Question: I am experiencing some difficulty calibrating our Treasury Management team with the expectations of your calling program. Specifically, our TM team (including their direct management) views its key functions as the following (in order of importance):
1. Service existing relationships
2. Respond to referred business
3. Expand existing relationships
4. Acquire new relationships.
While I agree with these roles, our bank has an expectation that all calling officers conduct preplanned, proactive business development calls. Our TM department doesn’t see eye-to-eye with us on this.
What recommendations do you give to other banks in relation to their TM departments? Do you agree that their role is expanding referred business rather than prospecting their own business? What is an effective way of including them in the activities outlined in your program?
Answer: Your situation is not uncommon. Most community and regional bank TM groups that I have worked with see themselves as providing “support.” They do not usually prospect; they also do not “own” relationships, deferring to the line bankers on strategy and account management. It is not unfair to characterize them as reactive.
As a next step I’d suggest that you have to reach some agreement internally on these and other questions:
- How can the TM reps best be deployed?
- Should they prospect?
- How many TM professionals do you need?
- Do they always go on joint calls with the primary RMs or can they make solo calls?
- What level of preparation for calls is recommended?
Question for Sales Managers out there: Do you agree with the premise that TM reps should prospect? Why? Join the conversation by adding your comments below.
Webinar Alert: Are you getting the most out of LinkedIn’s capabilities? Check out the slides from LinkedIn on 60 Minutes a Week: Session 1.
To register for either of the sessions on leveraging LinkedIn for business development, go to the recorded sessions section at http://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com or call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771.
Working on getting in beach shape for your vacation at the shore? Going on a cruise? Catching up on your reading? Whatever you plan to do this summer outside of work, here are 9 business development ideas for bankers:
1. Do something nice for your best customers. I’m not talking about sending them tickets to a baseball game or a concert, although that’s not a bad thing to do. Let them know you’re thinking about their business. If you have something specific in mind—maybe something that would improve the way they manage their cash—visit them. If you don’t, visit them anyway.
2. Bone up on the competition. Mystery shopping is not just for branches. Use your network of customers and prospects and COIs to find out what your top competitors are doing with their business customers. Share your insights with your colleagues.
3. Take a product partner to lunch. Get to know your Cash Management rep better. See if he knows anybody on your prospect list. Pick your Wealth Management contact’s brain about what she’s seeing in the market. Remember it’s not just about them giving you introductions--ask how you can help them meet their business development goals.
4. Do some industry research. Not just the First Research, IBISWorld or VerticalIQ kind—that’s a given to stay current. Visit some trade association websites to see whether you can learn things that will make you more knowledgeable about the issues facing your customers and prospects. Attend a trade association meeting.
5. Meet some friendly accountants. Review all the financial statements you have received over the last 18 months and see whether you know all the CPAs who prepared them. If you don’t, ask your customers to set up a lunch so you can meet them. For more insights here are answers to 10 Questions on Getting Referrals from CPAs.
6. Write an article for a local business publication on a topic that would be of interest to your prospects. Milk it for all it’s worth. Before mailing it to the editor, send it to your customers and prospects for comments. After it’s published, get a PDF of the file and share it with everybody you know who might be interested.
7. Review your relationship plans with your Sales Manager. What, no relationship plans? Click here to download a Relationship Planning Template.
8. Keep improving your skills. Be honest with yourself about what you need to work on. If you’re a credit wiz who struggles with selling, sign up for a webinar or buy a book on prospecting. If your product knowledge is sub-par, get some tutoring from one of your colleagues. Lousy at negotiating? Take a course. (See below for some upcoming webinar ideas.)
9. Show your prospect list to your satisfied customers. You might be surprised how inclined they are to help you with your business development efforts. If you’re interested in pointers on how to do that, check out this article on How to Ask Customers for Quality Referrals.
Summer is a time to recharge your batteries. But it’s also a time to refocus your energies on how to retain your customers and acquire new ones.
