Does everybody have ADHD? Well, not in a strict clinical sense. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, something like 4.4% of the adult population has been diagnosed with ADHD. But even though I’m not a psychiatrist, I see too many bankers exhibiting symptoms that suggest a problem staying focused. They include:
- Multi-tasking on conference calls
- Inability to read beyond the first two lines of an email
- Difficulty paying attention in meetings or on sales calls
- Avoiding certain sales tasks (like preparing well for meetings with prospects)
- Struggling to complete routine reports
It’s not surprising. Held hostage by BlackBerries, buried under daily avalanches of email and juggling an increasing array of administrative and compliance issues, many bankers are understandably frazzled.
So short of ingesting massive quantities of Ritalin, what’s a busy banker to do? Here are some techniques to stay on track:
- Schedule time to perform certain tasks. Figure out your peak times for certain important activities. If you write more fluidly in the morning, that’s when you should do your credit memos. Determine the best time to call your customers and prospects to schedule appointments. Put it in your calendar. View it like a meeting that you’ve scheduled with an important client and you’ll show up.
- Limit distractions. Disable that noise that lets you know another email has arrived. If you need to concentrate, close your door or find a place where you won’t be interrupted.
- Concentrate on one thing at a time—no multi-tasking! If you’re on a phone call, don’t be scrolling through your email inbox.
- Take notes in meetings. Ask questions. Summarize what you’ve heard. (These are all things that good listeners do.)
- Take breaks. A quick walk around the block or 50 sit-ups might just resuscitate you.
- Apply the STOP technique. Step back; think; select the best option; and proceed.
Busy isn’t bad if you’re productive. It’s when you lose control of your time that you need to regroup.
Check out our blog at http://www.mzbierlyconsulting.com/bank-sales-corner-blog Recent topics include:
- Business Development Doesn’t Take a Vacation: 9 Ideas for Bankers
- Preparing for a First Call
- The Five Mistakes Bankers Make on Sales Calls
- How to Ask Customers for Referrals
What are the keys to success in prospecting? Here are eight things that high-performing relationship managers do consistently:
- They focus on the right companies. Bankers need to understand what their banks are looking for. But there's more to this than just memorizing the target profile. Bankers have to assess whether they’re a good match for the prospects as well, considering whether they have the requisite skills and experience to deliver a compelling value proposition. If you're unsure, talk through your strategy with your sales manager. (Note: if you're not the best person to lead the charge with the prospect, you can still play a role.)
- They prepare appropriately for the initial contact. At a minimum they familiarize themselves with the prospect’s industry using resources like RMA, First Research or LexisNexis. They also spend time reviewing the prospect’s website. By comparing industry trends with what appears to be going on in the company, they're able to frame intelligent questions for the first meeting.
- They build relationships at the right level. In most cases successful prospectors start at the highest point in the organization that they can reach. In small to midsize businesses this is usually the owner or president. In larger companies they may be dealing with a chief financial officer or treasurer. Starting at the top of the organizational totem pole is not always easy, but usually pays dividends in the long run.
- They have clearly defined objectives for both the first and second meetings. These objectives are far beyond just getting in the door and getting to know the individuals involved. Often they include such things as learning more about the organization’s specific business model and short to medium term strategy. Every successful prospector knows that the primary goal of the first meeting is getting a second appointment. To do that requires the ability to ask intelligent questions based on the research conducted on the company.
- They use their team members effectively in developing and executing their sales strategy. These team members include their sales manager and partners from different lines of business who may see other ways to add value to the prospect relationship. Good prospectors are good quarterbacks and leaders in implementing strategy.
- They work to understand their prospects better then the competition does. Specifically they learn more about the industry in which the company operates, its business operations, how it manages its financial affairs and perhaps most importantly, the value systems of the company's key decision makers and influencers. They seek to be known for their experience and expertise.
- They find a coach, somebody inside or outside the prospect organization who can give them a window on the inner workings of the company. A coach can help bankers see things in a different light (e.g. who the real influencers are within the company, what the values are of the key players, and who the real competition is in a given situation.)
- They understand that prospecting takes time. In our experience, it takes between five and eight face-to-face calls to move a significant share of a prospect’s business. That requires both patience and persistence.
What mistakes do bankers typically make in prospecting? Join us for a new live webinar led by Buck Bierly (see below.)
The Seven Mistakes Bankers Make in Prospecting (In conjunction with the Graduate School of Banking at LSU)
September 27, 2010 10:00 AM Central/ 11 AM Eastern
Program Description: In this 60 minute webinar we will discuss:
1. The 7 most common mistakes in prospecting
2. The difference between reactive and proactive prospecting
3. What small to mid-sized businesses value in banking relationships
4. Building a profile of the best prospects in your market
5. How to generate more qualified leads from business customers
6. Doing your homework on the industry and the business to prepare for first and second meetings with prospects
7. Proven techniques for getting first appointments
8. How to identify and develop a range of needs by focusing on business and financial operations
Who Should Attend? Bank Management, Commercial Lenders, Small Business Bankers, Branch Managers calling on small businesses, Cash Management Specialists, Business Development Officers and their Sales Managers
The webinar begins at 11AM Eastern time. You can register for live webinars three ways: (1) Call Whit Midkiff at 727-741-0766 or (2) email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (3) go to the upcoming webinars section of our Webex website at https://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com and pay the $225 fee (per line, not per person) by credit card.
