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. In a tough environment, nobody gets canned for failing to make their sales goals.
3. Don’t worry about preparing for calls. Experienced bankers can always wing it. 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 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 bank relationship managers, 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. If you’d like to assess which stage your relationship building skills are in, go to http://www.mzbierlyconsulting.com/the-evolution-of-relationship-development-skills-where-are-you-today.)
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 exculpatory 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.”)
Sales Leaders: For your copy of the Progression of Sales Leadership Skills, go to http://www.mzbierlyconsulting.com/how-do-sales-leadership-skills-progress.
To read more articles on sales leadership topics visit our blog at http://www.mzbierlyconsulting.com/bank-sales-corner-blog/?Tag=sales+leaders.
Question: I represent a small, young (6 years) community bank and am going after healthcare professionals (MDs, DDSs, DVMs) and their practices. I am looking to build "loan-deposit - other products" relationships around small, non-Real Estate deals (up to $1.0MM) and competing against one top 10 bank and a regional bank. Any words of advice?
Answer: As you undoubtedly realize, you are targeting a niche that many other financial services providers—not just banks--focus on. Medical doctors are solicited by everybody and anybody, which does little to rein in their outsized egos. That said, a few suggestions:
1. Build a list of who specifically you are going after. You might, as an example, refine your list of medical specialists to emphasize surgeons, say, over family practices, or medical groups over solo operators, or doctors located close to your branches.
2. Show your list to everybody in your network, starting with your colleagues--even tellers have connections with doctors. If your bank has any health care professionals as clients, think about how to leverage that. Figure out which CPAs in your community have dealings with your prospects and get to know them. In my experience, without a referral from another practitioner, a COI or a patient, you're going to have trouble getting in to see most doctors and dentists.
3. Get smart about the issues in each segment you're pursuing. Follow the industry research--association websites are great sources, as are e-Mentor, Ibisworld, and First Research. Become a specialist yourself. As Jim Unland, a health care consultant that we have worked with in the past once remarked, "You can't dabble in this and be successful."
4. Look into professional associations. If you're in a place where local or state medical/ dental/ veterinary societies are running events, find out what's on the schedule. It might be worth attending one. Check out the Health Care Financial Management Association and the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), the association for practice managers in the health care field.
5. Stick with it. Prospecting requires a high degree of preparation and persistence. Building relationships with health care professionals is a challenge, but many relationship managers have been extremely successful at it.
Looking for more insights into the health care field? You might be interested in listening to our recorded webinars on prospecting medical practices, dental practices, and veterinarians. Go to http://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com to register. If you’d like more information, call Ned Miller at 610-296-4772 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.