Using Trust-based Selling in Banking: St. Meyer and Hubbard

Two years ago, I got a call from Jack Hubbard of a firm named St. Meyer & Hubbard . They did sales training for bankers, or so I understood, and were developing a "Trusted Advisor Prospecting System."  I was initially skeptical.  I viewed Trust-based Selling as more suited for B2B clients, and largely for later-stages in the sales process.

They showed me otherwise. 

We spoke a few times by phone, and exchanged some writings. I was quickly impressed with their unusual combination of vision-and-values perspective and down-and-dirty detailed, tactical programs.  They were teaching clients to apply trust principles at earlier stages and more retail-focused levels than I had appreciated was possible.

Jack and his partner Bob St. Meyer and their team have now written their own book—Conversations with Prospects—which I can enthusiastically recommend.

Recently I got to see them in action at an annual conference they put on for bank CXOs, mostly existing clients. And I don’t know when I’ve seen such a uniformly positive, enthusiastic and solidly appreciative set of clients.

Until a week ago, I had never personally met Jack or Bob—yet I felt like I was catching up with old friends even before meeting up in the hotel lobby. At dinner, they were Midwest-friendly, but also New York direct and to-the-point.

They clearly know banking. And here they were putting on a conference for their clients about their own subject matter—selling. But they always steered the conversation around to the others at the table. They never mentioned selling their own services. Which of course sold me even more.

In other words, they walk the trust talk.

Jack, for example, sends out over 500 emails a week of the “you might enjoy this article” variety. He doesn’t use a tracking system to follow each one up; he’s not looking to connect each of his actions to a client profitability analysis, nor does he constantly examine his behaviors to determine his sales efficiency. He just focuses on his clients, both those with whom he has signed contracts and those who have yet to do so.

Here are a few excerpts from “Conversations with Prospects.”

One thing all prospects want is the same thing any of us want in our most valuable personal relationships. They want to be visible. They need a bank, but they want a banker—someone who knows who they are, what they do, and what are their challenges and opportunities.

Bankers often try too hard to prospect using techniques that are all about the bank, relying on persuasion instead of conversation. Unless the banker gets lucky and hits the prospect at a moment of desperation or unfulfilled need, the prospect invariably pushes back with any number of brush offs, but most often the shut-down line is: “I’m happy with my present bank.”

Bankers will introduce themselves to prospects by saying things such as, “I’d like to come out and introduce myself because I think I can save you some money.” Or, “I’d like to discuss our cash management offerings.” Who really needs to spend time listening to another banker peddling the same products as the rest of the pack? We see a lot of sales letters that are just as bad, talking about the sales person and company, but not the potential customer and their issues.

Needs are not products. Bankers that discover, create, and exceed the need will always have business. When the push to sell products overrides the best interests of the client there is little discussion about managing anything.

When sales people are measured solely on the basis of production, the client is the ultimate loser.
In trust-based selling, the sales person stops trying to be interesting and learns to be interested. Banks that understand this work hard to focus on and understand the buying cycle of their prospects and clients. When banks match their sales cycle to the customer’s buying cycle, it’s a trust connection and they are well on their way to a sale.