Make Sure Your Financial Institution Supports Your Community

Keep your money in your community! How do you know if your deposits are truly funding loans in your community? A couple simple questions:

  1. Where is your financial institution headquartered? Goggle the bank’s name and headquarters for a quick answer.
  2. Where does the president live? In the community or in another state? Call and check it out. It’s that simple.

When you support your local financial institution you are supporting your community. Make sure your financial institution is truly part of your community and not just a branch extension from another state.

What do the Summer Solstice Full Moon and 1967 Have in Common?

It’s been nearly 50 years since we’ve experienced a Summer Solstice Full Moon!

And since 1967, the banking industry has seen cycles like we’ve never seen before and changes that continue to challenge us! That is why having meaningful conversations with our customers today – whether in the lobby, on the phone, via email and regular mail – are crucial. 

Today I am writing to let you know of a training program I can customize for your Bank.

“The Advanced Customer Conversation” Program has become my most popular program because it truly gets your staff feeling more confident about communicating with your customers and discussing their financial needs. You can design this Program to fit your Bank’s needs. Here are some of your options:

  • Advanced Customer Conversation Program – Regular training sessions determined by you
  • Refreshed Customer Service Standards – Discover your moments of truth
  • Onboarding Program – Formalize all future communication to fulfil customer and Bank needs
  • Employee Sales Guide – Includes Bank information, product and services with features and benefits, customer conversations clues, etc.
  • Progress reports and coaching calls — Maintain growth
  • Branch Manager Training and Coaching – Clarify expectations and hold staff accountable
  • Testing for Advancement – Customize written and oral testing

A critical part of your Customer Conversation is to determine customer needs and fulfill those needs with your products and services whenever possible. However, your employees need to have the knowledge and confidence to keep your Customer Conversation at the forefront of every customer interaction. The Advanced Customer Conversation Training Program will focus on this goal with the final intent of improved customer service, loyal customers and increased share of wallet for you.

As you know, training is a continuous process that requires planning, commitment and accountability. With a planned commitment to advanced training, you are well on your way to holding people accountable for their customer conversations. It will then be up to your management team to maintain accountability over the long term, which is why I offer training and coaching for your branch managers and their assistants as well.

All training includes a great deal of interaction and role-playing.

The Summer Solstice is a great time to plan your training for the fall and new year!

Let’s make the next 50 years the best in Community Banking. Feel free to call or email me for more discussion. 

Your Community Bank Advocate,

PS Enjoy your Summer Solstice Full Moon!

PPS Another interesting fact: This year’s summer solstice on Monday brings a special event, as it coincides with the full strawberry moon for the first time in nearly 70 years. The summer solstice is the day with the most amount of sunshine as the sun will reach the highest point throughout the course of the year. Despite its name, the strawberry moon will glow more of a warm amber color than pink or red.

Sales Training — The 5 Step Process Wins!

Most of us who have been in sales for a while, love to talk about it! And if it’s our passion, we want to tell the world about it! What I find interesting, is that we all have a little different perception of what the sales process is today.

You can go to any business section in the library, bookstore or Amazon and there are hundreds of new books on Sales…and there are equally as many old books on Sales…that are tried and true methods and procedures – many dating back before any of us were even born.

I have been in marketing and communications my entire career – which now seems like my entire life! I have worked with sales people in every aspect of my career! But it wasn’t until 11 years ago when I started my own business that I truly understood what selling was all about!

I now understand procrastination – sometimes I just don’t want to make another phone call and ask for a meeting or business. I understand the process but still want to take shortcuts. I understand how important it is to build rapport. I understand rejection. But, I also know that feeling when you hit a home run!

So I follow my 5 steps to a Sales Process
1. Knowledge

2. Approach

3. Preparation

4. Presentation

5. Closing – Commit to ABC

There is a lot to selling – but with confidence – or knowing how to fake it until we believe it – and a process – it’s all very doable!

It’s Time to Truly Commit to a Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Community Bankers!

Last year I spent many hours facilitating Sales and Business Development meetings, coaching Branch Managers and Commercial Lenders, and training bank employees how to have a more positive, productive, trustworthy conversation with their customers — and in the end, it’s about happiness! People want to work with people who have a positive attitude. Happiness attracts happiness. Positive attracts positive…and so on. I just read this article from Jeffrey Gitomer, author of the Little Red Book of Selling. It totally speaks to everything I believe in. I hope you enjoy…

On Choosing Happiness.
What’s Your Choice?

Happy New Year! Or…is it?
People wish it to you, to me – all the time.
So how happy are you right now? Really?

What’s your plan to be happy this year? Or are you just going back to the “goal” and “resolution” process that really hasn’t worked that well for you over the past decade. Or is it two decades?

CAUTION: This is not one of those silly “have your best year ever” or “set your goals for the new year” messages. This is a challenge and an insight. It started for me when I realized how debilitating and UN-happy the word “after” is.

After is a self-defeating word. It robs you of the present and resigns you to wait, without taking any action.

You convince yourself that life will be better after something: After you get a new job, after you get a better job, after you get more money, after you get out of debt, after the economy rebounds, after your stocks go back up, after you get that big order.