Looking for a suggestion on how to jumpstart your prospecting efforts? Check out our live and recorded webinars at http://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com or call Ned Miller at 610-296-4772. Here are the next two live webinars:
1. LinkedIn on 60 Minutes a Week Session 2--June 10, 2013
* How to take advantage of LinkedIn's research capabilities
* Using LinkedIn to identify prospects
* Tips on scheduling appointments with prospects
* How to use LinkedIn groups to expand your network
* Leveraging LinkedIn as a communication tool
2. Building Referral Relationships with CPAs--July 15, 2013
My friends in Denver are still reeling from the performance of Steph Curry in the first round of the NBA playoffs. In the Golden State Warriors' upset of the Nuggets, Curry made over 44 percent of his three point shots, while leading his team in scoring and averaging over 9 assists a game. Not bad for somebody who was once considered too small for big time college hoops!
Here are some coaching three pointers on prospecting for Commercial Relationship Managers, Business Bankers and Branch Managers who want to win new business. Be sure to click on the hyperlinks for more insights:
- Leverage your network
- Ask better questions
- Assess your performance
- Build your network
- Develop industry expertise
- Questions add value
- Tell better stories
- Develop internal COIs
- Use LinkedIn better
- Celebrate small victories
Check out our two new live webinars on taking advantage of LinkedIn:
Buck Bierly will be leading two sales training workshops for Sales Managers and Relationship Managers sponsored by the Western Independent Bankers Association in the coming months. He’ll discuss how to:
- Segment your market – focusing on the “right” relationships.
- Develop a market model – proactively strengthening the business relationships on your retention, expansion and acquisition lists.
- Build a relationship development process– differentiating you and your bank in today’s increasingly competitive banking environment.
- Develop strategies for key relationships – it’s not the value you want add, it’s aligning with the business owner’s “value drivers.” Go to WIB Conference Information or call 415.352.2323 for more details.
In a session I led on “Gaining Momentum with Small Businesses” at a recent state banking conference, one of the participants in the group reminded people that they weren’t the only ones using LinkedIn for research. She said that some business customers are starting to look at the LinkedIn profiles of the bankers calling on them.
If that makes you wince, do something up about it. If your LinkedIn profile looks like you put it together in three minutes, fix it. It shouldn’t look like a resume—unless of course you’re looking for a job. Update it with some insights into how you actually deliver value to your customers.
Savvy Commercial and Business Banking Relationship Managers and Branch Managers know that taking advantage of social media tools can help them establish their expertise in the marketplace. Here are 7 recommendations for your consideration:
1. Don’t ignore LinkedIn; it could help you build your brand.
2. Don’t let bank policy stop you if you think LinkedIn will be useful to you. (Translation: You have a home email address, right?)
3. It doesn’t replace traditional networking strategies.
4. Don’t expect miracles. It requires work. Your ROI will depend upon how well you invest your time.
5. Use it to research customers, prospects and COIs—and your competitors. You might be surprised what you learn.
6. Join the right LinkedIn groups—local, state, national, intergalactic.
7. LinkedIn will keep evolving in ways that will make it more valuable to you. Whatever your LinkedIn strategy is today, be prepared to revisit it in 3 months.
If you’d like to get more tips on how to incorporate LinkedIn into your sales efforts, sign up for our upcoming webinars on “LinkedIn in 60 Minutes a Week.” (If you have fewer than 200 connections, sign up for the first webinar on May 20; if you’re a LinkedIn veteran with more than 200 connections, you should sign up for the second webinar on June 10.)
Here are links to find out more information:
LinkedIn on 60 Minutes a Week Session 1-- May 20, 2013
LinkedIn on 60 Minutes a Week Session 2--June 10, 2013
You can register for the webinars three ways: (1) Call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771 or (2) email her at email@example.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.
When August Aquila talks, accountants listen. So why should the article in his newsletter Partner Insights on 21 Basic Marketing Activities to Take to the Bank be of interest to bankers? Because, whether you like it or not, you’re in the same boat when it comes to marketing your professional services.
