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Terry Slattery, the Legend of IBM, the person who brought in more business for IBM than anyone has before or since, has been a dear friend and partner of mine for almost two decades now, helping our banks figure out how to grow their revenue streams.

Terry recently said he has never seen a harder sales environment in his career across every industry.

If prospects aren’t taking your team’s calls, you’re clearly not alone. That just means that on the calls you do get, you’ve got to get better and better at getting the business—getting all the business and getting it at premium pricing. Anything less means you’re paying for activity instead of results.

“Okay, Roxanne, that’s not rocket science. I’ve heard that one before. Give me something new.” Great—so you understand that this is the problem that must be solved. Now let’s talk a little bit about how you go about solving it.

First of all, sales culture is about having the right system—one that brings premium pricing for extreme differentiation that takes out all competitors quickly.

Now, before you get sold the “branding” snake oil as a solution, stop right there.

Don’t spend a dime on a branding company. So many banks, unfortunately, like sheeple, have “invested” extremely large sums of money in “branding.” After all that money and time, they often came out with a single level-one unique selling proposition (USP). YIKES.

When bank executives and board members walk out of our two-day Sales and Marketing Bootcamps where we cover what it really takes to build a high-performance bank sales culture, they typically have 20 level-one USPs—and the sales process that gets them paid for that differentiation. That was the point, right?

Before they came to the Bootcamp, many of those banks had already blown $500,000 on branding agencies. And they had people sitting in meetings for six months. The deliverable? One USP, which is almost always “we close loans in 24 hours.” Whoop dee doo. That could have been figured out in five minutes for free.

Sure, that’s a differentiator, but it’s not the kind of extreme differentiator that will get you 150 basis points more on the lending side. And that is what you need.

When you look at the current trend line from 18,000 banks to 5,000, quickly sweeping down to 2,000, only the banks that get their net interest margin up will survive this.

Buying into the “story” that “net interest margin compression is a thing” and we can’t do a thing about it keeps you stuck.

True, you can’t do a thing about interest rates—but you can do a ton to increase your interest rates.

Every business has to figure out how to take itself out of the commodity game if it wants to run a sustainable business.

Look at what Starbucks did. Not that long ago, we used to buy coffee for a nickel and then later a quarter. Yet almost overnight, we started paying $5 for a cup of java. How did that happen? And how did it happen so fast?

I hear so many bank executives saying: “Well, banking is a commodity.” And they keep talking as if their assumption is the truth. It cannot be the truth for those who want to sustain their franchises through good times and bad. As an executive, you have to challenge your assumptions constantly—your truth is not always “The Truth.”

We must figure out how to create extreme differentiation so we can be thought of as indispensable. Instead of brand awareness, we need brand insistence. We must be the only bank that customers must come to, and that means they need to tell us that our differentiation is worth $500,000 here and a million dollars there. And if you can’t get them to tell you that, you don’t understand differentiation, and you’re not doing it right. Period.

If you’re unwilling to challenge your assumptions, you may soon be looking at a new sign on your front door.

During our Sales and Marketing Bootcamp, we cover differentiation and how to sell that differentiation to improve your close rate and get premium pricing with all the business.

It’s all about what the elite, results-oriented banks are doing to nab best customers away from competitors while they command premium pricing.

And we not only cover how essential it is but also how profoundly impactful the right sales system must be to capitalize on your differentiation.

That is the point. Elite, results-oriented banks understand that it is the only game that needs to be played in banking today if you want to keep your franchise, your name on the building, and your independence.

Are you worth more? Do your numbers prove that you command extreme premium pricing? The “proof is in the puddin’.”

– Roxanne Emmerich

Please watch the video above and share it with your exec team and board.

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