Millennial Branch Managers as Business Developers

By Martha Bartlett Piland

Millennial branch managers are eager to develop new relationships for banks. But many may not have the experience or the training to confidently get out on the field and win that new business. Don’t leave them frustrated or worse: intimidated.

Of course they need a sales training program, standout collateral materials and branded talking points.

But they need more.

To be champions at business development, they need special ongoing support with a coaching mindset from you. Like a winning coach, you put people in the right positions, mentor them, design the plays and let the players use their unique talents.

Branch managers have numerous responsibilities and tasks on their plates: staffing, training and people management, customer service, coordinating operations and many other duties, depending on the bank size and its location. With all these competing priorities, it can feel simpler—and less scary—to relegate business development activities to the sidelines and focus on urgent daily needs.

Don’t let this happen. Your millennial talent is valuable today, and will increase their value to you over the long term if you invest now.

Taking your millennial branch managers to the championship requires three vital elements:

1. Flexibility

They want a guide book. Millennials are accustomed to having a guide or instructions on the expected step-by-step processes and often feel out of their comfort zone without one. And while they want the requirements laid out, they also want flexibility to determine how these processes fit into their own working styles and personalities. That means when they’re doing things your way, they also need to feel they can represent the bank in a way that’s true and authentic to themselves and their personal integrity. So create a business development guidebook that helps them follow the steps while allowing them to bring their authentic selves into the process.

They want appointment time options. They need flexibility to attend meetings and network both online and in real life. And since networking functions can take place during the day or after hours, juggling staffing and other duties can be difficult at times when branch managers need to be out of the bank. Understanding this—and helping them be able to leave at the designated time—is essential. You may need to allow them to “borrow” staff from other branches or create other arrangements that make it possible for them to get out and get in front of prospects and referral sources while essential services for customers are offered without interruption.

2. Access

Access to you and your calendar. Branch managers need ready access to you for getting answers to questions and appropriate approvals. Millennials in particular say they do not want to be made to feel like they’re being judged for not knowing something. Remember, you were once new to this game. Don’t assume they know everything because you do. Openness and a non-judgmental attitude will foster good dialogue and build relationships that develop these young professionals in successful careers.

Access to budget of time and funds. To be in front of prospects and referral sources, branch managers need adequate budget for chamber of commerce and civic club memberships, lunches, admission tickets and select charitable contributions. It’s important these managers are seen regularly circulating throughout the appropriate groups where they seek to make an impact and establish trust. Don’t be stingy. As they become more visible, your bank brand becomes more visible, as well.

Access to the internet and social media. Your bank probably has many rules—and significant firewalls—that limit employee access to the internet and may prohibit social media on company time. Yet for millennial branch managers to be visible, network online and research prospects, they must be able to use these essential tools during their work hours. If their prospects are active on social media, your branch managers can build relationships and understanding of their prospects’ needs by keeping tabs on their social media.

Access to other research tool. Many financial institutions already do business with Sageworks, IBIS World, D&B and similar financial research companies. Make sure your millennial branch managers have access to these portals you subscribe to and know how to use them. As they are building lists and preparing to meet with those prospects, research tools like these can arm your managers with insights that position them as partners, not sales people. With that knowledge, they’ll feel more comfortable and able to ask smart questions and offer solutions.

3. Feedback

Ongoing feedback is essential. Millennials are often referred to as the “trophy generation,” and whether this characterization is fair or not, millennials do desire plenty of feedback. The Banktastic National Millennial Board has repeatedly said that they want to know about their contributions, their career path and how they’re doing. They want to contribute to your team and they want personal development. Build in regular feedback channels for your millennial branch managers. Work with them to set benchmarks and key performance indicators to measure against. They don’t need a trophy, but they do need your personal involvement and interest in their progress.

Mentorships support the feedback process. Create a system of mentorships and expand these feedback channels. Good mentors don’t just give input. They train, model best practices and open proverbial doors by calling on their own personal capital and good network to help younger colleagues get a toehold. When good mentors take younger banker sunder their wings, make introductions and demonstrate the textbook skills in action, they smooth the way for more comfortable first meetings next time.

Help them earn the trophy. Your millennial branch managers want to be important players on your team. Arm them with great training and a strong brand. Them give them the flexibility, access and feedback that make them play—and feel—like winners.

Martha Bartlett Piland is president and CEO of BANKTASTIC, a marketing agency. Her second book, Beyond Sticky, is available at all major booksellers.

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