Many bankers defend to the death yesterday's prospecting "best practices” that are not always productive. See if any of your team members are holding on to any of the most common.
1. “I believe in getting involved in the community.” I do too. Bankers should be encouraged to join non-profit boards. It’s a way for younger bankers to develop leadership skills that can pay dividends later in their careers. Bankers of all ages should also attend events that support the worthy causes of local organizations.
But let’s not confuse being active in the community with developing new business. Yes, it’s possible to parlay your contacts into leads, but it’s not a given. And, for most bankers, going to events shouldn’t replace sales calls.
If you believe in the mission of an organization, do something to support it. If you can leverage your involvement in some way to help you find new business, great. But that’s almost always going to be secondary.
Coaching Takeaway: At least once a year talk to all your team members about their community activities. Make sure that bankers don’t confuse Chamber lunches with business development calls.
2. “I like to make joint calls on prospects with my Cash Management (or Merchant Services) rep.” I’ll buy that, but only after you have made at least one call on the prospect by yourself. If you haven’t spent time learning about your prospect’s business yet, don’t trot out any of your business partners.
While you could make the case that every business needs some level of cash management support, your job as a banker is to find out what your prospect’s specific needs are and then decide which of your specialists should appear at your side. Remember, it’s about priorities—theirs, not yours.
If you bring a Cash Management rep in too soon, you may miss a better opportunity to assist a prospect with a more pressing need.
Coaching Takeaway: Don’t let your bankers squander the valuable time of product specialists. Make sure that every joint call is part of a sensible relationship strategy.
3. “I take a CPA out to lunch every week.” And what do you have to show for it? According to most estimates, only about 25% of CPAs are in a position to make referrals to bankers. So, if you’re buying lots of lunches, make sure that you’re dealing with the minority who can and do refer business.
You need to assess the quantity and quality of referrals you have received. If you haven’t seen many—or perhaps more importantly, closed any—you may be hanging out with the wrong accountants.
Coaching Takeaway: Every banker should have a list of current and prospective COIs. Review the list at least every 6 months. Pay particular attention to whether your team members are seeing referrals, and if so, whether they are able to close any business.
4. “Since all business owners are credit-driven, I use credit as a lead product in my prospecting efforts.” Many commercial and business bankers lead with loans. High-performers differentiate their message by focusing on the prospect’s or client’s next need, not on what they’re comfortable selling.
A mature business uses more than 10 different financial services, not just loans. Look for the “best way in the door,” the need that will begin a relationship (which is not necessarily a loan).
Coaching Takeaway: Make sure that your sales team is “conversationally competent” in a broad range of products. Begin with a simple account planning process that discusses more than just credit products. Change the questions you ask in pre-call/post-call discussions. Ask about long-term needs as well as immediate needs. Talk about more than just credit needs.
5. “These are my customers.” Many RMs build walls around their clients, effectively insulating them from product partners, branch managers and, in some cases, senior management.
Coaching Takeaway: To institutionalize relationships your bankers need to introduce the right people to their clients. That starts with you, but would include any others who could add value.
6. “I don’t need LinkedIn.” Maybe not, but more and more bankers are using it to identify, research and educate prospects and COIs.
Coaching Takeaway: Make sure your team knows what LinkedIn can do. Show them that it has the potential to assist in their networking efforts, prospecting research and personal marketing. If you’re looking for some insights, check out our recorded webinars on “Leveraging LinkedIn for Business Development” and “Getting More Out of LinkedIn” at http://mzbierlyconsulting.webex.com. (You can also call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771 to learn more).
Coaching Resources: Check out our mp3 tips for sales leaders and team members at http://www.mzbierlyconsulting.com/mp3-page/.
If you haven’t downloaded our eBook “Prospecting Pointers” go to http://www.mzbierlyconsulting.com/prospecting-pointers-e-book-download/.