Generating Growth – Board Games

Bank Sales Culture

Do you take Binion or Floyd this round? That was the question that was asked at one $400mm community bank’s annual board draft. This bank produces a net growth rate for loans AND deposits of 20% per year and stands out as an institution that has strong credit, marketing, and a strong sales culture. In this article, we take a look at one tactic that makes them stand out.


While the bank has a strong marketing presence (great use of testimonial videos for example), smart customer segmentation strategy (medical banking) and a disciplined credit culture, it also has a sales-focused culture. Never forgetting that a bank is a selling organization, this bank knows that it starts with the Board. As proof of this, every year, this bank’s board has enough confidence to subject themselves to a little friendly competition - a competition that not only sets the selling tone but drives business.


The Board Cup


At the start of the year, the board chooses two captains that then draft teams. The objective is to see who can produce the most customer relationship growth over the course of the year. The winners receive not only bragging rights, but get a free dinner, anywhere of their choosing paid for, not by the bank, but out of the loser’s own pocket. All a board member has to do is to refer a customer to one of the Bank’s business development officers. Each team gets 1 point for every $1mm of loans or deposits that are closed. Does it work?


Board members are a competitive group anyway, but this bank’s board seem to have an extra competitive streak as listening to them talk you would think the U.S. Open was on the line. The last five minutes of each board meeting is reserved to update everyone on the results which not only keeps board meetings moving but keeps everyone engaged until the end.


Governance But Then Sales


We are big believers that a board’s primary responsibility is governance and worry that this tactic may not be worth the time as this bank gets larger, but we give this idea credit as it serves to meet the Chairman’s objectives. This board competition was designed to instill a franchise-building culture. In this case, the board leads from the front, as they produce between $6mm and $10mm, or about 10%, of relationship growth per year. This production isn’t bad considering that it is a part-time endeavor with the only compensation being a glass of wine and a well-aged sirloin.


The other thing this competition does is to get the board involved with the bank as each board member can better understand what it takes to bring in a relationship from initial sales pitch to follow up survey on account opening satisfaction. By helping sell the products, the board gets to learn more about what the bank can, and cannot offer.  


We were skeptical about how effective a board could but then we learned that more than 70% of the leads end up closing. That is 3x the closing percentage of the average community bank, so this board is not wasting anyone’s time.


While this tactic isn’t for every bank, it might work for a variety of banks that look to get their board more engaged. If want to find a way to kick start your sales culture and bring in new customers, consider putting a bank board competition together and keep a monthly scorecard.