We all rationalize our behavior. But often our thoughts undermine our chances for success. Here are examples of mental misconceptions that bankers need to battle:
- “My customers know what I can do. If they know somebody who needs a banker, they’ll call me.” Business customers do know what their bankers can do, and if you believe the research, are usually pre-disposed to refer them to other business people. That said, don’t kid yourself: If you want referrals from your customers, you need to ask for them.
- “It’s not a good time to prospect.” OK, you can come up with lots of reasons why now isn’t a good moment to be seeking new clients—everybody’s on vacation, there’s no demand for loans, it’s renewal season, I’m going to be on maternity leave, etc. The truth is that while there’s never a perfect time, you can’t afford to stop your prospecting efforts. Whether it’s scheduling first meetings or following up on proposals, you have to keep calling on prospects to have a realistic chance to land them.
- “I don’t want to seem pushy.” Pushy to whom? Bankers’ definitions of pushiness rarely match those of other business people. If you want my business, you better “push” a little bit. You don’t have to be obnoxious—heck, you better be friendly and professional—but it’s alright to be aggressive.
- “I don’t have time to prepare.” If it’s a priority, you’ll find the time. You do have to be smart about this; if you can get some help from an AA or a credit analysis pulling industry information and background on the company, do it. (Note: There are also bankers who routinely over-prepare for meetings, eating into time that could be spent in front of customers and prospects. Or as we used to say, they are victims of “analysis/ paralysis.”)
- “It’s all about price and structure.” Lenders often clamor for “more flexibility” in pricing and structuring loans. While pricing is extremely competitive in most markets—particularly for the top businesses—not everybody makes decisions based solely on rate or terms. According to research we have seen, about 50% of the business owners are price shoppers. For them the “low cost/ loose structure” value proposition works. But what about the other 50%?
- “I can only get prospects to spend 15 or 20 minutes with me on a first call.” If that’s the case, you have to get back in the door for a longer, more substantive conversation quickly. Because it’s hard to learn enough in 15 minutes to find any but the most obvious opportunities. I’d also question whether the prospect is the one who is uncomfortable with spending more time, or whether it’s more your problem.
- “They’ll never leave their bank.” Again you could be right, but you need to remember that things can and do change. Relationships have ups and downs, and if you’re not calling on a regular basis, you may miss out if things begin to deteriorate.
Why do bankers struggle getting in the door with prospects? According to Buck Bierly, the main reason is that they don’t systematically leverage their network of satisfied customers, line of business partners and COIs. Many commercial and business bankers resort to cold calling, which rarely produces the desired results.
To listen to Buck’s comments go to Why Bankers Struggle Getting in the Door with Prospects.
Bonus: To download our eBook on prospecting, go to Q&A on Getting in the Door: Prospecting Tips for Bankers.
In a recent webinar on "Building and Sustaining an Effective Branch Sales Organization," David Kerstein and Buck Bierly reviewed the importance of building a plan for each branch that incorporates the following:
- The daily, weekly, and monthly sales routines in the branch
- The importance of peer cross-training
- A checklist for assessing your branch's sales process
- A simple technique for improving sales results
Listen to their thoughts on what you need to do to build an effective internal sales organization and win market share in today's competitive environment.
To download the mp3 go to http://www.mzbierlyconsulting.com/building-and-sustaining-an-effective-branch-sales-organization/
Retail and Small Business Banking Sales Leaders: If you’re interested in improving the outside calling skills of your Branch Managers, don’t miss the upcoming webinar “Building Business Acumen: Coaching Branch Managers” on March 19, 2012.If you can’t make the live session, the recorded version will be available in our archive within 24 hours. Here are more details: http://www.eventspan.com/event/2012-03-19-developing-business-acumen.
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