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.
The appeal of technology solutions
When the sale of the Monticello Bank of America branch was announced, there was a modern-day run on the bank, with people standing in line for hours to withdraw their funds, equating to half of the bank’s deposits. For many of these Bank of America customers, they did not have confidence in the technology capabilities of the National Bank of Delaware County. Repeated computer glitches during the transition would prove their fears to be justified.
Perhaps one of the reasons these small-town customers had originally chosen Bank of America as their financial institution was the bank’s adoption of numerous high-tech services like a robust and user-friendly online banking platform and smartphone app, as well as countless ATMs, that allow for remote deposits and transfers. Thanks to this type of technology, many of these customers did not really need the services provided by a local branch.
Making up for the tech gap
The banking industry's shift towards technology tools, discussed in this Wall Street Journal article, underscores an important point that applies to other industries as well. In order to compete with the appeal of companies with such high-tech features, those in relationship management and sales roles have to find another differentiator—a unique angle that will help them retain existing clients and appeal to new ones.
Whether you are a business banker for a community bank, an independent financial planner, or a sole-proprietor accountant, the key to making personal connections with your customers is to be advice-driven.
Honing your sage advice
How do you become more advisory to your clients? Offering things like cash flow and exit strategy advice is a good first step. But to take it further, you’ll want to learn about the business owner’s suppliers, buyers, and competitors. Knowing this, you can figure out where you can bridge the gap between their issues and the financial solutions you can provide.
And Vertical IQ makes it simpler to find that nexus between challenge and solution. Go to the Industry Profile on your client’s niche, and review the “Quickview” and “How Firms Operate” chapter to understand the ins and outs of their business. Look over the “Industry Trends” and “Risks to Watch Out For” chapters to get an in-depth understanding of the forces that are at play within their industry.
Using this knowledge, as well as the “Call Prep Questions” chapter, you can have a highly customized discussion with your client about their company’s issues and opportunities, and how this impacts their personal financial situation. With your finger on the pulse of their industry, you can offer them tailored guidance based on a holistic look at their entire financial picture.
Winning with advice-driven client interactions
There’s no denying: Some business clients will be drawn to the high-tech “goodies” offered by big banks, financial advisories, or accounting firms. But the truth is: If you are a community banker, independent financial planner, or sole-proprietor accountant, those people may not be your ideal client anyway.
Using Vertical IQ to develop your knack for industry expertise, you will attract clients who find value in relationships—people who want to know the professionals who are assisting and advising them. And you will be able to offer those clients truly customized guidance about how to protect their business from cyclical ebbs or market changes, aiding them in creating a bright future for both their personal and business finances.