Bank Sales Corner

How to Build a Business Network

Posted by Ned Miller on Wed, Apr 20, 2016 @ 11:51 PM

Are you looking for ways to expand your network? How are you going about it? This ebook was designed to help you identify and cultivate potential referral sources. There are also tips on what you can do to get the most out of networking events.  

To download this ebook, click on the link below.

How to Build a Business Network (ebook)


Looking for more insights into leveraging your network? Check out these articles:

Q&A on Customer Referrals

Getting Referrals from CPAs: 10 Thought-Provoking Questions


Topics: business development, networking

Developing Bank Sales Leaders

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

Leadership Development Dark Colorful Elements

Top-performing Bank Sales Leaders are skilled at:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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



Topics: Sales Manager, business development, coaching

A Checklist for Bank Sales Leaders

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

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

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



Looking for more resources on prospecting?

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

Check out these articles:

How to Qualify Prospects Quickly

Keys to an Effective First Call on a Prospect

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



























Topics: prospecting, coaching, bank sales managers

Are You Making Enough Sales Calls?

Posted by Ned Miller on Tue, Mar 29, 2016 @ 10:11 PM

Are you making enough face-to-face calls? If you are, great. If you're not, here's why you need to get out from behind your desk.

To view the video, click on the link below.

If you would like to download a written transcription of this video, click on the link below.

Download Transcription


Resources from MZ Bierly Consulting, Inc.

Webinars: If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to provide quality sales and sales leadership materials to your team, check out our recorded webinars. From refreshers on face-to-face calls to in-depth discussions on prospecting we have topical programs for experienced bankers and new hires alike. Find out how you can use our recorded webinars in sales meetings or training sessions by calling Susan Lersch at 610-296-4771 or emailing her at You can also find out more about our webinars at

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

Onsite Training and Consulting: That’s what we’ve been doing for more than 25 years. Call 610-296-4771 to discuss your bank’s specific situation.

Topics: prospecting, bank sales

Q&A on Gatekeepers

Posted by Ned Miller on Thu, Mar 24, 2016 @ 08:03 AM

Telephone keypad detail


Question: Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with secretaries or assistants who are gatekeepers?


Answer: Although in the age of voicemail it’s becoming less frequent, you may find yourself talking to a secretary or an assistant rather than the prospect. Since it may take several calls before you finally get through to the prospect, you may end up talking to this person several times. Here are some guidelines for getting cooperation.


  1. Recognize the importance of the assistant to the prospect.

  2. Use the names of references to build credibility: “Jack Smith, your CPA, suggested I call.”

  3. State your objective for talking with the prospect.

  4. Avoid using the term secretary. Instead, you can ask, “Do you work with Brad Caswell?”

  5. Ask for help in making contact with the prospect. You can also see if the assistant can schedule an appointment for you—some can (often after confirming with the prospect.)

  6. Be appreciative of any help given.

  7. Ask for several alternate times for talking with the prospect before asking to be placed in the prospect’s voicemail.

  8. After the first call, address the individual by name.

  9. Be friendly in a professional way.


Some bankers consciously contact the Administrative Assistant of the prospect they are trying to reach first. By following the steps outlined above, they believe they have a better chance of getting in the door than if they tried to go directly to the prospect.

Agree or disagree? Add your comments below or email

Want more tips on prospecting? Check out these articles:

25 Questions to Assess Your Prospecting Process

6 Secrets of Star Prospectors

How to Build a Business Network (eBook)



Topics: prospecting, bank sales, getting in the door

5 Keys to Picking a Niche for Prospecting

Posted by Mark Augustyn on Tue, Mar 15, 2016 @ 10:41 PM

Mature Man Working At The Computer

Guest post by Mark Augustyn, Senior Vice President, Mercantile Bank, Grand Rapids, MI

How do you decide which niches to target? This is an area I am passionate about.  Here is what I tell my team::

  1. Make sure it is an area the bank is supportive of.  No sense carving a niche up Mt. Everest.

  2. Ensure it is deep enough to invest in.  Sole proprietor fishing guides is not a niche in our market.

  3. Don't pick something that is being swarmed over already within the bank and the market – we don’t need any more “me too’s.”

