In my previous post I explained that clients have expectations of you as a banker, even before they meet you for the first time. When they do meet you, how you appear to them is of critical importance to the relationship. If you don’t look and sound the part, you will not be credible, competent or professional in the client’s eyes.
So, let’s assume that you may need to improve your image (after all, no-one is perfect!). These points will help you determine what you need to do;
- Decide how you want to be perceived. Think about how your clients view you now – would you want to do business with you? Perhaps get a friend or colleague to video you in a role play interview or presentation situation so that you get an idea of what you look like when you are engaging with someone. Alternatively, you could ask your manager to sit in on some of your client conversations and provide you with feedback.
- Dress for success. Clients have a perception of what a banker should look like. No doubt you will have heard the phrase, “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression”. While there is probably no need to become too formal, a certain businesslike formality is appropriate and will help you match their expectations. How do you feel when you are dressed well? In control, confident? That’s how you will feel every day if you dress the part.
- Be confident. There is no substitute for self-confidence but where does it come from? Being an expert in what you do, fully knowledgeable about your products and being skilled in interviewing and making presentations creates confidence. Look for ways in which you can increase your confidence. Offer to speak at business functions, clubs, join Toastmasters – anything to build on that foundation of confidence.
- Be consistent. Clients do want you to be consistent when they interact with you. Remember also that word-of-mouth referrals is one of the best methods of getting new business. For this to work in your favour you will have to be consistent in the way that you interact with all your clients because if a happy client refers you to a friend or colleague, you had better give that person the same level of service and attention.
- Be truthful and ethical and always keep your word. If you make a mistake, admit to it – do not fabricate a story to protect yourself. If you say you will do something – do it, but remember to under-promise and over-deliver. But, do keep in mind that clients are continually changing their expectations of you based on the way you generally respond to them. If you over-deliver on one request, that will become the norm and you’ll be expected to achieve that response time every time.
- Always offer help and assistance. When a client or a colleague comes to you, think of what you can do for that person, not how you can avoid getting involved in what might result in more work for you.
- Give praise when it is due. If someone does something for you – such as a client referring some business to you, show your sincere gratitude with a thank you. Humility is a great characteristic to have.
- Be interested in people. Have a genuine desire for knowledge. Ask questions out of interest, not because you have to complete a form. Business people love to talk about their businesses and will share unlimited information with you if you are interested in knowing more about them.