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Suffering from Cold Call Reluctance? (Video)


Cold calling is sometimes a banker's best option. For some inexperienced branch managers and business bankers that can lead to cold call reluctance. Here's what to do if you find yourself procrastinating or dreading the thought of making a cold call to a prospect.

If you would like to download a transcript of this video, click on the link below.

Cold Call Reluctance

Free Resource for Bank Sales Managers: Download your copy of "Coaching the Prospecting Process: Tips for Sales Managers" by going here.

Archived Webinars on Prospecting: Go to for a complete list of our recorded webinars on prospecting.

What do you think? Please share your advice, insights, and experiences in the COMMENTS area below...

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cold calling, prospecting

Q&A on Networking Groups (mp3)



prospecting for bankers

Question: I am currently considering joining a networking group. This group limits members to one from each industry, however, when I attended the first introductory meeting there were three other bankers who wanted to join. I wonder how this group will approve applications if we all apply? The group appears to be a well-organized one and the leader seems genuine in getting referrals going.

To download a podcast with my answer--or a transcript of it--click on the link below.

Q&A on Networking Groups

Interested in a series of fast-paced refreshers on prospecting? Check out any of our 10 archived webinars on Prospecting Strategies:

Building a Good Prospect List

Leveraging Your Network to Get in the Door

How to Use Your LinkedIn Network in Prospecting

Preparing for First Calls on Prospects

Industry Research as a Differentiator

Business Operations Meetings: Building Strong Relationships with Business Owners

Delving into Financial Operations: Selling to Financial Change

The First 3 Calls on Prospects

Following Up on Proposal – Persistent or Pest?

Getting the Most Out of Networking Events

Go to or contact Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771 for more information and team discounts.

Getting Referrals: Are you wasting time on CPAs? (Video)


Tax season is over. It is probably OK to start calling on CPAs again in search of referrals. But before you do, here are 6 reasons why you ought to be asking some of your clients for introductions too:

  1. If you believe the research from national firms like Barlow and Greenwich, most of your  business clients would be delighted to assist you.
  2. Most CPAs feel obligated to refer at least two other bankers when asked for a recommendation; your satisfied clients don’t.
  3. Your customers probably won’t be in a position to critique any proposals you make to the people they refer you to.  That’s often how accountants “add value.”
  4. Customers often give glowing testimonials; circumspect accountants are usually reluctant to do so.
  5. Established CPAs may be asked for referrals by scores of lenders. Many business owners are never asked.
  6. Your clients usually don’t make a big deal out of “reciprocity.”

For more thoughts on why you ought to be spending more time with your satisfied clients, check out this video.

Looking for specific tips on how to ask for referrals? Check out this article How to Ask Customers for Referrals

You might also be interested in signing up for one of our recorded webinars on the topic at

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7 Habits of Highly Unproductive RMs


Editor's note: This blog post is one of our most read. It may be a stretch to compare it to a classic Mustang, but that's a chance we'll take.

Image result for mustang 60s

With apologies to Stephen Covey, here are my “7 Habits of Highly Unproductive Salespeople (banker version)”:
1.    Be reactive. Wait for what walks in the door. Don’t ask your satisfied customers for referrals—they know you provide great service and will send you any leads they have.

2.    Put (anything other than customers) first. Problem loan reports. Compliance issues. Operational matters. No experienced banker gets canned for failing to make his sales goals.

3.    Don’t worry about preparing for calls. Industry research--who has time for that? Developing specific questions for a first meeting with a prospect? Just ask ‘em to tell you about their business.

4.    Strategize alone. Your Sales Manager (a) doesn’t know your customers/ prospects well; (b) doesn’t have time; and/ or (c) probably wouldn’t add much value if you talked about your strategy.

5.    Think about what you need to sell first, not what your customers and prospects need. You’ve got goals to make.

6.    Don’t make time for professional development. Training is for “junior” people, not veterans like you. Heck, if you’re like most commercial bankers, you believe that you’re in the top 20% of your peer group when it comes to business development skills. This is known in some circles as the Lake Wobegon effect—where all the children are above average. (Special offer: If you’d like to assess which stage your relationship building skills are in, go to The Progression of Relationship Development Skills )

7.    Keep reminding yourself that knowing how to do something (like prospecting, say) is the same thing as doing it. And, if anybody questions your current results, you can come up with any number of excuses (“Our credit policy is too restrictive.” “We’re not even close to market pricing today.” “We need to do more advertising/ build more branches/get more creative on structuring deals, etc.”)

