Bank Sales Corner

11 Unbelievably Concise Sales Insights

Posted by Ned Miller on Mon, Aug 24, 2015 @ 07:14 AM


Looking for quick tips on how to jumpstart your business development efforts? Here are 11 coaching tips in 3 word soundbites* that might help you land more business:

1. Stop cold calling

2. Develop your brand

3. Forget about RFPs

4. Control the controllable

5. Qualify prospects quickly

6. Get their vision

7. Write that letter

8. Join trade associations

9. Network with forethought

10. Cultivate local CPAs

11. Use board members

*Don’t forget to click on the hyperlinks for more details. 

What do you think? What concise advice has helped you? Please share your advice, insights, and experiences in the COMMENTS area ou think? What concise advice has helped you? Please share your advice, insights, and experiences in the COMMENTS area below...

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Here are some of the topics that they’ll cover:

* The impact of the financial crisis on various specialties

* What the end of the capital access party for doctors means

* How to implement an effective prospecting strategy

* Resources that bankers can use to differentiate themselves from the competition 

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.  

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:

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  • “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

Order Taker vs. Practitioner

Posted by Ned Miller on Tue, Aug 11, 2015 @ 09:47 AM

Are you an order taker?

Guest Blog by Chris Caldwell, Mutual Bank, Muncie, Indiana

chris caldwell bank sales


When we go to McDonalds and order one of their meals, we know what we are getting; we understand that it will be the same meal we'd get if we were in Florida, Michigan, or Indiana. While we also know that it may not be healthy (or for that matter very good) we know what we're getting. We also know that the person behind the counter isn’t doing anything but taking our order.

So what? Too many times it feels like we do the same thing in banking. We expect that the customer knows what features are in a checking account, we make an assumption about what they are going to do with the account, and we prescribe something to them before ever really analyzing their needs.

Often we get calls from clients suggesting that they need a line of credit. Yet, if we dig deeper, we find that their financial needs are much more complex. We need to serve as an advisor to them and help them realign their balance sheet to reflect the proper asset liability mix. The customer heard someone tell him that his company needs a line of credit. But we have to analyze the company's needs to find the best solution.

In a prior life I had a boss who routinely threatened us within an inch of our lives if we quoted a rate within the first 30 seconds of a call from a client. It wasn’t because we were incompetent or didn’t know how to read a rate sheet, it was because we truly hadn’t diagnosed the client’s need before we rattled off a rate (by the way, I’m not advocating beating anyone!).

While the tactics certainly weren’t helpful, the advice was. If we become order takers, we don’t really provide the value or service that our clients deserve and can’t really demand that they pay us for something besides their order. (The other thing that I’m advocating here is that we begin to get paid what we deserve for the service we provide. We should be proud that we are good bankers who do a good job of diagnosing the problem and get compensated accordingly.)

Think of it this way. If you tell your doctor that you have strep throat (because your throat is sore after all) and the doctor prescribes medicine for strep, then in essence you have someone who is guiltily of malpractice. He didn’t diagnose you, he didn’t even really examine your needs; he merely listened to your semi-informed (or likely uninformed) self-diagnosis and prescribed something for you that may or may not treat your problem.

If we allow our clients to inform us of their needs (whether they really know or only assume they know), and if we don’t truly diagnose their problems and then prescribe something that may or may not address their financial issues, we are guilty of financial malpractice.

Now I know that some will tell me that it is easier in commercial lending to do this than it is in retail or mortgage lending given all the compliance issues. I get that. But we still have to stop, listen, ask, listen some more, and then prescribe based on a thorough understanding of the issues and needs, not based on a client’s uninformed diagnosis of his or her financial needs.

Agree or disagree? Please share your advice, insights, and experiences in the COMMENTS area below...

Resources from MZ Bierly Consulting, Inc.

