Bank Sales Corner

How to Make More Calls: Try 2 Before 10

Posted by Ned Miller on Mon, Jan 25, 2016 @ 07:33 AM


Has your boss told you to make more calls this year? Do you have a hard time getting out of the office?

Maybe you’re a Branch Manager whose daily plan can be disrupted by unexpected staffing problems or thorny customer service issues. Or perhaps you’re a busy Relationship Manager with limited administrative support and lots of credit requests waiting for you in the office.


If you’d like to make more calls, here’s an idea that you should consider. Rather than getting to your desk at 8 AM, think about scheduling a meeting with a customer or prospect by then. It could include breakfast or coffee, but doesn’t have to. Many of your business contacts get an early start on the day and might welcome a chance to see you at their place of business before their days become too crazy.


Some of our bank clients have liked the idea of scheduling one call before 8 AM so much that they have doubled down on the concept. They now encourage bankers to make two calls before 10 AM, an approach that has helped some RMs and Branch Managers to increase their calling activity significantly.


So, if you like the idea of “1 by 8” or “2 by 10”, try it for a month and see whether if works. And do send along any comments (positive or negative) about your experience to

Are there other topics you’d like to see us address in our regular blog posts? Send them along via email or add them in the comments section below.

For more insights on managing time, check out Managing Priorities: Tips for Bankers.


Topics: bank sales, bank relationship managers, sales calls, time management

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

20 Great Questions for Entrepreneurs (and Bank Sales Leaders Too)

Posted by Ned Miller on Sun, Jan 10, 2016 @ 04:10 PM


I recently came across a piece in Inc. Magazine by Leigh Buchanan entitled “100 Great Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask“. The questions are actually culled from the writings and speeches of consultants like Peter Drucker and Jim Collins, top business school professors like Adam Grant and Theresa Amabile and successful entrepreneurs like Tony Hsieh (Zappos) and Kevin Cleary (Clif Bar—yum!). It’s a thought-provoking list that would be a nice thing to pass along to any business owner.

Many of these questions are relevant for bank sales leaders, too, particularly at the start of a new year. Here are 20 that are worth considering, along with their source:

  1. What trophy do we want on our mantle? - Marcy Massura, a digital marketer and brand strategist at MSL Group       
  2. What counts that we are not counting? -Chip Conley, founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality and head of global hospitality for Airbnb 
  3.  In the past few months, what is the smallest change we have made that has had the biggest positive result? What was it about that small change that produced the large return? -Robert Cialdini, author and professor emeritus of marketing and psychology at Arizona State University  
  4. What prevents me from making the changes I know will make me a more effective leader? -Marshall Goldsmith, leadership coach and author  
  5. What are the implications of this decision 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years from now? -Suzy Welch, author
  6. Are we changing as fast as the world around us? -Gary Hamel, author and management consultant
  7. How likely is it that a customer would recommend our company to a friend or colleague? -Andrew Taylor, executive chairman of Enterprise Holdings 
  8. Did my employees make progress today? -Teresa Amabile, author and Harvard Business School professor 
  9. What should we stop doing? -Peter Drucker, management expert and author  
  10. Do we have the right people on the bus? -Jim Collins, author and management consultant
  11. What do we need to start doing? -Jack Bergstrand, CEO, Brand Velocity      
  12. Are you satisfied with your current role?  If not, what is missing from it? -Charles Handy, management consultant  
  13. Do your employees have the opportunity to do what they do best everyday? -Marcus Buckingham, author  
  14.  Do you see more potential in people than they do in themselves? -Adam Grant  
  15. To whom do you add value? -Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood, co-founders, The RBL Group  
  16. Why should people listen to you? -Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood      
  17. Who are four people whose careers I’ve enhanced? -Alex Gorsky, CEO, Johnson & Johnson
  18. How do you encourage people to take control and responsibility? -Dan Ariely, author
  19. How do I stay inspired? -Paul Bennett, chief creative officer, IDEO
  20. How is business? Why? -Thomas A. Stewart, executive director, National Center for the Middle Market

Action Step: Good coaches are adept at asking questions. This is a chance for you to ask yourselves some questions that might lead to valuable insights about managing your team. Let me know what you discover in the process.

