bank mergers handshakeWhen a bank announces a merger, it can unleash a variety of concerns from existing bank customers. Some will automatically be on edge; they will want to know how they will be impacted and what they will have to do as a result of this change. This is perhaps especially true for business banking clients who are reliant on their bank to help keep their businesses’ finances running smoothly.

If you’ve ever been a part of a merger — either as a bank employee or client — you know that there will be a huge number of communications (mailers, online banking notifications, etc.) that will be sent out with information and instructions. Many people will never even open this overwhelming stack of communications, and among the ones who do, only a fraction will follow the steps and do what is needed to ensure their bank services continue without interruption during and after the merger.

But the reality is that most people simply won’t read this tome of information. This may be especially true of business owners, who are busy running their shop. Most simply don’t have the time or inclination to open generic-looking letters from their bank, even in the midst of a merger.

Unfortunately, though, this often is how merger-related issues arise for business owners. Those communications likely have important details about topics like the need to merge payees from the business’s online banking into the new bank’s system, explaining that if the business owner doesn’t take this step, they will lose the details on everyone they need to pay. That, of course, can cause major disruptive issues for a business owner —a frustrating situation that can even drive clients to the competition.

The two sides of the bank merger coin

When it comes to mergers, there are basically two sides of the coin for business bankers: one for the person who works at the bank going through the merger … and one for every other business banker in the area who is now salivating, watching the potential chaos unfold. How can both of these bankers use Industry Intelligence to capitalize on this opportunity? Let’s take a look at these two personas…

The business banker dealing with a merger

Business bankers at the merging bank need to determine how best to put a positive spin on the changes that are occurring, while also putting clients’ concerns to rest. One approach is to tout the stronger foothold the bank will have as a result of the merger. Perhaps they will have more products and services to bring to the table, better technology platforms, or more locations.

The Banking Solutions and Bank Product Usage chapters of the Vertical IQ Industry Profile can provide bankers with useful information on this front. For instance, the banker might see that a client’s or prospect’s industry relies heavily on merchant services. They could then share that the newly merged bank will be bringing merchant services in-house and thus be able to provide next-day funds availability.

My best advice to business bankers who are going through a merger would be:

  • Reach out to your best clients and prospects, and use Vertical IQ’s Industry Intelligence to prepare for those calls (or use the prospecting letter template in our SalesKit). Of course you want to take the opportunity to put their mind at ease and answer any questions about the merger, but also be sure to use the Call Prep Questions on the Industry Profile to ask smart questions and keep the conversation flowing. In addition, be certain you know what’s happening in their industry by reviewing the Quarterly Insights and COVID Update.
  • Be prepared to add further value to your calls and touchpoints, reassuring clients/prospects that they will continue to get great service from you during and after the merger. One simple way to accomplish this is by sharing the Industry News articles found on Vertical IQ.
  • Be responsive to the client’s concerns and continue being the knowledgeable, proactive banker you’ve hopefully been all along by staying in touch, adding value, and sharing the latest industry insights from Vertical IQ.

In short, the onus remains on the business banker to stay focused and keep adding value to those relationships despite the merger happening around them. Yes, it’s easy to drop the ball as clients either put their head in the sand or begin to panic about merger-related changes. But remember that the client remains your most important focus, and using the Industry Intelligence on Vertical IQ makes it easier to keep your eye on that prize while also managing your book of business, adding value, and building relationships.

The business banker at the bank that is not going through a merger

As a banker, some of the best news you can get is that your competitor is merging with another bank. It is like watching a slow-motion train wreck, and it is the perfect opportunity to start poaching business banking clients who simply don’t want to deal with a merger’s inevitable drama and upheaval.

In these merger situations, a good place to focus your prospecting efforts might be on cash/treasury management since you can almost count on there being challenges in this area during a bank merger. As you know, cash management is a complex process under the best of circumstances, so merging two banks’ systems can get dicey. If a prospect has a lot of payments or treasury services, you can almost bet they will have to deal with a screw up during the merger.

Although cash management may be one of the most sophisticated aspects of a business’s bank relationship, it’s also easy for a client to pack up that service and move it to another bank, so seize the opportunity! The Banking Solutions and Bank Product Usage chapters of the Vertical IQ Industry Profile can help you ascertain which industries might be most reliant on cash management services; prospects in those industries might be your top targets.

So, what is the best approach to capitalize on the competition’s merger chaos? My advice isn’t that different from my suggestions to the bankers at the merging bank:

  • Call or use the prospecting letter template in the Vertical IQ SalesKit to reach out to your top prospects — possibly leading with the potential for challenges around cash/treasury management.
  • During your conversation or in your communications, use the Call Prep Questions about working capital, share the Financial Benchmarks and key financial ratios. The industry snapshot and financial benchmarks flier from the SalesKit can also be valuable resources to share.

Basically, it’s a safe bet that the prospect’s current banker is wrapped up in the merger upheaval, so it’s a great time to get your foot in the door and appeal to prospects’ concerns about what might go wrong as a result.

Building solid relationships that last

No matter which side of a bank merger you find yourself on — the merging banks or their competition — the bottom line is that you should already be using Vertical IQ’s Industry Intelligence tools to bring value to your client and prospect relationships. If you’ve waited for a merger to bring your A game to the table, you’re probably too late!

>> Learn more about the Industry Intelligence tools available on Vertical IQ and start adding value to your relationships today!

Image credit: Pavel Danilyuk via Pexels

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