If you can’t make the live webinar, you will be able to view the recorded version within 24 hours of the event. We do provide discounts for organizations that sign up for three or more lines for a live webinar. Call 727-741-0766 for details.
The kids are back in school. You’ll get a chance to meet their new teachers soon. Maybe the discussion at Parents’ Night will make you think a little about how people of all ages learn. It might also get you thinking about the roadblocks to learning that we erect in our professional lives. They include:
- The Exception Mentality: I hear all the time from veterans that a workshop was “good for junior lenders.” That many of these same veterans struggle in their jobs demonstrating the very things we just talked about may be lost on them, but not on their bosses (or me). If you think something doesn’t apply to you, my first recommendation would be to think again. Then you should do a reality check with somebody more objective than your drinking buddy Hal. You may be right, but don’t assume that you are “exceptional.”
- Great Expectations (Not): This is almost the opposite problem. “I’m not very good at prospecting” may be an accurate assessment. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get better if you pay attention to the webinar on “Asking Customers for Referrals”, practice as instructed, and get some coaching if you’re still having difficulties.
- Entitlement (Or Why Somebody Else is Always the Problem): In both big cities and Lake Woebegon-like communities in the U.S., student achievement or lack thereof is often linked to teacher performance. If kids are doing well, it’s about great teachers; if they’re not, blame the faculty. (A recent article by Newsweek columnist Robert Samuelson suggests another explanation for our nation’s lackluster educational performance compared to the rest of the world: unmotivated students.) In the banking arena, entitlement sounds like this: “If only we had (a) better prospect lists; (b) a CRM system; (c) competitive products/ pricing/ credit standards, etc.” It’s a pretty seductive rationalization for someone who’s struggling to close business.
- The Exclusion Trap: This comes in a variety of flavors. “That approach may work in some markets, but it would never work here.” “That’s the way big banks do things—and we all know they don’t know how to take care of their customers.” “I wish those guys would come and spend some time in my branch; they’re really out of touch.” If you catch yourself saying or thinking any of the above, see the recommendations under #1 above.
- The Experience Roadblock: “But we’ve always done it this way.” If you’re happy with your results, keep on doing it that way. If you want a different outcome, you might want to abandon this excuse. (Refer to the popular definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing and expecting different results.”)
Agree or disagree? Let me know at email@example.com.
If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to provide quality sales and sales leadership training materials to your team, check out our recorded webinars. From refreshers on face-to-face calls to in-depth discussions on prospecting industry segments (e.g. medical, dental, law firms, architects, CPAs, etc.) we have topical programs for experienced bankers and new hires alike. Find out how you can use our recorded webinars in sales meetings or training sessions by calling Whit Midkiff at 727-741-0766 or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find out more about our webinars at http://mzbierlyconsulting.com/webinars.html.
When times are tough, Sales Managers often succumb to tactics that can actually undermine their chances for success. Here are 7 mistakes to avoid:
- Assuming that it’s about making more calls: Yes, your team has to be on the streets. But be sure that people are calling on the right customers and prospects. Rowing faster doesn’t always get you where you need to go.
- Placing too much attention to the bottom end of the funnel: When opportunities are scarce, it’s natural to do everything you can to close business. Forgetting about lead generation is dangerous. Keep reminding your team to spend time identifying and cultivating customers, prospects and COIs for the leads that will be next quarter’s (and next year’s) closed business.
- Playing, not coaching: If you got where you are because of your business development prowess—which is pretty common in all sales organizations—you may be tempted to don your Supersalesman cape. Most Producing Sales Managers spend too much time selling and not enough time coaching.
- Becoming more bureaucratic: Tough environments give rise to more forms. If you have the three essential reporting tools up and running (a weekly call planner, a pipeline, and a closed business report) don’t go crazy with more reports. Spend more time analyzing what the data you’re already collecting tells you about how you can help your salespeople.
- Sending too many (often conflicting) messages: Most of us ADD types can only handle a few directives at one time. Beware of message overload. (And it’s OK to repeat yourself.)
- Scrapping all sales training: If your professional development budget evaporates, get creative. Pull out the sales workbooks and design something on prospecting. Splurge on a webinar on generating referrals from CPAs. Now more than ever is the time to focus on improving people’s skills.
- Failing to celebrate the small victories: Did Kevin finally get in to see a prime prospect? Celebrate. Did Susan get a chance to bid on a lucrative cash management account with one of her prospects? Celebrate. Was Andy able to get a long time business customer to move some of his personal investments to you? Celebrate.
To receive a copy of a recent article entitled “Driving the Prospecting Process: 7 Tips for Sakes Managers” go to http://www.mzbierlyconsulting.com/coaching-the-prospecting-process-tips-for-sales-managers
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