Three Pitfalls That Will Sink Your Business Development Program

Many Business Development Programs Are Nothing to Write Home About

Business development doesn’t come easily for most banks and credit unions. Often it’s a combination of poor or no training, absence of a structured and proven sales process and misguided attitudes. With thin margins and elusive member and customer loyalty, it’s no surprise when business bankers and credit union Business Development Managers get frustrated in their efforts to grow existing relationships and attract business loans and SEGs.

  • Does your business development program need to be re-energized?
  • Is your business banking initiative stalled?
  • Who else in your organization might feel this way? (hint: share this post with them!)

Don’t be complacent — you can correct these attitudes and avoid these pitfalls now and differentiate your organization in the marketplace.

Profitable Business Relationships are Integrated With All Business Lines

Pitfall #1 – The One Trick Pony: “I only sell loans”

Well, guess what? Business owners, large and small, don’t just want a loan. They’re always looking for solutions to their many problems, challenges, goals and a path to achieve their dreams. So you had better find out what those are before your competitors do!

Solution – Drill this into your team’s psyche, “We are not just in the lending business. We are in the problem solving and advice business”. Your bank or credit union can solve a myriad of problems businesses struggle with so avoid being too narrowly focused with leading questions about borrowing, insurance or a service that you personally handle. Instead, be prepared with high-value impact questions that draw out your customer’s pain and challenges. This will position you as a business partner, problem solver and trusted adviser. Sample question: Many of my business clients like you tell me they are concerned about A, B or C. How are these areas impacting your business?

Pitfall #2 – The Lone Wolf: “I don’t need to take anyone with me on a sales call”

People who say this mean not just their own business line but others as well. Face it, as long as everyone operates in silo’s, you miss opportunities for collaboration, sharing knowledge, building trust and relationship building with customers across all business lines. And that’s how you get organic growth!

Plus, from our experience, many seasoned development professionals are simply making product-oriented presentations and not true consultative advice calls.

Solution – Make business line collaboration, joint calling and comprehensive pre-call planning a requirement and monitor it to ensure it’s being done well. In our sales training, coaching and relationship building process, we ensure all business lines use a structured pre-call planning process to collaborate and strategize how they will prepare a professional discovery call as a team. Then all client information goes into a CRM system for the next person. Bankers who take this approach are able to WOW business owners. The goal is to build trust between all business lines, encourage them to view the customer relationship holistically and get business for your entire bank or credit union.

After going through this process, an SVP at one of our clients told us about a call a vendor sales rep made on his bank. He relayed the story with a mixture of incredulity and humor at how unprepared the person was compared to how the bank now makes sales calls. He commented that she would not get the business because she was more interested in selling a service than understanding the big picture of his bank’s need.

To Rout Your Competitors, Place Yourself in a Unique Category

Pitfall #3 The Shotgun Approach: “I can help any kind of business”

Sure you can, and that’s fine if you don’t mind limiting your potential because you’re viewed as a commodity. Instead, you can greatly differentiate your bank or credit union from the pack, earn the respect of business owners, CFOs and HR directors and dominate a market niche if you can demonstrate knowledge of their industry or expertise in a specific area they value.

Solution – The key is to penetrate market niches and demonstrate some knowledge about those niches that differentiates you from all the other financial services providers. Infiltrate some key niches by asking your business customers, “What industry group do you belong to?”, “What business periodicals do you read?” and “Who could you introduce me to?” Attend their industry meetings, read their newsletters and journals, and connect with them on LinkedIn (Alert! LinkedIn is an amazing tool for generating business if used correctly. Click here for a free copy of The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Mastering LinkedIn.)

For example, if you want more business with assisted living facilities or say, franchisees, attend several of your customers’ local professional association meetings (and nationally), get introduced to their colleagues in their field, and publish an educational article in their newsletter (among a long list of other things you can do). As opposed to just attending a chamber of commerce or Rotary function, this targeted approach will position you as an expert and is very effective.

Solutions Summary

Too many banks and credit unions simply ask their staff and branch managers to “get out there and call on businesses.” As a result, they rely on mostly ineffective cold calls, they flounder and become discouraged. Without proper training, tools, planning and focus they are walking into a lion’s den.

As we stated in a past post, Get Rid of Your Silos for Revenue and Relationships, if your business lines don’t work together as a team and if they aren’t using CRM software to share client information, the right hand won’t know what the left hand is doing and you’ll lose sales opportunities or even your entire market someday.

Today’s business owners are sharp, expect value and don’t want their time wasted with an ill-prepared sales presentation. To succeed in an unforgiving marketplace, you must arm your team with knowledge, confidence and the type of sales training that frees them from the need to make product pitching-type presentations and instead, start uncovering business problems you have solutions to.

Thanks for reading our post,

Barb and Bob

P.S. If you like what you read, please share this article with your colleagues.

Your Thoughts?

We are interested in your feedback. www.HighDefinitionBanking.comWe are interested in your feedback. In the comments section below, please tell us whether you agree or disagree with the ideas in this post. Also, what challenges or questions do you have that we can answer in this post?

How to Make These Changes in Your Bank or Credit Union

If building a collaborative and professional business calling team that uses a structured process is a priority for your organization, ask about our sales training, coaching and relationship building process, Building High Definition Business Relationships™. OR contact us to have Barb give an energizing and idea-packed presentation at your next sales meeting or employee event!

“I’ve been involved with a number of performance improvement companies in my career that were knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the results they promise. However, I would hire High Definition People® over any of them. I can honestly say you have surpassed my expectations. Your definable and measurable process gets our people to carry out the specific activities that lead to results. Nobody else in my experience had such a workable and effective process. It forces me to bring my “A game” all the time. The same can be said for my staff and people I collaborate within other departments to obtain additional business from our bank customers. It has been a highlight of my career to have had the opportunity to work with you”.

– SVP Trust and Investments, bank client in the Midwest

“I continued to receive many positive comments from our associates regarding your insights. They have told me that they have incorporated your ideas into their daily activities. Your understanding of Bank of America’s Small Business Banking Group made a difference with the audience as evidenced by the following comments”:

“It was obvious Barbara understood our business and what challenges we face. She did her homework.”

“Excellent speaker! The best I’ve had the opportunity to hear, ever.”

– Bank of America

At High Definition Banking®, our goal is to help banks and credit unions generate revenue. However, we know that selling through customer relationship management beats transactional selling over the long term. To learn why, read our post, Declining Branch Traffic – Armageddon or Opportunity?

Ask about our training on onboarding, relationship building and sales leadership, and our relationship culture consulting process, email

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