Bank Sales Corner

Developing Bank Sales Leaders

Posted by Ned Miller on Tue, Apr 12, 2016 @ 09:18 PM

Leadership Development Dark Colorful Elements

Top-performing Bank Sales Leaders are skilled at:

  1. Building a Bench: Everybody loses people.  But the best sales leaders are able to recover quicker because they are always recruiting. It translates into less time without key slots filled. (The very best also occasionally hire a top performer when they don’t have an opening.) 

  2. Spending more than 50% of their time coaching: They make lots of joint calls. But they also allocate time to 1 on 1 meetings with their team members. And the conversations aren’t just about deals. Top Bank Sales Leaders view every conversation with one of their people as a coaching opportunity.  They have figured out how to balance administrative, internal meetings and (here I editorialize) the really important stuff (See #1, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.)

  1. Developing team members: The best are committed to developing their people. That means improving their bankers’ skills and enhancing their chances for success. It invariably begins with creating an annual Development Plan for each RM. 

  2. Finding their successor: The best know who is going to succeed them, in large part because of all the coaching they’re doing.  Needless to say, it makes them highly promotable. And this often helps them attract high-performers to their teams.

  1. Strategizing on the best opportunities: They help their RMs think through opportunities. They also are adept at relationship planning—essentially, what to do when there is no immediate transaction with a top client or prospect.  They are master teachers, who take advantage of strategy sessions to reinforce the bank’s sales process and best practices.

  2. Eliminating obstacles: The best Sales Managers are ruthless in removing obstacles to free up people’s time. They’re also quick to identify anything—tools, training, market movements—that could give their team an edge.  

Important message for Bank Management: Developing your Sales Managers means that you have to:

  1. Commit to their ongoing development. This means investing both time and money. Your time matters—as does the time spent coaching and mentoring by other bank members of your leadership team. But so does footing the bill for professional development, which could include training, experiential learning and outside coaching.

  2. Find ways to coach your Sales Managers. There are lots of opportunities: 1 on 1s, sales meetings, quarterly business plan reviews and joint calls should all be built into your plan.

  3. Create together an Individual Development Plan for each Sales Manager. You will need to agree on two to three areas to focus on for improvement in the next 12 months. The regular 1 on 1s you have will provide ample time to review progress and make any mid-course coaching corrections needed.


What do you think? What can bank management do to develop the next generation of top-performing sales leaders? Please share your advice, insights, and experiences in the COMMENTS area below.

In a future blog post we'll publish comments from successful Sales Leaders on this article.

Looking for a coach to coach your Sales Leaders? Contact Ned Miller at 484-433-2378 or email him at



Topics: Sales Manager, business development, coaching

A Checklist for Bank Sales Leaders

Posted by Ned Miller on Wed, Apr 06, 2016 @ 09:38 PM

As a Sales Manager you need to assess the behaviors of your sales team periodically. This checklist will help you determine what specific things you are currently doing to improve the results of your team and highlight areas that you may need to work on to take your coaching to the next level.

To download a copy of the Bank Sales Leader Self-Assessment, click on this link.



Looking for more resources on prospecting?

Go to for a complete list of our recorded webinars on prospecting.

Check out these articles:

How to Qualify Prospects Quickly

Keys to an Effective First Call on a Prospect

Questions about any of our onsite consulting services? Call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771 or email her at



























Topics: prospecting, coaching, bank sales managers

6 Critical Coaching Routines

Posted by Ned Miller on Wed, Feb 24, 2016 @ 11:38 PM


Bank sales leaders have to design routines to drive change. Without routines, team members often lose focus and honest attempts to change behavior fizzle.

In the time we have at work, we need to make intelligent decisions about where to spend our energy. The urgent— phone calls, email messages, interruptions of all types—is always going to force bankers into reacting. But particularly when the will is there but the discipline isn’t, new routines provide a framework in which breakthroughs often take place. They enable us to structure our lives in the face of competing demands.

The best sales routines have certain common elements:

  • They are very specific: “You must turn in your weekly call planner with all the calls you have scheduled for next week by the close of business on Friday.”
  • They occur at a scheduled time: “Our weekly sales meetings are on Monday at 8:30 AM.”
  • They are widely accepted by all as critical to sales success and become in essence, non-negotiable: “We review our relationship plans on all of our Key Customers and Key Prospects with our Sales Managers twice a year.”

