In our recent ebook, Unlock Sales Readiness: Advice from the Experts, Banking Edition, we talked with six experienced bankers who have seen increased sales success by using Industry Intelligence from Vertical IQ. Let’s meet one of those banking experts…

Lakeland Bank, serving consumers and businesses in 13 New Jersey counties and Highland Mills, N.Y., prides itself on its connection to the communities in which it operates. But it’s their focus on each customer’s unique financial needs that helps the bank continue to grow and prosper year after year, explains Kenneth Bostwick, Jr., senior vice president and director of retail sales at Lakeland.

Q: The financial services landscape can be very crowded, especially in the New Jersey/New York area. How do Lakeland bankers strive to stand out from their competition — particularly larger banks?

Ken Bostwick: Community banks have a better understanding of the communities and customers we serve. It’s important not to lose sight of localized decision-making. We have the unique opportunity to connect with our customers at the football or softball field, or to host a local charity event. We know what is happening with local politics, the local economy, and even the weather.

Being part of the community, investing in its success, and making those personal connections are invaluable. That really became apparent during the pandemic when we helped so many local businesses navigate the PPP application process.

Q: How are you and your team at Lakeland Bank incorporating sales readiness strategies to nurture and grow connections with customers and prospects?

Ken Bostwick: It starts with understanding that while you can’t be a specialist in every single industry, with the right Industry Intelligence tools, you can at least be a generalist. You can use these tools to learn more about your customer and their industry. You may not have all the answers, but you can learn enough to ask the right questions. Knowing a few key insights, using the right language, and asking the right questions can make such an impression on that customer. And following up with additional information helps you continue that conversation and build that relationship.

Q: Lakeland has focused on incorporating the latest technology into your processes. Has it been challenging to implement this type of digital transformation?

Ken Bostwick: These days, bankers have access to so many technology-based tools — CRMs, Sales Intelligence solutions, Industry Intelligence solutions, data analytics, and so much more. We can’t afford not to take advantage of the tools available to us and the knowledge we can gain from them. We must overcome any hurdles we might have when it comes to using new tools as they become available and move past limiting stereotypes or assumptions about how our customers are or aren’t using the tools [the Internet, online banking, mobile banking, social media, etc.] available to them.

Q: What can bank leaders do to set their teams up for success when it comes to rolling out and using sales readiness tools?

Ken Bostwick: As leaders, it is our responsibility to set our teams up for success. That means putting the right tools in their hands, demonstrating best practices, fielding questions, making sure they’re comfortable, and setting realistic expectations. We hold practice sessions with our associates, offer workshops, develop scripts they can customize, and field any questions that come up.

We send letters before calling customers and prospects, which helps set the stage for that first conversation. We also call our customers on their birthdays and anniversaries. Those simple calls create an opportunity to check in with the customer to see how they are doing and to suggest products or services they might benefit from. Just as importantly, they create a positive experience for both the bank associate and the customer.

Want to learn additional ways business and commercial banking, credit underwriting, wealth management, retail branches, and more can benefit from Industry Intelligence? Download our free ebook, Unlock Sales Readiness: Advice from the Experts, Banking Edition!

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