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Many bankers think there’s a magical secret to better business development. If you carefully observe the financial institutions with highly successful business development efforts, you can uncover their secret.
Turns out, it’s not really a secret. It’s simply a two-part mantra: Show Up, Follow Up.
The winners show up and follow up. Over and over again.
It really is that simple.
The Show Up and Follow Up Rule should be applied in three key areas of your bank:
- a coordinated paid, owned and earned media campaign
- a focused, branded in-person calling program
- a world-class employee training initiative
When all three are in sync and working together, incredible results are certain to follow.
1. Coordinated Paid, Owned and Earned Media
Marketing can make the phone ring and produce website clicks from both retail and commercial prospects. But it’s up to their teammate bankers and CSRs to convert the inquires into transactions and relationships.
The effective marketing team knows there’s no such thing as a short-term campaign delivering long-term results. They’re in it for the long haul. And they know that their efforts lay the groundwork for the in-person marketing that goes hand-in-hand with their efforts.
They build a multi-media campaign designed to reach intended audiences in multiple places such as the website, social networks, paid digital and traditional media, direct mail and email so the message rises above the noise of competitors and can’t be missed.
The marketing team supports and expands the visibility of the paid media with social media, PR, events and sponsorships that establish their institution as a leader—a bank doing great things for the people and communities it serves.
The creative message is branded, unique, clear, compelling, memorable and loaded with benefits. It is not a wallflower. It gets attention.
The campaign isn’t a one-week (or even a one quarter) campaign. They’re committed to a sustained effort. This means audiences get repeated opportunities to discover, learn and then respond.
Audiences need those repeated opportunities because even if they intend to respond right away, they don’t. Their lives are busy. Other priorities get in the way of their best intentions.
So follow up means multiple opportunities for prospects to respond to targeted messages when they get the chance to do what they know they should have done a long time ago.
“The Rule of Seven” is a marketing adage adopted by many marketers five or more years ago. Times have changed. Life is faster and busier for nearly everyone. Today, seven probably isn’t even the minimum—let alone the optimum.
2. Focused, Branded In-Person Calling Program
I’ve asked other business colleagues to share their experiences and reactions to bankers cold calling them. What I’ve learned may surprise you.
- Many bankers never get around to making prospecting calls or visits at all.
- Most bankers who do make calls stop trying after 1-2 visits.
- Most bankers don’t have a good brand value proposition, so they’re selling a commodity.
- Many bankers are afraid to actually ask for the business.
Successful business development bankers are showing up in multiple places and getting to know the people they’d like to bank. This is vital. First, they must be on the radar with that CFO, business owner or potential loan customer before they can even have a chance to have a conversation. The prospect needs to know they exist. That takes time.
Second, conversations about money must be founded in trust. Getting to know a banker by rubbing elbows with her in social, volunteer and board settings establishes a basis of familiarity and plants the seeds for trust.
So, once the bankers are on the radar and trusted, it’s far easier for them to ask for a meeting.
Third: conversations cannot be founded on the banker and his personalty. The conversations must be about the bank, the difference it offers and the value your entire bank brings the prospect. That’s brand at its best. Anything else is a cult of personality.
Of the business people I queried, most told me that bankers seeking their business were lousy at follow up. Bankers made one or two attempts, then disappeared.
This means it’s easier than you think to stand out. Your competition isn’t making a strong impression. So you have the opportunity to shine when you follow up, follow up and follow up again. Here are some ideas you can incorporate into your follow up:
- Work in concert with the marketing department and follow up at precise times after a social post or when direct mail or email has been sent.
- Invite prospects to sit with you at the table you’ve purchased for a local fundraiser or chamber of commerce gala.
- Set up Google alerts on your prospects so you can be among the first to congratulate them on an award or offer advice and resources they may need.
- Offer to connect them with another business person that might be beneficial for them to meet.
- Send them insightful industry articles, white papers or blogs from your institution with an “I’m thinking about your business” cover note.
- Be sure you always support your follow up activities with your specific brand of why your bank is the best choice.
If you’re using a good contact management system, it’s easy to make these follow ups and keep a good record of what you’ve done.
3. World-Class Employee Training
The best campaigns in the world won’t seal the deal unless the bankers onboarding the new customer are efficient, knowledgeable, welcoming, branded and clued-in to the new customer’s specific needs.
Employees don’t absorb these abilities by osmosis. Plan and train for excellence.
All bankers need your help knowing the expectations and how to fulfill them. A solid, multi-faceted training program means:
- They’ve had the chance to role-play and ask questions.
- They’re equipped with talking points that reinforce your brand and purpose.
- They’re mentored by outstanding colleagues.
- They’ve seen the desired behaviors modeled by leadership.
We’ve visited several banks with fully equipped training room simulators. It’s a powerful way to help employees learn the equipment, software, apps and prescribed processes.
Further leverage the investment in these training rooms with role play on the branded soft-skills employees need to close the sale.
Don’t forget the back room. If technology and paperwork are slow and difficult to navigate, you’re making it really hard for customer-facing bankers to do their jobs and deliver on the brand promise.
Every successful training program is ongoing. Constant quality improvement delivers a best-in-class institution.
- Training is never one-and-done: consistent reinforcement means employees don’t forget.
- Reminders are in multiple places: intranet, break room, videos and internal social media.
- Recognition, awards and rewards at your annual meeting demonstrate you’re serious and you value these behaviors.
- Regular customer satisfaction surveys provide ongoing insights and opportunities to improve.
- Yearly employee surveys allow feedback and a forum for new ideas to develop.
Show Up and Follow Up separates the winners from the wannabes. Want to be better? Start now.