There is a lot of content out there on banking, specifically retail banking. But when it comes to commercial banking, there isn't as much thought leadership. Seeing this gap, we decided to put our thoughts, beliefs, and approaches on commercial banking into a book.
In this podcast, Earn It authors, Jim Young and Dallas Wells, talk about the origin of the book, the topics covered within the book, and how to get your copy of Earn It: Building Your Bank's Brand One Relationship At A Time.
Now Available on Amazon.
Business of Software Conference
The Earn It Book Website
Brett King's books on Amazon
Earn It Chapter 2 (Frankenstein Bank story) podcast
Price setting vs. price getting podcast
Jim Young: Hi, and welcome to The Purposeful Banker, the podcast brought to you by Precision Lenders where we discuss the big topics on the minds of today's best thinkers. I'm your host, Jim Young, Director of Communications at Precision Lenders, and today I'm talking again with Dallas Wells, our EVP of Client Development. Together, along with Precision Lenders' CEO, Carl Ryden, we recently wrote the book Earn It: Building Your Bank's Brand One Relationship at a Time. You may have read a few chapters here and there, you may have heard us talk about a few of the chapters on the podcast, you may have read the entire thing, you may have no idea what we're talking about, but that's why we're here today. We want to go back through a little bit of why we wrote this book, how we wrote it and what it means for us and for our clients going forward.
Dallas, let's start out, I guess, with the ... I feel like should pipe in some dramatic music here, an origins story of the book here. The idea when I came into Precision Lender at November 2015, the idea had already been floating around for a while, can you give the origin story behind the idea, the kernel that this book developed out of?
Dallas Wells: Yeah, sure. Actually, the idea was floating around when I got here a year or so before you where-
Jim Young: Floating a long time.
Dallas Wells: It had been floating for a while, and it was basically, "Hey, we're going to write a book. We have a start to it." Which, I think is the same thing you heard. The start to it was that there was a page started in our internal Wiki that said, the book, and then it had a blank spot.
But I think the origin story was two-fold, number one, when the company started back in 2009, 2010, there was a series of blog posts that got written that was how we think about pricing, and so it was ... I don't know, 8 to 10 posts all collectively together. It was a little bit of a mini-manifesto of, "We think about pricing slightly differently and here's how we do that." The thought was that that was the starter kit for the book.
We had a few folks that went to the Business of Software Conference not too long after that, and one of the marketing folks there was talking about how powerful it is to have literally written a book on a subject that you are supposed to be in the expert in. If you have some strongly held convictions and you've viewed the market, maybe a little differently than everybody else, write a book to explain it. That was the origin story is we felt like we had to start and we felt like it was the right way to tell our story, but that and then actually turning it into a book where two very different things. That was the background.
We always knew that it was important, we just couldn't find the time or the right skill set to make it happen till we hired Jim. Luckily, you came along and saved the day.
Jim Young: I was joking with Dallas before we hit record on this that we should try to make this podcast as much about me and my role in this as possible, but I don't think that's going to interest our listeners too terribly much.
I will say this though, that when I came in, it was from my background in journalism and content marketing, I had to ... Allegedly, the whole print is dead and all that sort of stuff, but there was this, in the same way that certain hipsters latch on to stuff that was cool 20 years ago and bring it back sort of thing, there was this growing movement of, "You know what? Print is not dead but it's rare and because it's rare, it has more meaning." If you really, really think something is important, maybe the best way to express it is with a long form print, piece of print content, i.e. a book. I think that's part of what this is, is a reflection of we think this is really, really important so important that we're going to write 190 pages on it and bind it in and ship it out to people to let them know that this is what we believe and that we think it's important for them as well.
Having said that, this was not, sadly, the first book ever written about banking, it was not the thousand book written on banking, so ... It's one thing to say, "Hey, let's write a book on this," but what's the argument for why the world needed yet another book on banking?
Dallas Wells: I think, like all things related to banking, it's gotten very technical and very siloed, and there's certainly been books about banking and there's recently been quite a few really good books about the future banking and, usually those are talking about the future of retail banking. Some people like our friend Brett King who's written several best-selling books on what the future really looks like in the world banking, what they're talking about is retail consumer transactions. There's not a whole lot of ... even blog posts or thought leadership, if you want to call it that in general, on commercial banking, which is it's smaller than retail banking but it is still where many banks make the bulk of their profits, so it is top of mind for the management teams, but it just gets less press, so to speak.
