Clarity Boots-on-Ground Coaching Boosts Branch Small Business Sales

Situation: To increase sales of loans and other products to small businesses, a major regional bank launched a small business sales initiative through its branches. The bank included Clarity’s Talking Business with Small Business®  in the training curriculum.

Project Focus: During the first 90 days following the launch, branch managers did not meet the bank’s expectations for additional small business sales. Noticing that the bank’s district managers were not comfortable with or focused on small business, the bank engaged Clarity to coach the district managers to increase their small business competency and confidence to enable them to coach and support small business selling activities.

Clarity Role: Clarity integrated small business coaching into the bank’s existing daily, weekly, monthly management practices. We then coached district managers in person and by telephone on their small business coaching activities; assisted the district managers to organize and lead appointment-setting sessions with their branch managers; and created skill builders for district managers to integrate in their monthly meetings with the branch managers.

Expanding Existing Retail and Commercial Relationships and Acquiring New Ones

Situation:  This community bank determined that a critical component of its continued growth and profitability is the active, deliberate expansion of customer relationships as well as the acquisition of new customers, both retail and commercial.  The challenge was to preserve and build on its service reputation while embracing and integrating stronger sales activities.

Project Focus:  The approach that the bank and Clarity developed was to focus on strengthening the customer’s experience in all interactions with the bank.  In particular, this meant focusing sales and service conversations on the customer’s overall financial wellbeing and ensuring that accounts and services are part of the customer’s bigger financial picture.  This approach also meant that longer-term planning for anticipated and unexpected life events had to be a key element of the service that bankers provide.

Clarity Role: Specific Clarity solutions used in the partnership included Big Picture Conversations with consumers, Big Picture Conversations with small business owners, and ongoing management support for the customer-centric approach through one-to-one coaching, local sustainment calls to share success stories, peer and team coaching, and accountability for following up with customers.  Results matter and they are shared on a regular basis.

Outcome: Bankers in all positions immediately reported that they were asking more big-picture questions and having broader conversations with customers.  The most significant improvement in results came in referrals to financial advisors and lenders and the new business that has come from those meetings.  In addition, the bank now incorporates the financial wellbeing and Big Picture approach in marketing, campaigns, and internal communications. They continue to focus on the customer’s financial health as a core element of the service they provide.

Driving Up Loan Applications (351%), Application Amount (397%), and New Loans Booked (428%)

Situation: Develop and implement a small business banking strategy for a $14.1 billion U.S. financial services company to increase:

  • The number and dollar amount of small business loan applications initiated,
  • The number of new small business loans booked, and
  • The number of small business deposit accounts generated.

Project Focus: The bank developed a small business banking strategy for branch managers that included a six-step sales process, call expectations and call scripts, community leadership criteria, and a toolbox of resources. To execute the strategy, the bank created a small business banking curriculum for branch managers to broaden their knowledge around small business owners’ challenges and needs as well as the bank’s small business products and services.

Clarity Role: Wanting to incorporate business acumen into its curriculum, the bank chose Clarity Advantage’s Talking Business with Small Business® program. Clarity Advantage and the bank blended Talking Business with Small Business® with the bank’s small business banking curriculum to create a three-day event:

  • Day 1: Talking Business with Small Business®—business acumen training facilitated by Clarity Advantage including a Conversation Guide for bankers to use in their discussions with small business owners.
  • Day 2: Product knowledge training developed by the bank. Participants shared best practices and practiced profiling conversations.
  • Day 3: Call blitz day where bankers utilized their skills in real sales calls.


  Year 1 Year 2
(to Sept. 30)
# of Applications 86 388 351%
Application $ 3.3MM 16.4MM 397%
New loans booked 1.5MM 8.4MM 428%
Deposit Accts 3247 3453 6.3%
Retail P&L .5MM lift


Increasing Small Business Sales in the Branches

Situation: A large community bank, an accumulation of acquired smaller banks, had not emphasized small business sales in the branches. A new senior sales leader, seeing the opportunity to boost loans, deposits, and fees through more assertive cross selling and client attraction, requested small business sales training for his branch managers.

Project Focus and Clarity Role: Clarity assisted the new leader to articulate a new positioning for small business in the branches and a new positioning for the bank’s approach to small businesses. Clarity then designed and assisted the bank to implement a new small business sales process, sales tools, and coaching procedures to support a bank-wide small business sales initiative.

Outcome: Within two weeks of the first training sessions, newly trained branch managers’ identification of opportunities and referrals to internal partners more than doubled.

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