Bank Sales Corner

Where Does the Prospecting Process Break Down for Bankers?

Posted by Buck Bierly on Fri, Aug 22, 2014 @ 09:38 AM

prospecting, banking sales70% of the prospecting calls made in this country begin with questions like these:

  • “Where are you banking?”
  • “What products are you using?”
  • “Do you have a loan at Wells Fargo?...Oh, no kidding, tell me about the price and structure on that loan.”
  • “What are two things Wells Fargo hasn’t done for you that you wish they had?”
  • “Can I have a copy of your statements to consider how we would handle your borrowing relationship?”

We are often leading with loans, but the client is not.

Many bankers are used to trying to lead with loans when prospecting. Bankers also lead with Treasury Services. They also lead with Institutional Trust.

We do surveys with all of our clients to help them analyze where they stand with their business prospects. Our conversations go something like this:

“Let’s look at your top prospects.”

  • “What was the source of that lead?”
  • “How many telephone attempts did it take you to get the first appointment?”
  • “Did you get the first appointment?”
  • “If you got the first meeting, did you get the second meeting?”
  • “Did you get a third meeting?”

When we asked those kinds of questions with thousands of bankers here is what we saw:

  1. The first place the process breaks down is getting that first meeting. That is certainly understandable.
  2. The second place it breaks down is after the second meeting.

Typically, we hear that the first meeting went pretty well. We did a good job on this conversation and found a way to get back in the door a second time. During the second meeting we found out that the prospect is happy with their current financial institution. The prospect really appreciated the conversations in the last two meetings.

However, they end up saying, “I’ll tell you what; we'll keep you in mind. You stay in touch and we'll see what happens. We may be buying some new equipment and we may be looking for some additional treasury services down the road and we would love to keep you in mind.”

At the end of the second meeting, the banker walks away and starts to wait for an event. They are not creating an event; they begin to wait for an event. And while they may "check in" periodically, nothing really materializes.

Note: This is an excerpt from a recently recorded Q&A on Prospecting webinar. To download this excerpt of the podcast, click on the link below.

Where does the Prospecting Process Break Down?

Next live webinar: “Q&A on Prospecting” with Buck Bierly on September 15, 2014 at 11 AM Eastern. To sign up go to or call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771.

Interested in a series of fast-paced refreshers on prospecting? Check out any of our 10 archived webinars on Prospecting Strategies:

Building a Good Prospect List

Leveraging Your Network to Get in the Door

How to Use Your LinkedIn Network in Prospecting

Preparing for First Calls on Prospects

Industry Research as a Differentiator

Business Operations Meetings: Building Strong Relationships with Business Owners

Delving into Financial Operations: Selling to Financial Change

The First 3 Calls on Prospects

Following Up on Proposal – Persistent or Pest?

Getting the Most Out of Networking Events

Topics: prospecting, prospects, coaching, sales calls, Buck Bierly

Q&A on Getting in the Door with Prospects

Posted by Ned Miller on Thu, Aug 14, 2014 @ 10:56 AM

cold calling

Question: Is it harder to get somebody’s attention the old fashioned way by calling them on the phone?

Buck Bierly: Cold calling was a mainstay in this industry for a while. We saw it particularly in certain geographic locations like California. Everyone became fascinated with cold calling. The mantra was “Stick with it.” People knew there would be rejection. Rejection was a part of the process and the goal was to move quickly on to the next call. The thinking was, “If I dial fifteen businesses or twenty-five businesses every day or every other day or every week if I stick with it I will reach my goals. Persevere and you will do fine."

Then the idea of two degrees of separation came on the scene. Most people in smaller markets, where you might not be able to build a niche, know each other in some way and the question became, “How can I get someone to introduce me to a prospect?”

Most people have a hard time with cold calling. That is normal. Recently I met a California banker. He said, “We keep getting stuck with the gatekeeper. How do we get around that?”

My response was, “What do you think LinkedIn is all about? It is about two degrees of separation.”

A veterinarian client of yours calls another veterinarian she knows and introduces you. A beverage distributor client calls their friend in the business and introduces you. Your client gives a testimonial referral and it gets you right past the gatekeeper. What is the result of meeting somebody in this scenario? We have created a favorable opportunity to create a satisfied client relationship in our target market.

Interested in concrete ideas on how to get more appointments? Download our eBook Q&A on Getting in the Door with Prospects. You can also check out our archive of recorded webinars on prospecting at

Next Live Webinar: "Q&A on Prospecting" with Buck Bierly and Ned Miller, September 15 at 11 AM Eastern. If you have questions about discounts for multiple lines, call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771.

