Using Industry Intelligence to Up the Ante on Accounting Marketers’ Tactics

We see you, accounting marketer. We understand that the pressure is on to figure out new ways to set your firm apart from competitors. We also know that you are constantly expected to do more with less, as though you were a magician pulling rabbits out of your hat!

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Jobs Numbers Improving…But Will the Trend Continue?

We have to find glimmers of hope where we can lately, and the most recent jobs report is no exception. In August, the U.S economy added 1.4 million jobs — an impressive sounding figure — but the truth of the matter is that we are still at a deficit as compared to pre-COVID-19 numbers.

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July Construction Spending Offers Some Optimism, Some Stagnation

Last week, we shared some positive news about residential construction in the U.S. For July, sales of new single-family houses topped 901,000, 13.9 percent above the revised June 2020 rate of 791,000. July’s numbers were also an impressive 36.3 percent above the July 2019 rate of 661,000 units sold.

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Sharing is Caring: Use Industry Intelligence to Take Less and Give More

This is the fifth and final post in a series of five blog posts about how to create and implement a “SMART” strategy to manage client relationships — one that incorporates personalization and industry expertise into every client interaction. By using this tailored approach, your team will boost your organization’s sales conversion success and deepen those relationships.

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Shiny and New: New Home Sales Continue Upward Trajectory

The housing market offers one of the few bright spots in the U.S. economy with homebuilders seeing record-setting sales numbers. The U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released July’s new home sales data this week that bolsters this trend.

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When Success Requires Shape-Shifting: Lakeland Bank’s Story

Sitting outside on my deck this morning, I caught sight of a small lizard zooming by. It first changed colors to match the wood railing, somehow managing to sneak right past my dog, Finley. A quick jump into the bushes and the lizard was suddenly bright green, blending with the leaves. I couldn’t help but think of a recent conversation with Ken Bostwick, senior vice president and director of retail sales for Lakeland Bank.

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The Mixed Bag Continues for Retail and Food Services Sales Numbers

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released their July 2020 Advance Monthly Sales for Retail and Food Services report. Adjusted for seasonal variation, July sales totaled $536.0 billion, which represents a 1.2 percent increase over June’s numbers ($529.4 billion). This marks the third consecutive month with increases in U.S. consumer spending.

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Protecting Bank Assets by Identifying and Managing Risks

Written by David Nicholson, founder and president of Credit Training, Inc.

Successful commercial bankers protect their bank’s assets while driving business growth. To accomplish this difficult task, they must easily identify and manage credit risks. However, finding great tools to assist in this process has been very difficult...until now!

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Keep it Real: Initiating More Meaningful Client Conversations

This is the fourth in a series of five blog posts about how to create and implement a “SMART” strategy to manage client relationships — one that incorporates personalization and industry expertise into every client interaction. By using this tailored approach, your team will boost your organization’s sales conversion success and deepen those relationships.

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How Industry Intelligence Helps Build Better Marketing Initiatives

You’ve heard of industry information, industry insights, and industry research, but what exactly is “Industry Intelligence”? At Vertical IQ, we like to say that Industry Intelligence means using specific, timely industry data sources to help companies build relationships and increase sales.

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Add Value to SBDC Client Meetings with Industry Intelligence

As a small business development center (SBDC) counselor, you see a wide range of entrepreneurs looking to you for guidance on how to make their dream of starting a business come true. But having in-depth knowledge on a multitude of industries can be time-consuming.
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Outside the Box: Using Industry Intelligence to Offer Alternative Ideas

This is the third in a series of five blog posts about how to create and implement a “SMART” strategy to manage client relationships — one that incorporates personalization and industry expertise into every client interaction. By using this tailored approach, your team will boost your organization’s sales conversion success and deepen those relationships.
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Webinar Recap: Local Economies and Why You Should Know Them

Vertical IQ recently hosted a webinar on how advisors of small businesses can become experts on local economies. It featured our CEO and cofounder, Bobby Martin, as well as our partner, Jack Hubbard, chief experience officer at St. Meyer and Hubbard, Inc., a leading bank sales and coaching firm.
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Making More Informed Recommendations with Industry Intelligence

This is the second in a series of five blog posts about how to create and implement a “SMART” strategy to manage client relationships — one that incorporates personalization and industry expertise into every client interaction. By using this tailored approach, your team will boost your organization’s sales conversion success and deepen those relationships.
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Building Confidence: Residential Construction Shows Signs of Hope

On Friday, the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released their Monthly New Residential Construction Report for June, and it reveals some hopeful data. All of the report’s top-level numbers were moving in the right direction, up over May’s stats — some substantially. But as a reality check on the construction industry’s mid-pandemic situation, many of the June 2020 figures continue to be down when comparing year-over-year.
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Using a Strategic Mindset to Build Trust with Clients and Prospects

This is the first in a series of five blog posts about how to create and implement a “SMART” strategy to manage client relationships — one that incorporates personalization and industry expertise into every client interaction. By using this tailored approach, your team will boost your organization’s sales conversion success and deepen those relationships.
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Report on Retail and Food Services Sales Reveals Mixed Picture

On Thursday, the U.S. Census Bureau released their latest data on estimated retail and food services sales for June. Estimated numbers are based on early reports from a small sampling of companies selected from the larger Monthly Retail Trade Survey (MRTS) sample. You can view the Advance Monthly Sales for Retail and Food Services, June 2020 here.
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Insights from the Census Bureau Pulse Survey

