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PCBB Banc Investment Daily December 26, 2014
Banc Investment Daily
December 26, 2014

Thinking Big About Small Business

According to Guinness World Records, the largest snowball measured 32.94 ft. in circumference. It was rolled by students from ASME Michigan Technological University in MI on Mar 29, 2013. The diameter of the snowball measured 10.45 ft. and its height reached 9.28 ft. Meanwhile, the tallest snowman (or more accurately a snow woman), measured 122 ft. and 1 in. tall. It was built by residents of Bethel, ME and surrounding towns over a one-month period and finished on Feb 26, 2008.
While it's nice to get recognition, banks don't need to set a world record to be winners with small business customers. You do, however, need to go beyond the surface and consider the big picture when it comes to attracting and keeping these customers.
Even as they are courting small business owners, many banks fail to gain an adequate understanding about specific business and banking needs. Though it may sound trite, it is nonetheless true that first impressions are the most lasting and mistakes could cost relationships.
A few years back, ath Power Consulting ran a study that showed fewer than 67% of bankers polled tried to establish the size of a potential client's business. Meanwhile, nearly 33% failed to determine what products and/or services the potential client had with their current bank before touting their own offerings. Finally, over 20% did not ask for follow-up contact information.
It's almost unbelievable that any bank would knowingly leave opportunity on the table like this, but it happens more often you might think due in part to lack of training. Whatever the reason, the takeaway for banks is clear. You're more likely to win business if you take the time to understand prospects' businesses and how specifically your bank can help them. Indeed, the study found that small business owners who received an informed needs assessment and were asked about business objectives were much more likely to express interest in becoming a customer of the bank than those who did not.
Lending is another area where understanding the big picture can be beneficial to growing your small business base. Even though the credit spigot has opened considerably, some small businesses today are still being denied loans. Competition is fierce so bankers have to work harder to capture and keep clients as you consider factors beyond just current financials.
It's undoubtedly a good relationship-building exercise when a bank takes the time to talk to customers about their business and understand what it is all about. Not only that, you may actually discover the business is worth the risk and that financials may be improving alongside the economy.
It's also no secret that large banks have been getting more aggressive in the small business banking space. There is also no shortage of banks and non-banks trying to woo small business customers. This makes it all the more imperative to try and stay a step ahead of the competition.
You don't need Guinness contests to help you set records to be the best bank around, but it behooves you be the best you can be for small business customers. Thinking big about small business can help make you a winner, so keep doing what you do and helping as many as you can.