Earn It is a book about commercial banking, but it's a book about interacting with commercial customers, which, again, surprisingly enough is something that gets very little discussion, and we felt like it was wide open for us to talk about it and to put a book out that would resonate with people.
Jim Young: You talk about where we went into with idea originally with the book and then you have what we ended up with, is it what you thought it would be? When you originally heard the idea of the book and heard people talking about it, was what we came up with what you thought the book would actually be?
Dallas Wells: The starter kit that I mentioned, the 8 to 10 blog posts, I think we used 0% of that in the actual book that we wrote. I always had a feeling as we talked about it that ... Our thinking had evolved quite a bit from those early days and it was important for us to formalize in writing what is our philosophy, wow do we view this, so those things were at the core of the product we've built and the way we interact with clients, but there's also a whole lot more to it now. That was the tricky part was coming up with the right way to talk about our topic that when we hit publish wouldn't seem like, "Oh, gosh, that's kind of dated." You and I have talked about it a little bit, there's pieces of this already where our thoughts have changed a little, things have evolved some and there's some things that we wish we could add to the book, but I don't think there's anything in there that we're like, "Gosh, I wish we could take that out." That was really what we wanted to try to get to was our latest version of thinking, but also something that would be as close to timeless as we could make it being a print book of these are the things that we know are important and if you get these right, you will build your bank's brand and you will improve your performance.
Jim Young: Yeah, that's a good point. When we were outlining the book, the last chapter, the how you learn in the future, came in very late, and through Carl of course, and that was a really important addition and it's something that ... The parts about artificial intelligence, machine learning, or augmented intelligence and being able to pump data into the process at the right moment at the right time, all of that sort of stuff is very ... If you've been following us on our blog and podcast, is very central in our thinking right now and it was added on to the book. As Dallas mentions, we could probably add on another chapter or two, building off of this topic, but that will be for the second edition, particularly after it gets printed in multiple countries.
But actually, that touches on my next question, you're out there a lot more with our clients and prospects, many of whom have read sections of the book or talked to you about topics from the book, what parts of it do you find are resonating with people? Do you find people wanting to talk a little bit more about or learn a little bit more about from you?
Dallas Wells: Yes, probably two things that I've had the most conversations about, so there's a couple of chapters early in the book where we differentiate between price setting and price getting, and price setting is what people classically think of when they think of pricing, which is the math, what do you assume for funding costs and overhead costs and how do you allocate capital and credit risk? And all those in the weed things that take up a lot of bandwidth in a lot of organizations as they figure out how we're going to price deals. That got one chapter in the book, so if you describe this as a book about pricing, and there's one chapter about that, I think that's maybe the surprising part, and so we talked about price getting.
Once you do the math, which frankly is the easy part, how do you actually get those prices on the books? How do you get the front of the bank, your actual producers, to know what you want to do and how to get there and how do they actually negotiate that deal with their customer and the right kind of deals? In that, we talked about a story of a real bank, we called it Frankenstein bank because it had been pieced together. Literally, it had been pieced together from a few other banks and also just their processes were this ugly creation over many years of gluing things together as they went out, which is how just about every bank in the world looks now is they've taken bits of former pieces or processes or what somebody brought from a different bank when they got hired and these things get stitched together into a process that nobody has maybe really thought of from front to back, they just thought of their little piece of it.
That story about Frankenstein bank, how they had spent years and tons of money trying to get the math right and building some models, and the results just weren't there. We have a few charts in there that showed some pretty ugly results. Then they start, finally, focusing on the price getting part of it. It finally clicked with them and then things have started to turn around a little bit.
A lot of our clients ... We say in there, "Hey, it's a real bank," but to protect the innocent we'll change the name of it, I had multiple clients reach out to me and say, "You're talking about us aren't you?" It's one of those things where more than one person thought that they were the source of that story, which means we clearly struck a nerve there. That's something that the Frankenstein bank wasn't the only ones dealing with that issue and that have wrestled with some of the same problems. I thought that was interesting.
The other one that we probably have more conversations now about, than maybe all the rest combined now, is the part of the book where we talk about building this ecosystem or building this collection of systems that all work together to actually book commercial deals. So, from a CRM system where you start talking to a prospect to on the backend, after it's on your books, you're doing analytics on it. Everything in between there. That process is one that almost every bank that we run across is in the midst of redoing parts that process and investing big dollars and time and effort into it. We call it building the brain of the bank.
