Building a Successful Sales Process [Podcast]

March 13, 2017 Drew Walters

In this podcast, we sit down with Kevin McNamara, President of Vertical IQ, as he shares with us how to build a successful sales process. You'll learn what a successful sales process looks like and how to make sure that what you build sticks within your organization.


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Podcast Transcript

Dallas Wells: Hello, and welcome to The Purposeful Banker, the podcast brought to you by PrecisionLender, where we discuss the big topics on the minds of today's best bankers. I'm your host, Dallas Wells. Thank you for joining us. The title of today's podcast is, Building a Successful Sales Process. This podcast is a preview for another installment of the BankOnPurpose webinar series. We'll be hosting that webinar March 21st and 22nd. We'll have links to the details in the show notes for this episode. You can find those at

With us today is Kevin McNamara, president of Vertical IQ, an online solution aimed at helping bankers win new business and improve retention. Kevin, thank you for being here.

Kevin McNamara: Thanks, Dallas.

Dallas Wells: So, Kevin, get us kicked off. Why don't you start by telling us a little bit about yourself and some of your background?

Kevin McNamara: Sure, and thanks for having me today, Dallas.

I'm very excited to be associated with the BankOnPurpose series, and PrecisionLender is an excellent company I've gotten to know well over the last year, and it's just a really fine organization for me personally and for Vertical IQ to be associated.

So, about me. After a few years of playing basketball in college and messing around with basketball in Australia, came back and had to get a real job. Didn't know what I wanted to do. But, I knew I wanted to own my own business one day, so I figured I'd try banking, so I could have a good look at lot of different industries and figure out which one kind of made the most sense for me. Well, it turns out I kinda liked banking, and last about 16 years was for Wachovia Bank, in the early '90s. In fact, Jack Hubbard was one of the first folks who trained me while I worked at Wachovia Bank, back in the day.

Dallas Wells: Okay. So, you learned from the best.

Kevin McNamara: Learned from the best is right.

Dallas Wells: All right, Kevin, and what about your role at Vertical IQ? Can you shed some light on what you all do in the banking world?

Kevin McNamara: Yes. So, the best part of all was, at the end of my career, in banking, I had the great opportunity, in RBC Bank USA, to run the business and commercial banking lines of business. This role allowed me to kind of get to know the minds, mindset of business owners. We paid a lot of money for folks to tell us how business owners think.

So, after that, I got my own business for seven years, so I have the unique perspective of having sixteen years of banking and seven years of business owner. And then, all of the sudden, a good friend of mine named Bobby Martin, who I've known since like '93, came to me and asked me if I would be president of Vertical IQ. And Vertical IQ, again, was a perfect match for my background. As you mentioned at the beginning of the set here, we are an online entry research solutions, helps bankers prepare for their calls on business professionals, and the unique thing about us is we are written by bankers, for bankers. We are the only banking focused industry research tool in the market today.

Dallas Wells: Okay, great. So, you say did a lot of analysis of kind of the business owner's mindset when you were at RBC, what did you learn in your role there that you found to be true once you started running your own business? And vice versa too, what was not true? What were some things you believed as a banker that you found out were just not the case?

Kevin McNamara: Well, it was fascinating, Dallas. What I learned as a banker, some of those things came out to be true when I was a business owner. One of those things was, you'll be kind of lonely as a business owner. You don't have a lot of folks to turn to for advice or counsel, how to run your business. And, quite frankly, I would look for professional accountants, or fellow CEOs, or owners to help me make decisions. When I really, you know, wished I could have gone to my banker. So, that was kind of the true side.

The not true side, unfortunately, as bankers, we really thought that we had business owners' respect, and that we really were integral to their business. What I learned was, for the most part, bankers know, well ... as a business owner, I like my banker, he was a nice guy, I had a relationship with him, but he never gained a deep understanding of my business, where he could really assist me, and help me to make good decisions. Never brought any real value to the table in that category.

So, unfortunately, I say this, there are several bankers I know out there who are very good, and provide a very high level of service to businesses, but, my experience was not so.

Dallas Wells: So, actually, let's expand on that a little bit. So, I'd be curious to hear, you know, since you had quite a while in banking, and then started doing your own thing, what kind of experiences did you see both in banking and in the early days as a business owner, and what do you hear today? You know, how have things been shifting, and how does that interaction changed over time?

Kevin McNamara: Well, I had a good experience with a lot of bankers, back in 2013, some partners and I bought a building for 3 million dollars, so we talked to several banks in that process, and quite frankly the process was a bit underwhelming.

Dallas Wells: Yeah.

Kevin McNamara: We had a lot of folks who came in, talking about their products, talk about their banks, but didn't really get behind the nuts and bolts of my company, and what we were trying to do. It didn't really, you know, make a lot of sense to me, to be talking about things other than my business. When you're a business owner, you really want to talk about your business. And when folks come in, vendors or other bankers, I mean, they want to talk about their company, you get kind of frustrated by it.

