We all remember the ghostly voice from Field of Dreams telling Ray (Kevin Costner), “If you build it, they will come” as he walked through his Iowa cornfield. This same encouraging message applies to your bank’s use of the Vertical IQ tool. If management supports and encourages business bankers to incorporate industry research using Vertical IQ into their pre-call planning process and customer touchpoint initiatives, bankers will begin to make it a consistent habit, and the business customers will start to line up at the door!

How much usage is “good usage”?

Since the inception of Vertical IQ, we’ve seen it implemented in a variety of ways at numerous banks, and we’ve noted some trends. Generally, when it comes to usage of available industry research, there is a standard rule of thirds: one-third of bankers will use it a lot, as in, consistently use it to prepare for most client or prospect calls and include relevant industry information in all client contacts; one-third will use Vertical IQ occasionally, maybe studying up if they have never called on an industry before or printing out an industry-specific article here and there; and one-third won’t take advantage of the tool at all.

How can banks close the Vertical IQ usage gap?

Here at Vertical IQ, one of our most perplexing challenges is how to drive better usage among our clients’ bankers. We know how good the industry information and tools on the Vertical IQ site are, and we have proof of how successful bankers who consistently use Vertical IQ can be, so why does this usage gap even exist??

To be frank, the reason bankers won’t use Vertical IQ to gain an advantage over their competition is the same reason that bankers don’t want to use any tool such as a CRM system: It’s not something you have to do in order to do your job. Yes, pre-call planning using industry research provides you a clear competitive edge, gives you knowledge that is valuable to your client or prospect (in fact, 79 percent of business buyers of banking products say it’s critical that a salesperson understand their specific business needs[i]), instills confidence, and helps you prepare for calls more efficiently, but you CAN do your job without Vertical IQ.

So, what do we do about this usage gap? We all know it’s a challenge to get people to consistently use tools, but among the banks that are effectively driving high Vertical IQ usage, here are some of the common denominators:

  1. They have systems or processes that support the use of industry research.

Teach a person to fish… Many of the high-usage banks have a sales template or a regimented sales process in place that includes how to prepare for a call, and the use of Vertical IQ is a requisite part of that call prep process. Others have standards for frequency of client touchpoints, and they have taught their bankers how to use the industry-specific information and articles on Vertical IQ to add value to their relationships when they make those contacts.

  1. They engaged a training organization that emphasized call planning.

Among the banks that are getting the most out of their Vertical IQ subscription, many took the initiative to bring in a training organization (such as BTI Growth Advisors, Clarity Advantage, MZ Bierly, or St. Meyer and Hubbard). That training consultant successfully got buy-in from both leadership and bankers on a particular system or process that involves pre-call planning and the value of bringing extra resources and industry-specific content—like can be found on Vertical IQ—to bank clients.

  1. Their leadership is enthusiastic about call prep.

Yes, having leadership on board with the importance of preparing for calls is definitely a big plus, but I’d add that often, charisma also is mixed in there. If management is charismatic about VIQ—able to effectively convince bankers of why they should use it—then you’re going to have higher usage; people will be drawn to follow those compelling leaders and do what they say.

Conversely, sometimes there’s a struggle to attain good Vertical IQ usage levels when someone who is not in an executive leadership role made the decision to purchase our tool. Perhaps the executive team tacitly supported it, but if that non-executive person who is trying to encourage usage lacks charisma, it becomes a problem for them to try to “sell” the use of Vertical IQ to their bankers.

  1. Their bank has a more “progressive” and innovative culture.

We all know of banks that are extremely conservative and traditional; they have done things the same way for decades, and it has worked well enough. Then there are the banks that are always looking for new, pioneering ways to drive toward success. These banks have a culture that is ahead of the curve when it comes to getting a competitive edge and winning business using new methods and technologies. They are looking for anything they can do to make their bankers even more successful, and using the industry research on Vertical IQ to prepare for their calls fits their culture to a T.

  1. Their leaders are “cheerleaders.”

Perhaps one of the simplest ways to encourage bankers to use the wealth of information available on Vertical IQ is to remind them that the tool is available to them! It sounds too easy, but we find that usage consistently improves when executive management continuously brings up Vertical IQ when opportunities present themselves: on leadership calls, during sales roundtables, in best practice presentations. This requires very little time and effort on the part of executives, but the reality is: If bankers know that their leadership values Vertical IQ and is using it themselves, those bankers are exponentially more likely to use the tool themselves. This is perhaps the ultimate testament to the motto: “If you build it, they will come.”

To learn more about Vertical IQ or best practices for using the information on over 300 industries found within the tool, contact us today.



[i] Jack Hubbard, “The Rise of Industry Specialization for Sales Success.” Webinar. Vertical IQ. April, 2017.