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Here is some practical advice on sales from veteran bankers (and a few former bankers—yes, Virginia, there is life after banking) as a special holiday gift. Here’s to a great year for all in 2015!

1. Be persistent.  Position yourself to be #2 at a minimum.  You will eventually be needed.

Bill Kepler Fulton Bank

2. ALWAYS return calls or emails the same day. Take ownership and “NO” is never the right answer . Plan for ALL meetings. Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up.

Gerald Deetz Arizona Business Bank

3. Be prepared for every meeting as though it is your only chance to win business, then listen closely to what the most important issues are, react quickly and appropriately

Kelly Condon Colorado Business Bank

4. Listen, listen, listen.

Frank Walter Heartland Financial  

5. The warmth of human contact is getting lost in modern technology. Email is no substitute for a phone call. Your clients actually want to hear your voice–even if it’s a quick voice mail to follow up on an email.

Susan Eick Right Management

6. Do not waste the prospect’s time. Sell yourself, then uncover a problem, then provide a solution….in that order.

Chuck Cross Seacoast National Bank

7. The only way sales happen is if you batch your efforts and have a strategy.  I was told when I got started by my first boss to shut my door for 3-hours a week and do nothing except set up prospect / referral source / COI calls and research who I should be calling on.  This strategy still works today.

Jeff Hultman Illinois Bank & Trust

8. Focus, focus, focus.  Not necessarily in that order.

Conrad Freeman  Vectra Bank Colorado

9. Planned regular sales calling yields consistent results. Keep the top of the sales funnel full. Scrub your COI list! Work your lists!

Scott Page CoBiz Bank

10. Be a good listener and don’t oversell.

Roberta Bastow First Niagara

11. If you have not convinced a new contact of your value proposition within ten minutes, it is very hard to reverse that first impression.

Rob Nichols First Niagara

12. You cannot be a good listener if you are not a good questioner.

Doug Miller State Street (retired banker, current brother) 

13. The best advice I ever received in regard to selling is “not to take rejection personally”. Much easier said than done, but something in keep in mind with each prospect call I make.

Gordon Oosting  Mercantile Bank & Trust

14. Connect emotionally and develop a bond. People want to do business with friends they trust.

Scott Sehnert Rocky Mountain Bank

15. It’s about being prepared, establishing an emotional connection, building confidence and ultimately understanding the needs of a customer.

Steve Fisher Northwest Savings Bank

16. Selling is about establishing long term relationships with customers, prospects, and COI’s. The winning mindset is of providing value through industry insight, understanding economic drivers for the sector, and executing on your delivery of financial instruments.

Mike Olague Bank of the Sierra

See some patterns? Stay tuned for Part 2 with more advice on building relationships with business customers in 2015. Happy holidays to all!

P.S. Have some advice for bank Relationship Managers? Add it in the space below.