The Census Bureau’s Small Business Pulse Survey reveals some interesting first-hand insights on how the pandemic is impacting businesses. The weekly survey was originally created in April to examine the ways in which COVID-19’s was affecting small businesses. Participating businesses are contacted by email only and must be non-farm, single-location businesses. They also must have receipts greater than or equal to $1,000 but 500 employees or fewer.
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A Closer Look at Who is Getting PPP Dollars

You’ve probably seen the headlines this week about the government’s release of more details about who received money from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). There were some surprises in there about the amount lent to organizations like private equity and wealth management firms, as well as not for profit organizations. But much of the $521.5 billion that has been distributed thus far has gone to small businesses in industries that are truly hurting as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Questions Surround the Final Phases of Reopening

There’s been broad confusion about the “phases of reopening” the U.S. economy. The White House created a recommended three-phase plan back in April, yet it specifies that it is ultimately up to each governor to determine what works best for their state’s situation and level of COVID-19 spread. Places like New Jersey, New York, and Washington have opted to implement a four-phase reopening plan. Further complicating matters, some states (like New York) are doing a phased reopening based on the readiness of particular regions of the state.
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The Big Break-Up: Why SMBs are Switching Banks & What You Can Do to Stop Them

2020 has been one of the toughest years for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) in history. Many saw a ray of hope in the U.S. government's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). But when SMB owners called their bankers for assistance in applying, far too many were unable to get the support they needed and expected to keep their businesses afloat. In fact, some couldn’t even get their banker on the phone.
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May Retail & Food Service Data Improves as Shutdowns Ease

The U.S. Census Bureau’s May 2020 retail and food service data was released on June 16, and it reveals some impressive gains when comparing May to April of this year. Looking at the seasonally adjusted figures, total U.S. retail and food services sales went from $412.5 billion in April to $485.5 billion in May — a 17.7 percent monthly increase.
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The Secret to Sales Success in a Down Economy

Written by Tony Cole, founder and Chief Learning Officer of Anthony Cole Training Group

 
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Industry Spotlight: Grocery Stores

The nation’s 41,000 grocery stores have experienced a raucous 2020, due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic. While grocery retail is a low margin, high volume business, sales surged during the second quarter of this year, driven by panic buying and a resurgence in home cooking.
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Jobs Numbers Improving… But Still a Long Way to Go

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released their May employment data on Friday, June 5, and there were some pleasant surprises. After March and April’s freefall, employers added a record 2.5 million jobs in May. The unemployment rate fell from 14.7 percent in April to 13.3 percent in May — though that is still a record high level.
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April Gloom: U.S. Import and Export Numbers Continue to Fall

On May 29, the U.S. Census Bureau released their advance Economic Indicators Report for April’s imports and exports, and not surprisingly, the numbers were gloomy. Both imports and exports were down double-digits, and overall, the international trade deficit rose to $69.7 billion, which was an increase of $4.7 billion from the March numbers ($65.0 billion).
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Why a Crisis May Be Prime Time for Accounting Marketing

I recently attended a Capstone Marketing webinar entitled, “Marketing Your Accounting Firm in Uncertain Times.” The presenter — Capstone’s founder, Jean Caragher — noted that there are lessons to be learned from the past when it comes to marketing during economic downturns. Accounting firms that continued to market themselves during the last recession came out of it better-positioned and stronger than their competition that cut back on marketing.
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The Far-Reaching Cost of Government Budget Cutbacks

I recently shared the ways in which declining tax revenue is taking a toll on state and local coffers, resulting in numerous job and budget cuts. Sales, gas, hotel, and other taxes and tolls have all decreased dramatically during the COVID-19-related shutdowns across the country.
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Webinar for Accounting Marketers: Using Industry Intelligence to Grow Your Firm

Across many industries, marketers are consistently asked to do more with less. Oftentimes, when the budgetary belt has to be tightened, marketing’s budget is the first to get trimmed. It’s an ongoing challenge for people in this line of work.
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Reopening Realities: What Will Sales Calls Look Like in This “New Normal”?

I’ve talked to a lot of Vertical IQ customers lately about what meeting with customers looks like in the COVID-19 era. The consensus is that it is a different world than what they are used to. Many people who call on customers and prospects  used to being face-to-face. Being relegated to phone calls and video conferences goes against everything they know!
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Building Anxiety: Housing Starts Plummet

On Tuesday morning, new data was released by the Census Bureau on housing starts in the U.S. And the picture is rather bleak. April privately-owned housing starts were at a seasonally adjusted rate of 891,000, which is a 30.2 percent drop from March of this year. It is also 29.7 percent below the April 2019 rate.
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Key Metrics: Why Advisors Need to Understand Their Local Economies

The U.S. economy gets a lot of attention — and rightly so. Since 1871, the U.S. has maintained its position as the largest in the world with economists estimating it will reach $22.3 trillion this year. This is partly because our currency is favored around the world, and we are graced with vast natural resources, but it’s also because of our high productivity, with a per capita gross domestic project (GDP) around $66,000. Compare that to China, which boasts the world’s second largest economy, but only has a per capita GDP of $16,000.
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Math Meets Civics: Education Job Numbers Plummet During Pandemic

Earlier this week, I shared with you the detrimental financial impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the healthcare sector. It is somewhat counterintuitive that hospitals that are overflowing with coronavirus patients would be losing money. As I explained, however, many healthcare organizations have had to sacrifice more lucrative procedures (such as elective surgeries and primary care services) in order to care for this tide of sick patients. As a result, according to the May 8 jobs report, the healthcare sector lost 1.4 million jobs between March and April.
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Why is the Healthcare Industry Suffering Financially During a Pandemic?

