Prospects are a banking asset!

Take a look at your financial institution. I would bet you have a lot of people working with you that are tasked with generating new loan and deposit sales. You have commercial bankers, mortgage bankers, branch managers and wealth managers hitting the streets to find prospects that will eventually turn into your new customers. Did you ever consider the amount of time and effort spent in finding and working the prospects before they are converted to customers? Your sales force is spending hours, days and weeks meeting with prospects, going to meetings and other social functions to help build new relationships. Face it, if the sales person had a quarter for each business card they have collected, they would be sitting on a beach in the Caribbean right now instead of working for you.

The issue to consider is we are spending considerable time and money building prospect lists and potential business relationships. Does your institution consider prospects a true asset of the bank? Prospects are an asset of the bank just like purchased computers, chairs and ATM machines. The salary dollars spent generating this asset are very expensive. Sales people have some of the highest salaries in the bank. If prospect data was a bank laptop, would you just let it walk out the door with your salesman when he changes jobs? I would hope not, but that is exactly what is happening in most institutions today.

As a bank or credit union, I am sure you run your organization on a core banking system. Most systems are great at tracking customers but absolutely terrible at tracking prospects. In fact, the majority of core banking systems today do not have adequate capabilities to track both customers AND prospects effectively. To start treating prospect data as an asset to the bank, here are three things you need to do consider:

1) You need to take a systematic approach to treating prospect data as an asset of the bank. What this means to you is you need a system to be able to track prospects across the bank. A centralized database where all sales people can enter the prospect data, maintain the information and share the information across the organization.

2) You need an easy way to allow your sales force to use the system. Most sales people regard CRM or other systems as a hindrance to making sales. They see this as busy work or sales administration which is time wasted. In many cases they are right. Some systems are so hard to use that you can spend too much time entering information into the system only to get minimal value out of it. However, a centralized prospect management system is extremely valuable when combined with management pipeline reporting. Now not only can we maintain our prospect assets but also allow managers to review prospecting activities and help predict future sales closures with confidence.

3) You need to make sure the sales force a) understands why it is important to enter the information and b) realize they will not get paid unless it is in the system. Sorry, but the bottom line is it has to be a job requirement. Saying you forgot to enter your prospect information is not acceptable. Entering prospects, call notes, meeting notes and sales pipeline information show that your sales person is participating in the activities that lead to sales closures.

Prospects are the lifeblood of your institution’s future success. Take actions to secure and maintain your prospects and treat them as the valuable asset that they truly are.