Topics: prospecting, bank sales, LinkedIn, prospects

Negative Self-Talk to Avoid While Prospecting

Posted by Ned Miller on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 @ 10:14 AM

It's easy to rationalize, to come up with excuses, to talk ourselves out of doing things we know we should really do. It's a habit that many of us have been perfecting for a lifetime.

But when it comes to prospecting, here are 5 things to never say to yourself:

1. My customers know what I can do. If they know someone who needs a banker, they'll call me.

2. It is not a good time to prospect.

3. I don't want to seem pushy.

4. There is not enough time to prospect.

5. They will never leave their bank.

To hear why each of these things can be dangerous for bank relationship managers pursuing new business opportunities, click on the link below to view the video.

Webinar Alert: Sign up for one of the new webinars on prospecting to get your questions answered by Buck Bierly. The Q&A on Prospecting sessions are on August 4, September 15 and October 20 at 11 AM Eastern. If you miss a live webinar, you can sign up for the recording and play it at your convenience. To register go to or call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4773.



Topics: prospecting, bank relationship managers, prospects

Q&A: What to Do If Your Prospect Goes Dark

Posted by Ned Miller on Thu, Apr 03, 2014 @ 07:34 AM

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Question: I put together a great proposal. The prospect seemed ready to move. He told me that he was unhappy with the way his current bank had handled certain things over the last year. And then, silence. I left several voicemail messages. What do I do now?

Answer: If you have ever found yourself in that uncomfortable situation, you know how hard it is to admit to yourself that your prospect has probably decided to stay put. But in most situations, the incumbent bank has the upper hand. And if your prospect values personal relationships—which many do—it’s easy to see how he may be uncomfortable telling you to your face that he has, well, rejected your proposal.  It’s easier to ignore your voicemails, hoping that you’ll get the message.

OK, so what do you do? Buck Bierly suggests that you leave another voicemail message to let him off the hook but make clear that you’re still very interested in continuing to call on him.  Here’s how:

  • Let him know that you left several messages in the last few weeks.

  • Position your comments: “I know this is a busy time.”

  • Let him know that you understand why he many have opted to stay with his current bank: “I assume you ended up working with your bank on this opportunity.  You stated from the beginning that you felt a degree of loyalty to your relationship with Bill Swanson.”

  • Restate your interest in working together: “I’m sorry we weren’t able to help you with this opportunity but the more I’ve learned about you and your business the more I’m convinced that we would be a good resource for you in the future.”

  •  Ask for permission to follow up: “I’d like to continue calling on you. I’ve got some ideas on how we might be able to help you down the road. Please let me know if that’s a possibility.” 

    More often than not you’ll receive a return call. If you don’t and this is clearly somebody you’d like to do more business with, you can’t afford to drop this prospect from your long term plans. You may have lost the initial battle, but not the war.

    Make sure that the prospect is on your mailing list. Think about how to keep your campaign alive. Follow-up by phone in a month or two. Invite your prospect to an upcoming event. If you got this far, you have to assume that the incumbent bank is going to give you another opening in the not too distant future.

    Webinar Alert: Sign up for our upcoming live webinar on April 14 on “How to Use Your LinkedIn Network in Prospecting” by going to Can’t make the live event? All webinars are recorded and will be available in our archive within 24 hours of the event.

    For more information on the Prospecting Strategies Webinar Series or discounts for multiple lines, call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771 or email her at

Topics: prospecting, bank sales, relationship managers, business development, prospects, proposals

In Search of the Magic Prospect List

Posted by Ned Miller on Wed, Feb 05, 2014 @ 10:13 PM

prospecting for bankers

“I need a better prospect list.” How many times have Marketing Departments heard that one? Don’t get me wrong; bankers do need good prospect lists. But I suspect that some people think that their Marketing Department is holding out on them, that there really is a magic database of creditworthy companies ready to change their banking relationships tomorrow.

While there are certainly ways to build a better list—by using multiple data sources, tapping into the knowledge that your colleagues have of the market and doing a better job of researching companies to be sure that they match your bank’s target profile—every list has flaws. Sure, D&B and InfoUSA have some out of date information, but that doesn’t mean that prospectors should avoid using them.  Most lists that have been run in the last 12 to 18 months are plenty good enough as a starting point.

