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Business Banking

 This article was originally published in BAI Banking Strategies on Oct. 19, 2012


Whether they want to stay in business for the long term or sell at an attractive valuation, community bankers need strategies to generate revenue growth.


“Without a growth strategy, you are dead in the water,” said Chuck Sulerzyski, CEO of Marietta, Ohio-based Peoples Bank. And that pretty well sums up the mood at a panel discussion I moderated at the recent BAI Retail Delivery 2012 entitled “Winning Strategies for Community Banks.”


While each of the three bank CEOs participating in the discussion serves different markets with different challenges, they all agreed on growth as the key imperative. If you want to stay in business for the long term, you’ve got to be able to grow revenue. Likewise, if you want to sell your bank, you need a growth story to warrant an attractive multiple. In the face of broad industry challenges – sluggish economic growth, limited capital, higher regulatory burden, shallow yield curve – what are these banks doing to generate that revenue growth?

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Recently David Kerstein, President, Peak Performance Consulting Group and Buck Bierly, President, MZ Bierly Consulting conducted a series of 3 webinars designed to help branch managers and retail leaders develop best-in-class sales practices. This is an excerpt from webinar #2.

For more information, or to register for access to the archive version of these webinars please contact dkerstein@ppcgroup.com



David Kerstein:

What we’re looking at on this slide is an actual job description currently posted for a personal banker by one of the top ten banks. I won’t read it all through but this is word-for-word, job description for a personal banker.


Think about how it emphases some of the things that we’ve talked about today.

“Your role is to build long-term relationships, to go out into the community and call on clients and businesses.” This is for a personal banker!


“To meet and exceed your goals, to acquire 100% of the customer’s business, use profiling tools to identify cross-sale opportunities, manage your scorecard, pitch in and help others work with them to enhance their ability.”


In other words, identify opportunities for referrals to other parts of the bank.


“To work as part of a team and help it be more successful.”


It is not only that we’ll provide training, but it’s up to you to learn our products. In other words, not all of the burden is on us to give you that consistent product knowledge — you have to take an active role so that you’re educated in terms of what you need for your customers.


If you think about this in terms of a guide, in terms of setting expectations, some of the things that we talked about are some of the things that many financial institutions and many of the larger ones are trying to embed into their process.


If you look now at the next slide, I want to talk about the idea that sometimes simple is better and I would tell you that I’ve got a very simple way of being able to tell whether a branch has a strong sales culture.


If I walk into the break room and I look to see if there is a whiteboard or some chart in terms of how this branch is doing, so that everybody gets that information. They don’t have to look up the reports and try to understand them. They see it visually immediately, as you can see from the examples on this slide.


And what I always liked about the whiteboards is that it is a simple technique that you can implement for just a few dollars — buy and put up a whiteboard in your branch.


As a sales person, when I make a sale, I go in and I update how I did, how I contributed to that branch, how we’re moving the goals forward. Buck walks in to get a cup of coffee and he sees that I made some extra sales and it might motivate him or he might ask me, “What did you do? How did you do that?”


This way everyone see how they are contributing to that overall branch goal. You can see some great examples here in these pictures.


So, sometimes, simple ways of doing this, of building that teamwork, are highly effective in terms of creating those incentives and recognition and the team participation that gets your branch where you need it to go.


Buck Bierly:

And that means that you don’t have to have elaborate sales reporting. You don’t have to have excessive contact management or CRM-type systems. You can do this very simply starting tomorrow. Very good.



Exactly. You don’t have to wait for all of that to be in place.



That’s right. So, let’s summarize here if we could, okay?



So, the top take-aways.


It’s about building deep relationships, not just selling more products.


Sustained performance requires a disciplined process. Who do we call on? What do we do? How do we measure success? And then finally, it’s not just about training. It’s about consistent coaching and follow-up, it’s getting the right people in place.


It’s about transmitting best practices. How can we learn and continue to improve as an organization?


And it’s about recognizing the behavior that is moving us forward and achieving success. It’s not just about giving people a bigger paycheck, it’s about recognizing their performance and encouraging people who are doing the kinds of things that are helping your organization to be successful.


So, with that, Buck, let me turn it back to you and I know you want to talk about the next webinar that we have coming up.



We do. And you know, before we leave this though, I just want to make sure that people are hearing some of the things that you said so carefully here and that is, there are a couple of things you can do, starting tomorrow, which do not require extensive training, do not extensive electronics or technology or anything.


One is to start changing the conversation. Giving your people a few questions they can answer go beyond product features.


Number two, think about relationship profiling. If you’ve never seen a relationship profile, send us an email and we will send you one of the consumer relationship profiles that our clients use and you could take a look at it and say, “Gee whizz, could we start asking these kinds of questions?” Not all at once, but over a period of time.