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Sales Conferences: Buck Bierly and Ned Miller are frequent speakers at banking conferences and bank sales meetings. They have a reputation for delivering sales and sales management "how-to's" in a dynamic, engaging manner. 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

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Q&A on Retaining Key Customers

Posted by Ned Miller on Thu, Aug 06, 2015 @ 07:32 AM

bank sales manager q&a

Question: We have a longtime marquee customer whose long-time account officer just retired.  I handed them over to my strongest Relationship Manager, who arrived with the endorsement of the customer’s accountant.  


While the CEO and CFO like their new banker, they said they are still going to use the opportunity to shop the relationship.  I went to lunch with them a few weeks ago, and if they said it once they said it 20 times – they are thrilled with us and have zero complaints. 


Losing this relationship would reverberate negatively for us and very positively for whoever stole it. Outside of responding to an RFP, I’m thinking we should do something else that leverages our position as the incumbent and/or elicits guilt at the prospect of leaving--something like bringing in lunch for all the employees.  


Do you have any tried and true tricks you could suggest? 


Answer:  My quick reaction is that your approach should include more than one grand gesture (buying lunch for the masses); it might be a series of things involving various parties inside the bank and the company (e.g. something involving your CEO and their CEO; a “relationship review” with the CFO and your team; a special event; etc.)  


Here are my assumptions and suggestions:  

  1. You don’t know whether they will put their business out to bid but if they do, it will take several months for the process to unfold. This means that the plan you develop should look out over the next 3 to 6 months at a minimum. 

  1. Presumably your former RM has left you with a good understanding of who all the players are (inside and outside the C-suite). Your new RM has to meet with all of them in the near term. That may involve some joint calls with members of your team who know some of these parties (e.g. TM rep, senior management, you, etc.) 

  1. You have a good working relationship with their external advisors (CPA, attorney, etc.) Your new RM needs to meet with the key people there.  

  1. Your new RM is up to speed on the industry, the firm’s capabilities and strategic priorities. He/she has to be able to demonstrate that in conversations with all people in #2 and 3. Your new RM (and the other members of your team) should be able to discuss how you’re going to help them (e.g. accelerating collection of receivables, attracting and retaining staff, financing investment in technology, etc.) This means that you have a plan for enhancing the value you bring to the company. 

  1. You understand what the C-Suite values (and my guess is that is more a combination of professionalism and technical proficiency than price). Your RM has to deliver what they’re looking for.  


If I were you, I would also sound out others about what you could do. If you have a coach within the company—somebody who likes you and wants the bank to succeed—get that person’s insights.  


Final comment: You could make the case that this is what every Commercial Relationship Manager should be doing to retain a top client. Unfortunately, many aren’t doing as good a job on this as they should.  


What do you think? What advice would you give this Sales Leader? 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) 

If you liked this post share it with others on LinkedIn, Twitter and by email.  

Topics: bank sales, bank relationship managers, value propositions, retaining key clients

A Perspective on Alternative Lending for Small Business Bankers

Posted by Ned Miller on Mon, Jul 27, 2015 @ 05:39 AM

Guest Blogger Charles Wendel, FIC Advisors, Inc.

Increasingly, banks understand that alternative finance companies (AFCs) are here to stay in business lending. Still, many continue to view AFCs simply as high risk and high rate competitors for loans. In fact, many AFCs want to cooperate with banks. Working with AFCs can reduce business lending operating costs, generate new loan revenues and referral fees, increase deposit levels, and address vexing regulatory challenges. But, what issues do banks need to consider in choosing an AFC partner and what process should they follow to ensure they pick the right one?

A Brief History. AFCs expanded in business banking largely as a result of bank limits on lending. In effect banks invited AFCs into their world when, in reaction to the last downturn, they narrowed their “credit box,” tightening lending criteria and eliminating more businesses from consideration for loans.

Based upon risk, industry, and other factors, we estimate that banks view only about 10% of businesses as acceptable lending targets, leaving the remainder to AFCs and others funding sources.

