Early this week we highlighted some of the basics when selling treasury management services (HERE). We highlighted the importance of teamwork, getting the specialist in early and we provided banks with a sample timeline in order to set a best practice standard for speed of customized delivery. In this post, we continue our focus on the need to get the treasury management assessment correct. We highlight common pitfalls and provide bankers with a template to ensure all the right questions get asked.
Like last time, helping us on our journey is Mary Morgan, the President of Financial Shop Solutions (FSS). Before FSS, Mary has 17-plus years of experience in the field of competitive research and has an extensive background working with not only the top banks in the United States, but also community banks across the nation. She is many bank’s go-to-person when you want to learn how to increase your competitiveness in treasury management, particularly in the areas of sales, marketing, client experience and employee standards.
Like the first couple minutes of any sports game sets the tone for the rest of the game, the same is true when it comes to the selling of treasury services. Mary points out that the main difference between a top performing bank and an average bank can usually be found in the quality and usage of the needs assessment.
The needs assessment is brought out early in the discovery phase of the potential new client relationship and is used to gather information about the prospective client. Often there are missed opportunities because the treasury management specialist wasn’t present, was rushed or failed to ask the right questions. Upon a first meeting, prospects generally speak with a relationship manager -- usually a business banker with access to a treasury management sales representative who provides product information. At this point, the most effective course of action would be to arrange a conversation with the prospect, the relationship manager and the treasury sales representative, which leads to the creation of the proposal. This arrangement is more conducive to a proper needs assessment, taking into consideration the business’ account receivables and payables processes, sales channels and any plans to enhance the way they do business. This approach also uncovers any cash flow or payment processing challenges that the client might have to include the need for particular products, inefficiencies in the process or points of risk. It is only through a deep understanding of the prospect’s business can the bank best advice as to the mix of products and services that will best suit their needs now and in the future.
When a bank’s treasury sales representative is not involved in the initial meeting, needs assessments are often poor, with conversations generally consisting of asking the prospect what financial products they are currently utilizing. No real effort is made to uncover any flaws in the prospect’s receivables or payables processes, nor are there questions about the business’ growth plan, which would allow the bank to propose the addition of new services and the elimination of others. This “halfway-in” approach inevitably results in more work and less benefit for everyone involved.
Listen Before You Bundle
Another obstacle to overcome is the knee-jerk reaction of banks to offer new prospects a cash management bundle. FSS highlighted that this often happens with or without a needs assessment. It’s true that these bundles are fine in some situations, but for others, they are just not a good fit.
FSS research has found that representatives at a majority of banks are concerned that they might be “scaring” the prospect with actual service costs, so they elect to place the customer in a small business version of a service, rather than placing the prospect in the appropriate service level at the very start. This type of response frequently backfires. When this occurs, prospects are led to feel that their requests aren’t being heard, or worse, that bank representatives do not care enough about their business to present a well-thought-out proposal.
Of course, there is the ultimate sin in treasury management sales and occurs more often than it should in banking. Here, a proper needs assessment is done, but the specialist is too overloaded with work to have the time to put a customized solution together for the client. The business owners are often left scratching their heads as they ponder why the bank took two hours of their time and still can’t understand their business needs? These are often the very banks that have “service” as their core value proposition yet can’t adequately deliver a superior customer experience for their most important and most profitable product. That’s not only money walking out the door in the future as you disappoint the client, but results in a massive waste of resources.
Through a proper needs assessment and the delivery of a customized treasury management proposal that address the expected needs, the banker can then determine which treasury management package might fit best and what ala carte services are appropriate.
Putting This Into Practice
As is often said in treasury management sales, a successful cash management relationship comes down to teamwork and homework. Research shows that pricing is rarely the only factor that gets considered when moving a relationship from another bank so it pays to conduct a proper needs assessment and then present the right package of services to best solve the prospects challenges.
To help in this process, we have put together a sample treasury management needs assessment to stimulate your thinking and to make sure you are asking all the right questions.
To download this sample go HERE.
The approach taken by your banking team during their initial meetings with potential customers is crucial. They must make sure that prospects’ needs are being heard and understood, that prospects are being given the best possible education about your offerings, and that options are being provided in a timely manner. These steps taken by your team will ensure your bank is given a fair shake when potential clients are making the final decision about entrusting their business to you.
Submitted by Chris Nichols on May 26, 2016