Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

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Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

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Article excerpt

AS LONG AS WE CAN REMEMBER, people have said over and over, "Banks are order takers;" "Banks can't sell."

Nonsense. They can sell and they do. The fact that bankers are still talking about the need to sell, developing a sales culture, and the like, doesn't mean things haven't changed over the last 20-odd years. Things have changed. The ongoing talk about sales is mainly because it is an ongoing challenge--a "never ending proposition," as one of the bankers featured in this month's special sales report said.

You don't think such obviously sales focused organizations as Procter & Gamble, Club Med, or Anheuser-Busch have got the "sales thing" down cold and never bother with it again, do you? Of course not. They keep their edge by constant attention to it.

As for banks being "order takers," my colleague Steve Cocheo observed, "Every sales person would love to have that situation." Going out and rustling up business is hard work. If people just walk in your door, great.

But the point is, banks by and large have made significant progress beyond just waiting for business to walk in, which was never completely true, anyway. It's not surprising bankers take umbrage at the industry being portrayed as a sales Neanderthal.

That's not to say they feel satisfied. In part two of our report-a roundtable discussion among five community bank CEOs--one of the participants admitted to still doing a poor job discerning his most profitable customers, compared with what the big brokerage firms do. Another banker, however, reminded him that some of those companies still struggle with that issue, too.

This group of bankers made no bones about distancing themselves from the "flavor of the month" sales practices used by some of the big brokers and banks. …

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