Bank Qualified and Non-Qualified Business


Number of businesses (Millions)

Potential $ Loan Value (Billions)

Percent of Businesses

Percent of






Not Qualifying










While to some degree alternative non-bank lending has always existed, this time is different in part because of the extent to which the new breed of lenders integrates technology into origination, underwriting, pricing, and risk management, causing one industry insider to suggest that a better descriptor for AFCs is “digitally enabled lending.”

Initially, AFCs competed with banks, operating under bank radar, since their primary focus centered on targets that banks avoided. Because of the speed and responsiveness AFCs offered, in recent years an increasing number of borrowers showed they were willing to pay above bank rates for the speed and execution AFCs provided. Although estimates vary, AFC business loan outstandings in 2014 reached at least $5 Billion in the U.S. While this represents only 1‑2% of current small business lending, growth rates are increasing rapidly. And, new loan revenues provide only part of an AFC’s value to a bank.

In recent years several AFCs experienced limited success in partnering with banks, focusing on providing financing to companies banks already turned down. This emphasis often resulted in frustration for both banks and AFCs. Banks referred a low number of acceptable deals, raised concerns over privacy and other regulations, and found that their likely revenue potential “did not move the needle.” AFCs quickly realized the need to provide greater value-added in order to interest banks.

Pivoting for Success. Moving beyond turndown lending, AFCs are currently focusing on one or more of three lending-related activities:

• Market expansion

• Integration

• Related to the above, specialized lending

• As an alternative to AFCs, DIY

Market expansion. Rather than focusing on limited “second looks,” AFCs now approach banks with loan growth opportunities. For example, many banks for reasons tied to high cost and internal risk parameters provide loans to no more than 20-30% of their current small business customers. With the cost efficiencies and risk insights that AFCs bring they can offer loans to a significantly higher percentage of current customers on a white label or co-branded basis. Banks may receive a fee and/or retain a portion of these loans for their own portfolio while maintaining relationship control

Integration. Small business loans, in particular loans below $100K, generate losses or subpar returns for the majority of banks. Rising costs tied to origination, underwriting, monitoring, compliance, and other areas lock in loses for traditional lenders.

$100,000 Loan Example: Cost per Loan

Loan origination






Loan review















Interest Income (assume 6.25% loan)


Loan cost to bank (3%)


Total non-interest costs to generate loan



Net Income

($600) to +$150

Banks want the deposits that these small businesses provide. As bank /AFC relationships progress, the business focus has been moving toward full integration, whereby, the AFC in effect assumes responsibility for the bank’s low-dollar business lending. The bank focuses on origination, shifting back office and risk expenses out of the bank and to the AFC. This relationship also results in fee income and/or the opportunity to purchase loans for the bank’s portfolio. Leveraging the operational and risk platforms some AFCs offer can change a bank’s business banking economics.

Specialized lending. Related to market expansion and integration, AFCs realize that success increases with their ability to address bank “pain points” including efficiently meeting CRA and Fair Lending hurdles. Banks have begun to work with AFCs in these areas with the AFC taking on increased responsibility for meeting loan goals. The AFC operating platform reduces costs while its data analytic and risk management capabilities increase productivity and the quality of prospecting. Expect more activity in priority areas in which banks recognize the need for third party assistance.

DIY. A small handful of banks are pursuing a different path, believing that they can replicate an AFC-like approach based largely upon their internal data. But, most banks lack the data, analytic capabilities, risk management appetite, and culture required for this approach.

Managing through the Alternative Finance Ecosystem. Senior bank management needs to analyze which approaches to pursue, which AFC to work with and/ or explore a hybrid approach. The AFC ecosystem is becoming more complex and the number of potential AFC partners continues to increase.

Digitally Enabled Lenders Come in Many Shapes and Sizes









Each business model is a bet on where each firm believes value is being created in the system and what the market is willing to pay for it

Source: Fundation


Banks should determine their preferred approach and create a checklist of partner selection criteria likely to include assessing compliance and regulatory capabilities, analyzing the ability of the AFC to provide a turnkey solution to minimize the burden on the bank, and determining the AFC’s reputation for performance and quality based upon competitive intelligence.