Last week, I shared with you some of the industries that have been hardest-hit by the COVID-19 crisis, including restaurants, childcare centers, and construction. The negative impacts to these industries seem fairly logical given the temporary regulations and shutdowns put in place to help prevent the spread of the virus. But amid the pandemic, there is one industry in particular that you may be surprised to learn is struggling financially: healthcare.
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Leading Under Pressure: How Can You Help?

Written by Lisa Earle McLeod, author of Leading with Noble Purpose

As we all experience the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of people are feeling the anxiety of uncertainty. Perhaps it’s worries about their job or finances. Maybe it’s health concerns — be that physical or emotional health. Or it could be uncertainty about the future and what it holds. Where you are on the spectrum is your starting place; the challenge is how you move forward.
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Overcoming Hurdles: How Business Bankers Can Meet Customers Where They Are

With the economic peril caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, every small and medium-sized business (SMB) owner finds him or herself in a different situation. Some are wondering if they will survive closures or this downturn. Others are having to reinvent what they do and how they do it. Still others are tweaking their budgets to adjust to unanticipated changes in payables and/or receivables.
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These Industries are Among the Pandemic’s Hardest Hit

At Vertical IQ, we recently have focused our research efforts on monitoring the industries most affected by COVID-19. On our free COVID-19 webpage, you’ll find economic updates, sector updates, and details on how specific industries are being impacted.
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Advising Customers & Prospects Through the COVID-19 Pandemic

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has disrupted nearly every aspect of people’s lives. Countless small to medium-sized business (SMB) owners also are struggling to stay afloat as they deal with closures, layoffs, and supply chain issues. There’s little doubt this pandemic is going to impact these SMBs in both the short- and long-term.
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The Circle of Trust...

Written by Martin Wise, founder and CEO of RelPro

…and the opportunity (necessity) to build trust with your clients and prospects during and after COVID-19 through industry, company, and executive research
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Using the 10-Second Rule to Improve Your Client Meetings

You’ve heard of the 5-second rule, whereby food that has been dropped may be eaten without any stigma. But are you familiar with the 10-second rule? If you are a professional services provider who works directly with clients, you should learn about this important principle.

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Help Clients Understand the Impact of COVID-19 on Their Industry

It’s the topic on nearly everyone’s mind right now: coronavirus (COVID-19). And millions of business owners are worried about how this pandemic is going to impact their company, both in the short-term and in the months to come. That’s why Vertical IQ has created a new dedicated webpage with expert research on how COVID-19 is affecting specific industries and sectors of the economy.
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When Life Gets Crazy, Get Specific

In the midst of chaotic times such as these, my mind turns to messaging. Sounds weird, I know. But after 25+ years in marketing, it’s second nature to me. Messaging is the core element of marketing and communications. While everyone is being swamped by information about COVID-19 and its impacts, I’m evaluating which messages work. What’s getting through this tsunami of information? Only the messages that are clear, concise, and targeted specifically to and for recipients are going to resonate. This is especially true in banking right now. 
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Even Better Than a Handshake: Financial Focus

Connect as a Proxy CFO to Help Guide Small Business Owners

Face-to-face meetings and firm handshakes have been staples in the banking business forever. So what happens when the meetings and events where we typically connect with clients and prospects are canceled and handshakes are off the table? With the coronavirus (COVID-19) dramatically impacting industries, financial markets, and businesses around the globe -- now is the time to focus on financials to help small businesses make important financial decisions when revenue and the future are uncertain.
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Honing the Human Element

We’ve all heard the phrase, “I’m only human.” There was even a hit song from ‘80s pop stars The Human League with that catchphrase as its chorus. While the expression implies that human beings are prone to failure or somehow less-than, I have to disagree. Especially when it comes to facing down the financial technology and banking bots that are coming for your business
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Battle of the Century: Banking Bots vs. Human Business Bankers

I’m continually amazed by what you can do with new technology, applications, digital solutions, and system integrations in banking and beyond. But I’ve discovered that, for some business bankers, high-tech is becoming problematic. Today, next-gen business customers want high-tech banking options, and it’s time to get on board unless you want to get beat out by a banking bot. 
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Hit the Mark with These Arrows in Your Quiver of Prospecting Tools

As a client success manager, I love talking with people about ways to get the most out of Vertical IQ. Earlier this week, I was speaking with one of my banking clients, who mentioned that they view Vertical IQ as an “arrow” in the quiver of tools they use to be successful in their pursuit of small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). 
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Industry Spotlight: Candy Manufacturers

The sweet smell of love is in the air…oh wait, no…that’s candy that I smell! The nation’s 1,700 candy manufacturers combine chocolate, sugar, and other raw ingredients to produce every imaginable variety of confection and chocolate-based product. And Valentine’s Day is one of their prime opportunities to shine.
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Webinar Recap: The Power of Personalization and Advice in B2B Banking

Our Vertical IQ co-founder and CEO, Bobby Martin, recently co-hosted a webinar with Jim Marous from The Financial Brand and Shaalin Parekh from Seismic to discuss how banks can provide a more personalized experience to their business customers.
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Who Are the Winners and Losers in the USMCA?

