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.
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: 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:
- Does anybody know any of the four? Would they want them in?
- 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.)
- 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 http://www.mzbierlyconsulting.com/prospecting-pointers-e-book-download/
Date/Time: July 16 at 11 AM Eastern, 10 AM Central, 9 AM Mountain, 8 AM Pacific
Audience: Commercial and Business Bankers, Branch Managers, specialists in areas like Treasury Management and Wealth Management who are calling on businesses and professionals and their Sales Managers
Overview: Are you looking for help getting in the door with prospects? Join Buck Bierly for a fast-paced tour of the referral strategies that high-performing bankers are using to schedule first (and second) meetings with targeted prospects.
- What to do if you don't have a warm lead
- Is cold calling your best option?
- Referrals from satisfied clients, your business network and COIs…where to start
- Reasons why bankers avoid asking for referrals
- Why customers give referrals
- Anticipating referral reluctance
- When to ask and how to ask your network for referrals
- Value statements, value propositions and value drivers
Registration: You can register for the live session three ways: (1) Call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771 or (2) email her at email@example.com or (3) go to the Training Center section of our secure Webex website at https://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com and pay the fee for the webinar by credit card.
If you can’t make the live webinar, the recorded version will be available in our archive within 24 hours of the live session. You can also contact Susan Lersch to find out more information about discounts for multiple lines for the same webinar. Her number is 610-296-4771.
Looking for a sampling of the ideas that will be covered? Go to Tips on Getting in the Door.
Live Webinar Alert:
August 13 The First 3 Calls on a Prospect
How do you learn how to play golf? You can watch the Golf Channel. You can read instructional books ghost-written for top professionals. You can take lessons where they’ll videotape your swing and compare it to the swings of touring pros
The correct answer is that you learn to play golf by playing. All the other stuff can help, but only if it’s followed by rounds of golf.
What does that have to do with learning how to network? And, more significantly, what does it mean for Sales Managers?
You can make a strong case for talking about the importance of networking in your sales meetings. You can encourage people to read books and articles on networking. You can even send people to courses on how to become a better networker.
All these things can help. But none can replace actually going to networking events and trying to apply the concepts. It’s just like golf: you can take a lesson but if you don’t practice what you’ve learned you’ll forget it.
Most of my clients have figured out that the first time people try a new skill or technique it will feel awkward. So, unless somebody encourages them to try it again, there’s a real possibility that they won’t. So that’s one way that Sales Managers add value.
There are obviously other things that Sales Managers do to improve the likelihood that their Relationship Managers will get better at networking:
- 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 community and trade association events is important, you have to walk the talk.
Upcoming webinars: Getting in the Door with Prospects on July 16 and The First 3 Calls on a Prospect on August 13. Go to https://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com to register or call Susan Lersch at 610-296-477 for more details.
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/.
If you want to grow your business network here are three things you can do to improve your chances of success:
1. Assess your current network: Everybody has contacts. They would include family, friends, classmates, alumni connections, co-workers, bankers you have gotten to know through trade associations like RMA, and people you have met through church and volunteer activities. If you’ve been in the industry for a while, you could add current and former customers, your prospects, your professional network of CPAs, attorneys, and appraisers, as well as some of their contacts.
Some of these people are just acquaintances, but others could fall into the category of advocates who would go out of their way to recommend you. Others are real allies, what networking guru Bill Cates (author of Unlimited Referrals and other classics on networking) compares to a personal board of directors. (To rate your current networking relationships, you can download a quick 10 question quiz by going to Rate Your Business Contacts .)
You should spend time listing and categorizing your current contacts into acquaintances, advocates and allies. If you are currently using a contact management or CRM system, this should be relatively easy; if you’re using LinkedIn it will take 60 to 90 minutes to complete this exercise.
As LinkedIn has demonstrated, the real power of this extended network is in its reach. Your acquaintances, advocates and allies all know people who could help you. The trick is tapping into their Rolodexes.
2. Make sure your contacts know what you’re up to: If you’ve just switched jobs, don’t keep it a secret. But updating your network has to be an ongoing part of your personal communication strategy, not just a communique heralding a new employer.
How do savvy bankers keep connected with their contacts? They typically rely on a variety of tools, starting with a database that they keep up to the minute. They send emails, cards (not just at Christmas) and relevant news throughout the year. Some are experimenting with personalized email newsletters, which are relatively easy to produce and much less expensive than mailings. For their allies, some form of phone or face-to-face communication alternates every month with written correspondence.
3. Join the right groups: There are lots of places to meet people. My favorites include civic events, conferences, alumni functions, non-profits, professional associations and private clubs. Some people have benefitted from networking (or BNI) groups.
But it’s not enough to join; you have to show up too. You have to seek out opportunities where you can share your talents, either by assuming a visible leadership position or volunteering to serve on a committee.
Agree or disagree? Post your comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Next week’s blog will contain three more tips on building a business network. If you can’t wait, you can read the complete article that appeared in the ABA’s Commercial Insights newsletter by going to How to Build a Business Network: 6 Tips for RMs.
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