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Help Your Team Get the Most Out of Networking Events


The first holiday gift basket just arrived (Thanks, Bobby!) and I can’t wait to dive in to the goodies. There are other things (many) to look forward to in the next month and half. One of them is holiday parties sponsored by your clients and organizations in your community.

Most bankers I know buy in to the importance of attending networking events. Maybe as a result, sales managers don’t place as much emphasis on it as they should in their coaching.

I think they’re making a mistake. They need to help bankers learn how to work a room better, to become better networkers.

Here are five specific things sales managers can do:

  • Get people to go to the right events. What might be right for Jill may not be the best use of Jack’s time.
  • Make sure that people have a plan for each networking event. Maybe it’s a list of customers to talk to. Perhaps the goal is to connect with a particular prospect. Having clear objectives matters. 
  • Follow-up immediately afterward to see what your people got out of the event. Be curious about whom they talked to.
  • Go to some events with them and observe how they operate. You’ll probably have some more things to talk about when you debrief the session.
  • Ask people periodically whether the events they’re attending regularly are providing an appropriate ROI.

You don’t have to be a great networker yourself. But if you believe being active and visible at client functions and community and trade association events is important, you have to walk the talk.  Enjoy the holiday season!

Planning a Sales Conference or offsite meeting in 2015? Our consultants are frequent speakers at banking conferences and bank sales meetings. They have a reputation for delivering sales and sales management "how-to's" in a dynamic, engaging manner. Offering a range of keynote, half-day and full-day programs, their approach helps salespeople and sales managers gain a competitive advantage in every step of the sales process. For more information about how we may be able to assist you at an upcoming sales meeting or conference, call Ned Miller at 610-296-4772 or email him at

10 Tips for Bankers on Finishing Strong in 2014

bank sales


1. Don’t stop scheduling appointments. If you have clients and prospects who are too busy to meet before year end, get them on the calendar in January. It will be harder to fill your calendar if you wait until after New Year’s.

2. Be nice to your customers, particularly the 10% who probably represent 80% of your profit. Tell them how much you value their business. Schedule time to meet with them (see #1).

3. Show your (short) prospect lists to the VIPs in your network, starting with some of the satisfied clients referenced in #2.

4. If you haven’t done it recently, review your customers’ accounts receivable and accounts payable lists. They could be great additions to your prospect list (and remember to ask for nice introductions from your customers too!)

5. Ask customers about their capital expenditure plans for the coming year. You might actually find a loan opportunity you didn’t know about.

6. Update relationship plans for your High Potential clients—those could be your best opportunities in 2015. (Cross-selling starts with a plan, not a prayer.)

7. Know what your objectives are at each holiday networking event you attend—and it better include some combination of checking the pulse of current customers, planting seeds with COIs, and meeting new people (prospects, potential COIs, etc.)

8. Think about revising your personal marketing plan. Does your LinkedIn profile need a facelift?  Do you need to get more testimonials from happy customers? How about joining a trade association or two to penetrate a niche that you’re targeting?

9. Figure out how to better leverage Senior Managers and product partners in the coming year. It could start with enlisting their support in crafting strategies for some of your key prospects.

10. Discuss with your boss what specific areas you need to focus on in 2015 to improve your selling skills and business acumen.  Options could include: signing up for a course; reading business publications like INC. Magazine, Fortune and any others that help you better understand the day-to-day challenges of your customers and prospects; spending more time with product specialists in your bank (e.g. Wealth Management, Treasury Management, Capital Markets); and delving into one or more industries that hold particular promise.

Bonus tip: Remember the important personal stuff. Spend quality time with loved ones of all ages. Go to the gym, don’t talk about it. Reflect. Count your blessings.

Next Complimentary Webinar on November 24 at 11 AM Eastern: What Small Business Bankers Can Learn from Moneyball

Moneyball, the 2011 box-office hit, tells the story of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane and how he built a winning baseball team on limited budget using data and analytics. For a baseball franchise, analytics play a vital role in developing strategy, tactics and techniques. In this webinar Ted Triplett, the Chief Marketing Officer of Insight Ecosystems, shows how banks are applying this same approach to small business banking to gain a competitive advantage, improve performance and drive growth and profitability. You need not know anything about baseball to discover how to hit home runs by turning data into insight and insight into results.

Go to to register. If you have questions call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771 or email her at

Recently recorded complimentary webinars available in the recorded sessions area of our webinar archive:

Q&A on Prospecting

Is Cross-selling the Secret Sauce?

