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The Competition Is Calling on Your Customer -- Are You?

By BOL Guru Honey Shelton

The only person in the market that is glad you're not calling on your own customers is your competitor. Your shareholders, your board and your customers aren't glad about your neglecting to put the touch on your customers about what they need and how they perceive the level of service you are providing.

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Our industry has never been more competitive than it is right now. Your officers with business development and account relationship responsibilities will use a boatload of excuses and will not make sales calls if they aren't trained and coached. There may be exceptions -- the natural sales persons -- but they aren't found in our industry often. If your institution isn't providing sales leadership, sales training, encouragement, coaching and rewards for production, then it is struggling against institutions that are employing those strategies.

From the retail perspective it is about households. Growing franchise value is where it's at today. Free checking, free gifts, and other promotional lures are used in your market every day. The unattended customers, the customers who feel no sense of relationship at your institution, are up for grabs. Once they leave they are very hard to get back. Those who are enticed by good deals and rolling ice chests are serious contributors to non-interest income.

From the commercial perspective it is about attaching the customer through ACH and other products that make moving an account painful. Cash management sales seldom happen when an account is opened unless the sales strategy is to bring the account in by way of cash management products. Remote capture and other innovative services are making banking more and more convenient for the customer. That means that your competitor doesn't have to have a choice location anymore to pick up choice customers. Nothing is more shocking to calling officers than seeing an account they have taken for granted show up on the closed account or early pay-off list.

Your depositors are highly desirable whether they are high-dollar customers or fee generators. Your borrowers who are willing to entertain more than one proposal from a financial services provider may find loans elsewhere at a bargain. Get in the game and tighten up your relationships with extraordinary service delivery and customer contacts. Thank them in person, find out what else they need, go see what is happening in their world rather than waiting for them to call or show up.

Every calling officer of your institution must have a top 25 customer list that they work, earning and re-earning the relationship. Every calling officer must have a top 25 prospect list they actively work, moving prospects to the customer list. Your institution's top 100 customers are on your competitor's top prospect list. Don't let them take them without a fight. The best fight of all is a proactive stance that implements a sales culture with a high touch, aggressive approach to retaining and gaining customers.

First published on BankersOnline.com 3/14/06

First published on 03/14/2006

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