The real issue is what you do with the list you have. Your job is to get in front of the prospects that your sales manager thinks are a good match for you and the organization. Until you have a chance to meet with the prospect—or as many say, the “suspect”—you won’t know whether you should spend more time with them or not.  And remember that in 70 to 80% of the cases involving proactive prospecting, your prospects will be at least moderately satisfied with their current banking arrangement. That doesn’t disqualify them; on the contrary, that probably means you’re in front of a viable prospect, albeit one that you’ll have to work hard to win over.

So don’t complain about your imperfect list. If you need to add more names to it, huddle with your sales manager. The first challenge is to get first and second appointments, and if you’re having difficulties doing that, seek out some coaching on your strategy.

To download our eBook on prospecting, go to Q&A on Getting in the Door: Prospecting Tips for Bankers.

You might also be interested in How to Confidently Ask Customers for Referrals.

Topics: prospecting, bank sales, bank relationship managers, Sales Manager, referrals, business development, prospects

Q&A for Bank Sales Managers: Should Treasury Management Prospect?

Posted by Ned Miller on Mon, Jun 17, 2013 @ 11:08 PM

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Question: I am experiencing some difficulty calibrating our Treasury Management team with the expectations of your calling program. Specifically, our TM team (including their direct management) views its key functions as the following (in order of importance):

1. Service existing relationships

2. Respond to referred business

3. Expand existing relationships

4. Acquire new relationships.

While I agree with these roles, our bank has an expectation that all calling officers conduct preplanned, proactive business development calls. Our TM department doesn’t see eye-to-eye with us on this.

What recommendations do you give to other banks in relation to their TM departments? Do you agree that their role is expanding referred business rather than prospecting their own business? What is an effective way of including them in the activities outlined in your program?

Answer: Your situation is not uncommon. Most community and regional bank TM groups that I have worked with see themselves as providing “support.” They do not usually prospect; they also do not “own” relationships, deferring to the line bankers on strategy and account management. It is not unfair to characterize them as reactive.

As a next step I’d suggest that you have to reach some agreement internally on these and other questions:

  • How can the TM reps best be deployed?
  • Should they prospect?
  • How many TM professionals do you need?
  • Do they always go on joint calls with the primary RMs or can they make solo calls?
  • What level of preparation for calls is recommended?

Question for Sales Managers out there: Do you agree with the premise that TM reps should prospect? Why? Join the conversation by adding your comments below.

Webinar Alert: Are you getting the most out of LinkedIn’s capabilities? Check out the slides from LinkedIn on 60 Minutes a Week: Session 1.

To register for either of the sessions on leveraging LinkedIn for business development, go to the recorded sessions section at or call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771.   


Topics: prospecting, Sales Manager, LinkedIn, business development, prospects, sales calls, Treasury Management

Sales Managers, Are You Developing Your Team's Prospecting Skills?

Posted by Ned Miller on Wed, Nov 28, 2012 @ 08:24 AM

If you’re trying to develop your team’s prospecting skills, you may need to assess your own activities. Here’s a quick list of questions to get you started:

  1. Have you met recently to review the prospect lists of all your team members? If you haven’t done it within the last 3 months, schedule a time to do so.
  2. Have you clarified your expectations regarding the amount of prospecting that’s appropriate for each banker on your team? If Amanda has recently inherited a big portfolio, the priority in the near term is probably to focus on that.  James may be in a totally different situation; with a small book of business, his calling should center on prospects and COIs. 
  3. Are you using your weekly sales meetings to highlight the importance of new client acquisition? There are lots of messages competing for the attention of your Relationship Managers; if prospecting is near the top of your list of priorities, make sure you weave it into your meetings every chance you get.
  4. Are you strategizing with your team about how they’re doing with the prospects you’ve identified? Strategy starts with how your banker is going to get in the door but includes what value proposition makes the most sense, who to involve, what competitive advantages you have, etc. The best coaches get involved early in the prospecting process.
  5. How much pre-call, post-call coaching are you doing? If you’re not building this into your one on one coaching sessions, you’re missing a chance to have a big impact on the quality of the prospect calls being made. 
  6. Are you making joint calls with all of your team members? Some sales managers have a tendency to take over joint calls (surprise!).  In some situations that may be appropriate, but if it always happens, you need to reassess your approach. Joint calls are a great way to observe the skills of your team and provide immediate feedback and coaching.
  7. Are there things that could improve your team’s chances of success in prospecting? Access to better industry data? More competitive intelligence? Sales refreshers on key elements of the prospecting process? If you’re not sure what’s out there, arrange to sit down and chat with one of your recent hires.
  8. Are you celebrating progress? Remember that in prospecting, small advances can be considered victories, so don’t just highlight closed business. Recognize team members who are doing the right things to generate and develop leads as well.

