The number one reason that banks struggle to grow their commercial business is their relationship managers don’t have enough time. Credit memos, compliance, administration and a whole host of other tasks take up the day leaving very little time to bundle a steady pipeline of profitable accounts. However, next to streamlining your calling officer’s day, the next largest impediment to prospecting is the lack of knowledge. Lenders do not rise to the level of their hope, but fall back to the level of their training. Unfortunately, the art and science of sales isn’t taught by traditional education and is largely ignored in banking schools, conferences and training programs. Today, here are 3 areas of prospecting that are often overlooked or unknown to many lenders.
Social Media – Successful lenders know about this, but most all lenders lack an understanding of the full power of social media. While Twitter and Facebook can be a big help, it is LinkedIn that reigns supreme when it comes to commercial business development. Get your profile fully built out and work your connections. Upgrade to the “Pro” version and use the app to find and communicate daily with your network. Offer congratulations, monitor company news, ask for connections, leverage your current connections to get introductions, see comments left by your prospects, post content and get active in Groups to become a thought leader and get your name out.
Next, see who is looking at your profile and then click on the profiles of some of your prospects. It is only natural that many of these will see who is looking at their profile and your name will come up. Once it does, you have already established a certain level of name recognition that will help you down the road when you want to connect.
All the above takes 15 minutes per day, but it lays the foundation for future use.
Next, use the Advanced Search capabilities to target the geography, title, industry, years of experience and many other attributes so you can build a prospecting list that will then allow you to send an InMail directly to your prospect without a gate keeper. Figure out a way to add value and then reach out and make the connection. This process is far more efficient than cold calling or manually trying to figure out who knows who.
Finally, while LinkedIn is the most efficient platform to make connections, it is not ideal to sell. That said, it is still better than most all other marketing channels so consider placing an ad or sponsor a piece of content that will get you noticed. You can target this to just a particular group of prospects and even exclude the ones that you know won’t buy or that are already your customers. While not for every bank, LinkedIn Sales Navigator tool can also help leverage your company’s connections, better integrate with your customer relationship management system and help you gain valuable insights.
Public Databases – While many bankers know how to use private databases like Hoover’s and Dun & Bradstreet, public records can be a fantastic source of information. Search a property from county records and find out who the owners are. Take this information and search state records to see the details of company formation or articles of incorporation. Usually you can get address and contact information as well depending on state. Lenders can also run a UCC check and find out which lenders have a lien (and in what rate environment is was put on) and financing on a particular building. Combine this information together and you have a pretty potent level of detail to go create value for your new potential customer. By the same token, by monitoring building permits, you can not only see new construction in the area for potential permanent financing leads, but also better understand the future credit risk of existing competing properties in your portfolio.
Existing Credit Information – This seems like a “no brainer” but very few banks have a formal process in place to leverage all the information contained in existing credit memos. Most likely your current customers have a list of other companies and real estate projects that they are involved in that may be at other banks. This is an ideal pipeline list since you already know the borrower’s credit, already have a relationship and now know the maturity of other debt coming due that you might want to get involved with. In addition, during the due diligence process, you most likely will uncover non-profits the borrower is involved with that you might get a reference to, competing building information that you might want to finance and related company information. Taking this a step further banks that are digitizing each credit package can create a searchable database that will make it easy to pull up all this information and more on an ongoing basis that can help with both prospecting and credit analysis.
Learning More about Lending Prospecting
For those interested in learning more, we have 8 spots left in our unique “Wow Lending” workshop coming up on May 18th, in San Francisco. At this workshop, we will not only be training lenders on these and many more prospecting techniques, but we will be working with the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Team to learn how to create a special lending experience that will set our banks apart. You won’t find this specialized training anywhere else so leverage our extra spots and come join us. If your bank is serious about your service value proposition, it is time to learn some new ideas and take your bank’s culture to the next level. Find out more HERE.
Submitted by Chris Nichols on March 29, 2016