To read more articles on sales leadership topics visit our blog at Bank Sales Corner Blog

Feel free to share this post with others in your organization who might benefit or via LinkedIn. 

Top 10 Blog Posts of the Year


Here is a list of our most popular blog posts of 2014. Feel free to share it with your colleagues. For the latest updates and new content, you can subscribe to our Youtube channel or follow us on Linkedin.

  1. 25 Questions to Assess Your Prospecting Process
  2. In Search of the Magic Prospect List
  3. Prospecting Q&A: What's the Best Way to Follow Up?
  4. Q&A for Bankers on Targeting the Health Care Niche
  5. A Quick Sales Fitness Test for Bankers
  6. 6 Secrets of Star Prospectors: Tips for Bankers
  7. Prospecting Pointers for Bankers: Celebrate Small Victories
  8. 10 Tips for Bankers on Finishing Strong in 2014
  9. The Case for More Sales Calls
  10. A Checklist for Evaluating a Prospect: 20 Questions for Bankers



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)


Q&A on Getting in the Door: How Long Do I Keep Calling?

Prospecting for bankers

Question: How long do you keep calling a prospect to set up an appointment before throwing in the towel?

Answer: It depends on how important the prospect is to you. Start with the assumption that you’re going to have to work to get in the door. Once you and your sales manager have come up with the best approach—which will often focus on a referral from a party the prospect knows and trusts—you’re ready to launch your campaign.

Use different approaches: phone calls can be alternated with emails or letters. Be sure to practice what you’re going to say before you pick up the phone. Make every contact you have valuable, adding something that underscores the benefit of meeting with you.  Try to talk to a real person in the prospect’s organization and enlist that person’s help before going in to voicemail.

If after a number of unsuccessful phone attempts—we would generally say 4 or 5-- you may want to vary your routine. If you don’t have a referral, try to get one. If it’s appropriate, you might consider dropping by to set up an appointment. See if there’s somebody else in the company you can talk to.

Keep after your prospect for at least 8 weeks. If you’re still unsuccessful, drop this prospect into your follow-up file for 3 to 6 months down the road. Don’t give up after putting so much energy into the hunt. Things can and do change!

Here are other recent articles on prospecting that might be of interest:

In Search of the Magic Prospect List

How to Build a Bigger and Better Prospect List

Sales Managers: Do Your Bankers Have Good Prospect Lists?

Webinar Alert: Leveraging Your Network to Get in the Door with Prospects on March 24 at 11 AM Eastern. Topics that will be covered in this 45 minute webinar include:

  • When 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

  • Anticipating referral reluctance

  • When to ask and how to ask your network for referrals

  • Value statements, value propositions and value drivers

  • Frequent objections bankers face—and how to address them

  • How some bankers are using LinkedIn to schedule initial meetings

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



In Search of the Magic Prospect List

prospecting for bankers

“I need a better prospect list.” How many times have Marketing Departments heard that one? Don’t get me wrong; bankers do need good prospect lists. But I suspect that some people think that their Marketing Department is holding out on them, that there really is a magic database of creditworthy companies ready to change their banking relationships tomorrow.

While there are certainly ways to build a better list—by using multiple data sources, tapping into the knowledge that your colleagues have of the market and doing a better job of researching companies to be sure that they match your bank’s target profile—every list has flaws. Sure, D&B and InfoUSA have some out of date information, but that doesn’t mean that prospectors should avoid using them.  Most lists that have been run in the last 12 to 18 months are plenty good enough as a starting point.

The real issue is what you do with the list you have. Your job is to get in front of the prospects that your sales manager thinks are a good match for you and the organization. Until you have a chance to meet with the prospect—or as many say, the “suspect”—you won’t know whether you should spend more time with them or not.  And remember that in 70 to 80% of the cases involving proactive prospecting, your prospects will be at least moderately satisfied with their current banking arrangement. That doesn’t disqualify them; on the contrary, that probably means you’re in front of a viable prospect, albeit one that you’ll have to work hard to win over.

So don’t complain about your imperfect list. If you need to add more names to it, huddle with your sales manager. The first challenge is to get first and second appointments, and if you’re having difficulties doing that, seek out some coaching on your strategy.

To download our eBook on prospecting, go to Q&A on Getting in the Door: Prospecting Tips for Bankers.

You might also be interested in How to Confidently Ask Customers for Referrals.

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.



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