Almost 60 percent of banks’ profits come from origination, sales, distribution and other customer-facing activities. This generates a 22 percent return on equity (ROE), in comparison to the six percent ROE gained from the provision of balance sheet and fulfillment.
It is unsurprising, therefore, that the financial technology (fintech) startups looking to tap into and disrupt the traditional banking business model are focused on these most lucrative parts of the value chain.
To compete in this battle for the customer, you need to learn how to target your sales efforts more effectively.
Individuals, not institutions
The key issue as a banker is striking up new relationships. In terms of institutions, there are very few new client relationships to make, so you need to take the individualist view.
Even if you’ve been working with an existing client for decades, there is always room to find new clients within the institution and regenerate the relationship. There are new influencers to engage with, new relationships to build and new buying points to cover.
But you need to be strategic about it. Don’t only think about the current decision-makers; keep your eye out for the rising stars and up-and-comers. They’re the influencers of the future who will prove valuable sources of business down the line.
It’s who you know
Never underestimate the power of a good introduction.
When you’re looking for that next lead, ask those clients with whom you have the best relationships a simple, yet often unasked, question: ‘Who should I talk to?’
If you’ve built up a certain level of trust with a client, don’t be afraid of being direct or appearing self-interested; most clients appreciate requests for help. Get a senior client advocate on your side and have them make the introduction.
You should also ask your colleagues. Perhaps your debt capital markets team is talking to a treasurer you don’t know, or your leveraged finance team has a promising lead in the pipeline.
The path from relationship to transaction can be tough. Focus too much on the relationship building and it can blind your objectivity; but focus too much on the transaction and you’ll appear mercenary and stifle future business with that client.
Bonhomie can get you so far, but it shouldn’t prevent you from walking away from bad deals. It’s also not a substitute for professional respect and trust.
Clients see you as a professional and a trusted advisor when you show a genuine concern for the success of their business. So be generous, relevant and take the time to understand each client’s particular problems.
Ask the right questions and you’ll deliver the right answers. That’s how you build up trust. And the strongest, most valuable business relationships are those that are most trusted.