As part of this process, banks need to decide between working with direct lenders versus marketplace lenders that do not take credit risk but provide a platform to match borrowers with lenders. Direct lenders operate with the funding and risk expertise required to assess and book loans themselves and have “skin in the game,” an approach some banks may prefer.

Managing through the alternative finance “ecosystem” presents banks with multiple challenges, including tracking developments in this space. AFCs are not going away; as they achieve greater acceptance among borrowers and provide more economic benefits to banks, they will play a larger role in business banking. Banks should take advantage of what AFCs offer.

Charles Wendel is the President of FIC Advisors, Inc. He can be reached at


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)


If you liked this post share it with others on LinkedIn, Twitter and by email.




Topics: small business, Alternative lending, Charles Wendel

What is the worst sales advice you have ever received?

Posted by Ned Miller on Mon, Jul 13, 2015 @ 06:57 AM


bank sales adviceEditorial comment: I appreciate the candor of the 20 talented bankers who shared the worst sales advice they had ever received. Do not assume that the bad advice was offered at their current place of business--in most cases, it was not. And don't forget that while there are people who might lead you astray with hackneyed recommendations, there are a lot of savvy bank sales leaders (and even a few consultants!) who can provide invalauble coaching that will help you develop relationships with business owners.

1. One thing I've encountered is the "give the client what they want and we will figure out how to do it later" approach. Doesn't work very well when you can't deliver and you have to back track on your commitment. Not very smart in my opinion. I think the proper approach is to understand the client needs and align your capabilities to determine what solutions and options are available. It's about having a collaborative relationship with a client and not just appeasing them with promises that might be broken later on.

Victor W. Capozzolo First Niagara


2. Probably to make unannounced cold calls without being prepared. A former bank had quotas and we were encouraged to blanket an area and simply “drop in “on a prospect that in many cases were a terrible fit for our bank. No prep, just drop in. Stressful and highly ineffective and in many cases offensive.

Scott Page Colorado Business Bank and Arizona Business Bank


3. I know the owner he really doesn’t like to talk that much about the company’s financials. Besides these guys have been around forever so make sure you don’t get too deep into the financials--we need this deal.

Rick Webster Union Bank


4. I would say the dumbest thing I have done (not necessarily advice) is to “wing it” or “assume I earned a piece of business because……” In most of those situations I have left myself and the bank exposed to a competitor that took the opportunity WAY more seriously than I did and as such shined a lot brighter. This either caused me to lose the opportunity or scramble to get it and look like a fool in the process.

Mark Augustyn Mercantile Bank


5. Cold calling is the best way to generate new business and tied with that: cold calling blitzes in a certain geography.

Jeffrey Carstens Bank Leumi


6. At the top of my list is some advice that a manager once gave me. He told me that I didn’t need to spend a lot of time with my top performers, that they always have the drive to succeed and that my time was better spent on the mid- and low-performers. I learned the hard way that while top performers may not need the specific sales coaching that others do, you do need to spend quality time with them as a leader. Top performers not only want to be recognized and appreciated but you also have to make sure that you are helping to remove obstacles, having meaningful career discussions and checking in frequently to ensure they are engaged and motivated. As a leader you can also help them solidify existing relationships with customers and COIs and help convert prospects by demonstrating that senior leaders are local and available.

Rob Brown Citizens Bank


7. “We don’t have the time or resources as an industry to teach RM’s commercial credit. We just need to teach them to sell it.”

Jeffrey Orner Santander Bank


8. "If a customer doesn't like you they are not going to do business with you, so determine that quickly and move on."

I understand there are some situations where you determine quickly the fit isn't there and continued discussions would be useless. However the context of the article ‎was from a very aggressive sales approach (bull in a china shop in my thinking) and the author suggests you go in on your terms without considering the customer and how they may react to such an aggressive sales approach. If they don't like it, too bad. There are other deals to be had.