Recent blog posts of interest to Sales Leaders on coaching:

6 Common Errors in Coaching Prospecting

7 Minute Tasks for Sales Leaders

Tips for Time-Starved Bank Sales Leaders

Bank Sales Leaders: Do you need 1 on 1 coaching for yourself or one of your team leaders on how to improve business development results? Call Ned Miller at 484-433-2378 or email him at to arrange a time to talk about how we might assist you.


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Topics: sales leaders, bank sales managers

Assessing Sales Performance: Look Yourself in the Mirror

Posted by Ned Miller on Tue, Jan 05, 2016 @ 10:43 AM

mirror_2.jpgI often ask bankers to think about their “mirror questions.” We all know that it’s easy to kid ourselves about how well we’re doing. But when we have to look ourselves in the mirror, well, that’s another story.

Rather than give the bankers the questions they should answer, I suggest that they come up with their own list. Many do a good job of coming up with specific questions to ask themselves each week to evaluate how well they have performed. What they’re doing is creating a personal report card focusing on their own critical sales behaviors.  

Now such introspection is not for everybody. But some bankers do a good job and actually like the exercise. One banker observed, “The exercise was interesting; it forced me to redefine how I view a successful week.  I say interesting because I have always viewed success based upon what closed or is likely to close, but this exercise made me think more in terms of movement and progress, not just end sales results.”  

If you’re at all intrigued, block out 10 minutes and give it a try. If you need some inspiration to get started, here are some ideas:

  • Did I prioritize my time this week?
  • Did I define my specific objectives for the week? 
  • Did I accomplish my major objectives?
  • Did I plan appropriately for each sales call?
  • How well did I listen on my sales calls?
  • Did I develop a follow-up plan for each sales call?  Did I execute it?
  • Did I manage my pipeline intelligently? 
  • Have I reached out to my COIs this week?

But don’t just use these. I’m confident you can come up with a list that will be more appropriate for your situation.

Two final thoughts: Share your list with your boss or one of your peers to get additional input. Then spend 10 minutes each week for the next 6 weeks looking yourself in the mirror with your list in hand. My bet is that your self-assessment will help you stay focused on the behaviors that will drive your performance this year.

Interested in refreshing your skills? Visit our website to find out about our archived webinars on acquiring and expanding relationships. For more information go to or call Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771.

Looking for a speaker? 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-to’s" 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, email Ned Miller at





Topics: bank sales, bank relationship managers, business development, sales results

7 Ways for You to Build Your Business Acumen

Posted by Ned Miller on Mon, Dec 14, 2015 @ 10:51 AM


Definition: a·cu·men əˈkyo͞omən,ˈakyəmən/ noun

  1. the ability to make good judgments and quick decisions, typically in a particular domain.

"business acumen"


astuteness, shrewdness, acuitysharpness, sharp-wittedness, cleverness, smartness, brains

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. 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 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 you develop your business acumen? Here are 7 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. Read the Wall Street Journal, local business journals and one monthly business magazine (Fortune, INC, Forbes, etc.)

2. For your top business clients and prospects study the industry research from VerticalIQ, IBIS World, First Research or Lexis Nexis.

3. Attend local or regional trade association events to learn more about what trends are impacting your customers and prospects.

4. Keep asking clients and prospects “What’s New?”

5. Set up Google alerts on any companies that you are interested in.

6. Prepare at least 5 questions for every call you make to (a) demonstrate industry knowledge and (b) show you have done your homework.

7. Write an article for a business publication or develop a presentation on a topic that would be of interest to your top prospects.

Bonus tip: Ask your boss for advice on this.  

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

Topics: prospecting, bank sales, bank relationship managers, business development, business acumen

5 Tasks in 5 Minutes for Bank Relationship Managers (Part 2)

Posted by Ned Miller on Sun, Nov 22, 2015 @ 05:13 PM

Every 5 minutes sign icon. Full rotation arrow.


