Building The Bridge Between Bank Marketing and Sales

Strategies to improve the sometimes tenuous marriage between financial marketers and their sales counterparts.

When we sit on our couch to watch the latest movie, we rarely consider the many partnerships it took to bring that production to the big or small screen. Someone took the germ of an idea and put some words on paper. Someone decided those words were worthy enough to hire people to read them. People behind the camera and people in front of it did their best to make the idea come to life. Finally, someone took the finished product and socialized it so the masses would be able to enjoy the concept in its final form.

This is analogous to what marketers and sales teams need to go through on a daily basis to bring their “show” to the marketplace, but it might be closer than you think. Like movies, when financial services professionals work together, award winning customer experiences can happen. Unfortunately, at many bank and credit unions these two important components get stuck in silos. Communication and an understanding of others’ roles are lost in the day to day responsibilities.

In mid-2013 St. Meyer & Hubbard together with Elevation 43 conducted a study to learn a variety of issues surrounding the responsibilities of financial services marketing and business sales. We wanted to better understand each of their roles and how they were executing on those tasks. The ultimate objective was to craft some going forward success strategies that would make their lives better internally and that would help to enhance the community view of the organization.

We began with a high level understand of each of these key responsibilities.


  • Is the keeper of the brand
  • Is charged with understanding the market and its buying habits
  • Is asked to generate interest through many channels including social conversation portals
  • Is asked to facilitate market value via words and deeds
  • Is an important catalyst around the customer experience

The Relationship Manager (sales):

  • Targets industries based on overall company and market strategies
  • Sources specific prospect and client opportunities to do business with
  • Employs a sales process to prepare calls and execute conversations
  • Earns business and keep it by getting deep and wide with their relationships
  • Maximizes the experience through trust & value

One role in front of the camera, one role behind it. Both responsibilities critical to sustained success. Once we better understood each of these important jobs we wanted to appreciate how each felt the other was doing – from an objective perspective.

The first thing that jumped out from respondents was generational. We found that 73% of business bankers had more than 11 years in banking and 57% of marketing professionals had less than 10 years in financial services. Many years ago when marketing and sales were in their infancy in banking this difference might not have been as important. But today, with new ideas, new media, new products coming at us continually and most importantly how the customer’s buying habits have changed, this wide gap between the more veteran outside role and the more rookie inside role could cause a culture clash or at least become a communications barrier.

When asked “What can marketing do for business banking?” we found the number one answer from marketing was to create ads, collateral and marketing pieces to support the team. It was the number two answer for business bankers. The number two answer for marketing was to create better brand awareness through advertising, which was the top response from business bankers. Most interesting was that increasing social media presence ranked sixth by both groups.

We wanted to know some of the top going forward priorities that business bankers had for CMOs and that marketing wanted to accomplish for business banking. Both suggested the top priority to be “ensuring the brand is recognized and respected in our market.” Fair enough. No one can dispute that in this age of instant karma through Twitter et al that a financial institution’s brand is sacred, and must be nurtured and protected.

When we asked marketing and sales reps in other industries what their top priorities are, their answers were uniformly consistent. All said that marketing’s top priority is — and always will be — to continually increase the volume of quality leads for the sales team. And yet in our study of the banking space, both CMOs and business bankers ranked this their priority fifth. What’s going on here?

In banking, both camps see the need to improve certain aspects of the role of marketing. Just 1% of sales associates and 7% of the marketers suggested that marketing met or exceeded expectations in generating quality leads. 65% of business bankers and 48% of CMOs reported needing improvement in aligning lead generation efforts to business strategies.

From our experience, one good way for marketing to become more of a partner to sales is to better understand what business bankers experience on a daily basis. That might mean that marketing associates attend sales training, go to pipeline meetings and make joint sales calls. Along these lines, here’s what we found in our study.

  • 44% of marketing professionals had attended sales training classes in the past 12 months
  • 73% had made no joint calls with business bankers in the past 12 months
  • 43% of CMOs had never attended a pipeline meeting and 39.5% had never been invited

So what might we do with all these numbers? When I spoke on this subject at the 2013 ABA Marketing Conference, I proposed there are five key things marketing should consider:

  • Understand the vision and strategies
  • Become engaged in the sales process
  • Awareness of key motion triggers (money in motion, people in motion)
  • Facilitate high quality lead generation
  • Create and deliver “Smarketing Tools” (smart + marketing)

For each of these key components bankers were asked to contemplate some critical strategic questions.

Understand the Vision and Strategies

  • How does our organization make money, what do margins mean and why is that important?
  • How much do I know about the revenue objectives of business banking?
  • What are key Metrics that Matter to my business banking colleagues?
  • What reports do bankers and managers receive and how can I see the key ones?
  • What can I do to help sales managers with their routines and responsibilities?

Become Engaged in the Sales Process

  • What is our way of selling here?
  • How does business banking work with internal partners in the sales process?
  • What are the typical financial needs our bankers are helping customers deal with?
  • What is the typical selling cycle and what can marketing do throughout the process to help?
  • Who are our main competitors and what do we know about their approach?
  • What are some key issues facing businesses today?
  • When a new customer joins the bank, how do we, could we welcome and Onboard them?

Awareness of Key Motion Triggers

  • What effect do leadership changes and new people have at our bank and at our competitors?
  • What merger(s) are in motion, and what effect will it/they have and when does the window close?
  • If we are reorganizing, how will that effect our position in the marketplace?
  • What new or pending legislation might affect our sales process?
  • When one of our bankers leaves, what help can we provide to their customers to make them feel safe and comfortable?
  • What trends are occurring within a key segment we are selling to?

Facilitate High Quality Lead Generation

  • What key segments and targets do our business bankers sell to?
  • What wheelhouse industries do bankers focus on?
  • What criteria do bankers use to target opportunities?
  • How do we help find companies in those spaces?
  • What industries are restricted or non-targets?
  • Who inside the company do they sell to and what others in the company are involved (decision makers, end users, influencers)
  • How do we nurture these leads on an ongoing basis?

Create and Deliver Smarketing Tools

  • What do sales people need before the call, on the call after the call?
  • What content do sales associates need from us on a regular basis?
  • Where can we house and update information that is easy to access and to use?
  • How can we do to help our bankers get better networked, positioned and become more social?

These are all very important questions to consider. Even more important are the ideas, solutions and best practices that arise from those issues. Attend The Financial Brand Forum in Las Vegas on April 3-4 where I’ll be presenting “Forging Connections between Marketing & Sales.” This session will give you over 30 practical ideas to create a better level of collaboration and continuity between marketing and sales. It’s not easy to accomplish but when you do, the words come to life, the “movie” you’ll create wins critical acclaim and the awards will come… in the form of better customer experiences, more sales and greater profits for everyone.

jack_hubbardJack Hubbard is Chairman and Chief Sales Officer of St. Meyer & Hubbard, a global training, coaching and sales consulting company that exclusively serves the financial services industry. Hubbard has personally trained and coached more than 66,000 bankers and credit union professionals. He can be reached at [email protected]

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