I feel this approach shows the customer you do not value them. I also believe you have to be respected in your market place, and this approach will quickly tarnish your credibility and reputation. Once you develop a reputation that it's all about you and not about the customer you are done. Your chances of getting in the door of other prospects will be greatly diminished. ‎Customers in our market place talk, and this kind of information gets passed on quickly.

Jeffrey Stauffer Ephrata National Bank


9. Do not ask for the business but rather permit the prospect time to come to an understanding that the bank has "selected" them too. Once that understanding comes to the prospect they will more readily see the value, and be more drawn to the overtures. Sales come more often when both parties reflect on the fit. Asking for the business would sully the reputation of the bank. It came across like dating advice--play hard to get almost. I swear it is true.

David Swoyer Santander Bank


10. To ask for financial statements and bank statements on a cold call "calling blitz".

Scott Sehnert Rocky Mountain Bank


11. “If you don’t have the prospects interest in 5 minutes then move on”

Everything I have learned tells me I WON'T have their interest in 5 minutes and if I have a buyer in 5 minutes, they will leave me in 5 minutes. This advice was never based upon relationship sales. It was based on the ABC (Always be closing) mentality. Never works.

Chris Martin Northwest Savings Bank

12. ABC Always Be Closing. Courtesy of Glenngary, Glen Ross.

Susan Eick Right Management


13. “If you lose a piece of business you wanted, tell the prospect how stupid they are.”

Frank E. Walter Heartland Financial


14. I think the dumbest sales advice I got was that if I just played the pure numbers game I could ultimately land a big deal. If I make 100 cold calls, I get a 10% response rate, and then get a 10% hit rate on those, I get one deal. Of course, that assumes that the deal is the kind that I want, if not, then I start all over again. I equate it to the concept that if you put enough primates in a room with typewriters, sooner or later you will get War and Peace (bound and ready to sell).

In commercial lending you simply cannot continue to just bang and bang on doors with no solid plan. Stupid, dumb, blind luck simply does not work. Clients and prospects are too smart to not see it coming. By the way, one of the smartest pieces of advice centers around the concept that the only true way to win the business is to provide something that the customer needs or wants. If they don’t need it, or they don’t want it, it is going to be pretty difficult to do anything except compete on price.

Chris Caldwell Mutual Bank

15. Worst advice - stay in the else will you be available to your customers?

William Newell Burke and Herbert Bank


16. A product specialist (Investment Bankers are notorious for this) telling a Relationship Manager “just get me in the door.” In essence, you don’t need to know my product or how I will sell or how I might damage your relationship, you just need to set up the appointment. I think this attitude has made the integration between Commercial and Investment Banking a real struggle for most banks. It goes to other product lines as well.

“You just need to make more calls.” Sales managers tell junior people and some more senior people that they are not on the street enough. Then we do the training that centers on making an impactful call. What the junior banker may be asking is how do I set up appointments? I think sales managers overlook this aspect of calling and training here seems much more limited.

Dave Durham Fulton Bank


17. The best thing that comes to mind is related to “Cold Calling”. You know the comment about “The more cold calls you make, the more chances to get a deal”. I just believe that “cold calls” should NEVER have to be made. In today’s times of social media, there are so many ways to connect with a business (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Avention/One Source and many more.) With all of the possible connections, make calls to companies where you have someone in common. There are too many of these “low-hanging fruit” opportunities.

Gerald J. Deetz Jr. Arizona Business Bank

18. I overheard a manager tell his younger new employee to pick a nice place to eat for lunch and go there every day and eat the same thing. That way when you bring a customer there, you will be recognized as an important person and the server will simply say “the usual, Joe?”.

Robert Lenihan Vectra Bank


19. One of my greatest frustrations is the lack of advice. For example, at my last job, when I would ask my manager for ideas on how to develop business in the market, he would turn it back on me and say, "Well, that is what I hired you for." His business development skills were based on his age and time in market that lead to his ability to poach a few pieces of business away from his former employers. I have not had very many managers who knew how to develop new business.

