How to Win Over Your Prospects

By Chris Nichols

Think about it: Your potential customer is not only out there, but is now ready to move or add a bank. Maybe this prospect is ready to buy that new building, or is frustrated with the cash management services of their current bank. Whatever the case, they are now at a decision point as they prepare to choose a new banking option.

 

The question is, has your bank—and your calling officers—done their homework to earn the business? Unless you have done the five things below, the answer is “no.” And you should not expect to get that call.

  1. Have you been communicating with this prospective customer often and consistently, so your name is the first name they think of when it comes to banking? Do they know what your bankers look like? Could they pick them out of a lineup?
  2. If your main contact is out, is your bank’s name at least among the top three known by the main decision maker’s staff and boss? In other words, have you developed the horizontal relationship with other decision makers and influencers within that target company?
  3. Have your bankers—with the help of your bank—created consistent value in the form of ideas, financial insights, and helpful data?
  4. Would your prospective client know where to go to get information about a particular product or service that you offer? For instance, is your website at the bottom of every email? Do you have clear product pages on your website? Is there enough information—such as rates, terms, industry specialties, and contact information—to help your potential client further evaluate your bank?
  5. Does your potential customer know your values, your positioning, and what your brand represents? Is it clear how your bank is different from the competition? Does your prospect at least know where to find this information?

If you have not answered “yes” to every one of the above questions, then your bank has not done all it can do to win that piece of potentially lucrative business. And you risk losing that prospect to another bank—one that has taken the time and put in the effort. Bank sales must be earned through strategy, marketing, and hard work. Not only should your bank have already done all the above to set the foundation, but your bankers should consistently drive home the direct and specific message that, “We want to be your first call.” Doing so will increase your odds of actually being that first call.

Target specific customers.

Your bank obviously can’t do this for every prospect. But it should for the customers that are likely to be profitable, that your bank wants, and that are likely to want to do business with you. Those prospects who are in the intersection of all three should get your bank’s focus.

 

Reverse engineer the process.

Your bank should be more than just the first bank these prospects think about when they need a loan or particular bank product. You should be in the top three brands they think about when any financial challenge arises—right up there with their accountants, lawyers, and investment advisors. This doesn’t happen by accident.

To ensure that your bank remains top of mind, it pays to step back, look at the five questions above and reverse engineer what it might take to say a resounding “yes” to each. Pay special attention to how your bank can improve in these areas:

  • Customer relationship management system
  • Email automation
  • Investment in marketing and branding
  • Communication of the institution’s value proposition

These elements are all mandatory for winning the business by making sure your bank is the first brand your prospective customer thinks of at that moment of inflection.

Chris Nichols is a contributing editor to ABA Bank Marketing.com. Located in San Francisco, he is the chief strategy officer of CenterState Bank, which has its headquarters in Winter Haven, FL.

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