I was recently asked by a youthful looking 27 year old business banker what he could do to impress business owners who were often twice his age. The obvious answer was to do his homework, be well prepared for all client and prospect meetings, and begin establishing himself in the local business community. In the course of our conversation it turned out that he had given a speech at a local chamber event on how to select a banker that went extremely well. A number of people came up afterward and asked for his card and he was able to set up appointments with them.
Aquila would applaud the young lender’s efforts. He encourages accountants to join trade and professional associations and get on the program for events as a speaker. He also recommends teaching adult education courses for start-up businesses and offering seminars to reach business customers. Becoming famous might sound ambitious, but the question Aquila asks is worth considering: “Why should clients look to you to help them improve their business?”
Many of Aquila’s 21 recommendations are applicable to bank Relationship Managers who are trying to grow their client base and expand their business network. Here are several, with my comments:
- Attend at least two business luncheons every month: Yes, assuming that the gatherings draw people you would like to meet, and that should include prospects who match your target profile and potential COIs. Hanging out with other bankers is a waste of time. Go with a plan. If you’re looking for more ideas on how to take advantage of networking events listen to this mp3 on Networking Tips.
- Communicate at least quarterly with your clients: This is in addition to your face-to-face meetings. It’s a lot easier today than ever before to share information with your contacts. Build a good email database that will enable you to forward articles to your network. Use LinkedIn to share relevant information.
- Find yourself a niche: It’s tough to be a generalist. Even if you are—and most commercial lenders, business bankers and branch managers have to be--if you can develop expertise in one or more areas, it can boost your business. Being known within the local dental community as someone who “gets it” has obvious benefits.
- Ask clients and referral sources for help: This is a no brainer, yet many bankers are reluctant to approach their best customers and others in their network for assistance in business development. If you’re not sure how to do it, check out our article on How to Confidently Ask Customers for Referrals. You might also be interested in listening to Buck Bierly’s comments on Building an Effective Referral Network.
Here’s a suggestion from me for a future meeting with CPAs (or any current or potential COI) on your calling list: Send them a copy of August’s article 21 Basic Marketing Activities to Take to the Bank and set up a time to compare notes on marketing professional services. Don’t just grill them about their approach. Talk about how you might be able to support each other. My bet is that it will be a profitable conversation. Let me know how it goes!
Question: How can you tell if a CPA is a rainmaker in the firm? I’ve read articles that suggest that only a small percentage of accountants actually are in a position to refer business to bankers.
Answer: You’re right. According to August Aquila of Aquila Global Advisors, probably no more than 25% of accountants refer opportunities to bank relationship managers. He suggests asking whether the individual enjoys more serving clients or getting new clients. You might also inquire about how important landing new relationships is for him personally. Do your homework: checking out an accountant's LinkedIn page and asking your colleagues and other COIs can also give you an idea of whether you're wasting time and money courting a particular individual.
To download an article that recently appeared in the ABA’s Commercial Insights Newsletter with 9 more frequently asked questions go to CPA Referrals: 10 FAQs.
If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to provide quality sales and sales leadership materials to your team, check out our recorded webinars. From refreshers on face-to-face calls to in-depth discussions on prospecting we have topical programs for experienced bankers and new hires alike. Find out how you can use our recorded webinars in sales meetings or training sessions by calling Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771 or emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find out more about our webinars at http://mzbierlyconsulting.com/webinars.html.
Last week’s blog included three tips for building your business network. Here are three more things you can do to grow your contacts:
1. Go with a plan to every networking event. You may not love Chamber of Commerce functions or trade association conventions, but you can become an effective networker if you prepare well. Here’s what you need to think about:
--Are there people in attendance at this meeting whom you’d like to spend time with? If you don’t know, do some homework. If the answer is yes, make a list. (If you’re not sure of their names but can narrow it down to “attorneys under 35” or “small business owners” that’s a start. The individuals organizing the meeting may be able to help you identify who fits your description.)
