Unpacking our Dynamics CRM Online RapidStart for Community Banks

Forceworks recently launched our latest RapidStart offering for Dynamics CRM online for Community Banks. We have the formal press release and the specific product page, but I thought I would do a deeper dive into the problems we are attempting to solve for a Community Bank. Today is a challenging time for community banks, the days when a few rich dudes would form a bank to sell later at a tidy profit are clearly behind us. Today, community banks need to fight for survival just to protect their shareholders’ investments. More than ever before, community banks need to be taking a longer view.

Regardless of your original motives, a community bank can only do one thing right now… grow. Growing your loan portfolio and deposits, upselling your premium services, cross-selling additional services, maintaining your existing relationships while creating new relationships is a lot to juggle. Fortunately Dynamics CRM Online is tailor-made for just this type of need. Well, out of the box it is not tailor-made, but that is the purpose of our RapidStart for Dynamics CRM Online for Community Banks, tailoring Dynamics CRM Online for the specific needs of a Community Bank.

As a Community Bank you compete not just with other community banks, but also the national and regional banks for parts of your service offerings. With other services you offer you are in competition with host of other alternatives as well. Let’s face it, the advantage community banks have today, is the same one that they have always had, a focus on personal relationships. This is the only reason community banks have ever survived against the larger, impersonal banks and services. When you hire Business Development Managers, you are not hiring some kid fresh out of school, you are looking for the “relationship builders”. Your coveted  high-net-worth individual customers and business owners are expecting this, they can get loans and deposit accounts anywhere.

So our goal, and your goal, are to a) find and cultivate new relationships, and b) treat your existing relationships like you could lose them tomorrow… because you easily could, and c) outmaneuver our competition. So if you buy into this concept, take a look at what you are doing today to address these three issues. There is no more pressing issue for you; if you are not doing these three things right, nothing else matters. Upselling and cross-selling to existing relationships is critically important, but it will only grow business incrementally, net new customers is the key to growth, but your competition is aware of this also. So a balance is required; if your efforts tip to far in either direction, you are in trouble. Dynamics CRM Online, deployed with our RapidStart model, is the tool to keep things in balance, let me explain by exploring these three “Pillars” at a high level:

Pillar 1: Maintaining Existing Bank Relationships

While generating new customers is obviously critical, an equal amount of effort needs to be placed on your current customers. It is the nature of any business to get more excited about new customers and closing new business, rather than maintaining those relationships after the deal, regardless of what we may tell prospects up front. When you think about your current customers, including the ones you closed last month, last year, or many years ago, what do you actually know about them? Can you see, across all of your customers, what bank services that they are taking advantage of? Are you aware of which ones just hired a new CFO? Do you know which ones are planning a business expansion, made an acquisition, or were acquired? Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, powered by our RapidStart provides this kind of data in a single pane of glass approach.

What is your process for touching existing customers on a regular basis? Random phone calls or emails? Generic email newsletters? Are you making some kind of contact with all of them, or only a few “important” ones? We have all seen the data that supports that it is cheaper to keep a customer than to gain a new one, and yet the bulk of our relationship building efforts are concentrated on new business. Dynamics CRM Online, together with our RapidStart deployment features, gives you tools to surface the opportunities within your existing customer base, as well as the means to regularly touch these customers with targeted messaging. Like for example, a promotional CD rate targeting new checking account customers… we may not want current account holders seeing this message.

Pillar 2: Creating Net New Banking Customers

foursomeI have written a lot in the past about how important new leads are to building a healthy pipeline. Leads are different from Prospects, a better term might be Suspects. People who you have reason to “suspect” might be a prospect for your bank’s services… think about every member of your local Chamber for example. A healthy pipeline of opportunities is built from a lot of these Suspects that we call Leads in CRM parlance. You need to be spending time effectively on both Leads and Opportunities, but in practice, you don’t. Most BDMs will spend as much time as possible on real Opportunities, which is to be expected, but once they lift their head up after closing that deal, then what? If you are of a size where you have a “Marketing” person, they should be fully engaged with your suspects via CRM’s “touching” capabilities. If you do not have a marketing person, then your BDM’s need to spend a portion of their time on filling that bucket with suspects, together with efforts to surface “Opportunities”.

Once Opportunities have surfaced, your BDMs need to have a systematic approach for moving them through your sales process, while providing realistic forecasts for management. Sure, golf may be involved and maybe sending over a box of cigars, these things are important, but these activities alone will not suffice, nor do they surface any meaningful metrics upon which you can plan. Dynamics CRM Online, with our RapidStart features, gives you the tools to be both strategic and informed in your effort to grow your customer base.

Pillar 3: Competing Effectively

big-gunIf you are doing Pillars 1 and 2 correctly, Pillar 3 becomes much easier. Why, because most Community Banks that you compete with are not doing these things. Outlook, spreadsheets and memory are no match for a properly deployed and adopted CRM. If you currently “own” your market and have little or no competition, then you can could have skipped this post, but if you made it all the way to here, then I guess that is not your situation. But what if it were?

Okay, I don’t want to oversell CRM’s ability to squash your competition, and in this business, many of your competitors are also friends. But if a prospective opportunity shows up on both your radars, well let’s just say, I would prefer to bring a gun to a knife fight.

In case you missed them, there are links at the beginning of this post to more information, or you can contact us when you are ready to create your own “unfair advantage”.

Add your thoughts below, just don’t pimp your stuff on my blog 🙂


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