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Prospecting ideas for a banker

Okay. I admit that my creativity is stiffled on this one. In this current business climate, how should a business banker prospect when they have NO competitive advantage, monies are tight, credit lines are hard to come by without squeaking clean credit. All they have is a promised relationship? And the banker is expected to bring in business. - by Connie Kadansky
Okay. I admit that my creativity is stiffled on this one. In this current business climate, how should a business banker prospect when they have NO competitive advantage, monies are tight, credit lines are hard to come by without squeaking clean credit. All they have is a promised relationship? And the banker is expected to bring in business.
From that standpoint, your post falls just short of career guidance. If there's nothing to sell, then it's time to move on. If I was in that position, I would put the burden of coming up with answers on the people I work for.

However, if the situation is not as bleak as all that, and there are viable prospects for bank services, I would be out looking for them relentlessly. I think many business owners today would appreciate a visit from a banker in search of ways to help. - by Ace Coldiron
I'm not a banker but it would seem to me that the difference today will be service or better still how you are treated. People need to have a banker that will be willing to listen, care and understand. They need a banker that will be willing to get back to the basics. It's time to treat customers like bankers use to. Treat them like they really appreciate the chance to do business with them.

My son is a bank manager and my advice to him was this; when you have the pleasure of having a customer in your office then take the time to get to know that customer. Talk about their family, ask the names of their kids, find out what their interests are, etc and remember these things...when you do this it becomes more than just a business relationship. People want to do business with people who care.

MPrince - by MPrince
Yes, I must admit that I posted this inquiry on behalf of a banker friend who is an experienced business developer. It is really tough out there and the bank officers are so distracted by other crises, they are pressuring and relying on their salespeople to figure out how to sell banking in their environment.

Thank you for your comments Ace and MPrince. The more I thought about it, the more it occurred to me that he is attempting to "sell" banking opposed to "selling" the first appointment. Banking is relationship oriented for sure. So my advice to him was to do his best to sell the appointment -- very short appointment maybe 15 minutes max and then decide if there is any reason to have a second appointment. In that 15 minutes, he can assess the landscape. What do you think? - by Connie Kadansky
Hi Connie, a couple of thoughts:

It seems to me as if your banking friend is operating in a bit of an information vacuum. In particular:

- Products or services that look undifferentiated to expert insiders often look very different from each other to actual customers. Maybe by talking to some of his existing customer and "non-customers" he can find out about why they bank with his company (or don't) - and use that as a differentiator
- Even if most customers don't percieve any differences - are there niches or segments where what his bank offers is subtly different and so the customers in those niches do percieve a difference? Perhaps he can even create a niche? If he looks at his customer list maybe there are more technology companies, SMEs, retailers, etc. Even the small difference of being a bank that "specialises" in retail can help feel the potential customer feel more inclined to use them. Even if his bank as a whole has a completely "average" customer portfolio, maybe he himslef doesn't. Maybe he can be an account manager who specialises in X or Y.
- Even if it turns out he can't find or create any perceived differences at all - customers still change suppliers from one identical service to another every day. Maybe they've been let down on the customer service front; maybe they're changing location; maybe there are some specialist services they need that their current bank doesn't provide. Again - more research with existing customers who've switched to his bank recently will give clues as to what drives switching. Then he needs to go and look for potential customer who meet that profile.

For me, one overriding thing to bear in mind is something Neil Rackham said in "Rethinking the Salesforce". In the future, the key in sales will be no longer to just communicate the inherent value in your product or service - it will be to actually create value through your sales process and interactions.

Even if his banking products are absolutely identical to everyone else's - he is different. Perhaps he can be better than others at really understanding the specific needs of a business as shaping a portfolio of products to help them. Perhaps he knows more about retail businesses than any other banker and can offer great business advice not just banking products. Perhaps he can take absolute responsibility for ensuring his customers have a perfect relationship with the bank and will resolve any issues they have personally.

It's up to him to figure out his own personal competitive advantages. But doing the research I mentioned will at least help him identify which ones will be valued by his customers.

Ian - by ianbrodie
I do agree...by trying to sell banking he/she may be coming across as desperate and that is the last thing a banker needs right now. Sell the appointment...listen to the client and get to know them. I have heard my son tell me stories of how he got business not because he could offer the best deal but because "he" let the customer know that he cared and would do everything in his power to look after their business. There have also been times he could not help the customer but because of he knows his competition he was able to send the customer to another bank or lending institution that could help. That is service to the customer and that person will never forget how hard he worked for them.

MPrince

Sell the Appointment and then Sell yourself by - by MPrince
Okay. I admit that my creativity is stiffled on this one. In this current business climate, how should a business banker prospect when they have NO competitive advantage, monies are tight, credit lines are hard to come by without squeaking clean credit. All they have is a promised relationship? And the banker is expected to bring in business.
Banking is all about relationships, and the 'sale' isn't that you can sell them on 'better rates or loans', it maybe the 'hope that you will deliver a better relationship'.

It doesn't matter if you are struggling to set effective first appointments or are on the appointment, the issue is 'why' would they really want to talk with another banker in the first place.

Find out what really he is dissatisfied with his current relationship. Everyone knows that rates have fallen and the difficulties of acquiring loans and other banking issues. Maybe his problems center around the lack of attention he received and how the banker he has was NOT keeping him up to date, on where things were going. Like anyone else, maybe the bank executive DID NOT call him enough to tell him informaed.

Break down what prospects would have liked their past banker to do better for them.... we all know that the banker himself has very little to do with the overall rates and situations, but he has everything to do with communicating to his customers.

That is where you may find a 'crack that you can' widen to interest someone into changing banks. But then make sure you deliver on the issue that got them to consider going with you.

The problem the prospect has generally goes beyond just services. - by Paulette Halpern
I think you are exactly right...It is all about relationships especially in the current atmosphere. It is who is going to do the things that are important to "ME" and "MY" money? If my current banker is not doing those things I will find a banker that will. In my opinion if you are happy with your banker you feel safe and no interest rate can buy that.

MP - by MPrince
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