--Set some reasonable goals for yourself. If you have 30 minutes to mingle before the main event, try to meet 2 or 3 new people. (Networking 101 tip: That means you have to get there early and avoid schmoozing with any of your colleagues who are also introverts.)
--Assuming you’re there to expand your network of prospects or referral sources, what business information are you interested in acquiring from any one you meet? My list is pretty short because I try to spend no more than 5 minutes with each contact:
- What do you do?
- How long have you been doing it?
- What’s an ideal prospect for you and your company?
--If you think the person is a likely prospect or Center-of-Influence for you, offer your business card (don’t leave home without them) and ask whether you could follow-up with them to talk further. You’ll usually get a card in return and can propose a few times when you could call. If you think somebody is a hot prospect, try for a face to face meeting right there. You can confirm it by email later.
-- Remember that in order to reap any of the benefits of meeting people you have to follow up.
2. It’s about relationships, not transactions. People will give you referrals if they know you, like you and trust you. It usually takes more than a few minutes of cocktail party banter to get to that level.
What can you do to get off on the right foot with a potential referral partner in your first meetings? The short answer is exactly what you would do to impress a business prospect:
--Do your homework on the individual and on his business.
--Be prepared to ask lots of questions. Be curious in a professionally friendly way.
--Share relevant personal and professional information about yourself.
--Look for common ground—interests, clients, anything that helps you build rapport.
--See if there are any small ways you can help your new acquaintance. An introduction perhaps? A book or article that might be of interest?
--If there’s potential here, find a reason to get together again.
3. Don’t ignore LinkedIn groups. If you check out the number of business-oriented LinkedIn groups in your market, you might be surprised. Obviously only a small fraction will be of interest to you, but researching the groups online can be done outside of normal prime selling hours. You can find out about their activities, get background on their members, and dip a toe in the group without a major commitment. If you like what you find, you can connect quickly to a lot of people. (For more information on how to leverage LinkedIn in business development, you can register for an archived webinar I hosted recently at https://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com.)
Bottom Line: Building a business network takes time and energy, but if you develop a plan, get some coaching, and stick with it, you’ll clearly benefit over the course of your professional career.
If you would like specific tips on leveraging your customer base for introductions, read our recent article on How to Confidently Ask Customers for Referrals.
Check out the quick reference guides available in our store at http://www.mzbierlyconsulting.com/store/.
It’s time for a reality check. Are you visible in the local banking community? Are you perceived as an expert? Wherever you are in your career, as a Relationship Manager you need to think about your professional brand. Here are some ways to get “discovered” as an expert:
- Participate in industry associations. Staying on top of what is going on in the banking industry is always in your interest. It will make you a better resource to your clients, your prospects and your COIs, all of whom can benefit from an informed insider’s assessment.
- Attend events. You don’t have to go to Orlando or San Francisco to take advantage of many of the best gatherings. Find out what’s happening locally. See if the national or state associations have CDs or podcasts of sessions from their major events. Look for summaries of events on websites or in monthly magazines.
- Write about the industry. You don’t necessarily need to write articles to establish a reputation for yourself as an expert in the financial services field but some bankers have found that it’s a way to build their credibility more quickly. It can also lead to more visibility in the community at large and to speaking engagements before business groups. (Note: You will almost certainly need to get somebody to sign off on your journalistic efforts—consider the free editorial guidance a bonus. The same is probably true for outside speaking engagements.)
- Connect more online. Have you figured out how to use LinkedIn to complement your networking strategy? How can you extend your professional network online?
Bottom line: Taking charge of your career means enhancing your personal brand. Make visibility a priority in 2012.
New Webinar: Getting More Out of LinkedIn: Banking on Relationships March 12
For more details, go to http://www.eventspan.com/event/2012-03-12-getting-more-out-of-linkedin