To change a behavior—eating too many cookies after dinner, something which I can relate to—requires that we substitute another behavior—perhaps drinking a glass of water or eating a piece of fruit when the craving for chocolate chips strikes.

What are some routines that all Sales Managers should institute? Here are 6 to start with:

  1. Holding Monday morning sales meetings
  2. Reviewing your team’s pipeline and weekly call planner every Friday to prepare your key message for your weekly sales meeting
  3. Establishing quarterly reviews of Key Lists with each banker
  4. Scheduling 1 on 1 time every two weeks to coach each salesperson
  5. Riding with each salesperson at least once each quarter to observe their calls
  6. Holding some form of educational session at least once a quarter for the entire team

Changing habits is hard. Our capacity for self-control is limited. Over time coaching routines become a source of comfort to individuals, midwifing new behaviors that can become automatic and relatively painless.

Questions/ comments? Add them in the space below.

Video Alert: Tips for Sales Leaders on Time Management

In this video Ned Miller shares 3 ideas to help Bank Sales Leaders manage their time more effectively.


Looking for a Speaker for a Sales Conference? Buck Bierly and Ned Miller are frequent speakers at banking conferences and bank sales meetings. They have a reputation for delivering sales and sales leadership "how-tos" in a dynamic, engaging manner.

Offering a range of keynote, half-day and full-day programs, their approach helps salespeople and sales leaders gain a competitive advantage in every step of the sales process.

For more information about how we may be able to assist you at an upcoming sales meeting or conference, call Ned Miller at 484-433-2378 or email him at


Topics: coaching, sales leaders

First Things First: Weekly 1 on 1 Coaching

Posted by Ned Miller on Mon, Jan 18, 2016 @ 03:34 PM





It’s easy to get distracted. Urgent requests crowd out things that are often more important. We find ourselves spending the day reacting. If we don’t schedule priority activities into our weeks, sometimes they just don’t get done.


What types of activities do Bank Sales Leaders need to keep front and center? While the answer really depends a lot on your particular situation, here are the ones that most Sales Leaders need to allocate time to:

  • Identifying and recruiting talent for your team

  • Training team members to improve their skill sets

  • Reviewing pipelines

  • Making joint calls to observe your bankers in front of customers

  • Coaching

Let’s take a look at coaching. Sales Leaders know that coaching can have a huge impact on the results of their teams. And yet, for a lot of reasons, many bankers complain that they don’t do enough of it. (See my recent blog post Tips for Time-Starved Bank Sales Leaders.)


And to complicate matters, what I’ve observed is that a lot of the coaching that does get done falls into the category of deal or transaction coaching. While it’s important, it’s not enough.


Your team members also need help in identifying the best opportunities in the market. They often struggle with building momentum with desirable prospects, starting in some cases with how to make an initial contact to get an appointment with a decision-maker.


While some coaching can take place in group settings like a weekly sales meeting or a post-mortem of a deal for the whole team, the most effective way to develop team members is 1 on 1 .


Some of this can be “in the moment” or spontaneous, on the fly coaching. Sauntering by and chatting with one of your reports about an upcoming call on a major client clearly can be of tremendous value. But coaching can’t be just walking around.


You need to schedule time with each of your bankers to address important performance issues. Our recommendation is that for most business and commercial banking teams, these 1 on 1s should be for 45 to 60 minutes every other week. They’re best done outside of prime calling time—early in the day or late, often on days when there are other meetings.


What can you cover? Plenty, including a more detailed review of pipelines, calling activity, strategies for upcoming calls and, most importantly, specific developmental issues that you and the banker have decided to work on. Here’s a sample agenda:


Possible Topics to cover:

  1. Calendar

  • Review of last week’s calls and other lead generation activities (e.g. networking events, meetings with LOB partners, etc.)

  • Upcoming calls including any with the Sales Manager or partners

  • Prospecting initiatives

  • Non-selling time activities (e.g. research, customer service, credit)

  1. Pipeline

  • Review of opportunities in each stage of the funnel

  • Strategies to move customer/ prospects to next stage

  • Review of any stalled deals

  • Discussion of lessons learned on lost deals

  1. Coaching

  • Review of action items from last meeting if not already discussed

  • Review of progress on banker’s individual development plan

  • Reinforcement of sales skills

  1. Next Steps/ Action Plan


Don’t forget the coaching component (#3). Sales success is the result of having an articulated process, holding people accountable and coaching. Amping up accountability alone isn’t enough.