And here’s the third thing, an onboarding process that has a heavy focus on the first month and the first year and we stay in front of these people proactively and we measure that stuff using a whiteboard in the break room.


I mean these are incredibly simple things to do that have a huge impact.


If you’re not doing these things, think about putting them in place because if your team is focused and your team is performing well, it frees up your time as a branch manager to get out on the streets and go after those highly-profitable small businesses relationships.


Recently David Kerstein, President, Peak Performance Consulting Group and Buck Bierly, President, MZ Bierly Consulting conducted a series of 3 webinars designed to help branch managers and retail leaders develop best-in-class sales practices. This is an excerpt from webinar #2.


For more information, or to register for access to the archive version of these webinars please contact dkerstein@ppcgroup.com


David Kerstein:

First of all, you need to have a plan. Not every branch has the same opportunities. And so one thing that we encourage is having a process for putting together a plan based on the trade-area potential.


You know, we look at branches that are doing well and management will often say, “Oh, we don’t need to worry about those guys.” But oftentimes, what’s occurring there is that that branch is doing well because they have a very strong trade area and they could be doing even better.


Then we have others that are struggling to be able to be successful, and they’re actually doing quite well against a trade area that has only limited upside potential.


So, have a plan and put in place daily and weekly and monthly routines for what specifically you need to do to capture the business opportunity. Measure results, and give individual and team feedback, so that they can continue to improve upon their performance.


Buck Bierly:

So this is way, way beyond just giving somebody a monthly goal or a quarterly goal or an annual goal? This comes down to establishing daily routines: let’s each do at least one relationship profile today; let’s make three onboarding calls today. And this gets down to, what you’re doing every single day to build this out and then watching as the results.





And so, here’s a short chart that shows the development of a sales-orientated culture. I know, Buck, that you’ve shown this a number of times in your presentations as a kind of a timeline for building a sales culture. Things as simple as what each branch needs to do daily, weekly and monthly for managing their process.


One of the things that I would encourage people to look at is peer cross-training, which is often undervalued or under-emphasized in many organizations. You need to have this cross-fertilization across your organization in terms of best practices, in terms of peers learning from peers and helping each other.


It’s not all up to you as a manager — it’s up to you getting the right people in place and getting the right people paired up to be able to learn from each other and continuously improve rather than feeling that you have to consistently give all the answers. It’s looking for the people who’ve got the right process and being able to translate that throughout your organization.



We see that in every, single, high-performing branch I’ve ever been involved with, is the branch manager setting up that kind of peer cross-training. You are spot-on from what I’ve seen.

Let me just say one other thing. Hey guys on the phone, if you use this for a checklist, “Am I doing this in my branch?” Or, “Do I have someone in my branch doing this with me or for me so that I can free up some time to get out of the branch.” Now, we’re starting to make some progress.


I’d encourage you use this as a checklist, “How well am I doing at each of these daily, weekly and monthly things?” And if you’re doing all this stuff and you’re not getting the results, then you can say to yourself, “I’ve got to make some adjustments.” But this is a great checklist of what we should be doing.


I recently met with two banks that had very impressive sales results – opening nearly twice as many new accounts per branch as peers. But when looking further at their total program, account growth was no better than our benchmarked average. Simply put, high attrition offset most of the impressive sales gains.

It’s not how many new accounts you book, but how many you turn into long term profitable relationships.

Some thoughts to ponder:

  • You need to pay as much attention to account retention as you do to customer acquisition. In the retail bank, retention programs often don’t get the attention and focus they deserve when compared to front end sales efforts, marketing acquisition programs, and the like.
  • The impact is huge. Think about the effect on revenue, core deposit Cost of Funds, and marketing expense if you can simply retain a higher percentage of your customers.
  • You need to know the numbers. What is a good acquisition and retention rate? How do your metrics compare to peers? How do they compare to top quartile performers?
  • You need to know what the best practices are, and assess which ones have the highest impact for your organization. Improving sales process by correctly profiling customers and placing them in the right product for their needs? Ensuring structured on-boarding processes are implemented? Cross-selling “sticky” products? Implementing attrition prediction models, backed-up with targeted retention campaigns? Reducing problem incidence and increasing overall satisfaction rates?

In the end, account churn is very costly – but it is also relatively inexpensive to control. We can help — we have benchmarks, best practices, and proven results. Give us a call.


Need expert help improving revenue from your consumer and business customers? Peak Performance Consulting Group has best practices and unique solutions, with a proven track record of success helping clients achieve industry leading results. Contact us
– our experts can help you unlock the key to additional profitability and efficiency.


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