Most small and medium-sized business clients don’t expect too much from their bank. Essentially, they’re mainly looking for 4 things;
- Hassle-free banking
- Value for money
- Respect for their business achievements
- Reward for their loyalty to the bank (remember they don’t have to bank with you, there are other banks available)
But, underpinning those requirements is a set of expectations that clients don’t tell you about;
- Prospective clients decide to bank with you, not the Bank although it’s the Bank’s reputation and image that may attract them to talk to you in the first place
- Clients expect to be treated with respect and want to maintain their dignity
- Clients expect to be wowed by your service – it’s up to you whether you live up to that or whether you disappoint them
- Clients expect you to be interested and enthusiastic about their business
- Clients expect you to be consistent in your dealings with them – not moody, disinterested or dismissive
So before you can start thinking about how to engage effectively with your clients, you need to think about the most critical component in the client conversation – you!
When clients are considering buying a bank product – and when the products offered by all the banks appear to be pretty much the same – the decision about which product to buy is not based on logic or the differences between two or more competing products. The decision is made on a much more emotional level, especially when clients are entrusting their hard-earned money to the bank.
Clients are much more likely to buy a banking product from a person that they feel a rapport with and whose personal brand aligns with their expectations.
Which means that, to be successful in your client relationships, you have to build a personal brand that communicates three key characteristics to your clients. In order to become a trusted advisor to clients, from their perspective you must appear to be;
You have to be perceived as trustworthy, reliable and sincere by clients as they expect to share personal and sensitive business information with you. This is where reputation is so important and the value of personal referral from existing satisfied clients can’t be over-estimated.
Clients will decide whether you are competent within a very short space of time. Make sure you know the benefits and features of the products and services that can solve their business problems and that you can talk about them with authority and confidence. An understanding of business and the local economy is also important as you want to appear as someone “in the know”. For instance, can you answer questions such as “where are interest rates going?”, “what’s driving the exchange rate currently?”, “what do you think will happen in the economy over the next 12 months?”. In short, are you an expert in what you do or are you just winging it?
This characteristic has much to do with the way you appear to other people – your personal image. In other words, do you look the part? Do you fit the image that clients have of what a credible, competent banker looks like? Remember that you have about 12 seconds to make an impression on someone that you meet for the first time. If you make the wrong impression in that time, it’s going to take you months or years (if ever) to correct it.
You can download a short image assessment exercise by clicking here.
In next week’s post, how to improve your personal image as a banker.