As we pick out sections of this book to send people to say, "hey, this might be helpful," that one is by far the most common one that we sed out because it's top of mind for people and there's so much at stake because there are multiple years and lots of dollars worth of projects in there to get all that stuff together. We laid out a couple examples of banks that have done it and things that we've seen work well in there, so those those two things are probably the most common ones that we talk about.
Jim Young: Yeah. It's interesting. I think to some extent in the process of having this conversation about people about the brain of the bank, I think a lot of the things that we encountered in that led into what we wrote about how to buy bank technology then, because you can have that theoretical discussion and look at that chart and say, "That makes sense. Let's do it." But as anybody who has worked in banks and has purchased technology knows it is going from A to B on that is a complicated process and there are all sorts of pitfalls. That's sort of the way this book developed organically.
If you are out there, a bank in looking to create some content about what you do, I recommend bringing in somebody who is not a banker and how do you explain it to them because if they get ... Which is what basically we did, Dallas, essentially walking me through this because it sometimes clarifies a lot of stuff that you ... "Well, what if I want to do that?" "Okay. Well, then you need to do this." "But, how do I do that?" "Okay. Well, we need to explain how to do that."
That was where that next chapter about how to buy the bank technology came in being because it's all well and good, like those IKEA diagrams where they show you one thing where the parts all part and step two is the desk is built. But you really need to get in there and actually say, "Okay, these are some of you're going to run across," ... and it is kind of satisfying ... Not that I want us to have a whole bunch of Franken-banks out there, but that what you do want is for people to read the book and recognize a little bit of themselves in it, either the parts that are successful or this is a problem that I'm having. That's a big part of why we wrote this book is to say, "Hey, look, we know you guys are out there trying to make this work. We've seen it ... " As Carl says to people a lot of times, "Don't be embarrassed. I've seen this all before." And because we've seen it a lot before, we had some things that we really wanted to share, both with clients and with prospects.
Along those lines, I think to some extent we had an idea that VP of Sales and Strategy as maybe the first person you think of, who we're talking to when we wrote this book, I know I've gotten some feedback from people saying, "I really want our RMs start to read this book." Who would you recommend at the bank that would benefit from giving this book a read?
Dallas Wells: Yeah. I would say anybody who touches or is responsible for commercial relationships of the bank, so that would range from the executives who are putting together the systems and processes, around that, to your point, the actual frontline relationship managers.
I think any RM who comes out their job from really wanting to understand how the sausage is made, and the really good ones all are experts on that process because they view their job is to help their borrowers, their customers navigate that process, so all their customers want is dollars to do something with at a fair price. The best relationship managers know, number one, how to navigate the pricing conversation and, number two, how to navigate that approval process and work their way through all the systems and signatures and things that have to happen and do that as fast as possible.
I think this book helps at least to see how some of the really good banks are thinking about that, so anybody who might be able to influence that process or just want to understand it better, I think, could benefit from it.
Jim Young: I would recommend if you are interested in the book to go to the website, theearnitbook.com., you can check out a sample chapter there just to give it a little bit of a test drive, see if this is something that's up your alley. It's available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Right there on the site, you can go in and click to order a copy of it. It's a very reasonable price and makes a wonderful gift for just about anyone.
Dallas Wells: Yeah, Father's Day, Mother's Day, birthdays, Christmas all that stuff.
Jim Young: Arbor Day, Flag day, Fourth of July, you name it.
Dallas Wells: Just to add to that just a little, Jim, we wrote this on Precision Lender's dime, but you'll find this is not a sales book. It really is a book about what we've learned about this process and the banks that we've seen do well. In there is very little about Precision Lender and a lot more about banks that we interact with. If you like to talk shop, I think you will enjoy this book. There's some stories and case studies in there that I think you'll find, both useful and hopefully interesting too. That's my pitch for it, if you're a banker and you enjoy what you do, this will be, I think, an interesting read and not an extended sales brochure. Check it out and get in touch with us if there's anything you want to discuss about it.
Jim Young: Well, that'll do it for this week's podcast. Thanks for listening. If you'd like to learn more, visit our resource page @explore.precisionlender.com. If you like what you've been hearing, make sure to subscribe to the feed in iTunes, Sound cloud, Google Player, Stitcher. We love to get ratings and feedback on any of those platforms. Thanks for listening. Until next time, this has been Jim Young and Dallas Wells. You've been listening to the Purposeful Banker.
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