Use Bank Board Members to Welcome New Business Customers

By Jack Hubbard

“Directors play a critical role in overseeing the affairs of the bank. Directors should understand that if they neglect to carry out their fiduciary duties and responsibilities, they may be financially liable if the bank fails or experiences loss.” (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?

A few months ago, we talked about two activities that one bank’s board is involved with. Here’s what one other community bank has done.

Director on-boarding

When a new client joins the bank (within a certain assumed profitability criteria), a director is assigned the task of welcoming the business on behalf of the entire board of this community bank. This is done through a telephone call within one week of a loan closing or a major deposit account opened, such as a treasury management service. It’s part of the bank’s 1-3-6-3-1 on-boarding process (see chart) 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 (four of them) rotate one week a month 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 Local 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 have just a couple of questions for you:

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 start to finish 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 Local National to this point?

Finally, what initiatives might be on your plate over the next six to 12 months and how can Local National 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. Thanks again for your time and for your trust.

 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.

Your board is no doubt fulfilling its fiduciary tasks. The next level bank sees directors as door openers ambassadors and significant referral sources.

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].