The United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) was signed by the namesake countries’ leaders in November 2018. (You can read the text of the USMCA here.) After a lengthy ratification process, it was passed with bipartisan support by the U.S. House of Representatives in December 2019 and by the Senate on January 16, 2020. As of this posting, the bill awaits President Trump's signature.
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Using Vertical IQ to Support Your Workplace Banking Program

Thanks to the increased use of technology like ATMs, online banking, and direct deposit, bank branch traffic has steadily declined in recent years. Without that face-to-face, in-branch contact, bankers have lost access to those interpersonal relationships that used to encourage consumers to remain loyal to their bank.
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The Secret Sauce: Enabling Bankers with Industry-Specific Content

Written by Shaalin Parekh, Senior Market Development Manager at Seismic

It’s no secret that B2B banking is becoming increasingly commoditized. These days, small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are using far more banks than even just a few years ago. According to Gartner’s 2016 study, “A New Basis for Competitive Advantage,” 53 percent of companies use four or more financial providers. 
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12 Ways to Use Industry Research to Win More in 2020

The new year is a good time to start new, better habits, from improving our diets to exercising more. But it is also a great time to turn over a new leaf at work, setting more ambitious sales or client management goals. And Vertical IQ can help. 
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Podcast Recap: 7 Secrets for Bankers To Become the Trusted Advisor for Small Businesses in 2020

Small business banking is being disrupted. Those cliché, predictable conversations that used to get a business banker in the door are slowly vanishing as bank clients begin to expect more out of their banker. For traditional banks and their relationship managers (RMs), this means they must find new ways to remain relevant to small- to medium-size business (SMB) owners. 
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Industry Spotlight: Jewelry Stores

December is the month when the nation’s 15,200 jewelry stores really shine! Indeed, winter holiday shoppers can make or break a jewelry store, which has highly seasonal sales in December and around Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Yet in recent years, jewelry stores have lost market share to a variety of channels, including department stores, mass merchandisers, online sites, and catalog and TV retailers.
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Key Takeaways From the 2019 Small Business Banking Conference

Members of the Vertical IQ team recently attended the American Banker Small Business Banking Conference in Los Angeles. The agenda for the three-day conference included outstanding expert panels, workshops, and keynote presentations. Here are some of the highlights.
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Webinar Recap: High-Touch Coaching in a High-Tech World

The final installment in Vertical IQ’s free fall webinar series was last week—a presentation entitled High-Tech Coaching in a High-Tech World, presented by Tony Cole of Anthony Cole Training Group, a company that specializes in banking, financial advisory, and insurance sales and management training. 
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Leadership Spotlight: Vertical IQ’s New CMO, David Buffaloe

David Buffaloe recently joined Vertical IQ as chief marketing officer (CMO). David brings more than 25 years of proven experience leading high performing marketing teams in the technology space to Vertical IQ. You can read more about David’s background in this press release.
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Webinar Recap: Playing Offense and Defense to Prepare for the Future

The second installment in Vertical IQ’s free fall webinar series was last week—a presentation entitled A Winning Game Plan: Playing Offense and Defense to Prepare for the Future by Mary Beth Sullivan, managing partner at Capital Performance Group.
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Building SMB Client Relationships with Insight and Foresight

Of course every business services firm that calls on small- to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) says they are a trusted advisor to their clients, but reality doesn’t always support that claim. I read a great article this week about how most firms that call on SMBs instead tend to provide “Random Acts of Consulting.” 
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Helping Change How SMB Owners Think About Cash Flow

“If I had to run a company on three measures, those measures would be customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and cash flow.”
—Jack Welch, Former CEO of General Electric

 
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3 Motivations to Become a Better Value-Added Advisor

A value-added advisor is someone whose ideas and advice you respect enough to invest time and money into having them around. The business relationship is about more than just the product purchase itself. 
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How to Help Small Businesses Compare Their Financials to Their Industry

“Are we keeping up with the Joneses?” Owners of small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) are always interested in how their competition is doing…and how they compare to them financially. Yes, it may be about ego to some degree, but it also tells a business owner how their company is faring financially. Are they middling, above average, behind the eight ball? 
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Webinar Recap: Red Ocean vs. Blue Ocean Sales Strategies

Last week, we hosted the first installment in Vertical IQ’s free fall webinar series—a presentation entitled Red Ocean vs. Blue Ocean Sales Strategies by Ray Adler, banking sales coach, strategist, and change catalyst with BTI Growth Advisors. While Ray’s presentation discussed sales from a banking perspective, the lessons are highly relevant to anyone in a professional services sales or business development role—accountants, financial planners, lawyers, etc.—who call on small to mid-sized business (SMB) owners.
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Adding Industry Knowledge into Your Contact Strategy

When it comes to gaining trust with small to mid-sized business (SMB) owners, absence definitely does not make the heart grow fonder. In fact, it’s much more likely that if you’re out of sight, you’re also out of mind. Not a good situation if you want business owners to come to you when they have a need for your services.
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Upgrade Your Prospect Presentations with These 3 Tips

You’re pulling together a presentation for a new small to mid-size business (SMB) prospect. You have checked it again and again to be sure your i’s are dotted and your t’s are crossed. Your high school English teacher would be so proud! But perfect grammar likely won’t be enough to convince a prospect that you are the right fit for their business’s needs.
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Which Industries Should I Target?

