Why Graph Search Is Facebook’s Big Data Solution March 05, 2013
Big Data vs. Business Intelligence vs. Customer Intelligence January 24, 2013
The History of Sales Technology January 06, 2013
Grow Revenue With Big Data March 11, 2013
Top Takeaways From #SDSummit 2013 May 13, 2013
Live From Day 2 At SiriusDecisions #SDSummit May 09, 2013
Live From Day 1 At SiriusDecisions #SDSummit May 08, 2013
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Prospecting for Business Banking - A New World [Part 1]
If you are a banker (relationship manager) focused on offering credit to small and middle market businesses, chances are that the outlook is positive: the economy is looking stronger, your bank is overcoming the state it was in after the financial crisis of 2008, and everyone believes that growth will come from your market segment.
Your challenge is obvious: how do you meet and exceed those expectations? True, the environment is definitely improving and as a respected banker you have a solid book of business — but where will the new business come from to fuel the growth in loan production? While it is always desirable to expand on existing customers, ultimately the growth will come from new relationships.
And there’s the rub. Prospecting — the practice of identifying likely future customers and developing meaningful relationships with key decision makers — is a time consuming process that most bankers acknowledge is important but difficult to do. Mostly, it involves ‘being out there’ — having regular contact with Centers of Influence (attorneys, accountants, etc.) and business leaders that may lead to referrals and future customers.
If you approach the process the same way as in the past, can you realistically expect the breakthrough results this year that senior leadership is expecting?
Recently, I was in a city I had never visited before, and had a few hours to burn before meeting a colleague. Without hesitation, I drove into the downtown area, found a place to park, and had a great meal. When it was time to meet my colleague (and having only a vague idea where I was), I just asked my iPhone to provide directions from my current location. Voila.
Now many of us take GPS for granted, but what’s amazing is where the technology began. Some of you may know that the GPS program is run by the military, but were you aware that its original use case was to help submarines know precisely where they were at sea? Why? So that they could accurately determine the launch positions of submarine-launched ballistic missiles. There’s an example of a new technology built for one purpose, but having value in a completely unexpected way.
In a similar fashion, the continuing innovations in information technology — from web-based communications, to inexpensive storage and processing, to cultural paradigm shifts such as social media — have helped businesses market themselves to their target markets in more focused, personable ways than ever before. Furthermore, the ‘barriers to entry’ (to use a term from Michael Porter’s “Competitive Strategy,” Free Press, New York, 1980) are dramatically lower, so that companies with little to no investment can quickly put up a virtual storefront and begin business operations quickly.
The unintended benefits for all this are twofold: first, there are many small businesses emerging that require banking services. Second (and more interestingly), companies small and large are now broadcasting more information about themselves than ever before. In making their presence known in the digital world and attracting customers through their websites and online initiatives, many companies are also revealing key information about themselves. Some are obvious: new products, industry awards, and hiring needs. Others are not so obvious: changes in senior leadership, the latest ‘buzz’ on their products, and who in your network can provide a warm introduction.
In Part 2, I will discuss how business bankers can take advantage of this information and be more proactive in their sales processes.
< Part 1 | Part 2 >