(April 2013 Federal Reserve Bulletin)
Those of us who have the high privilege of serving on the Board of Directors of a bank take these fiduciary responsibilities very seriously. Approving loans, reviewing compliance and risk issues and even making compensation decisions are non-negotiable accountabilities in a directors’ world. What about sales guidance, referral generation and suggestions around maximizing the customer experience? Truth is, these and other marketing related topics are still not getting the kind of traction one would imagine.
When was the last time marketing made a presentation at a board meeting at your bank? How are board members encouraged to make referrals and even perhaps compensated when they do? What role do directors take in making joint calls with commercial and business bankers? If you answered, “they don’t” to these questions, you aren’t alone. What if they did? Wouldn’t that send an amazing leadership message to the rest of the staff, let alone the community?
Here’s what one bank has done to get the board engaged and it is paying off – big time.
When a new commercial/business client joins this community bank (within a certain assumed profitability criteria), a director is assigned the task of being a part of the welcoming process. This is done through a telephone call within one week of a loan closing or a major deposit account being opened, such as a treasury management service. This is part of the bank’s 3-1-6-3-1 Onboarding process and the new client is made aware in advance that the board member will be reaching out. Members of the bank’s Client Experience Committee rotate to handle these duties.
Bankers provide board members with high level overviews of the company, the key decision makers’ names and titles and what solutions were sold prior to the phone call. The director asks three simple questions. They were trained through role plays to ask them. Here’s what one conversation I listened to:
Good morning, Mr. Johnson. This is Amanda Smith, from XYZ Company. I’m a board member at National Bank. I believe you were expecting my call. Is this a bad time to chat for a few minutes?
First, thank you for joining our bank as a client. We appreciate your business. I know that you have already started to experience our new Onboarding process here at National Bank and I have just a couple of questions for you today.
What helped you decided to come to our bank versus the others you were considering?
What went well and what would you improve within our process from the time we started our prospecting with you to your loan closing so we can continue to make it better going forward?
I know it’s only a week or so since you started with us but what has your experience been with National Bank to this point?
Finally, what initiatives might be on your plate over the next 6-12 months and how can National Bank be a partner in the success of that project?
You are working with one of our top business bankers, Josh Jordan. With your permission, I will pass along your comments (and the opportunity to help you with that initiative if there is one). Thanks again for your time and for your trust. If you don’t mind, I would love to connect with you on LinkedIn as well with your permission.
Notes from calls are captured in a template and forwarded back to the banker, their boss and the CEO. Bankers put the comments into the CRM system and follow up quickly if something is on the front burner.
Directors receive all kinds of compliments about the bank, issues that arose throughout the sales process and they are uncovering numerous opportunities. Board members were taught not only how to ask the questions but how to respond. The bank does not want directors to quote rates, talk about services or try to handle issues of any kind. Their job is to be the 2015 Welcome Wagon and to pass along information. Bank management and the bankers take it from there.
Another $1billion bank has a board member who speaks to large groups regularly. He is very connected to major consultants and gurus in marketing, sales, strategic planning and people development. This board member works with the marketing department of the bank on what the bank calls the Bestseller Series.
Each quarter a bestselling author is brought in to speak to 250 clients, prospects and COIs. Board members and bankers are responsible to assemble lists of key opportunities to invite. The connected board member helps book the speakers and the marketing department does the heavy lifting with the venue, menu, invitations and other items.
Commercial banking and the executives are responsible to find a local expert on a topic that was suggested through research from the previous program. Business valuation, fraud prevention, technology, even LinkedIn are all subjects that have been suggested.
The program is done in the late afternoon – typically on a Thursday. The local expert kicks the session off with a 90-minute workshop on the topic of the quarter. This is followed by a networking session with heavy food items. The author then takes the stage and goes for about 60 minutes. This is followed by cocktails and more food. The bank purchases a copy of the author’s book for guests which helps to reduce the cost of the speaker. The author signs books and stay to talk with guests.
The budget for these programs is in the $15,000 - $20,000 range for each program and the CEO views it as the best marketing spend of the year. One key to Bestseller success is the follow up. Prior to the event taking place, marketing finds an article from the speaker that was previously featured in a publication. The article is loaded into an email with addresses of each guest and an Outlook calendar alert is set to go off about two hours after the event is concluded. The guest receives the article the same evening of the event. What if they didn’t attend? No worries; they still get the benefit of the information. Lots of new relationships are being developed, sales calls scheduled and good will established in the community with the Bestseller Series.
At another community bank, a key commercial/business banker is assigned a board member. Each quarter immediately after the board meeting, board members and their banker buddies make two calls that had previously been scheduled. At the conclusion of those calls, a debrief session is held at the bank to review opportunities and follow-up strategies. Pizza is brought in for this session which has had an unintended consequence. One reason board members don’t refer business is lack of knowledge of the skills and expertise of the bankers. The Director Blitz has helped to build trust and the bank is seeing increased referrals outside of this program as well.
Clients and prospects love it as well. Imagine getting to engage with a board member of a bank. The board has been taught to avoid talking product or rates. They are on the call to provide community insight and an overview of the bank. The banker’s job is to lead the call.
Your board is not only critical in the oversight of your bank from a fiduciary standpoint but they can be a powerful business development engine if they understand this as a responsibility and are taught well how to make it happen.
Widely known as the "Professor of Prospecting," Jack Hubbard has shared his passion for what it takes to build trust-based sales initiatives for more than three decades. He has helped build more than 100 Performance Management Cultures from Maine to Florida, Texas to California and all points in between. With more than 67,000 bankers personally trained and coached, Hubbard is one of America's most sought after facilitators. An author, lecturer and classroom instructor, Hubbard's expertise and out-of-the-box thinking put him in great demand when the subject matter is sales and sales management in business and commercial banking.