So remember, first things first.

  • Commit to scheduled 1 on 1 coaching for each sales team member. The open door policy does not count.

  • Get the dates and times in everybody’s calendar for at least the next quarter. No cancellations.

  • Use a structured agenda for each session.

Let me know if you have questions or comments. You can email me at or share your thoughts in the space below.

Looking for more tips on coaching? Check out MZ Bierly Consulting Articles on Coaching

Topics: coaching, sales leaders, sales culture, bank sales managers

6 Common Coaching Errors on Prospecting

Posted by Ned Miller on Mon, Nov 09, 2015 @ 06:50 AM


Prospecting is one of the toughest things bankers do. If you’re a bank sales leader, your bankers need you to be on the top of your game as a coach. Here are 6 coaching mistakes you can’t afford to make:

  1. Not providing direction on which prospects to target. . . “Build a list of the prospects you want each of your team members to do business with.”
  2. Not coaching bankers on how to leverage their networks (and that includes customers, COIs, senior management, internal partners, directors, etc.). . . “Teach your team how to use client referrals and testimonials to get appointments and build momentum.”
  3. Not creating a process for your team on generating leads. . . “Coach the top of the funnel.”
  4. Seeing yourself as the Super-Rep and stepping in to clinch the deal for your bankers…. “Teach them all to fish.
  5. Not understanding your bankers’ default value propositions . . . “Coach to the value proposition that you believe in.”
  6. Defining success too narrowly… “Celebrate small victories (e.g. getting in the door with a hard to reach prospect, scoring a second (or third) appointment, making a proposal, etc.)”

Looking for more resources on prospecting? Check out the following:

How to Qualify Prospects Quickly

Leveraging Your Network in Prospecting

Keys to an Effective First Call on a Prospect

Go to for a complete list of our recorded webinars on prospecting.


Topics: prospecting, coaching, sales leaders

7 Minute Tasks for Bank Sales Leaders

Posted by Ned Miller on Mon, Nov 02, 2015 @ 07:03 AM

Business man with checkboxes


Sales leaders are always pressed for time. (See Tips for Time-Starved Bank Sales Leaders.) But if you do find yourself with 7 minutes at some point in the day, here are 7 things you can do to improve your team’s chances of success.*


  1. Tell one of your team to schedule a day of calls with you in the next two weeks. Be specific about the mix of customers and prospects you’d like to meet with.
  2. Call one of your bankers and ask him what you can do to help with any deals in his pipeline.
  3. Arrange time to sit down one-on-one with all of your direct reports to review where they stand with their top customers and prospects. Make sure they share with you in advance their relationship plans for each customer/ prospect. (What, no relationship plans? Send me an email at and I’ll forward you one.)
  4. Think about what additional training your team needs. If you’re not sure how to get it, call your Training Department or a banking trade association like RMA for help.
  5. Let your boss (or your boss’s boss) know which of your team members deserves special recognition.
  6. Assess how well your sales people are using the tools you have provided them with (e.g. Industry information from IBIS World, RMA, Vertical IQ or First Research, prospect information, call planning templates on your bank intranet, CRM, etc.) If you don’t like the answer, do something.
  7. Call up a prospect whose business one of your team members failed to land recently. Tell them you’d like to get some feedback on how your colleague could do better in the future. You may be surprised what you’ll learn.


*All of these assume that you have built a sales process that incorporates market management principles and guidance on building relationships with customers, prospects and COIs. If you haven’t, call me at 610-296-4772 or send me an email at We can get you started.

Are you interested in reprinting an article from our blog in an internal bank publication? You may do so provided you reprint the article in its entirety and indicate that it was originally published in Bank Sales Blog, a publication of MZ BIERLY CONSULTING ( If you would like to find out how to add members of your organization to our mailing list, contact Susan Lersch at with your request.



Topics: bank sales, coaching, sales leaders, bank sales managers

Tips for Time-Starved Bank Sales Leaders

Posted by Ned Miller on Tue, Oct 13, 2015 @ 11:06 PM

bank sales leader

All bankers today are pressed for time. Responding to the array of regulatory compliance, credit administration and other internal demands for information can eat up a large chunk of a banker’s day.