Dallas Wells: Yeah. And a lot of banks tend to lead with the product instead of really trying to understand the need, and, you know, we've talked about, on a couple podcasts here, kind of the jobs to be done framework. Which is essentially, what are you trying to do with this loan? You know, rather than just jump into the features and the bells and whistles of whatever the bank has to offer, figure out what the business really needs and then kind of work backwards into how you solve that.

Kevin McNamara: You're exactly right, Dallas. It's like, I think of Jack Hubbard again, he nails this one. He says business owners don't wake up in the morning wanting a line of credit.

And it's just a different mindset. I think bankers wake up every morning thinking, I gotta sell a line of credit today. And that just does not, it's not a good match, honestly.

Dallas Wells: Yeah. So, we've kind of, anecdotally, we've got a little bit of a feel for it here, but what is a successful sales process look like today from a banker's perspective?

Kevin McNamara: Well, you know, that's the easy part, right? Because most banks have a sales process, well it's written down, and well-communicated, or whether it's kind of done off the cuff and from some different banks. So, in naming what the banker's perspective of this process looks like is easy, because it's going to be things like, identify opportunities and preparing, its going to be setting appointments, pre-call planning, client discovery, advise and present solutions, and then deliver the solutions.

Most important here to think about is, that's, again, the easy part. The bankers are thinking that way. But what's the customer thinking? Customer doesn't care about those. So, it's important to turn and put yourself on the other side of the table and think like a customer.

Dallas Wells: Yeah. And I want to come back to that in just a second, but sticking with the bank's perspective for just a minute, for somebody who doesn't have a good process, or a, and we run into this quite a bit talking to banks, where a lot of it is, very ad hoc, kind of finger to the wind, and some of the bankers, some of the lenders are really good at it, and others are not, so, how can banks start, what's some of the early steps they can take to build a process and make that more consistent across their organization?

Kevin McNamara: Well, you're right, Dallas. We said the exact same thing in, at Vertical IQ, and I saw that at RBC Bank USA.

And, I think that the first thing to do is to start with the customer. One of the things, again, Jack says in his podcast last week was, in consultative selling, it's the banker versus the customer, and in trust based selling, it's the bank and the customer versus the problem.

Dallas Wells: Yeah.

Kevin McNamara: So, I think if we would start thinking that way, then we would be able to be much more successful. And again, you don't have to have a crystal clear, tried and true, perfect sales process, what you have to do is you have one you, something that you use on a consistent basis. An example I use for this, to kind of show, is, you know, I mentioned a minute ago, one part of the sales process for bankers is to set an appointment.

Quite frankly, again, the customer doesn't want an appointment with the banker. They don't have time to spend time with the banker. They run their business.

Dallas Wells: Right.

Kevin McNamara: What they do want, a new building, some equipment, or something like that, something to help their business. So, if you set the appointment, from that mindset, you do some research ahead of time, you explain to the customer how you are going to come in and help their business, and not just set an appointment for an hour on the calendar, now you are making progress. Now you are thinking like the customer.

Dallas Wells: Kevin, one of the things you talk about quite a bit is how your sales process looks and feels in the eyes of the customer. Talk a little more about what you mean by that. How does the customer even know what a bank sales process looks like? What's their view of it?

Kevin McNamara: Well, to tell you, Dallas, for that I got a good story I thought of, about this topic.

Good friend of mine, Chris Bells at SunTrust Bank, now we worked together at RBC, and, you know, we had an inexperienced banker on a call, and Chris called me up and told me what happened. He said, good rapport building was going on, the client was talking business, and good discussion back and forth, but the banker had just heard about the new Money Market product that they had at the bank that they wanted to sell out of. Well, once the customer explained that he had come into some cash from the sale of an asset, the banker honed in on that cash, stopped the discussion about the business overall, and started talking about the product. Now you said a minute ago, Dallas, too much focus on product. He basically closed up the call, ran back to the bank, got the Money Market documents, took them back, and felt good because he or she had sold a Money Market account.

Dallas Wells: Right.

Kevin McNamara: Missed opportunity. Turns out, the guy was going to use the money from the sale of the asset to invest in a new building. That was the big picture. So that's what I mean when I say we have to think about it from the customer's point of view, and not from the banker's point of view.

Dallas Wells: Right. Yeah, I'm really having some empathy of the other side of the table. And we talk about that a lot in, you know, negotiating price and structure. To make that clear enough, of kind of what the bank needs, so that the bankers can really kind of flip around and say, well if I was a customer, and I was the one borrowing 5 million bucks, which kind of things would be important to me? And it's going to be different for everybody, it's going to be very dependent on having exactly those kids of things. You know, what specifically do they have going, what's their personal situation?

And they are all different. So, we are talking about a process, but it really has to be very flexible, so that you can meet the needs of each individual customer.

Kevin McNamara: Exactly right. I agree one hundred percent. And I think that the more we listen to them, and then try to meet their needs, the better it will be. And you know, I think Vertical IQ was an excellent part, a way to help do that. PrecisionLender is an excellent product, for customers. If you listen closely enough, they might be more interested in their amortization or their term versus something else.