  4. You have to have a real passion and interest in the niche.

  5. Look to serve first by providing value at every turn.

If your niche meets these 5 criteria and you put your heart and soul into educating, serving, networking, branding and investing in that space you will do just fine.

If you go through the steps above and a space doesn’t present itself, try to figure out what you like best about your job.  For me it was the creativity of complex opportunities.  So what opportunities offer complexity and benefit from creativity?  In my world that led me to development lending and M&A work.  Those became my niches because they drew out my best.

Want more tips on developing niches? Check out these articles:

Prospecting Tips for Bankers on Developing a Niche

25 Questions to Assess Your Prospecting Process

Q&A for Bankers on Targeting the Health Care Niche

Topics: prospecting, bank sales, business development

Q&A on Getting Testimonial Referrals

Posted by Ned Miller on Wed, Mar 09, 2016 @ 08:27 PM

Client testimonials write on notebook


Question: I have asked several customers if they would provide letters of endorsement or testimonials for me. Many have agreed but they want me to draft something for them that they can work from. I do not want to come across as arrogant as I attempt to draft these and was curious if you had samples from your many contacts that you could pass to me as a guide.


Answer: It’s great that you’re asking your customers for testimonials. Marketing Departments can flood the mass media with ads trumpeting what great service your bank provides, but a letter endorsing you from a real business customer is much more powerful. Actors who make commercials are easy to dismiss but the owner of a local company who gives his phone number and email address in writing gives you a lot more credibility.


If your customers need help getting their thoughts on paper, you can definitely assist them. The best recommendations are really stories that your clients relay about how you have assisted them. If you get them to remember what their situation was before you appeared on the scene, what you did for them and how much better things are now, you should be in fine shape.


My suggestion would be to get your clients to talk to you about what they have found valuable. Either take notes or get their permission to tape the conversation. You could ask them questions and then have the comments transcribed.


These testimonials don’t have to be great works of literature. If your customers think of this as talking to one of their friends about you and your professionalism, they’ll do fine.


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

Business Acumen: The Key to Differentiating Yourself

 Building Your Brand (Podcast)

 6 Secrets of Star Prospectors



Topics: prospecting, bank sales, referrals, testimonials

How Can Young Bankers Differentiate Themselves?

Posted by John Montgomery on Fri, Mar 04, 2016 @ 07:42 AM

Business men working in an office.

Guest Blog by John Montgomery, Chief Credit Officer, First Banks, Inc. Clayton, MO

My belief is that bankers differentiate themselves when they understand and truly believe that they are  advisors on par with a client’s accountant and attorney.  This is an important mindset shift. Most Relationship Managers say that they are equals but don't always believe it.  But if they can see themselves as advisors to their clients they will separate themselves from the pack.

Becoming an advisor does not just happen.  Bankers must consistently work to improve their professional skills so they can add value.  An accountant has his CPA designation and an attorney has passed the bar.  These items give them credibility.  Bankers must earn that credibility through knowledge, skill and expertise.  They need to have a deep understanding of  banking, accounting and the law, but also possess a keen business sense. 

So here's my advice to a young banker:

·         Be relentless in improving your knowledge on the technical aspects of the business (banking products, accounting, legal issues, etc.) and developing general business acumen.

·         Stay up to date on the economy and how economic changes will impact your clients.  Be a resource on the economy for your clients.

·         As most “generalists” work for community banks and thus are exposed to real estate financing become an expert on real estate.  Learn everything you can-- from how to analyze an IRR, the development process, the risks associated with various classes of CRE, how to position CRE for long term gains (factor reserves into your cash flows).  In essence if you can become a CRE expert your clients will value that tremendously.  

What advice would you give to a young banker?Add your comments in the space below. 

If you found this blog post valuable, here are a few more blog posts that you might be interested in:

7 Ways to build your Business Acumen

What is the best advice you have ever received on sales?

Following up with Prospects Q&A (Video)

Order Taker vs. Practitioner


Topics: bank relationship managers, professional skills

6 Critical Coaching Routines

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


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

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

The best sales routines have certain common elements:

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

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

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

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

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

Questions/ comments? Add them in the space below.

Video Alert: Tips for Sales Leaders on Time Management

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


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

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

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


Topics: coaching, sales leaders

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