Case Study

Entrepreneurial Thinking

Transforming client conversations…from rapport to real value and loyalty

How one bank is creating radically different relationships with the small business market by teaching their RMs to understand the entrepreneur

A large, international bank restructured its Corporate arm  to deliver banking services to clients across a much broader size range.  But this presented some significant strategy challenges.

Beyond lending

“Clients know we are great at delivering what we say we will, but  they want us to go beyond being brilliant at this and to add more strategic value; to engage with them at a deeper level.” said the Bank’s Head of Corporate Banking.   In other words, the Bank wanted to go beyond lending and upskill their Releationship Managers to create relationships for growth; to become famous for making the client think  “Wow, I’ve never thought of it like that before.”

And the way to do this was by seeing the businesses from the client’s perspective and by engaging meaningfully in that context.  The trouble was that, whilst the RMs had great technical knowledge, many of them lacked confidence in having non-technical, non banking related conversations.  Too many client interactions were low value and product focused.

So the Bank turned to Contexis, who are well known for their understanding of entrepreneurs and what they really want from their service providers and corporate partners.  Contexis took this exceptional depth of entrepreneurial experience and understanding and created an immersive learning experience for client-facing managers and leaders in the bank that transformed their understanding of what it is to be a business owner, and gave them the skills to hold genuinely strategic and meaningful conversations with customers and prospects.

The programme was a noteable success in the UK and was rolled out internationally and vertically in the Bank to include RMS and leaders from over 15 key markets in both the Commercial and Corporate Bank.

The programme has been revolutionary

The most common response of delegates is that is it ‘the best training’ they have every received in a bank.  The leading modules are often described as ‘inspiring’ and ‘transforming’, and have scored an average 90% in terms of impact in all territories.

“A client said to me ‘have you just done an MBA?'”

RMs are finding that the difference between building rapport through a genial relationship (which can actually mask a lack of real value), versus understanding and delivering what the business owner truly needs is profound and delivers a transformation in their relationships with clients and with mandates won.

“This client had rejected meetings over and over again.  They are really price driven and just didn’t want to talk to us.  Using this new approach we quickly got him talking about what he really wanted to talk about.  We had the meeting on Monday.  On Friday we got a £5m mandate!  We went from him not wanting to work with us to being his best alternative.”

Delegates reported a marked improvement in skills, confidence and role satisfaction.

“This has been mind-opening, game-changing.  I have so much more confidence now.”

Remarkably, more than 50% of the original RM group have since been promoted to more senior roles. The centre that ran that programme has gone from near the bottom of the Bank’s rankings to the top within the space of a year.  Anecdotally, customers have also noticed the change in approach with multiple examples of customers writing to RMs to describe their meetings as ‘the most useful I have ever had with the Bank.’

“After the meeting, for the first time ever, I got an email from them saying ‘thanks very much, that was really throught provoking.  Looking forward to seeing you again.'”
“We were there over two hours and we only finished because he had another meeting to go to.  He said ‘I really enjoyed this morning’s meeting.  I was perfectly ready to give you 20 minutes and I had all my excuses prepared.’  My colleague was gobsmacked!’

If you’d like to ready more about entrepreneurial thinking you may enjoy these articles:

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Bridging the crisis of trust between big and small businesses