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.
The seven secrets to relationship managers' success
Our Vertical IQ co-founder and CEO, Bobby Martin, was recently interviewed by Michael Nguyen for the Banker Success Podcast via Facebook Live. The weekly Banker Success Podcast targets community banks and credit unions that are working to attract more deposits, increase loans and assets, and elevate their brand.
In the interview, Bobby shared the seven secrets that relationship managers need to know to become the trusted advisor for small businesses in 2020.
- They understand and are aligned with their clients' needs and objectives. Bobby explains, “Every banker meeting with a SMB owner should ask him or her, ‘Please talk to me about what your objectives are. Big picture, what are you trying to accomplish with your business? What are your business goals? What are your life goals, and how do you go about reaching those goals?’ You listen, you learn, you remember them, you write them down, you circle them, and you always go back to them.” He notes that when your banker is aligned with your own goals or objectives, and you can tell that they care about them, it creates mutual respect.
- They are value-added. You want your clients to respect advice and ideas. Banking is a commodity, and your client’s time is valuable, so you want to be someone who the client is willing to invest their time and money into having around—more than just buying the bank’s products.
- They take their job very seriously. The successful banker has passion for what they do and how they do it. And that's part of the reason they become a value-added advisor—because they care so much. “They're not going through the motions,” says Bobby. They're doing the opposite; they are detailed, efficient, and ready.
- They have industry niches. The best bankers have two, three, or four industries that they're experts in. Choose industries that are relevant to your city, and then use Vertical IQ to do your research on those niches and gain industry-specific insights. Subscribe to the trade journals. Attend the trade association gatherings. Bobby notes, “I see it every day that the best bankers have niches, and then they get market share with those niches.”
- They artfully help business owner-clients consider alternative ideas. When a business owner is getting ready to do something big—buy a building, buy a piece of equipment, hire an employee, get a line of credit, sell their business, transition their business to a family member—their banker should be someone who helps them consider alternative ideas. “If nothing else,” Bobby says, “those alternative ideas turn into important conversations. And those important conversations build trust, and they end up with the banker being invaluable.”
- They have a strategic mindset. The successful banker is able to learn from all of the SMBs they work with, and then apply their knowledge strategically to their other clients’ businesses, offering alternative ideas. Vertical IQ can help in this area too, providing bankers with insights into an industry’s trends, competitors, regulations, and much more.
- Give more than they take. Bobby explains: “Every time you go into a meeting with a small to medium sized business owner, you say how can I give this business owner more than I take today. You will be a way better banker than most of your competitors. Because they tend to take time away from people and not give them anything back or try to sell them something they don't need.”