What can you do if you have 5 minutes to spare? Plenty! (See 5 Tasks in 5 Minutes for Bank Relationship Managers Part 1). Here are five more ideas for any bankers interested in improving their business development results in 2016:

  1. Schedule time to strategize with your boss about how to proceed with your top 5 prospects.
  2. Think about what additional training you could use in 2016. It may not be a course: there are eBooks (check out Prospecting Pointers), recorded webinars and podcasts that might make you a better banker.
  3. Thank somebody for something. (And don’t stop with the usual suspects. You could get a lot of mileage out of thanking any of the following: customers, support staff, a long-suffering spouse, your boss, COIs, etc.)
  4. Assess how well you personally are using the sales tools you have been provided with (e.g. CRM, industry information from VerticalIQ, IBISWorld, RMA, First Research; prospect information from or ReferenceUSA; call planning templates on your bank’s intranet, etc.) If you don’t like the answer, find somebody who is doing a better job with these valuable resources and see what you can learn.
  5. Evaluate objectively your own performance in business development this year. If you’re interested in a checklist that you can use to measure your prospecting approach, go to


Other blog posts you might find interesting:

What's the best advice you ever received on sales? (Part 1)

What's the best advice you ever received on sales? (Part 2)

MZ BIERLY Consulting, Inc. ( helps bankers build relationships with business owners and professionals to increase loans, deposits and fees. We work with bank sales leaders to improve the consistency of their messaging, change the behaviors of their sales teams, and address infrastructure issues that impact top-line results. Contact Susan Lersch at or 610-296-4771 for more information.


Topics: prospecting, bank sales, bank relationship managers

6 Things To Do in the Last Six Weeks of the Year

Posted by Ned Miller on Mon, Nov 16, 2015 @ 07:02 AM


The holidays are fast approaching.  Nobody outside of your immediate friends and family wants to see you between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.  Forget getting in to see prospects.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. In today’s competitive banking environment  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.
2. 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 hors d’oeuvres.)
3. Treat your most important line of business partners and COIs to lunch and swap ideas about how to help each other.
4. Schedule time to review your sales efforts in 2015. What did you do well? What have you learned? What specifically do you need to do differently next year?
5. 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.
6. Think about your own professional development. Are there any courses/ webinars/ books out there that would make you a better banker? Not sure? Ask your Manager or send me an email at for some ideas.

MZ BIERLY Consulting, Inc. helps bankers build relationships with business owners and professionals to increase loans, deposits and fees. We work with bank sales leaders to improve the consistency of their messaging, change the behaviors of their sales teams, and address infrastructure issues that impact top-line results.

We believe that a bank’s sales force is only as good as its sales leadership process. Sustainable sales team performance is a direct result of effective sales leadership.

Here are some of the types of things we specialize in:
--Assessing sales process in banks
--Implementing change initiatives to improve results
--Coaching bank sales leaders on running meetings, coaching and eliminating obstacles they face leading their teams
--Training front line bankers on how to develop relationships with business owners
--Delivering keynote speeches on topics relating to prospecting, customer referrals, and sales leadership

For more information contact Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771 or



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Topics: prospecting, bank sales, bank relationship 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

5 Tasks in 5 Minutes for Bank Relationship Managers

Posted by Ned Miller on Mon, Oct 26, 2015 @ 11:42 PM

Every 5 minutes sign icon. Full rotation arrow.


What can you accomplish in five minutes? Well, if you find yourself with five minutes at some point in the day, here are 5 things you can do to improve your personal chances of success in business development.

  1. Review your current pipeline and think about whether there is anybody who might be able to assist you with any opportunities that you are trying to close. If there is, contact that individual fast.
  2. Invite your Sales Manager to make some joint calls with you. Let your boss know what areas you’d like some feedback on.
  3. Call one of your line of business partners and schedule a time to talk about ways you can help each other meet your sales goals.
  4. Think about ways you can involve your Administrative Assistant in your sales efforts. If you share an AA, set up a time to talk with your colleagues about how as a unit you can take better advantage of your AA’s talents.  
  5. Review where you stand with your top 5 customers. Make sure you’re not taking any of them for granted.

Check out these other blog posts:

11 Unbelievably Concise Sales Insights

Knowing What Makes Entrepreneurs Tick Will Boost Your Sales Results

Would your prospects pay for your next call?

There are several other resources available for free on our website, including:


Questions for Bank Sales Managers on Prospecting

How to Ask Customers for Referrals: New Video

Questions for Bank Sales Managers on Prospecting


Coaching the Prospecting Process: 7 Tips for Sales Managers

A Checklist For Qualifying Prospects Quickly

Complimentary e-newsletters

Sales Management Matters at

Sales Edge at


Go to for a complete list of recorded webinars and upcoming sessions

Contact Susan Lersch at or 610-296-4771.











Topics: prospecting, bank sales, bank relationship managers