Sales Managers struggle too, and not just in the banking industry. In a report by The TAS Group on “The Key Role of the Sales Manager”, researchers estimated that managers send about a third of their time on the leadership activities that drive sales results:

  • Planning—15%
  • People development—11%
  • Proactive review of territory plans, relationship strategies, call plans, etc.—11%

The TAS study reported that managers spend the bulk of their time firefighting and reacting to urgent issues (23%); reporting to management (12%); administrative tasks (15%); and with customers (13%).

Most bank Sales Managers I know complain about spending their days reacting. (One senior banker described it colorfully as “running around with his hair on fire.”) They have way too much to focus on and feel like they’re never going to catch up with the torrent of emails that arrives daily. They uniformly feel they are spending too much time “in the weeds” and too little time coaching and developing their team members.

In their day to day activities bank Sales Managers end up focusing on accountability and administration, not on coaching and developing their Relationship Managers. They are plenty busy doing the following “urgent” things:

  1. Coaching “deals” and shepherding transactions through the credit process
  2. Managing the pipeline
  3. Informal coaching
  4. Holding the team accountable for calling goals

What gets left out? Here’s a partial list:

  • Periodic relationship reviews to identify all loan, deposit and fee opportunities in the customer base, not just loans
  • Updates on progress that team members are making with Key Prospects
  • Making joint calls to observe team member’s sales skills
  • Scheduled one on one coaching sessions every few weeks that go beyond discussions of pipeline

Why does this occur in many community and regional banks? Based on my experience working with hundreds of Sales Managers over the last 15 years, I’d suggest three possible reasons:

  1. Some bank sales managers get little formal guidance or specific training on how to manage their teams. Although most have been through some form of sales training, they are left pretty much on their own when it comes to how they lead and coach their teams.
  2. Some Team Leaders are basically Super-RMs who spend their time managing their own portfolios and generating new business. A few years ago a community bank Sales Manager told me that he devoted 100% of his time to developing business and the rest of his day to managing his team. Translation: “I get paid to book business, not to coach.”
  3. Some Sales Managers fall back on the “I have experienced bankers” defense. For them, requiring team members to complete relationship plans on key clients and prospects, for example, smacks of micromanagement. Formally reviewing a banker’s prospect list every quarter to check for progress and strategize is something that would be nice to do, but gets lost in the frenzied day to day activity.

What can bank management do?

  • Figure out what you can eliminate or simplify that would enable Sales Leaders to spend more time on the things that will have the biggest impact on revenue: coaching, planning, reviewing performance, riding with team members to observe their sales skills, getting in front of more prospects, etc. Be ruthless in pruning anything you can that will free up Sales Managers to do what only they can do. If you can find 2 hours a week for each Sales Manager that can be then allocated to any of the above activities, you will see significant improvement.
  • Invest in sales management training for your front-line managers. And if you do, don’t make it a one shot deal. Sales Managers need periodic refreshers.
  • Reward Sales Managers whose teams put numbers on the board and who succeed in developing their people.

Agree or disagree? What do you think? Please share your insights and experiences in the COMMENTS area below...

Topics: bank sales, coaching, sales leaders

30 Ways for Sales Leaders to Build Business Acumen

Posted by Ned Miller on Tue, Sep 08, 2015 @ 08:20 AM

light bulb

30 Ways for Sales Leaders to Build Business Acumen

How do successful bankers differentiate themselves? Products? No. Service? Yes, but with the understanding that it’s tough to do with many prospects. Pricing? Unlikely, because most bankers freely acknowledge that (a) their employer isn’t the low-cost provider and (b) some crazy competitor can always undercut them. (An aside: Not all the “crazies” are insane; some have better profitability metrics that enable them to price transactional business at a small profit but reap the benefits of other more lucrative products and services.)

So what’s the answer? High-performing business and commercial RMs have figured out that it’s about demonstrating business acumen. Business acumen is bringing business issue insights and unsolicited financial ideas to the table. It is a significant differentiator in a competitive marketplace and is highly effective in proactive situations.

Business acumen is conversational competence in business issues; it is not the same as being a “Business Expert” or “Industry Expert”. Business acumen, as we are discussing it, is conversational competence around the industry sector changes and potential business challenges affecting businesses within that industry.

Don’t misinterpret this. Product acumen is very important, particularly in reactive situations. But it is less of a differentiator in proactive situations.