Looking for more coaching pointers for your team? Download our eBook Prospecting Pointers by going to

Sales Managers: To sign up for a 30 minute consultation on how we can help you improve your team’s results in 2013, call Ned Miller at 610-296-4772  or email  him at

Topics: Sales Manager, prospects, sales leaders, value propositions, prospect

Relationship-Building Strategies: Short Summer Edition for Bankers

Posted by Ned Miller on Tue, Jun 28, 2011 @ 05:23 AM


Summer can get pretty crazy. Here are a few ways to boost your productivity when you’re pressed for time this summer:

* Make sure to keep in touch with your top customers. If you can’t get out to see them, let them know you’re thinking about them. Make a phone call. Send an email. Encourage one of your associates to visit them. Do something!

Develop a plan for staying top-of-mind with your prospects. Building a good mailing list (which should also include email addresses) is the place to start. Then commit to sending something to all your prospects on a regular basis. If you’re stumped on what to send, consult with your Marketing Department; don’t overlook anything your organization publishes—annual reports, economic updates, relevant product updates, etc. If you’re really ambitious, see tip #6 below.

* Take advantage of networking events to rub elbows with your customers and prospects. If you get to the events early and keep moving, you might be able to spend a few minutes with lots of your personal list VIPs. (If you’re interested in tips on how to get more out of networking events, go to

* Take a product partner to lunch. Get to know your Cash Management rep better. See if he knows anybody on your prospect list. Pick your Wealth Management contact’s brain about what she’s seeing in the market.

* Meet some friendly accountants. Review all the financial statements you have received this year and see whether you know all the CPAs who prepared them. If you don’t, ask your customers to set up a lunch so you can meet them.

Looking for a suggestion on how to jumpstart your prospecting efforts?  Check out our website at

You might also be interested in viewing the Prospecting Clinic series of recorded webinars. For more details go to or call Ned Miller at 610-296-4772.

Topics: building relationships, prospects

10 Holiday Tips for Bankers

Posted by Ned Miller on Mon, Dec 06, 2010 @ 10:22 AM

The Christmas holidays are almost here.  Nobody outside your immediate friends and family wants to see you between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.  You tell yourself that it’s time for a well-deserved rest.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. On this planet savvy bankers need to use what’s left of the year to keep their momentum in business development. If you’re at a loss for ideas on how to do that, here are some suggestions:

  1. Keep scheduling appointments with your customers and prospects.   If your competitors are too busy attending holiday parties, it may be that much easier to get in to see some people on your list. And if somebody isn’t free before year end, get on their calendar in January 2011. Keep building relationships.
  2. Show your prospect list to some of your satisfied customers. (If you’re reluctant to do that, sign up for our archived webinar on “Asking Customers for Referrals” at
  3. Spend some quality 1 on 1 time with your current COIs. Meet with the CPAs of any of your customers whom you don’t know. (If you’re not sure who they are, add that to this list.)
  4. Go with a plan to any holiday functions you attend. That might include preparing in advance a list of people you want to talk to or making a commitment to meet 3 new people at the event. (For those of us trying to retain our figures, it could also include steering clear of the canapies.)
  5. Treat your most important line of business partners to lunch and swap ideas about how to help each other in 2011.
  6. Call your customers to thank them for their business. If appropriate, see #1 above.
  7. Schedule time to review your sales efforts in 2010. What specifically do you need to do differently next year?
  8. Do something nice for your Administrative Assistant.
  9. Review where you stand with your top prospects. If you’re at an impasse with any of them, set up a time to strategize with your boss on how to proceed. (You can also check out our article on “Getting in the Door: How to Work with Gatekeepers” at
  10. Think about your own professional skills. Are there any courses/ webinars/ books out there that would make you a better banker? Not sure? Ask your bank’s Training Department or send me an email at for some ideas.


Our next live webinar is on January 10 at 11 AM Eastern on “Leveraging LinkedIn for Business Development.” You can register by going to or by calling Whit Midkiff at 727-741-0766. If you can’t make the live webinar, a recorded version will be available roughly 24 hours after the presentation.




Topics: professional skills, building relationships, prospects

Do All Business Bankers Have ADHD?

Posted by Ned Miller on Mon, Sep 27, 2010 @ 05:45 PM

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.  
  4. Take notes in meetings. Ask questions. Summarize what you’ve heard. (These are all things that good listeners do.)
  5. Take breaks. A quick walk around the block or 50 sit-ups might just resuscitate you. 
  6. 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  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



Topics: prospecting, prospects, sales calls