Industry-Snapshot Software Helps Key Keep Up

By Quittner, Jeremy | American Banker, February 21, 2006 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Industry-Snapshot Software Helps Key Keep Up

Quittner, Jeremy, American Banker

By most standards, KeyCorp has a large commercial banking unit, with $4.5 billion in assets and relationships with 220,000 U.S. companies in a wide variety of industries.

That means the Cleveland banking company's 300 relationship managers must stay on top of multiple industries and understand the economics of different business sectors, as well as how each business functions.

To help its bankers maintain their clients - the majority of which are small businesses with under $10 million in annual revenues - as well as offer them the right products, Key uses a research tool called Industry Profile from First Research Inc.

The goal is to encourage commercial clients to rely more on their banks to provide value-added information and help them make more informed choices.

"We were trying to take the relationship managers and the commercial bank from being product providers to be more trusted advisors," said Jim Geuther, a senior vice president of business banking for KeyBank. He added the bank thought it could arrive at a competitive advantage by arming its sales force with "more timely and germane information" geared toward specific companies and industries.

"That way we could go in [to a sales call or client meeting] with greater credibility than our competitors," Mr. Geuther said.

Industry Profile allows Key's commercial bankers to quickly log onto either the bank's intranet or First Research's Web site to gather information on the latest developments in about 200 industries, ranging from accounting to waste management.

The interface has simple drop-down menus. Material under the "industry profile" tab includes a one-page overview of a given industry, a forecast on that business, and a list of suggested questions to ask over the phone in preparation for an in-person conversation with a customer.

The information is updated every 90 days, and bankers can request industry-specific e-mail alerts from First Research. Its information sources include, Factiva, Dow Jones, Reuters, and trade association reports.

"There's a lot of competition in the commercial banking industry, and any way to set yourself apart will help you gain more clients and retain them better," said Tyler Rullman, First Research's vice president of corporate development. "You gain credibility and trust for existing clients; it helps develop dialogue with new client and it shows how you understand and care about the industry and the business."

Before Key signed up with First Research, its commercial bankers relied on Google and other Internet search engines to bone up for sales calls.

"There was no consistency to it," Mr. Geuther said. "Even the best managers were not investing the time necessary as they began to take on more and more relationships." KeyBank relationship managers had 75 to 100 clients apiece, he said.

He would not name the other market-intelligence vendors KeyBank considered. Two big concerns were cost and integrating the product with the bank's intranet; Key wanted relationship managers to have easy access to the software.

The integration of Industry Profile took just a couple of days cost about $50,000, Mr. Geuther said, which he called a "reasonable" sum.

Getting the bankers to use Industry Profile before making sales calls can be hard work, but Mr. Geuther said about half of them are using it now. "We are trying to drive usage up" and to get most managers to use the product routinely, he said.

Jacob Jegher, a senior analyst for banking at Celent Communications, a Boston research firm, said "the biggest challenge of any type of implementation of sales force automation is the adoption of it by relationship managers."

Susan Landry, a managing vice president for Gartner Inc., a research firm in Stamford, Conn., said retail bankers typically close sales much faster; with commercial bankers it can take weeks or months.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Industry-Snapshot Software Helps Key Keep Up


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?