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

For more information on the Prospecting Strategies Webinar Series, call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771 or email her at

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)


25 Questions to Assess Your Prospecting Process

Prospecting Assessment

Face it: few bankers are consistently prospecting effectively. Many struggle to get in the door with business prospects. Others can land a first meeting but have difficulty securing a second. Most give up too soon—often after just a few meetings.

Based on our work with commercial and small business banking teams, we’re convinced that sales leaders can help bankers develop better prospecting habits. Diagnosing where RMs need assistance starts with an objective diagnosis of their current approach.

Here are some of the questions bank sales managers should consider:

  • Have you reviewed each team member’s prospect list in the last quarter?

  • Are your bankers blocking out uninterrupted time each week to do research on prospects and schedule appointments with them?

  • Have your subordinates instituted a referral process to gain access to the decision makers on their prospect lists?

For 22 other questions, download our prospecting assessment by clicking here.

Looking for more tips on prospecting? Check out:

Preparing for the First Call on a Prospect

Q&A on Getting in the Door with Prospects

Q&A on Calling on Medical Practices (mp3)

Special webinar on “The State of Middle Market Banking”:

The recorded version of this webinar by Barlow Research is available for a limited time only at the discounted price of $100 (it is normally $325). To register go to

Recent archived webinars from MZ Bierly Consulting:

Business Operations Meetings: Building Strong Relationships with Business Owners

Delving Into Financial Operations: Selling to Change

Negotiating Price: Strategies for Bankers

Building Relationships with CPAs

LinkedIn on 60 Minutes a Week: Parts 1 and 2

Networking in the Age of Social Media

For more information go to or call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771.



7 Game Changing Plays for Bankers: New eBook

sales coaching bankers

Our eBook 7 Game Changing Ideas contains links to blog posts, mp3 files and videos from MZ Bierly Consulting. Each of the 7 ideas includes practical tips for bankers on how to improve their results calling on business customers and prospects. Among the topics covered are:

* How to get business owners to share their vision for the future

* The value of joining training associations

* How to leverage the connections of bank board members

* Why it's critical to demonstrate business acumen

To download the eBook, click on 7 Game Changing Ideas.

Looking for ways to energize your team? If you’re planning a sales meeting or a refresher workshop, contact Ned Miller at 610-296-4771 to discuss how we might help.  Check out our popular prospecting workshop on “Building Prospect Momentum” by clicking here.

Bonus: Download our article “Coaching Prospecting: 7 Tips for Sales Managers” by going to Bank Sales Corner Blog.




Networking in the Age of Social Media


I am frequently asked by bankers to give them feedback on their Linkedin profiles.  It's something I am happy to do.  I find myself repeating the same advice to both novices on socaial media and old hands, many of whom have built sizeable networks.  My recorded message sounds like this:

1.  Your profile reads too much like a resume in my view.  Write a summary for clients and prospects, not headhunters.

2.  You should seek out some current clients for recommendations-- for Linkedin, but also for other uses (e.g. in proposals, as part of leave behind material, etc.)

3.  Think about developing a communication strategy targeting the Linkedin groups your prospects are part of (CRE, manufacturing, law firms, etc.).  It doesn't have to be original content but it does have to be relevant and valuable.

When it comes to Linkedin-- and other social media that more and more bankers are using to network-- it may be time for a reality check.

  • Are you visible online?  If prospects or potential COIs looked for you, what would they find?
  • Does your online profile demonstrate any of your expertise?
  • Are you taking advantage of tools to help you stay current on what's happening that may impact your customers and prospects?

Wherever you are in your career you need to think about your professional brand, and that includes how you appear in cyberspace.

Recorded Webinar Alert: Sign up for our recorded webinar on Networking in the Age of Social Media. Ned Miller and digital marketing guru Eric Cook from WSI Internet looked at how savvy bankers are leveraging social media in networking.

They started by reviewing the most popular social media sites and then examined their usefulness in a business context.  Along the way they showed tools and applications (many free) that will make researching and communicating with prospects and potential COIs easier.  To sign up for the recorded webinar click on the link below:

Networking in the Age of Social Media

Call 610-296-4771 for details on discounts for multiple lines.

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19 Takeaways from a Sales Workshop: A Bank Sales Manager's Notes

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Remember when you missed class and would ask a friend (or sometimes the brainy nerd who hung on the teacher’s every word) for a copy of his notes? It wasn’t the same thing as being there, but it might have gotten your through the mid-term exam.

