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“Business partners can help you look at a relationship and strategize where to take the relationship. A credit partner, for instance, can help you strategize from a credit angle,” explains Buck Bierly, President of MZ BIERLY Consulting, Inc. (Malvern, PA). “Business partners can also be people that when you get an opportunity, you run it by them and say, ‘How can we best do this?’”

Most Branch Managers are not experts in everything. You do, however, need confidence talking about your products. While you should be conversationally competent in all the products you represent, management usually doesn’t expect you to be the hands-on person for everything. For example, Branch Managers are usually not expected to write proposals, install products and service products that belong to treasury management.

“You should understand enough about how the treasury products work that if somebody mentions, ‘I’d like to speed up my receivables. It’s really driving me crazy here,’ to dig a little bit into that. Find out where the receivables process is breaking down. Then come back to a treasury partner and say, ‘Hey look, this is what my client said to me. Do you have some ideas that might be helpful?’”  

Use Client Profiles

When working with clients, MZ BIERLY uses client profiles. “Before you can actually talk to a business partner, we ask you to fill out a client profile that talks about the business, the industry sector, and where the business is going,” Bierly says. “You then show the profile to your business partner as you’re discussing the client’s needs.”

EXAMPLE:  You’re working with a stand-alone veterinarian. They want to collect their receivables faster. The client profile gives the treasury management office (TMO) a better idea of what these people do and how they do it.  

“So now the TMO can engage you a little bit more by asking, ‘Have you thought about this? Well, maybe we can try that, and so on,’” says Bierly. In other words, the TMO is helping you strategize and plan the relationship. Inviting them to go with you, because you think they can do a better job than you would, is the “team selling” part. 

“After you make the call or joint call, you come back and say, ‘Hey, do you see any additional areas we want to explore further?’. Let’s figure out the next step and then the process begins again,” Bierly says. “From that debriefing, you uncover additional things. You start to take a look at that same business partner or another business partner in order to take the next step with that relationship.”

Real World Examples

The following are some examples of how and when you need to team up with a business partner:

*A business owner wants to buy a building. You may not have the credit skills to really understand some of the ins and outs of owner occupied property purchases and all the required documentation. “You need to engage a credit partner who may be a small business banker or somebody who’s assigned as a credit support person that is actually part of the centralized underwriting team,” Bierly says. “These partners can help you look at the relationship and strategize from a credit angle.”  

*With very wealthy business owners. You’ve got a private banking group and you’ve got an owner who would qualify as a private banking candidate.

*The business gets a little larger. It starts to use what we’ll call low level treasury management services.

The Right Knowledge and Support

“The future of the financial services industry is selling as a team. The day of sole executors is coming to an end in the best financial institutions,” Bierly says. “Selling is a team effort, because nobody has enough product experience to understand every single product and how it relates to the client’s life. Engaging your business partners before, during and after meetings with clients becomes the ideal way to acquire the knowledge and support you need.”

This article by Lana Chandler originally appeared in the Branch Manager’s Letter (http://www.branchmanagersletter.com/).