How to Build Relationships with Company, Contact and Industry Intelligence

November 30, 2022 | By: Keith Arsenault

When business owners are looking for new bank relationships, they want to partner with bankers who go beyond providing only transactional advice (or no advice at all!) by delivering “comprehensive advice” that takes into account a full understanding of the company’s business goals and shows real, committed partnership. However, according to a recent J.D. Power study, only 15% of small business owners receive that comprehensive level of advice from their bank. This gap between what small businesses want and what their bank delivers highlights the need, and the opportunity, for business development and relationship management professionals to develop a better understanding of their prospects and customers in order to earn the title of “trusted advisor.”

“Banking is ultimately all about personal delivery. Relationships are built between people,” Martin Wise, Founder and CEO at RelPro, noted during a panel discussion at the American Banker Small Biz Banking Conference in Nashville last October.

Like any personal relationship, developing business relationships requires understanding - and understanding a business owner’s needs begins with company and industry intelligence.

“If you can understand the industry and how companies in that industry actually work, then you can better understand what’s likely on the mind of that business executive you are getting ready to meet,” Bobby Martin, CEO at Vertical IQ, said during the panel.

Marcia Koch, Deputy Head of Commercial Banking at Valley Bank, joined Martin and Bobby on the panel to share how her use of both RelPro and Vertical IQ, and the contact, company and industry intelligence they provide, enhance her team’s prospecting and research. “It empowers our people in business acquisition,” she said. “Giving them insights to help them speak on a strategic level with understanding of the challenges of the industry can be very powerful and can set you apart from your competitors.”

Properly leveraging company and industry intelligence will help you better anticipate your prospects’ and clients’ needs, and lead to better-informed and more productive discussions. You also need to know more about who you should be talking to, and how to get in touch with them. Finding accurate, up-to-date contact, background and affiliation information for the financial decision-makers at your target companies can help you personalize outreach, while saving you and your prospect valuable time as you engage and build a relationship.

Here are a few ways to use company and contact intelligence, combined with industry insights, to develop engaged connections, win new business and deepen relationships with prospects and your existing clients.

Find your niche

Bankers need to be able to speak the same language as their prospects and clients. Given the thousands of industries that exist, it’s difficult to become well-versed in all of them. However, establishing a niche within a few key industries in your footprint can distinguish you as a subject matter expert and a source of valuable, trusted advice. An understanding of trends in your local economy, and their potential impact on your key industries helps identify you as someone worth talking to. By defining your niche, you can then focus your time, energy, research and outreach efforts on the most opportune areas of your business.

Be prepared

With Barlow Research finding that 82% of middle market businesses are receiving calls from banks that they don’t currently do business with, there is no shortage of bankers calling on SMB executives. To make that memorable, and favorable, first impression, you must know some conversation-starting details on who you’re talking to, what their business does, their likely challenges and potential opportunities. This means going beyond a general NAICS code to determine your client or prospect’s industry. Leveraging industry and contact intelligence to learn about the business and its key executives and owners before your outreach enables you to personalize your meeting and distinguish you from the competition.

Stay alert

Keeping tabs on prospects and clients is a critical activity for business development professionals and relationship managers, though it can be time-consuming. Receiving automated alerts related to your key clients and prospect companies / executives enables you to quickly review updates and be up to speed in advance of your calls. They may even give you a reason to reach out and schedule a call. Automated notifications can help you shape the agenda and conversation for your meeting around impactful current events, and how you can provide value to help your client or prospect respond to them.

Timely alerts for company and executive updates not only help show you care and are on the ball, they can also save you from walking into a meeting and being surprised by some recent development. Good or bad, unexpected company news can completely upend your planned discussion and demonstrate that you hadn’t been paying attention. Setting up alerts will help you be prepared, while also saving time in your research, adding efficiency to your business development and relationship management efforts.

Create a process

To consistently deliver an exceptional customer experience based on company, contact and industry intelligence, you need to develop an effective process to conduct your research and put it to use. To optimize your efforts, that process needs to be easy to use, organized and repeatable. Finding the right tools and leveraging their full capabilities can aid this process, helping you efficiently and proactively research companies and saving time that can be used to build relationships.

RelPro delivers an integrated solution for bankers to develop targeted lists for outreach, find accurate contact information for key decision makers and research those companies and individuals on a deeper level. RelPro also partners with Vertical IQ and IBISWorld, the leading independent providers of industry research for business development professionals. With insights from Buyer Intent Data, bankers can also see what financial services their clients and prospects are searching for. Schedule a demo today to see how RelPro can enhance your relationship management and business development efforts, and save your precious time.

About the Author

Keith Arsenault is the Marketing Manager at RelPro. He has spent 8 years in financial services, both as a retail banker and as a marketer and writer in financial technology.