If you’ve never been a small business owner, talking to one could be scary. Low confidence and lack of knowledge about businesses, business owner concerns, and bank products and services all add to the fear factor. The good news is that this is all fixable.
If you’re a small business banker or a branch manager, making business banking sales calls can range from slightly stressful to downright frightening, especially when you’re calling on companies or people you don’t know very well. Here are six tips to build your confidence:
- Pick One – pick one type or very few types of businesses to learn well and sell to. While you may sell to companies or buyers other than the chosen “One,” develop your business based on that “One.” And, once you have mastered the “One” and developed a good business based on that “One,” pick another that is somehow related so that now you have “One plus One” that go together rather than “two alone.”
- Go Deep – become a “Student of the Game” with those businesses. Understand your clients’ and prospects’ challenges and concerns first. Then offer ideas that will help them.
- Develop your Offering – understand your bank’s products and how businesses use those products best to address their challenges. No substitute for this. Like business owners know their stuff, you have to know yours. You have to know (from memory) the products you offer, what they were designed to do for a company, and how companies would typically measure or notice the benefit of using the products. Notice the focus on the “benefit” or value of the products. Your “One” business owners may understand the products well enough to know why they would want them or need them. Don’t assume that.
- Accentuate your Value – translate your experience into potential value those types of businesses prospects will welcome. What does your experience bring to your clients? Think about it as a “features/advantages/benefits” presentation. I have certain features, which help you do certain things, which produce certain benefits for you.
- Own the Conversation (Structure) – manage the conversation process. It’s an accepted truth that business owners love to talk about their businesses. It’s true. They do. And they also don’t like wasting their time.
- Size ‘Em Up – know whether or not the small business owner meets your bank’s credit criteria. You can save yourself, your bank’s underwriters, and your applicant’s time if you are courageous enough to ask three tough questions upfront: Has the business been profitable during the last several years? Has the company or any of its owners filed for bankruptcy at any point? Do any of the company’s owners have any “surprises” or issues on their personal credit reports?
If you had to boil it down to one thing, talk to as many business owners as you can about their challenges, concerns, and opportunities, without regard for whether you can sell them anything. Be interested. Be a student of their businesses. Build your base – your knowledge base, your network, your ideas. When you turn to the business community and open your arms, you will be surprised by the warmth of the welcome.
Visit www.claritynomorefear.com to download our free No more…fear eBook and access other resources to help you build confidence in talking to small business owners.