So how can sales leaders develop the business acumen of their teams? Here are 30 ideas for you to consider. Pick a few that you want to implement. If you’re not getting the response you want, try something else.

  1. Establish a routine for pooling observations about the external environment as part of your sales meetings. Summarize 2-3 takeaways.

  1. Require bankers to read the WSJ, local business journals and one monthly business magazine (Fortune, INC, Forbes, etc.)

  1. Invest in Value Line and make your bankers read it and report on it at your meetings.

  1. Review the titles of the main articles in the e-newsletter of a different industry trade association each month.

  1. Discuss industry supplements from internal or external sources (e.g.The Economist.)

  1. Have bankers present summaries of industry research from VerticalIQ, IBIS World, First Research or Lexis Nexis.

  1. Stage field trips to clients’ businesses.

  1. Sponsor round tables for clients and prospects.

  1. Have bankers attend trade association events for key clients and prospects.

  1. Require bankers who attend outside seminars or conferences to make presentations on what they learned, emphasizing how this will help them build relationships with customers.

  1. Invite local business leaders to meet with your team.

  1. Encourage bankers to keep asking clients and prospects “What’s New?” and report back to the team (see #1 above).

  1. Read and discuss What the CEO Wants You to Know by Ram Charan.

  1. Have bankers set up Google alerts on companies they're interested in.

  1. Encourage bankers to introduce COIs to COIs.

  1. Conduct post-mortems of major wins/ losses.

  1. Establish an internal Continuing Education requirement for all team members to build business acumen.

  1. Set up monthly or quarterly meetings on topical issues led by a banker and an outside expert.

  1. Discuss analyst commentary on major companies (e.g. Apple, Amazon, JP Morgan Chase).

  1. Discuss Fed minutes (particularly as they apply to interest rates) and unemployment reports.

  1. Invite your Special Assets Group to lead educational programs focusing on lessons learned with problem loans.

  1. Encourage bankers to participate in local and regional organizations involved in business incubation/ economic development (e.g. Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Authority, etc.)

  1. Make sure bankers know how your bank makes money.

  1. Require bankers to prepare at least 3 questions for every call they make to (a) demonstrate industry knowledge and (b) show they have done their homework.

  1. Have High-Performers present their approach to common challenges. Have HPs role play with others on team.

  1. Involve your Board of Directors or Advisory Board in discussions about business development/ market conditions, etc.

  1. Follow a few good business bloggers. Encourage bankers to listen to podcasts.

  1. Have bankers write an article for a business publication. (The preparation work alone will be worth it.)

  1. Review an M&A transaction. Ask the CEO the following:
    * What did you buy?
    * Why did you buy?
    * What were you seeking?
    * How did you value this?
    * How did this impact your value?
    (Note from a Senior Manager in a mid-sized regional bank: “Driving shareholder value is the primary responsibility of the CEO and if my RMs are to be effective they need to understand what that means. They need to understand how value is created, what the components of value are, how CEOs are setting strategies and objectives that drive those components. To identify the constraints, the market requirements and environmental challenges to executing those strategies, tactics and objectives would be my expectation to say we have business acumen. As commercial bankers we tend not to connect sales growth, margin improvement, new product development, etc. with shareholder value and by not recognizing this connection gets us stuck in tactical discussions. Tactical focus keeps us from the table where strategic discussions occur and often relegate us to filling the order and seldom to crafting the order.”)

  1. Keep thinking about what your team needs every day. Don’t assume your job is ever done.

Special thanks to the following for their comments on various drafts of this article: Dave Durham, Jeff Orner, Kevin Meade, Jim Donovan, Gerald Deetz, Kelly Condon, Kyle Kennedy, Bill McSweeney, Rob Nichols, Mark Augustyn, Jeff Judy, Bill Perotti, John Rock, Dave Hammer, Jeff Hultman, Jeff Carstens, Rick Kuci, Paul LeTourneau, Jeff Stauffer, Mike Olague, Doug Byers, Joe Witt, Harry Turton, Dianne Mercier, Glenn Wilson and John Barlow.

What do you think? What has worked for you? How have your best bankers developed business acumen? Please share your insights and experiences in the COMMENTS area below.