Lathem Scott First National Bank


20. Well, if by advice you mean in a formal setting from a manager, trainer or consultant, I’m not sure there is anything really stupid.  Most of what I recall would probably just be a different philosophy but not necessarily wrong. 

I had a participant in a networking workshop proudly proclaim he didn’t have time to waste on any “soft” questions or conversations to connect with the individual.  That his goal was to find out immediately if the person he had just met had investible assets worth his time (he was an investment rep).  I did a role play with him in front of the class and literally his second question after “How are you doing?” was “So, about how much do you have in your savings or investment accounts?” 

His feeling was that if they weren’t willing to share it, he would just move on because it was a numbers game.  That he was “hard core sales” and “touchy feely” stuff was not for him.  What he didn’t realize obviously is that hard core sales is having the guts to put in the work. 

While it isn’t “advice” per se, it absolutely is a recurring theme and something that a lot of people believe on some level.  And it isn’t just networking, it’s all conversations.  But they’ll continue to wear it like a badge.

Guy Johnston City National Bank


If you’re interested in getting some good advice, check out the following blog posts:

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

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

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)


If you liked this post, share it with others on LinkedIn, Twitter and by email.



Topics: prospecting, bank sales, business development, sales calls

Bank Managers: Triple your sales training ROI with one question

Posted by Ned Miller on Mon, Jul 06, 2015 @ 07:29 AM

Guest Blog Post by Gregory LaMothe, President of Action Systems Training

Greg Lamothe


Many years ago I worked for a sales training consulting firm, and like all such firms we had a number of “shelf” programs for Business, Commercial and Corporate Banking. At the end of every session, I dutifully asked the learners what they would commit to taking from the program to use on the job. I naively expected to hear some dedicated, serious commitments.

But without fail, the learners would say, “I liked the part where you talked about how important it is to send an agenda before a sales call,” or “I enjoyed the discussion about overcoming objections on the telephone.” No one ever said, “Starting tomorrow I’m going to ask the Six Killer Questions we practiced yesterday.” It was always, “Here’s what I liked,” and never “Here’s what I’m going to do.”

Try this yourself if you’re a trainer and you’ll see it always holds true. Does it surprise you that people don’t volunteer to change behavior following training?

Now let’s talk about your investment in training your team. It’s considerable and you should worry about it. Here’s why. If you hire a company to train your people, you’ll have to pay for their services and expenses, but that’s just part of it. There are other costs too, including the opportunity cost for taking salespeople off the line for a period of time to train them, as they could be out selling instead. So mostly for these two reasons, the training must result in improved sales performance. That’s your ROI.

What can you do as the sales manager to ensure you get the desired return? Let’s consult the great psychologist and educator, Robert M. Gagne, whose 1965 book, “The Conditions of Learning” included his set of 9 steps called the “Events of Instruction.” Gagne solidified the instructional design process to ensure that instruction would work. Of the 9 events, the last one may be the most significant: enhance retention and provide for transfer of learning to the job.

So as we saw above, the learners won’t commit to changing behavior, and the training consultant is headed for the airport. Whose job is it to ensure the transfer? Why, it’s yours! Consider the person who is out of shape or overweight and goes to the doctor about it, only to be told he will now have to diet and exercise. You’re the one responsible for ensuring that your people use the program skills when they get back to the job, and recouping your investment.

So here’s the question you must ask the training consultant: “How will you help me ensure that my team uses the content from your program when they return to work?” If the training firm doesn’t introduce the issue themselves, or has no ideas on learning transfer, don’t hire them. Period.

You will want to explore a number of proven transfer approaches, including at the least:

· Coaching before training—Discuss current performance, followed by overviewing the training content, and then agreeing on “What you expect to take away from the program in order to enhance performance”

· Coaching after training—“What did you learn and what can I expect to see you do differently

· Learning contracts—Formalized agreements on changed behavior. The manager has the sales team member make specific written commitments.

