Over the past 4 or 5 years, the commercial banking sales environment has gone through some major changes for both bankers and business clients. Prior to the 2008 financial meltdown, it wasn’t unusual for a business client to change banks. It wasn’t easy but it happened frequently. Today, it’s almost impossible! The past financial meltdown has made bankers as well as business clients very cautious about establishing new banking relationships.
In recent conversations with commercial bankers I’m hearing more “war stories” about the growing challenge of getting business clients to even consider changing banking relationships. Prior to the financial meltdown, typically about 2% of all commercial sales happen in the initial sales calls. Just 2%! But in recent years that percentage has been extremely tough to reach. So if only 2% or less of the commercial sales happens on the initial sales calls, the other 98% of sales happen in the commercial banker’s follow-up meetings. And since it’s gotten tougher in recent years to get business clients to change their banking relations, the banker’s follow-up sales action plan on that 98% is critical. But despite how critical follow-up sales is, most bankers really don’t have a follow up sales action plan. Their plan is simple…just show up periodically and hope to get lucky!
But “luck” is never a good sales strategy. The banker’s 98% Sales Action Plan should include the following 3 critical strategies:
1. IT MUST EDUCATE. Business prospect expects the banker to be an “expert in their field” so the banker’s follow-ups should provide some helpful educational information. What insider financial or banking information can the banker share that will help the business client make better business and financial decisions? If the banker’s follow-up meetings have little or no educational value, why should the prospect waste their time meeting? Give them the information they need and the banker will earn their trust.
2. IT MUST DIFFERENTATE. Let’s face it, most business clients think bankers are all alike. Other than bankers having different personalities, they believe most bankers have basically the same level of banking skills and financial knowledge. It’s up to the banker in their follow-up to highlight the value of the banker’s unique differences. In the follow-up process the banker must reinforce their “distinctive competencies” and there specific value to the business client.
3. IT MUST MOTIVATE. One of the business client’s biggest obstacles to changing bank relationships is inertia…status quo! It’s a lot easier for the business client to do absolutely nothing. The banker’s follow-up process must create a since of urgency for the business client to take action.
If the banker’s 98% Follow-up Sales Action Plan educates the client, differentiates the banker from other bankers and motivates the business client to take actions, the banker will significantly improve their close percentage and shorten the sales cycle.