The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) was developed as the standard for use by the U.S. federal government’s statistical agencies, replacing the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system in 1997. Industry-specific NAICS codes are assigned to each business in the country, classifying them for the collection and analysis of data about the nation’s economy. The stats derived from NAICS data are available at www.census.gov/econ/.
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4 Ways to Help SMBs Manage Cash Flow

You may have heard the platitude, “Cash is the most important, yet least productive, asset a business has.” It is a bit cliché, but it is also true. Properly balancing the so-called “big three” of cash management—accounts receivable, accounts payable, and inventory—is crucial to the financial success of any business. 
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The 3 Local Economic Indicators Every SMB Advisor Should Know

The economy is a hot topic lately, with pundits arguing over whether we are or aren’t heading into a recession. Whether you think an inverted yield curve is a recession bellwether or not, there’s no debate that there’s a lot to be learned by looking at economic numbers. But practically speaking, most small business success is dependent upon the local economy, not the national economy.  
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2 Simple Ways to Wow Prospects at a Networking Event

Speaking with people you don’t know at a networking event can be a tricky proposition. Having a valuable conversation with a prospective client means making sure it is about them, not you. To do that, you need to be both inquisitive and insightful. Knowing something about a lot of different topics gives you a leg up. And that’s where doing your homework on economic and industry information comes into play.
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3 Tips to Turn Industry News into Valuable Content for SMB Owners

There is arguably no one busier than a small to mid-sized business (SMB) owner. Because they are wearing so many different hats, SMB owners often don’t have the time to concern themselves with news about their own industry. But when you send them news and engage with them about these relevant topics, it can help them think more broadly about how to improve their company. 
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5 Organizations You Need to Know to Know Small Business

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of niches that small businesses fill within this country. (On Vertical IQ, we cover over 450 of these sectors.) Yet, despite this enormous variety, there are certain aspects of running a small business that many of these companies have in common: concerns about capital and cashflow, decisions about marketing and advertising, challenges with attracting, retaining, and training employees, keeping up with the competition, just to name a few.
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Helping Small Business Owners Understand What Their Company is Worth

For most small to mid-sized business (SMB) owners, their company is their most valuable asset. This dollar figure can have a big impact on them personally and professionally, both now and into the future, yet many business owners don’t really know what their company is worth.
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Ready for Change: Addressing Trigger Events with Small Business Owners

“Trigger events” are major changes that affect a business. They can be milestones achieved through the normal course of a business’ life such as buying new equipment or moving locations. Or, they can be through environmental happenings outside of the business’ control such as new laws. For a business owner, they can be joyful, such as a retirement or the sale of a successful venture, or stress-inducing, such as a new regulation or a new competitor in their space. 
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5 Easy Steps to Improve Your Client Meeting Quality by 50 Percent

As a busy professional, you likely find yourself burning the candle at both ends much of the time. You know that you should do more to prepare for meeting with small business owners, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day. 
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How Generalists Can Develop Niche Industry Specialties

In 2017, River Cities Capital Funds, a growth equity fund focused on healthcare and information technology, produced a study on software as a service (SaaS) companies. At the time, River Cities already had invested roughly $100 million in 16 SaaS companies, which had resulted in six successful liquidity events, including two IPOs. 
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Webinar Recap: Building Prospecting Momentum

Last week, we hosted the final installment in Vertical IQ’s free spring webinar series—a presentation entitled Building Prospecting Momentum, led by banking industry sales expert Ned Miller. Ned notes that banks can grow their book of business through effective prospecting, but it’s a competitive world out there when it comes to acquiring new business from commercial and small business banking clients.
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Industry Spotlight: Hotels & Motels

It’s summertime, and the 41,000 hotels and motels in the U.S. are rolling out the red carpet to vacationers as well as business travelers.
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Using Industry Research to Address Succession Planning

This week, I read an article that got me thinking about the importance of succession planning for business owners. The article, entitled “CFOs not doing enough succession planning,” referenced a study conducted last year, which revealed that only a third of CFOs surveyed said that there was a succession plan in place for their roles. Perhaps even more startling was that over 80 percent of CFOs who responded to the survey said there was no internal successor prepared to take over for them.
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Webinar Recap: Save Me! Save Me Now!

Last week, we hosted the second installment in Vertical IQ’s free spring webinar series—a presentation entitled Save Me! Save Me Now! by small business banking expert Nick Miller, president of Clarity Advantage. Miller focused on smaller business’s fraud vulnerability—with an emphasis on red flags to look for with the way your banking clients are handling their payables and receivables—and strategies to help business owners reduce their vulnerability and losses.
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How “Purpose” Can Drive A Bank’s Success

As the senior sales associate at Vertical IQ, I am always interested in learning about the new sales strategies and tactics that are being used by banks and bankers; it gives me insights into ways that the industry intelligence on Vertical IQ can be better integrated into their processes. To that end, I recently attended the 2019 BankOnPurpose (BOP) conference in Austin, Texas—a great conference that puts a unique spin on the typical banking conference.
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Webinar Recap: What a Beer Cart Driver and Boutique Hotel Can Teach Us About Welcoming New Clients

Vertical IQ kicked off our free spring webinar series a few weeks ago with a great presentation by Jack Hubbard, chief experience officer of St. Meyer & Hubbard, entitled What a Beer Cart Driver and Boutique Hotel Can Teach Us About Welcoming New Clients. In it, Jack discussed what financial professionals should consider before taking the new client onboarding plunge. He also included several case study examples of how banks have maximized referrals, optimized cross-solving, and put millions in their pipeline with a systematic onboarding process.
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Industry Focus: A Clean Perspective on Janitorial Services Companies