If you haven’t been to a sales training refresher recently, here are the notes that a veteran banker shared with his team of relationship managers following a recent workshop on developing strategies for high potential clients and prospects. Feel free to pass them along to others.

* Persistence pays off.

* Networking and connecting with the right people can help you get in the door and speed the process of converting prospects.

* It’s not enough to have a breadth of knowledge of the client’s business. You need to make your knowledge relevant.

* Identify the need and do the work (i.e. projection models, debt capacity, etc.).

* Preparation for any call is worth a ton. Anticipate the call and plan for the challenges. We’re not as good on our feet as we think when winging it.

* Let your prospect know how quickly you’ll be able to turn things around. Communication is critical.  They don’t know what we are doing behind the curtain.

* Knowing where you want to end up translates into having a perspective.

* Find the right solution-- which may not be necessarily what the client ordered.

* Bring something relevant to every meeting (another way of saying prepare).

* It’s about the client – solve their problem, don’t sell your product.

* Leverage Senior Management. Prepare them as well—they’re not as good on their feet as they think they are either!

* Schedule relationship reviews for every client. Things change.

* Share insights and expertise, internally and externally. “Ask, don’t tell” is a far better approach when sharing.

* Build a list of prospective businesses to focus on. Too big a list and too small a list are both problematic

* Use client referrals and testimonials to get an appointment.

* Add value. Bring something of value to the prospect in the way of ideas, information, associations, etc. 

* Always plan two calls at a time. Set up your next meeting when you’re with the prospect. Establish how you will follow up now that you have better information.

* Use questions that add value – the “Ask, don’t tell” process.

* Recognize it usually takes multiple client needs to build sufficient momentum to overcome inertia.

Here are some prospecting resources from MZ Bierly Consulting.

1.    How to Build a Business Network eBook

2.    Prospecting Pointers eBook

3.    Recorded and Live Webinars on Prospecting

If you’re looking for a way to jumpstart your team’s prospecting efforts, check out the Building Prospecting Momentum Workshop or call Ned Miller at 610-296-4772 or email him at

Live Webinar Alert: Building Referral Relationships with CPAs, July 15 at 11 AM Eastern. To register call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771 or go to Building Referral Relationships with CPAs Webinar


More Coaching 3 Pointers on Prospecting


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:

  1. Leverage your network
  2. Ask better questions
  3. Assess your performance
  4. Build your network
  5. Develop industry expertise
  6. Questions add value
  7. Tell better stories
  8. Develop internal COIs
  9. Use LinkedIn better
  10. Celebrate small victories

Upcoming Events:

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.



21 Basic Marketing Activities to Take to the Bank


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!



Networking Groups and Groucho Marx

Groucho Marx


Question: I am currently considering joining a network 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 the group will approve the applications if we all apply. The group appears to be a well organized one and the leader seems genuine in getting referrals going.

Answer: Here's my take on networking groups. It all depends on the individuals in them. Some business bankers swear that they are great at generating leads for them; others find them a waste of time.

Does it make sense to join one? Sure, to see if you have found a good group. If you get into a dud group, run (fast) before you waste a lot of time.

That said, based on your reaction to the initial meeting you attended, it's certainly worth pursuing membership. The fact that you liked the leader is a plus.

How will they decide which of the bankers to admit? My hunch is there are several possible criteria:

  1. Does anybody know any of the four? Would they want them in? 
  2. What do they think about the customer bases of the four? (If one of the bankers has a stable of residential homebuilders as clients, that may or may not be very appealing to the group.)
  3. Does your organization "compete" with any of the non-bank financial services types likely to be part of the group? (Maybe not if you’re from a small community bank but if you’re part of a large organization that has armies of brokers, insurance agents, leasing specialists, etc. you could be viewed as “the enemy” by other members.)

These are only guesses. If you want to find out, why not call the leader up (and maybe anybody else in the group you know) and ask? You could take advantage of the opportunity to share with them some additional information about your background, your customers, your target market, etc.  Then pop the question on your mind: "Based on my background, would I be a good fit for your networrking group?"

If you get turned down, go find another group. Or better yet, start your own.

And don't forget Groucho Marx's line about having second thoughts about becoming a member of any club that would have him. Referrals are great, but you have to earn them, and that comes from how well you deliver day in and day out to your customers. (And don't forget to ask them for referrals too!)

Check out our new eBook Prospecting Pointers. It includes chapters on:

  • Building a good prospect list
  • Getting in the door
  • Preparing for the first call
  • The first meeting with a prospect
  • Getting referrals from CPAs

To download your complimentary copy, go to





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