As the founder and owner of several businesses, I get my fair share of calls from bankers looking to discuss (or even acquire) my personal and/or business banking relationship. I wanted to share the experiences I recently had with business bankers from two different banks. As a former banker myself, I have some pretty strong feelings about how these calls went.

My meeting with Bank #1

Vertical IQ currently has a business banking deposit relationship with Bank #1. A banker from Bank #1 reached out to me because they noticed we had a good cash balance in our business checking account (which had been the case for a long time, but they just recently noticed it).

The banker set up a time to meet with us and we mentioned we’re considering accepting credit cards. He brought a credit card person and a treasury management expert. They cut straight to the chase, asking about our needs. They knew we were interested in a credit card, so they discussed their card product and the treasury management ideas. We talked about possibly implementing a line of credit for times when we have more cash going out than coming in.

Lessons to be learned from Bank #1

Bank #1 could have showed up with a plan or asked upfront how we wanted to manage the time together. Instead, I felt the meeting’s purpose was to sell to us; they didn’t take a step back and ask about our big picture needs, it wasn’t an executive-level conversation. They simply discussed their products and solutions, and got straight to the point of trying to close the deal. If they had asked about our biggest financial issues, we would have discussed potential acquisitions, growth plans, and bigger-picture needs.

Second, Bank #1 should have come better prepared to discuss products and transactions if that was the meeting’s purpose. For example, they asked all of these questions about our transactions, so why not print the transactions and come armed with that information? As our current bank, they obviously have access to it! Come prepared and with recommendations based on that information.

Finally, my advice, having been both a banker and a business owner, is that if you’re coming in for a sales meeting, bring your laptop and provide a demo. I don’t mind a sales pitch, but show up with your product…how it works, what it costs, and why it’s better. On the flip side, if it’s an exploratory meeting, make it a broader needs conversation and ask questions that get to the heart of my particular company’s challenges and opportunities.

My experience with Bank #2

A banker from Bank #2 called to tell me that he’s a business banker, and because I have several personal and business accounts, he really needed to meet with me, but he wouldn’t tell me why for some odd reason; he said it was better discussed in person. I have to say: I was NOT intrigued, if that was the desired emotion.

I asked him to instead find a time to meet with my assistant. He said he wasn’t permitted to do that, which I understood. I asked him to email me. His email said he wanted to meet about business credit cards, but we never set up a meeting, and I haven’t heard from him since. (P.S., I don’t want or need business credit cards for these particular businesses.)

Lessons to be learned from Bank #2

Oddly, this banker wouldn’t tell me why he wanted to meet, so he came across Amway-ish. I believe he was being incentivized to meet in person (versus discuss his pitch over the phone), whether it was going to be a good product fit for me or not. He just wanted to sell me a credit card, so it was a lame client experience on so many levels.

My advice, based on this interaction, is to never lead with product. Instead, learn about my businesses and then ask me relevant questions to help you propose a tailored solution based on my unique needs. I understand that banks set up incentive programs for their bankers, which sometimes run counter to this advice, but at the end of the day, it should be about doing what is best for the client—not about checking off some box that the banker set up a pointless meeting.

How to improve on YOUR sales calls

Both of these banks are good banks; I don’t mean to suggest that they aren’t doing positive things and helping a lot of people grow their businesses. But the approach used in these two particular scenarios left a lot to be desired from a client’s perspective. They were generic and felt overly salesy—and nobody wants to feel like their time is being wasted or they are being sold on something.

But the good news is that improving your approach to sales calls is easy. Doing even just five minutes of pre-call planning using the industry information on Vertical IQ is a great way to get a better understanding of your clients’ and prospects’ unique issues. You can even print off industry-specific information and articles to share with the client or use as a valuable leave-behind. Armed with this industry knowledge, you can have more client-focused conversations and offer them more customized banking solutions. THAT is how you wow a client or prospect!