In our case, we try to arm the bankers with key questions to ask. It might help them really open the doors and act like they have some industry expertise on hand. So, that's where things reach the road.

Dallas Wells: Yeah, absolutely. So, one of the questions we always come across, I'm sure you do too, in talking to bank management teams, is there's always some, and I'm sure it comes from experience, but there's always some fear, some uneasiness maybe, that they'll put this new process in place, and then nobody follows along. So, what can management teams do to make sure their new process really sticks, and isn't just merely viewed as a suggestion, or kind of the flavor of the week, and everybody will move on eventually?

Kevin McNamara: Well, in my mind, on this topic, there's kind of two issues. One, the bank has to look themselves in the eyes and say, do we have the tools to support ourselves? Do we have the things that can help them be successful?

Because we all need tools. If you're going to build a house, you gotta have tools, right? You gotta have good tools. And when I mean tools, I mean stuff like, that's basic. some sort of CRM system.

Dallas Wells: Yep, yep.

Kevin McNamara: Some sort of credit process support, maybe it's an underwriting team, something like that. Stuff like PrecisionLender is an excellent tool to help a bank be successful. Vertical IQ! Obviously, doing research and knowing those things is very important. So, the tools is the first one. Do we have the tools?

Dallas Wells: Yeah.

Kevin McNamara: Now, behind that, you have to have the discipline from sales management to drive this home every day and preach it and live it. And you can't preach and live something one time. It has to be said over and over and over again, and really challenge yourself to be better. One bank we work with says, they believe, if their bankers can spend five minutes on the part of the sales process around pre-call planning, just five minutes, he says they are light years ahead of the competition.

So, if you think about that, I'm not talking about changing a whole lifestyle. Just improve yourself a little bit and you'll be more successful and then drive it home every day.

Dallas Wells: Yeah, that makes sense. And really, once bankers start to form those new habits, and lean on the tools and do some of that preparation ahead of time, it removes a lot of the anxiety when you're actually there in front of a customer. You know what you're going to do, you've got the, you've thought through it, you know what things you need to talk about, the questions you need to ask, and you're not kind of on your feet trying to come up with, well, how do I actually sell to this customer? Instead, you just talk about the things you've already mapped out.

Kevin McNamara: Exactly right. You know, if you think about it, we prepare in everything we do. My son prepares for his basketball games, his practices, I prepare for work, I prepare for webinars or podcasts, prepare for meetings. So, it doesn't make any sense to wing it. The more we prepare, the better you're going to perform. And that's not true just with banking, that's life in general.

Dallas Wells: Yep, absolutely. So, Kevin, we mentioned at the very beginning that you're going to be doing one of these BankOnPurpose webinars for us later on here in the month of March. Can you give us a little sneak preview of what kind of stuff you'll be covering in that session?

Kevin McNamara: Sure. You know, one of the benefits of our company, like yours, Dallas, is we get to look in at a lot of our customers and what they're doing. And, of course, without sharing nay names of particular banks, we do have the opportunity to show what we see as working well. So, we're going to try to, in the webinar, share a couple of specific examples of banks that are doing really well in the area of CNI business growth, deposit growth, and why. What processes, or what things they're doing to drive these results.

Again, the second thing is, we're going to talk about building your banking house. And what you need to do to live in the big, nice house in the corner and not the shanty on the first floor there. And so, we're going to try to use an analogy around how do you have a successful sales process, and how you work to build a house in the same way.

And again, I also have, I think, a unique perspective, in that, I'm a good business owner? So I've got some really good stories that I can share to reinforce some of these points. I've seen a lot of things on both sides of the table, for the last several years. So, I'm looking forward to the webinar, and looking forward to BankOnPurpose in Austin in May as well.

Dallas Wells: Yeah, absolutely. We're excited to have you for both, and so I think we'll stop there and wrap it up for this podcast. I think we've done a good job of getting a sneak preview out there. So for everybody listening, we'll encourage you to sign up for that webinar, again, it's March 21st and 22nd, and if the schedules don't align, go ahead and register and we'll get you a recording out of that after the fact. You can sign up for that at So, Kevin, thanks again so much for coming on, and looking forward to seeing you in Austin.

Kevin McNamara: Thanks so much, Dallas. Again, I'm really looking forward to Austin, it's going to be a great time there. It's my first BankOnPurpose seminar, and I can't wait til it gets here, I'm very excited, and thanks for having me today, you work for a great company, and we're very, I said it in the beginning, we are very excited to be associated with PrecisionLender.

Dallas Wells: All right, well, the feeling is mutual, Kevin. So, thanks again, and appreciate everybody taking the time to listen. If you like what you've been hearing, be sure to subscribe to the feed in iTunes, SoundCloud, or Stitcher, and we would love to get ratings and feedback on any of those platforms. You can always find more episodes as well as our show notes and the resource center on our website, again, Thanks for listening, until next time. I'm Dallas Wells, and you've been listening to The Purposeful Banker. 

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