Webinar Alert: Trends in Healthcare

The ACA has had a major impact on the healthcare industry. How can you make sense of what’s happening to medical professionals in these turbulent times? Join Ned Miller and health care investment banker/consultant/ author Jim Unland for a live webinar on Monday, September 21 at 11 AM Eastern for a fast-paced discussion of the issues impacting physicians. In addition to providing insights into the direction of the industry, they’ll discuss where the opportunities are for bankers working with medical practices and how to exploit them. 

To Register: You can register for the live webinar three ways:

(1) Call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771 or

(2) Email her at


(3) go to the Training Center section of our secure Webex website at  and pay the $29 fee by credit card.

If you can’t make the live webinar on September 21, you can still sign up for the recorded version, which will be available within 24 hours of the live presentation.  


Topics: bank sales, Sales Manager, coaching, sales leaders

Knowing What Makes Entrepreneurs Tick Will Boost Your Sales Results

Posted by Bobby Martin on Mon, Aug 17, 2015 @ 06:40 AM

Guest Blog Post by Bobby Martin


As a calling officer, you’ve already noticed that many of your business customers are a little offbeat, maybe even a little crazy. Having been a bank calling officer for seven years and a wacko-entrepreneur for 15 years, I can shed some light on how to relate to those crazy business owners—and maybe win more of their business.

I experienced some wild meetings with entrepreneurs as a banker. Once, when heading to a meeting with an entrepreneur to get some paperwork signed, I got a call to meet him at his recently renovated house. For the next two hours, he sipped vodka, told jokes and gave me a tour of the house with his much younger girlfriend. 

“You’ll need to come back sometime and hang out with us in the hot tub. But Bobby, no one wears clothes in my hot tub. So, Bobby Martin, we’ll find out how bad you really are.” (In case you're wondering, I didn't take him up on his offer.) 

While writing The Hockey Stick Principles, a book about how good ideas become successful companies, I’ve learned a lot about entrepreneurs’ unique personalities. Manfred E.R. Kets de Vries, a clinical professor of leadership at INSEAD, one of the world’s finest business schools, is the author, co-author, or editor of more than 30 books and 300 papers on the psychology of entrepreneurship.

In “The Entrepreneurial Personality: A Person at the Crossroads,” he writes that, “Economists have always looked at entrepreneurs with a great deal of ambivalence. The often-unpredictable, irrational actions of entrepreneurs do not fit the economists’ rational, logical schemes; they tend to disturb the implicit harmony of their models.” 

It’s true. Entrepreneurs often are unpredictable. You can either roll your eyes at their odd personalities, or try to relate to them. The hot-tub loving CEO was one of the savviest businessmen I’ve ever met. He once borrowed $1 million from my bank to buy a machine, and paid the bank back six months later using the cash the machine generated. No, it wasn't a printing press–although for the next 10 years, his machine was like an ATM, generating millions for his company. 

Here are some suggestions on how to become a great banker of entrepreneurs:

1. Give them your time: If an entrepreneur likes you, they’ll waste your time. That’s a compliment to you, so you should roll with it. They’ll tell you their startup stories, vent about the banking system or the economy, provide you a tour of their house and hot tub, take you fishing, or walk you through their newest business idea. Most entrepreneurs are interesting people, so enjoy this time. 

2. But never take their time: Most entrepreneurs aren’t interested in small talk or what your bank is up to. If you’re not listening or learning about them or their business (or doing something they consider fun), you’re probably boring them. (Translation: Don’t regale them with 20-minute stories about your kid’s latest soccer game.)

3. Never BS an entrepreneur: If you are about to tell an entrepreneur what he doesn’t want to hear, just tell the truth. Don’t try to tip-toe around the facts or sugar coat the message. 

4. Meet your business customers on their turf: For the most part, don’t ask an entrepreneur to meet at your branch office unless it’s truly a necessity or it's a great place to spend time. (Hint: Outside of a few Starbucks-inspired branches, most aren’t.) Meet anywhere else. Entrepreneurs often appreciate cool settings. 

5. Try to help the entrepreneur’s business: I once went on a call with Jim McColl, son of former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl. Jim asked my prospect, “Who are the top five companies you don’t do business with that you’d like to do business with? And how can I help you get those customers?" My prospect was impressed. Always, always, always ask entrepreneurs how you can help them. 

6. Have big picture meetings: Try to meet with entrepreneurs at least twice a year to “talk big picture.” Ask them about their vision. Examples: Where do you think your company will be in five years? 10 years? 

