How to Turn Credit Skills Into Meaningful Conversations

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When it comes to winning and expanding small business relationships, financial institutions are expecting more and more of their branch managers.

At the community and regional banks, saving banks, and credit unions she consults with, there is a movement toward getting branch managers out of their branches and into the lucrative small business market, says Omega Performance facilitator and business lending expert Laura Beaver. However, many branch managers, who still must manage their typical day-to-day responsibilities, aren’t equipped with the credit and sales skills they need to capture small business relationships successfully.

These higher expectations are not limited to branch managers, the commercial segment is also expected to create more sophisticated loan structures.

She says the most common skill gap she sees is difficulty making the “mind-to-mouth” connection—knowing not only what questions to ask but how to ask them, in order to gain deeper information about what the business does, the challenges it faces, the needs it has, and any risks to repayment, all in one or two conversations.

How can branch managers, along with anyone in a relationship management role, blend their credit and sales skills seamlessly and simultaneously? By learning how to link a business’s story (or the qualitative information they gather) to the results of a quantitative financial analysis that answers the questions, “What are the trends in the business’s financial performance?”, “What caused them?”, and “Will they continue into the future?”

The qualitative piece—uncovering a business’s story—can be helped greatly by precall planning, and learning how to have better, stronger conversations with customers. The quantitative analysis, and its role in the credit sales process, has increasingly come into focus as financial institutions have discovered that their people need to be more sophisticated, in order to add value to their conversations, and the overall relationship, earlier and more profoundly.

To learn more about this topic and how you can improve your relationship managers’ ability to have the lending conversation, watch our latest webinar.

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