Better Information, Better Relationships, Better Banking Business

How we drive sales innovation in the traditional world of corporate banking.

July 10, 2016

  • santander-blog-post

I work in banking. And what I really love about it is the focus on relationships. As the UK Head of Business Development for Santander UK, my role is to enable my team to identify new prospects for our corporate and commercial banking groups.

Sales is challenging in our space. A business may work with the same bank for decades. And the incumbent has a huge advantage because these relationships are exceptionally complex and integrated.

We’re talking about businesses with tens of millions of pounds’ worth of turnover and complex banking propositions. It’s difficult to persuade them to walk away from a bank that’s provided all the products and services that they need. And it’s a challenge for a salesperson to even get that first meeting with a potential client.

Relationships, not sales

It’s tough to get prospects to make a change. But it’s even tougher when you’re using the wrong tools to try to make that connection.

The first step and a big part of our operation involves researching leads. But a lot of the available data tends to be driven by things like credit scores, or audited accounts. It’s not personal. It’s not surprising. Bottom line: It’s not effective.  

The goal is to walk in understanding our prospects. We don’t want to just ask information-gathering questions — we want to add value and start building a relationship right out of the gate.

Getting the full story on prospects

Santander is an innovative brand. We strive to do things a bank typically wouldn’t do – like using social media and social selling tools.

With Sales Navigator, rather than asking prospects a lot of questions to see if Santander is the right fit, my sales team can do the research in advance to see whom they should contact, when and how they should contact them, and if the services we offer would actually be useful.

What I personally have found, and what a lot of my team likes, is when you read the content someone posts and shares on LinkedIn, they’re telling you what’s important and what they want you to know about them.

By understanding who our leads are, we’re better able to match their ambitions and needs with our particular offerings. We can find the places where we have value.

When we’re talking to a sales director, for example, and we see he’s been to a conference or he’s shared something about the latest sales technique; that’s really a door-opener to begin a conversation that’s far more meaningful than “Hey, we do banking.”

We can truly say, “We understand your business.” And we can get down to asking meaningful questions that demonstrate how we’re able to help. In some cases, we can go into a meeting already having approval from our credit team for some lending facilities.

Less is much, much more with Sales Navigator

These days, we focus on less volume, but higher quality of prospecting.

We’re reaching the right people at the right time with the right information. Nearly 80 percent of the team secures a meeting through Sales Navigator, and 20 percent of those leads convert. There have been clients we’ve been trying and trying to get a first meeting with for years, to no avail, and suddenly, with the right information at the right time, and with persistence, we’re building relationships and getting business.

Sales Navigator gives us the right tools and the right information for real relationships. It’s made banking business development the way it always should have been.