Many business customers today are demanding a higher level of professional expertise from their bankers. How do you become a more valuable resource for your best customers? Here are a few things to focus on:
- Stay current on the financial services industry. Even if your market is Main Street you need to know what's happening on Wall Street-and be able to explain it to your customers.
- Learn as much as you can about your customers-their industries, their major customers, their markets, etc. (One great way to do that is by attending meetings of their trade associations and reading their industry publications.)
- Track closely what your competitors are doing. In addition to making sure you circulate this intelligence to your colleagues and sales managers, you might also decide to share this information with selected clients. If, for example, a bank is promoting a new treasury management product, you might alert your best customers to your bank's plans to launch a similar product soon.
- Develop a specific, written relationship-building plan for your key customers. Introduce others from your organization to them. Research shows that customers are more inclined to buy additional products from their primary bank if they know the product specialists there. Senior managers can also help retain key relationships.
- Lobby internally on behalf of your customers. Many bankers think first of advocating for their clients on credit issues. But don't stop there: insure that your customers receive excellent customer service from all areas of the organization.
- Keep developing your own professional skills. To most business customers the relationship manager is the most important person they deal with at the bank. If you're not getting better year after year, you're shortchanging your customers. Don't let them down!
Agree or disagree? What else would you add to this list? Let me know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org .
For ideas on how to develop your own skills visit http:/www.mzbierlyconsulting.com or call 610-296-4772.
This week I had the chance to spend time with three wise bankers, each with 30 or more years in banking. Two are CEOs, the other is a Chief Credit Officer who served as a bank president earlier in his career. When you find yourself in their company it pays to listen up.
Here are some of the things they said about selling in banks, which are relevant whether you're a management trainee or a veteran.
- It is a good time to be a banker. Not an easy time, for sure, but one when it's possible to learn a lot.
- Don't expect things to return to the way they were in 1997 or 2003 or 2007. The banking landscape has changed forever. Don't let yourself get nostalgic.
- You don't have to be a great salesperson to be successful in banking. But you have to be active and visible in your community and committed to pursuing new business opportunities.
- It's not about making calls; it's about building relationships.
- Don't kid yourself: It takes time to develop a professional network.
- Be a good partner. If you team well with bank specialists and line-of- business partners you'll go far-and your customers will clearly benefit.
- It's easy to lose sight of what's important. There's a tendency today to spend too much time thinking about operational or administrative matters. One president remarked that if some branch managers spent as much time worrying about taking care of business customers as they do about locking the vault, they'd be a lot more successful.
- While it's important to learn about the bank's products and services, it's more important to learn as much as you can about your customers and prospects.
Agree or disagree? Send me your comments at email@example.com.