

 

 

 

Are Most Salespeople Clueless?

  
  
  
clueless banker

I read an article recently that said 3 out of 4 salespeople have no idea what they’re doing. That seems high, but as the author pointed out, most of the people who go into sales have no formal training before they begin. Architects study architecture. Doctors have lengthy training before they are allowed to work with patients. But many sales representatives think they can get by with their personal charm.

Research conducted by the Objective Management Group over the last quarter century reveals that about 6% of all salespeople are great at selling. Another 20% perform at an acceptable level but could do better with additional support. The remaining 74% are failing by objective standards.

Sales training and coaching can address some of the gaps in the last group, but according to an OMG spokesman, the bottom 25% “should be doing something else.” He pointed out that in most companies he has worked with, the mix usually holds true. Out of every 20 salespeople, 2 are stars, 5 are pretty competent, 10 could get better with a lot of help and 3 are mismatches.

Does that approximate what I have seen in the banking industry? Yes, and it raises 4 questions for bank management:

  1. Have you assessed the individual skill sets of each of your team members?

  2. What are you doing to develop your core or average performers?

  3. How quickly are you going to be able to replace the chronic low-performers and mismatches with top quartile performers?

  4. What specific strategies are you putting in place to improve the coaching and leadership skills of your front-line sales leaders?

The last one may be the biggie. A bank’s success depends on its sales leaders.

Why do some sales leaders get better results than others? Nothing in this list will surprise you:

  • They work hard at communicating effectively. They keep the messages simple. They don’t leave any doubts about what’s important.

  • They recruit top talent. They are always on the lookout for ways to upgrade their team.

  • They manage their time well. That means fitting in all the big stuff—client calls, 1 on 1s with team members, deal reviews, etc. They typically start early and end late, and have mastered all forms of mobile technology.

  • They are always learning.

  • They look for ways to eliminate any obstacles that are holding their associates back. They know that improving the infrastructure can pay big dividends.

  • They are often the beneficiaries of the coaching/ mentoring of other sales leaders.

Simple? Not really, but take 10 minutes out of your day to think about what you need to work on to help your team members improve. If you need a prompt, check out our recent blog posts on Sales Leadership.

 

Special webinar offer: You can receive a $100 discount when you use coupon code tm5tx8bg31 to sign up for the recorded webinar on “Building a Good Prospect List.” To register for the webinar go to the recorded webinars section at https://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com.

For more information on the Prospecting Strategies Webinar Series, call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771 or email her at susan.lersch@mzbierlyconsulting.com.

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? (Live session on June 2, 2014)

Getting the Most Out of Networking Events (Live session on June 16, 2014)

 

 

 

 

 

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