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How to Succeed Now

Written By: Deborah Gavello

As seen in The Findley Reports Volume 22, Edition 2

Regardless of the media hype about the economic downturn, the best is yet to come. This is the year to jump away from the pack and move ahead. Stay passionate about the opportunities that are out there and don’t took back. Instead, take control of today and the future.

Two important areas that my clients have focused on in the past year have helped them to achieve some of the best months in recent memory. These very straightforward focal points will work at your bank as well, even in tough times.

Positive, Proactive Thinking

First, my clients required their staff members to make the tough cold calls over the phone and go out knocking on doors. They were relentless on follow up with their staff, so they made these calls every single week. They needed to make calls to prospects, whether they were truly cold calls or people they knew through networking.

The companies set goals by individual to make the calls. They had weekly sales meetings to monitor the results. They watched both the activity results, and the new business results, both deposits and loans.
In prior articles, I mentioned that in tough times, one must monitor both activities and results in order to sustain long-term success. Fortune 500 companies have been doing it for years, and they continue to do it, regardless of the economic environment.

Anyone who is not banking with you is a prospect, and your employees need to have the right skills to turn a phone call into a face-to-face appointment. Then the calling officer has to be overly prepared to be on his or her game on that first appointment. Times are tough, and the sales skills that are demonstrated to these prospects on a first appointment are crucial in convincing them.

Too many bankers are living and working far below their true potential. They have the gifts and talents to do better and to be better bankers. Instead, they have settled where they are and have become too easily satisfied.

As a leader of your bank, you must stretch your staff to the next level. If employees have been working 9 to 5 with a two-hour lunch, change that. Have them take shorter lunches, work more hours, and stretch themselves to be better bankers. If you have the right people, they can accomplish the goals they set. Everyone needs to learn to shake off complacency and strive to make him or herself better, thus making the entire bank better. I believe from personal experience that there is no limit to what you can accomplish: I recently ran for City Council and won with only three months to fund-raise and campaign.

As a quick side note, can every single employee in your bank ex- plain in simple terms, so a prospect can understand, what it means to be well capitalized? Does every employee know where to go in the annual report to show where your bank is in comparison to other banks? I have spent many hours teaching senior-level bankers and new accounts associates how to better articulate what it means to be well capitalized. This is essential in setting new accounts.

Sharpening Interview Skills

The second area that is critical to master now is interviewing skills. Everyone in your bank who interviews potential employees needs to have sharpened these skills. Supervisors need to be better prepared for interviews. They need to be trained to identify the good actors/actresses and the truly qualified candidates. Many people are looking for jobs, but you don’t want all of them!

During the past year, I have spent more time helping my clients interview candidates than I have in my prior 15 years in business. Why? It is the most important thing that a manager does. Hiring good people is on the top of the chart on importance.

Some of my clients spend so much time talking about their poor per¬formers. They will tell me how the person was highly recommended, and I ask, “Why haven’t they brought in any business for 6 to 9 months? Why are we spending more time talking about these poor performers, that won’t change?”

When I was a sales manager at ADP about twenty years ago, my boss told me that if you talk too much about the poor performers, it is time to let them go. Focus on the “A” and “B” players. The time you waste with the people who can’t and won’t change takes the majority of your time. Instead, spend the time making the top performers even better.

There are so many legal questions you can ask on interviews that I never hear people ask, but they should be asking. You are allowed to have people show you their skills; you are also allowed to see anything that proves their prior success. If someone was not a top performer or successful at prior jobs, why would you expect that person to be successful with you? Prior performance is the best indicator of future success.

An interview should have a set of very specific questions, with follow up questions based on the candidates’ responses. I teach this skill, and I practice it often when I help my clients to look for the best candidates for a job. Keep in mind that most headhunters no longer conduct face-to-face interviews. They are searching through resumes and then presenting you with a resume. Don’t set up an interview with anyone who doesn’t show proven success on his or her resume. Look for accomplishments and success before you waste a moment of your time on an interview.

Making This Your Best Year

In summary, the keys to long-term success are hiring the best people and motivating them to be high achievers. After determining the kind of employees who are most likely to succeed, give them both activity and results goats, monitor these goals weekly, push them to work harder and longer hours, and you will see success.

This can be the best year your bank has ever had. If you don’t make 2009 your year then when? As always, good luck and good selling.

Do not re-produce in any form without written permission from Deborah Gavello (714) 478-8351
© Copyright 2010 Gavello and Associates

Video Testimonials


    “I had the pleasure of hearing Deborah speak at two banking conferences. Deborah delivers her message with energy and enthusiasm. She is an expert in sales who, most importantly, understands community banking. Deborah has the ability to provide her audience some key take away items, in a short period of time, that actually work in practice."

    Terry L. Robinson - Chief Executive Officer
    Plaza Bank, Irvine, CA - Formerly CEO Vintage Bank, Napa, CA