Building a Strong Pipeline in 2024

Building a Strong Pipeline in 2024 | Blog

Sales is the lifeblood of any business, banking included. You need to attract new customers and grow the amount of business with current customers to just to break even, let alone grow. New business – from new customers or existing customers is necessary to keep up with compliance and other expenses that tend to grow over time due to inflation and other factors.

Some relationship managers (RMs) and bankers are “natural salespeople,” with the business acumen and interpersonal skills to connect on a deeper level with customers. They possess a sense of optimism and resiliency that equips them to attract new customers and grow business with current ones, while also successfully handling rejection. They are often self-motivated and competitive in nature. However, even relationship managers who possess the right skills and expertise can no longer rely on these traits alone in today’s fast-moving financial service industry.

Investopedia defines relationship banking as “a strategy used by banks to offer a variety of different products, strengthen customer loyalty, and generate additional revenue.”

While the basics of relationship banking remain the same, the world of selling and nurturing relationships has evolved dramatically over the last decade.

Today’s RMs are challenged with navigating a more digital selling environment, as the pandemic has shown that work can be accomplished virtually anywhere with an internet connection. Prospects and customers are also more informed than ever and can research various financial products and services just by using their smartphone.

A new era of relationship banking is emerging. In order to thrive in this new landscape, banks must equip their RMs with the right tools to compete and build a strong sales pipeline in the years ahead. This blog post will outline practical ways banks can empower today’s generation of RMs to grow their pipeline and build lasting customer relationships.

Equip RMs with Better Sales Enablement Tools

To maximize their pipeline-building potential, today’s RMs need to be equipped with the best sales enablement tools and the best sales enablement tools make the most of data and analytics.

While RMs are tasked with finding new customers and closing new business, they must also continuously engage with existing customers by developing and tailoring new solutions for them, and structuring and pricing those products correctly. To do this well requires timely, accurate data that proactively signals opportunities, as well as potential risks that need to be addressed. This is the first step toward building a truly profitable pipeline.

Data-driven sales enablement tools provide RMs with more granular information about customers, including details about their transactions and financial behavior. These insights give RMs a deeper understanding of their customers’ operations and an opportunity to present a well-tailored portfolio of multiple products and services. Not only can this help RMs grow the share of wallet with the customer, this also supports better customer retention. Certain data points or behaviors may signal a customer is at risk of churning and when RMs can intervene earlier, they can identify the root cause and recover the relationship before it’s too late.

With this approach, RMs can positively impact the bank’s margins while strengthening customer relationships in a meaningful way. According to Boston Consulting Group, arming RMs with actionable data can increase their bank’s bottom line by 10% to 15%.

Power the Potential of Your RMs

A customer relationship management system (CRM) designed for relationship banking is an excellent way to transform prospect and customer data into actionable information for RMs.

However, it’s crucial that the CRM system does not add more work to an RM’s plate. It shouldn’t be difficult to manage or pull data from. The data should be accurate and integrated across a bank’s different lines of business. The more information, and the more detailed that information is about customers and prospects, the better insight an RM has into the products and services that will best meet their financial needs and what triggers will entice them to move forward, rather than just consider an offer.

The most important consideration when adopting sales enablement technology is how it will shift the behavior and ultimately performance of RMs, as well as the culture and performance of the financial institution overall. In other words, a sleek new CRM alone will not grow the sales pipeline automatically.

Instead, RMs must leverage the technology, alongside their own knowledge and skills to build a strong pipeline for the bank. Any new sales enablement tool should empower and augment an RM’s potential, not become another tool to manage.

Today, many banks employ counterintuitive commercial-banking processes that require RMs to spend time on manual, administrative tasks. In fact, Boston Consulting Group estimates that RMs in U.S. commercial banks often spend up to 60% of their time on internal-facing clerical tasks, such pulling information from various sources or keeping up with administrative reminders.

The most effective sales enablement tools give RMs more time to focus on activities that drive revenue and strengthen customer relationships. That’s why the Baker Hill NextGen® CRM integrates data into one simple tool, enabling RMs to nurture relationships with key customers and the most promising prospects. By capturing and managing pertinent customer and prospect information, including contacts, call activity, products and collateral, sales opportunities, treatment strategies and more, RMs can take their sales pipeline to the next level.