7. Do constant checks on workflow processes: Entrepreneurs are often control freaks. If you’re working through a loan application succinctly explain to them how the process could work best and ask them, “Does this process work for you? Is there a better way to go about it?”

8. Dress like a venture capitalist: I think bankers wearing suits while I’m wearing a golf shirt is strange. Unless your CEO is going to go into cardiac arrest if you’re out of uniform, think business casual. 

9. Pick their brains: Ask lots of questions—like a detective. Listen very carefully to their answers. Try to learn about things they enjoy. Help them think through their business and personal challenges. 

10.Be yourself : Never compromise your ethics, or what you stand for. If you don’t drink, be honest and tell them why you don’t want to go out carousing. 95% of entrepreneurs will love your confidence. 

I hope some of these ideas will improve your efforts at building lasting, profitable relationships with wackos like me.   

Bobby Martin is the founder of The Hockey Stick Principles, a research project to figure out how good ideas become successful firms. He is also president and co-founder of Vertical IQ, a leading provider of sales research insight for banks. Martin also co-founded and served as president of First Research, a leader in sales intelligence.

Upcoming Sales Leadership Workshop October 8-9, 2015 in San Diego, CA

We have an alliance with the Western Independent Bankers and in conjunction with WIB we are offering a 2-Day “Next-Level” Sales Leadership Workshop in San Diego on October 8-9, 2015. This session will focus on Business Banking Sales Team Success! 

This workshop in San Diego will drill down to the primary leadership elements that drive consistent sales team execution. We will be going way beyond sales reporting, accountability and tic mark management. Using examples from your own market and your own team[s], we will work together to build a solid base for advancing to the next level of leadership and sales team performance.

Comments from the 2014 WIB Sales Leadership Workshop:

  • “Great workshop that gives sales leaders the tools, ideas and best practices that they can put into place as soon as they return to the bank. Highly recommended.
  • “This is a course that will make you re-think how you focus your sales team and their efforts to build and retain quality relationships.”
  • “This workshop provided an effective way to move myself and my team towards quality relationships between community bankers and their clients.”

If you or anyone on your team would like to take the next step in Business Banking Sales Leadership, take a minute to visit the WIB website to get a closer look at the work we will be doing together.

WIB Conference: Building Top-Performing Sales Teams



Topics: prospecting, bank sales, coaching

10 Mistakes Bank Sales Leaders Should Never Make

Posted by Ned Miller on Mon, Jun 15, 2015 @ 07:35 AM

bank sales leader

Many senior bank executives question whether their sales leaders have what it takes to get the job done. Some banks are redoubling their efforts to train and coach their first-line sales leaders on how to develop their commercial and small business teams. Others are actively recruiting management talent. The smart ones are doing both.

If you’re a sales leader, here are 10 mistakes you don’t want to make:

  1. Managing everybody the same way.
  2. Administering your bank’s sales process rather than leading it.
  3. Thinking that you can be successful from behind your desk.
  4. Forgetting about coaching the top of the sales funnel while helping your Relationship Managers close business. 
  5. Failing to provide ongoing refresher training to your teams.
  6. Letting average-performers develop their own prospect list.
  7. Not strategizing with people about their top customers and prospects.
  8. Assuming that because you’re always available for quick informal coaching, you don’t need to schedule 1 on 1 coaching sessions.
  9. Not coordinating with your line of business partners to keep conversations moving forward on non-credit products and services (e.g. Treasury Management,  Trust and Investments, Capital Markets, etc.)
  10. Not maintaining contact with bankers whom you would like to hire, even if they’re happy where they are.

What do you think? What can banks do to improve the performance of sales leaders? Please share your advice, insights, and experiences in the COMMENTS area below...

Free Webinar: Alternative Lending and Banks with Charles Wendel

Alternative lending companies continue to focus on the business banking space. Increasingly, banks are evaluating how to cooperate with these players since they offer streamlined processes and enhanced risk management, both of which can turn small business lending into a profitable opportunity for banks.

This webinar will summarize the current state of alternative lending, the different lending approaches, the major players and how they work with banks as well as developing trends. It will also discuss the key criteria that banks need to consider when they evaluate whether and how to work with these new lenders.

Date: Friday, August 14, 2015
Time: 11:00 am, Eastern Daylight Time (New York, GMT-04:00)


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Topics: bank sales, bank relationship managers, coaching, sales leaders