· Joint calling—Observe and coach the performer

· Tools and job aids to provide evidence the new methods were employed

· Reinforcement of the training through skill practice and review at sales meetings

You can triple the ROI from your sales training investment if you focus on the critical step of learning transfer. Never assume others will do it for you.

You can reach Gregory LaMothe by going to his website:

or visiting his blog at:


Topics: bank sales, sales training

Checklist for Bankers to Assess Mid-Year Sales Performance

Posted by Ned Miller on Mon, Jun 29, 2015 @ 08:01 AM


6 month salesYou have six months to meet your goals for 2015. What do you need to do?

That's one of the questions that forces Bank Relationship Managers to think. Unfortunately, thinking consumes both time and energy so most of us tend to avoid it. (One of the things a teacher of mine used to say was that "Most people would rather die than think--and most do.")

So if you had to think about your sales prowess--as if your professional future really depended on it--what should you focus on? Here's a quick checklist for starters:

1. How is your performance year to date? How do you stack up vs. your peers? How are you doing in retaining and expanding relationships with your key and high potential customers? What does your pipeline look like now and 3 or 6 months down the road? Are you making progress with your key prospects? Where do you see the biggest opportunities for growth? What are the major challenges you face?

2. What do you need to work on to improve your results? Be honest. Is it better product knowledge? A more focused prospecting approach? Quality time to prepare for upcoming calls? A better working relationship with your administrative assistant? A consistent follow-up plan to stay top of mind with your COIs and prospects?

3. Who can help you get to the next level? The obvious answer is your sales manager, but think about where you might find other allies. Are there customers who could refer you to other businesses? Do you need to do a better job of networking internally with product partners in cash management or private banking or capital markets? Can the Executive Director of that trade association of manufacturers become a referral source?

4. What's your plan? Get specific. Write it down. Make sure that you get feedback from your personal board of advisors (e.g. your spouse, your boss, any of your good friends or coworkers who want you to succeed, etc.)

For most of us this is not a 20 minute exercise. But if you've only got 20 minutes to start the process today, do it. Your results in 2015 (and in 2016) may well hinge on it.

Here are some prospecting resources from MZ Bierly Consulting.

1. How to Build a Business Network eBook

2. Recorded and Live Webinars

If you liked this post, feel free to share it with your network via email, LinkedIn or Twitter.


Topics: prospecting, bank sales, bank relationship managers, sales results

11 Reasons Why You May Be Struggling with Prospecting

Posted by Ned Miller on Mon, Jun 22, 2015 @ 09:35 AM

prospecting, bank sales


  1. You’re not delegating enough of the gruntwork.
  2. You’re not clear who you’re going after (translation: Your prospect list isn’t something you really own.)
  3. You can’t differentiate yourself from your competition—you’re another  boring banker.
  4. You lack product knowledge in key areas outside your specialty.
  5. You’re a mass generalist not an expert specialist – you try to be all things to all people. (Zig Ziglar said it best: “You cannot make it as a wandering generality. You must become a meaningful specific.”)
  6. You don’t develop alliances with others in your network, both inside and outside your organization.
  7. You’re not connecting with prospects on their most relevant and important strategic issues. (Question: Do you know what their 5 year strategy is for their business?)
  8. You don’t have a defined sales process and find yourself winging it more often than not.
  9. You’re still waiting for the phone to ring in the age of social selling.  
  10. You’re relying too much on one approach (networking events, CPA referrals, , etc.).
  11. You underestimate the amount of time it will take to grow your book of business successfully. Prospecting is a long term proposition.

What do you think? What can bankers do to improve their success in prospecting? Please share your advice, insights, and experiences in the COMMENTS section below.

Looking for more tools to help you with prospecting? Check out the following resources:

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.

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)


If you liked this post share it with others on LinkedIn, Twitter and by email.






Topics: prospecting, bank relationship managers, networking, building relationships

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)


If you liked this post share it with others on LinkedIn, Twitter and by email.

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