It’s spring cleaning time! And the nation’s 53,000 janitorial service providers are here to help. These crucial companies clean building interiors, windows, and the interiors of transportation equipment, such as aircrafts.
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The Value of Anticipation

As a mom of soccer players, I hear my kids’ coaches reiterating the importance of anticipating what is going to happen next on the field—where the ball is going to go, when the opponent is going to make their move. If you think about it, the ability to foresee what is going to happen before it happens is a vital talent in many sports. But it’s also a crucial skill for financial professionals.  
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What’s Your Story? Paint a Clearer Picture Using Financial Data

Accounting Today published an article a few weeks ago entitled, “Why accountants need to be data storytellers.” Now, the storytelling concept might be familiar to people in a marketing context—it’s a technique commonly used in that field to convince you to take that next step in the sales funnel—but personally, I’ve never considered storytelling to be part of professions like accountant, financial planner, or banker.
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In a Tech-Driven World, Stand Out with Expert Advice

A recent Wall Street Journal article entitled “The Problem for Small-Town Banks: People Want High-Tech Services” struck a chord for me. It recounts the story of a Bank of America branch in Monticello, New York, that was purchased by the National Bank of Delaware County, a community bank with just a handful of branches.
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The Most Valuable Advice Financial Pros Can Offer to Business Owners

If you are an accountant or financial advisor, it’s a busy time of year for you as clients work on filing their tax returns. While this makes for good accounts receivable for the next few months, what are you doing to provide year-round value to your clients? For accountants and CPAs, as well as bankers and financial planners, one area you might consider exploring with your business owner- and entrepreneur-clients as a value-add is exit planning strategies.
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Feeling the Pinch: Industries Hard-Hit by Government Shutdowns

Last month’s partial government shutdown cost the nation’s economy an estimated $11 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. During that 35-day period beginning the week of Christmas, 800,000 federal workers were either told to stay home or were forced to work without pay. And with no budget deal on the horizon, another government shutdown looms ahead.
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3 Reasons Why Your Industry Knowledge Matters to Small Business Owners

When studying economics—or marketing for that matter—one of the first concepts that you probably explored was that of “needs” versus “wants.” In the simplest terms, it’s the difference between a nice-to-have and a must-have.
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Personalization, Partnerships, and Payments Top Small Business Banking Conference Agenda

“It’s like the question, ‘Do you prefer your toothbrush or your dentist?’,” prompted Rob Pascal, Small Business Strategy and Planning executive for Bank of America Small Business. “We’d be stuck without the toothbrush, but when we really need the advice, we need the dentist.”
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What Consumer Debt Means for the State of the U.S. Economy

In order to have industry expertise, one must also have solid knowledge on the cyclicality of the nation’s economy. The state of the economy starts and stops with the consumer. For example, in 2017, consumer spending represented 68 percent of GDP. When the consumer stops spending, businesses suffer, and the slowdown filters on down from there.
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Survey of Small Businesses Explores What Owners Really Want

At Vertical IQ, we often talk about how industry research can help build value-added client relationships. A recent survey conducted by Accounting Today, a leading provider of online business news for the accounting community, underscores this fact.
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New Vertical IQ Smartphone App Offers Industry Insights on the Go!

Vertical IQ’s cofounders are former financial professionals, so we understand what it’s like to be in the trenches. We’ve learned that Vertical IQ users are busy professionals, and the reality is that they often don’t have the time to research and read an entire industry-related paper to prepare for a client or prospect meeting.
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The How and Why of Industry Structure

One of the fascinating things about working for Vertical IQ is learning about the structures of industries and why they have evolved that way. At the heart of what we analyze are the numerous facets that drive revenue—and factors that make businesses within that sector succeed or fail. Indeed, it’s every advisor’s job to understand how and why each of their clients have competitive advantages within their respective market or industry.  
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How Bankers Can Help Business Owners Plan Exit Strategies

Two members of the Vertical IQ team and I attended the 2018 Exit Planning Summit in Nashville last week because many exit planning experts need and appreciate industry research. Having been a business banker for many years, and then personally being involved with founding and selling several successful businesses, I’ve had first-hand experience in dealing with this sensitive topic. In fact, I’ve written about both the advantages of selling your startup as well as some of the compelling reasons why a founder may not want to sell their business.
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3 Trends Bankers Should Key In On When Meeting with Computer Programming Firms

It seems that just about everything today relies upon computers, and as a result, computer programming services is a booming industry. For bankers, despite the risks, there is a lot of opportunity to be found within the rapidly growing computer programming services industry.
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A Potentially Healthy Environment for the Medical Device Manufacturing Industry

We noticed an interesting article in the August 15 issue of American Banker regarding community banks that are forming dedicated healthcare lending teams. In recent years, the healthcare industry had seemed risky to many banks as Medicaid reimbursements have been declining and concerns about the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as “Obamacare”) have increased.
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Industry Spotlight: Commercial Equipment Rental and Leasing

Despite the credit risks inherent to commercial equipment rental and leasing companies — such as intense competition, cyclicality, and high regulation — building an industry niche with well-managed firms in this industry may be profitable for your bank. Well-run firms achieve high equipment utilization and are good at keeping repair costs to a minimum.
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Tariffs & Trade Wars: Should Your Bank Client Worry?

