A Cautionary Tale: CEOs Want Substance not Sports Talk


Andy is the CEO of a fast-growing service business in the Southeast. A serial entrepreneur, he is active in the business community, teaches in a major university’s business school program, and has published a book on building successful businesses.

I asked him about his current banking relationship. He paused before answering and said that his current bank, which had been recommended to him by his private equity investor, had done OK when it came to credit.

But he went on to say that the last meeting that he had had with bank representatives had left him, well, underwhelmed. His bankers had spent almost the entire 90 minute meeting bantering about the local sports scene. In Andy’s opinion, it was “pathetic.”

I was puzzled and thought perhaps he was being called on by junior bankers or others who were not familiar with the relationship with his $20 million in sales company. No, he told me. The group included the head of the commercial banking team for this regional bank, a senior credit officer, and his bank relationship manager. Andy said that he would never meet with this group again and would direct them to his CFO for all future conversations.

What would Andy have wanted to hear from his bankers? His list was not surprising:
* Perhaps an idea about what’s going on in his industry based on research they had done;
* An introduction to one of the bank’s many commercial clients who would fit his niche in business services; * Questions about his growth strategy, which includes a number of acquisitions over the next five years.

Sadly, he got none of these.

So what’s the moral for bankers calling on CEOs? Do your homework. Bring something of value. Ask intelligent questions. Remember that sports is usually not something that will hold a C-level executive’s attention for very long.

Looking for more insights and sales tips into effective business development calls? Check out Would your prospects pay for your next sales call?

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