You convince yourself that life will be better after an event: After you get married, after you have a baby, after you get a new house, after you take a vacation, after you come back from vacation, after summer is over, or some other action-procrastinating “after.”

Are you frustrated your kids aren’t old enough, and believe you’ll be more content after they’re in high school or out of high school? Are you frustrated that you have teenagers to deal with? You will certainly be happy after they’re out of that stage. You’ll be even happier after they’re in college, or is it out of college?

You tell yourself your life will be more complete when your spouse gets his or her act together, when you get a nicer car, a new house, a raise in pay, a new boss, or worse, after you retire. Really?

The truth is, the fact is, the reality is, there’s no better time to be happy than right now. If not now, when? After the economy gets better? You may not be able to wait that long.

Your life will always be filled with challenges, barriers, and disappointments. It’s best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway.

There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. There is no after to happiness. Happiness is now.

HERE’S THE ANSWER: It’s inside your head FIRST and everyplace else second. Happiness is a treasure. Your (missed) opportunity is to treasure every moment that you have.

Stop waiting – until you finish school, until you go back to school, until you lose ten pounds, until you gain ten pounds, until you have kids, until after you quit smoking, until your kids leave the house, until you start work, until you retire, until you get married, until you get divorced, until Friday night, until Sunday morning, until you get your new car or home, until your car or home is paid off, until spring, until summer, until fall, until winter, until the first or the fifteenth, until your song comes on, until you’ve had a drink, until you’ve sobered up, until you win the lottery, or until the cows come home – to decide that there is no better time than right now to be happy. Happy New Year!

Treasure the happiness of now because you share it with someone special enough to invest your time in and love your life as it is.

Happiness is: Not a sale or a commission. Not an economy or a budget. Not a yes or a no. Not a game-winning hit, or a last second touchdown.

Happiness is a way of life that is inside you at all times. It helps you get over the tough times and it helps you celebrate the special times. Seems pretty simple to define on paper but real difficult to manifest when the chips are down.

My experience has taught me the difference between resign and resolve. You can resign yourself to what is, and hope or wait for a better day. Or, you can resolve that you are a positive person who finds the good, the positive, the happiness, the smile, and especially the opportunity in everything.

Happiness is now, not a goal or a destination.
Happiness is not an after. It’s a before.
And it’s up to you. All you have to do is decide.

Happy New Year!

It’s All About Generation C!

Greater Lansing Business Monthly

Bonnie Knutson, PhD
The School of Hospitality Business
Broad College of Business
Michigan State University

            There are ten of us in our immediate family – me, my husband, our two daughters, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren, who range from age 9 to 20. When we all get together at the “up north cottage,” it seems as if we fill every electrical outlet in site. PCs, Macs, iPads, e-readers, mobile phones. Multiply by ten people and you get the potential for 50 chargers that might need plugging in at any one time. That’s because we are all members of Generation C.
            We are no longer Matures, Boomers, Gen Xers, or Gen Yers. Those monikers defined us by the year in which we were born. We had no option in to which cohort we were place. We were described by our age. But no longer. Now, thanks to a myriad of converging forces, we can all become members of the same generation – one that is defined by choice. We can choose to be members of Generation C. And we have done so.
            The Gen C nickname had its genesis around 2004 when trend watchers began noticing a new type of consumer emerging – one that crossed age boundaries and defied traditional segmentation strategies. These individuals were not necessarily similar in age, but were in their attitudes, values, interests, and certain personality traits. And they all were digitally connected. In other words, they formed a psychographic or psychological cohort that required a totally different approach to thinking about consumers – one that could include every one of every age and could, in essence, stretch to every corner of the market.
            To begin thinking about how your business can embrace the opportunities emerging from the Gen C trend, you need to understand what is driving it:
ü Longevity. Simply put, there are more people living longer. By 2030, when all surviving Baby Boomers will be over 65, there will be 72 million seniors, about 20 percent of the population.  As this is being written, the U.S. population clock reads 311,332,287, while the world population is nearing the seven billion mark.
ü Mobility. There are dozens of statistics about how many people move every year, ranging from 10 to 25 percent. No matter what the actual number, however, even a small percentage represents a large group of people who leave friends and family behind to live in unfamiliar surroundings.
ü Resurgence of Family and Friends.The iconic Normal Rockwell images of families and friends have always been part of the American lexicon. But it seems that, since the tragic images of 9/11 were seared into our hearts and minds, there has been a renaissance in our need to stay in touch with those who are important in our lives.
ü Celebrity. Andy Warhol quipped, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” If you ever doubt the truth of his statement, just look at the proliferation of TV reality shows and video clips on You Tube. I recently read somewhere that everybody has creative inclinations, but until now, we haven’t had the guts or the means to go all out.
ü Technology.  Hardware and software companies have given us the technological and content-creating tools to leash this pent-up creativity with cheaper, yet ever more powerful technologies. We now have the ability to create, produce, and participate via social media and, now, cloud computing.
So what does all this mean for you and your business?  First, if means that you have to rethink how you segment your markets. Gone will be the days when you could just categorize by age, gender or income. Your 60-year old Boomer customer belongs to Gen C because she is heavily into Facebook and YouTube. Your Millenial customer is a member of the same generation because he constantly Tweets and is a mayor on FourSquare. Both of them Skype, blog, look for their Groupon offer on their mobile phone, search and buy online, and use word-of-finger (WOF)  instead of word-of-mouth as their way of telling family and friends about your brand. Remember when you thought that a happy customer would tell six to ten others while a disgruntled one would tell twice that many? In the Gen C world, that reach grows exponentially and it goes worldwide. Gen C also believes that connectivity is a basic human right; they want to be securely connected anywhere and anytime and at no extra cost to them. So having complimentary WiFi service available in any store, office, or factory is considered a necessary, not a luxury.
      Some managers, owners, and leaders get it. Scott Westerman and John Hill of MSU’s Alumni Association are two who really do. They understand that Gen C is a growing market that passionately WOF about things they care for – causes, brands, things, people. They understand that Gen C is not just recent graduates, but the potential for the ever growing Spartan Nation of alumni and friends, no matter what their age or location. They understand that their organization is about building relationships. As is yours. As is every business’s.
      I just finished reading a great book – in hard copy  – which should convince anyone that Gen C is not just another cohort but the phalanx of a growing and vital market: The Thank You Economy, by Gary Vaynerchuk. The author does an amazing job of explaining how any organization can listen to and connect with the people and customers of Gen C – including obliterating the ten top objections and excuses for why smart people don’t embrace this trend.   I urge you to run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore to buy the hardcover, or as any Gen C might do, order the e-version through one of your mobile devices.
We are just starting to understand Gen C – to understand that it is a market cohort to which people choose to belong so they can conveniently and comfortably control when and how they connect to and communicate with, in the cloud, like-minded communities throughout the world. They continually create customized content about compelling experiences that captures the curiosity of family and friends. And they can bring ca$h to your coffers! (Whew! Do you know how long it took me to weave all those “C” words into these three sentences? J)
In the movie, Dead Poet’s Society¸ Mr. Keating (played by Robin Williams) has his students stand on the desk to see things differently. This is what every business needs to do. Gen C holds tremendous potential for each and every one of us if we, like Mr. Keating’s students, look at things differently. As the American social writer and philosopher, Eric Hoffer, said, “In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.”   You are the learner for your organization; through you, it can inherit the future.
Your bottom line will thank you!

