Enlisting Board Members into the Client Development Process

By Jack Hubbard

Last month in this column, I discussed how one community bank engages its board members in a program named Director Welcome Call. This program is part of a new client on-boarding process. Here are two more examples of similar programs at other community banks.

Bestseller Series

This $1 billion 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 bank’s marketing department on what the bank calls the Bestseller Series.

Each quarter, a bestselling author is brought in to speak to 250 clients, prospects and persons who are “centers of influence.” Board members and bankers are responsible for assembling lists of key persons (“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 for finding a local expert on a topic that was suggested through research from the previous program. Business valuation, fraud prevention, technology, and LinkedIn are examples of topics that have been used.

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 quarterly topic. This is followed by a networking session with 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 stays to talk with guests.

The budget for these programs is in the $15,000 to $20,000 range for each program. 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 one of the speaker’s previously published articles. 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. The Bestseller Series develops lots of new relationships, schedules a lot of sales calls, and establishes community good will.

Director Blitz

At another community bank, a key commercial/business banker is assigned to each board member. Each quarter immediately after the board meeting, bankers and assigned board members make two previously scheduled calls.

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.

The Director Blitz program has had positive results. 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 between directors and bankers. As a result, the bank is seeing increased referrals.

Clients and prospects love it as well. Imagine having an opportunity to engage with a board member of a bank. Board members are taught to avoid talking products or rates during these calls. 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.



Jack Hubbard is chairman and chief sales officer at St. Meyer & Hubbard, a sales training and coaching firm based in Elgin, Ill. Telephone: (847) 717-4328; email: [email protected].