Fable Friday: How to drive a commercial bank manager crazy!

A young banker in the 1970’s, I was sitting in the passenger seat with the file, while my boss drove us to the customer’s place of business.  As we left the parking lot he said, “Go through that file and see if you can come up with some stuff we can talk to this guy about.”

Gregory at Medtronic 10-2010 CroppedI often tell this story to commercial bankers in my training workshops and they get a big laugh out of it.  Why?  Because I suspect that many of them prepare for their calls the same way today. My own observation in working with commercial banking groups is that this lack of preparation, besides being disrespectful to your customer, drastically reduces your opportunity to find ways to add value. Loans aren’t the only bank services your customers need, and the other services you fail to explore may be far more profitable, and certainly have greater retention value.

Commercial banking groups are under increased pressure to grow business and sell.  This means that the manager of your group is feeling that pressure, and so are you.  There is increased emphasis today on being prepared on every call, as no commercial group can be successful selling only loans.

So when you call you should be very well-prepared to explore as many business issues as possible in the time allowed, and on a joint call your focus must be even sharper, as you have another resource to use. Often the other resource is someone from Treasury Services (best), or Wealth, Foreign Exchange, or an expert in some other area, such as derivatives.

It may be that you are the additional resource accompanying the Relationship Manager or Lender.  If so, here are some useful ideas to help you prepare more effectively for a joint call, and they don’t take up a lot of time. Just have a brief chat with your partner and discuss these issues, which apply to all joint calling, not just banks:

  • Please give me some additional background about your understanding of this need.  What is the business issue and how did the subject of (swaps, e.g.) arise?
  • What is your understanding of the customer’s level of familiarity or comfort with this product? Have they used it in the past? What was their experience? (This keeps you from talking down to the customer, or getting way over his head and confusing him.)
  • What advantages or disadvantages exist for us that I should know about? Any topics I should stay away from?
  • How do you see me helping you, and what expectations did you set with the customer about my role?  For example, did you position me as making a presentation, or learning more about the need? (This is a big one. Don’t get put in a position of doing a product overview.  You must help the customer see the need.)
  • Let’s discuss the questions we should ask in order to learn more about the need and who asks them. (You don’t want to be interrupted all the time, and the interplay between you and your colleague should sound natural and helpful.)
  • What product material should I bring?
  • If all goes perfectly, what outcome do you hope to achieve on this call?

Remember that someone is going to take notes.  Make sure you explain to the customer, “This is an important discussion, so I want to make sure we capture the high points. I’m going to take notes.”

This preparation discussion takes just a few minutes and will help you to…

Think Like Your Customer

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About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at www.actionsystemstraining.com.

One Response to Fable Friday: How to drive a commercial bank manager crazy!

  1. Peter Grindley-Ferris says:

    Could not agree with you more. There is lots to mine in a well kept and up to date file

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