A hot topic in the news lately has been tariffs and the resulting “trade wars” they can create. In March, the Trump administration announced that as of July 6, tariffs of 25 percent would be levied on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum. 
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Industry Focus: A Look at The Financial Health of Fitness Centers

They say that beach bodies are made during the winter, and most fitness centers DO experience higher membership growth right after the winter holidays as people make their New Year’s resolutions to lose weight or exercise more. But despite the seasonality of the industry, fitness centers are thriving in the U.S.
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Should Banks Make a Move in the Self-Storage Industry?

Americans have a lot of STUFF. For many people, they have more than can be contained within the confines of their home, which is why the self-storage industry has been booming. Yet a recent article (firewall-protected) in American Banker explores whether the storage industry remains secure or is headed for a downturn.
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Industry Spotlight: Child Care Centers

School may be out for the next few months, but thankfully for America’s working parents, most of the nation’s 60,000 child care centers will still be providing year-round care for infants and children.
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Key Lessons from My Last Two Interactions with Business Bankers

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.
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Industry Focus: All Eyes on Optometry Practices

Given recent industry growth and their relatively safe credit risk, optometry practices are a solid niche for business bankers to pursue. Here’s why. There are nearly 20,000 optometry practices with about 37,000 optometrists providing vision care in the United States; together, they earn $14.7 billion in annual revenue.
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Our Newest White Paper: 5 Essential Trust-Based Strategies for Business Banking Success Today

It wasn’t so long ago that a business banker could get by based on their personality, some basic knowledge of the local economy, and maybe one or two unique bank product offerings. But those days are now in the rearview mirror as clients and prospects have come to expect more from their banker. This is why we decided to write our latest white paper, “5 Essential Trust-Based Strategies for Business Banking Success Today.”
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7 Ways to Use Vertical IQ for the Credit Underwriting Process

I truly enjoyed my job as a business banker. I relished the opportunity to meet new people and look for ways to grow their company while simplifying their financial life.
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How to Avoid the Cliché Questions Bankers Ask Business Owners

As the director of client success at Vertical IQ, I communicate with bankers on a daily basis, and in doing so, I gain valuable perspective on how our tool is (or isn’t) being used.
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Industry Spotlight: Convenience Stores

In the late 1990s, as a banker in Wilmington, North Carolina, one of my best customers maintained a huge DDA account, borrowed a cool million each year to expand, used treasury services, kept healthy balance sheet, earned solid profits, and had an experienced management team. This customer was a convenience store chain.
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7 Things You Can Do to Get the Most Out of Vertical IQ

Your bank leadership is telling you that you need to be using Vertical IQ to prepare for every client or prospect call. And…maybe you’ve even popped into it to see what the big deal is.
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Tough Sell: Why It’s Worth Convincing Experienced Bankers to Use Vertical IQ

Experienced bankers—people who have been in the financial industry for 10, 20, even 30 years—may feel like they instantly have a leg up on their competition, thanks to their time in the trenches. Yes, they have a wealth of experience, but is that enough in this day and age of cut-throat competition for business banking customers? Is their book of business really as loyal to them as they think? After all, there are a LOT of other options out there for capital and financial services, all clamoring for your clients’ business.
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How to Make CPAs an Ongoing Source of Bank Referrals

”Centers of influence”(COIs) are a select group of people who can help to increase your access to and credibility with your target market by providing their referrals, testimonials, and word-of-mouth endorsement. Professionals such as realtors, insurance agents, and of course bankers had figured out that having a steady stream of referrals from COIs is one of the best ways to successfully build their book of business. But which centers of influence should you seek out in order to increase your referrals?
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The 10 Most Popular Vertical IQ Industry Profiles

Now that we are in full swing with the new year, it’s a perfect time to think about your sales approach and ways to increase your performance for 2018.
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5 Tips for Upping Your Bank’s Vertical IQ Usage

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!
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Industry Spotlight: Restaurants

There’s no doubt about it: Americans LOVE to eat! And we have the restaurants to prove it. There are approximately 364,000 restaurants in the U.S., which include everything from full-service restaurants, to quick-service restaurants (fast food, snack, and non-alcoholic beverage bars), fast-casual restaurants, grills, buffets, and cafeterias.
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Key Takeaways From the 2017 Small Business Banking Conference

Members of the Vertical IQ team recently attended the American Banker Small Business Banking Conference in Austin. The agenda for the three-day conference included outstanding expert panels, workshops, and keynote presentations. Here are some of the highlights.
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Industry Spotlight: Physician Practices

As cold and flu season kicks into high gear around the holidays, a lot of folks find themselves in doctors’ offices. But perhaps you should consider making an appointment to call on these practices to win their banking business! With over 210,000 physician practices operating in the U.S., this may be a “healthy” niche industry for you to pursue.
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Industry Spotlight: Machine Shops

Look around your office: Every chair, lamp, pen, and coffee mug likely was made using machines. There are around 18,600 machine shops in the U.S. that process various materials from metal to plastic to composites, or that produce custom parts. Some of these companies specialize in a particular process—such as lathing—or in a specific industry like automotives. Most of these businesses’ projects are low volume but require high precision. The industry consists of numerous small- to medium-sized businesses; interestingly, there are no large companies that dominate within the vertical.
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Industry Spotlight: Breweries