Communities will Pay…

Community banks were not a part of the original discussion on the Durbin interchange amendment. Further, in preparing its draft rule the Fed only surveyed about 130 of the largest banks in the country. Not a single community banker was asked to provide any input on a set of price controls that would unquestionably harm every institution that offers debit cards.

Consumers and their community banks will certainly feel the impact of this amendment. I am still in shock that this went through…

Do You Know Where Your Bank is Headquartered?

Most of you who know me…know I have a passion for community banking. It’s my livelihood…I live and breathe it…I believe in it.

We have all heard the stories of how community banks have built our communities…our community banks are the “gems” in our communities that have given us the opportunities to buy our homes, build our businesses and save for our kids’ educations.

Equally as important…the money that we deposit and save in our community banks stays in our communities. It’s as simple as we put money into our community bank. Our community bank puts money into our community.

When we deposit and save our money in a bank that is headquartered outside of Michigan, most of that money leaves Michigan to support that bank’s state.

Many of us are seeing the ad campaign that Comerica Bank has in all the Michigan newspapers and trade journals across the state. The ad says that Comerica has been here in our state since 1849. But, the ad doesn’t say that they left Detroit in 2007 moving their headquarters to Dallas. I appreciate that they are supplying jobs in Michigan. We need those jobs. But, they are not keeping their insured deposits in Michigan any longer.

In fact, Michigan has over $163 billion in insured deposits. Yet, over $110 billion of those deposits, (nearly two-thirds!) leave Michigan every night to support Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and North Carolina.

At a time when we are concerned with the financial stability of our state…it is time to truly consider where our banks are headquartered so we can keep our money in our Michigan communities.

Community Bank Advocate

As a community bank advocate…I am confused (upset) by the campaign Comerica Bank is running in all of our Michigan papers and trade journals that they are committed to Michigan. Why did they relocate to Dallas and leave Detroit in 2007 if they are committed to Michigan?

What is the Definition of a Community Bank?

We used to consider any bank under $1 billion in assets a “community bank.” But I think the true definition of a “community bank” today is any bank “headquartered” in our local communities. These are the banks that are truly supporting our communities. These are the banks that have been here for us giving back to our communities. These are the banks that employ our neighbors, friends and families. These are the banks that provide the loans for our small businesses, entrepreneurs and new home owners. These are the banks that call us by name when we walk into a lobby and are glad we are there! These are the banks that offer all the electronic products and services that we want today, yet offer the good old-fashioned service that says “your financial success is important to me.” How do you define a community bank? I say it’s the people in our community who live, work, pray and play in our community and the proof is in the address!