Are you a beer aficionado? There’s no doubt that people in the U.S. enjoy knocking back a good brewski with their friends…just watch the ads during any sporting event! But while beer remains the most popular alcoholic drink in the country—accounting for about half of all alcohol sales—it is facing “stiff” competition from wine and liquor.
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A 5-Minute Summary of The ABA Bank Marketing Conference

The annual ABA Bank Marketing Conference was held in New Orleans on Sept. 24–26 this year, and members of the Vertical IQ team were excited to attend. This event’s agenda is always packed with fantastic speakers, so we thought we’d share our notes on a few of our favorite sessions in case you were unable to attend.
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Finding Opportunity in Small Business Transitions

As the Baby Boomers reach retirement age, you can expect to see more ownership transitions for small businesses. According to the latest data from Barlow Research, 57 percent of small business owners are currently 60 years or older, a dramatic increase from 38 percent in 2008. Read more


A More Tailored Sales Approach for the Seasoned Banker

You’ve been a banker for years, working your way up in the ranks and gaining valuable experience along the way. Your knowledge about the banking products and services you offer is unmatched. You know your customers’ kids’ names and maybe even their golf handicap. There’s no doubt about it: You’re a true asset to your bank and to your clients.
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Identifying Your Next Industry Niche? Go Where the Profits Are

In my January blog “5 Reasons Every Business Banker Should Have Industry Niches,” I noted that successful bankers should study up and figure out the industries on which to focus. One factor you should consider is industry profitability. Generally speaking, profitable companies accumulate lots of assets and can therefore afford to pay back bigger loans. They can also afford to purchase treasury management products that make their businesses more efficient. So, starting with profit consideration is a good place to begin.       
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Industry Spotlight: Calling on Law Offices

When I was a private banker in the late ‘90s in Wilmington, North Carolina, I found a successful niche prospecting law firms. There were a couple of things I learned first-hand about attorneys that I believe contributed to my success:
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Why Private Bankers & FAs Need a “Wealth” of Industry Knowledge

As a private banker, you are tasked with understanding the “big picture” of your clients’ finances–everything from their checking account to their invested assets. And as more and more banks bring financial planning services in-house, odds are, it’s more important than ever to your own financial goals to have an understanding of how these investments fit into your clients’ suite of bank services so that your overall portfolio grows.
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What I Learned at The Barlow Research Conference

Why Keeping Up with Your Banking Competition Keeps Getting Tougher

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I love the annual Barlow Research Conference because the content is based upon thoughtful research. This year’s event in Chicago was no exception. Entitled “The Next Big Thing,” the forum speakers emphasized the rapidly changing banking environment. Banks better keep up or move aside!
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Become Your Clients’ “Mini-Economist” in 5 Minutes

When I was a banker calling on businesses, company owners frequently would ask me, "What's going on with the economy? Is it growing? Should I be worried? What are you hearing out there?" It struck me that they were looking to me, their banker, to be a “mini-economist” of sorts.
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Developing a Contact Strategy That Wins Over Business Owners

Having been a banker for 13 years and a relationship manager for five, I found that my sales process revolved around three basic groups: the business I had (my clients), the business I wanted (my prospects), and the people who championed my cause (my centers of influence). And a critical component of my sales process was a successful contact strategy for each of these groups.
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Vertical IQ is the Busy Branch Manager’s Life-Line

In March 2005, I was promoted to the branch manager position for one of the local branches of the bank for which I worked. Having managed a different department for the bank, I was excited about the new challenge. But, being tasked with both management and sales of the branch was going to require a different skill-set. I was ready. I was comfortable with the products and services we offered, was easily able to build relationships with my direct reports and customers, and was fortunate to be in an area with a lot of opportunity.
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Cashing In: Consider These Niches for Growing Deposits

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Driving home from work recently, I saw a new “For Sale” sign in the yard of a house in our neighborhood. The home is tidy and well-maintained, but it isn’t necessarily someplace that would grab your attention while driving down the road. Then I noticed a smaller placard affixed to the “For Sale” sign, which read, “I’m Gorgeous Inside!” It’s an interesting real estate marketing tactic!

But that little sign got me thinking about how banks and bankers gauge which prospects to call on. Small and medium businesses are an ever-attractive source of deposit growth for banks; they are the equivalent of the eye-catching house with loads of curb appeal.

When bankers think about small businesses in their area, the first ones to come to mind are probably a local manufacturing firm, medical or dental practices, a wholesale distributor, or some retail store. Sure, these types of businesses do offer opportunities for both deposits and loans to finance equipment or facility purchases. However, there are some “hidden gems” for deposit growth that shouldn’t be overlooked…industry sectors that could rightly have a sign hanging out front saying “Hey Bankers: I’m Gorgeous Inside!”
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What’s the Big Deal About Dental Practices?

DentalPractices5.jpgDental practices and other privately-owned medical practices have long been attractive to banks for both financing and deposit products. Big picture, while dental practices need financing for initial capital expenditures and ongoing updates, and have operating costs that can reach 75 percent, they also have extremely low failure rates, and are usually located in “owner-occupied” offices. Dentist offices can generate gross margins of 90 percent while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) are typically around 15 percent. Additionally, specialized practices, such as periodontists and orthodontists, can reduce their overhead to around 60 percent while maintaining 90 percent gross margins.

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5 Reasons Every Business Banker Should Have Industry Niches

Knowing a little bit about a lot of things increases your odds of winning at Trivia Night, but if you are a business banker, being a generalist does very little to win over new client relationships.
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