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A Letter to Bank and Credit Union Software Vendors

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Dear bank and credit union software vendors,

Mea culpa. Years ago, when I was a chief product officer involved in helping my company’s sales team conduct demonstrations with prospects, I made many of the mistakes I am ranting about here. At Cornerstone Advisors, I’m now on the other side of the table. I watch two or three software demonstrations each week and it kills me to see so many basic mistakes being made.

I offer up this feedback with good intentions so we can all improve how we demonstrate our products to prospects and customers.

  • Do your homework—My number one piece of advice is to spend time researching the prospective bank or credit union. I know your sales leadership has spent hours teaching you how to conduct basic discovery on your prospect, but there are countless times when people speaking on the call have no clue about the financial institution’s main problems or challenges and know very little about their business model, systems in use, or people on the call. Spend some time on the institution’s website, read its management reports, and cyber-stalk the meeting participants on LinkedIn before joining the call.
  • Ask questions before you show up and throw up—Before moving onto the agenda and demonstration flow that you established with the prospect’s feedback, ask your client if there are any other topics they want to discuss. Read the room. Not all the stakeholders on the call have the same goals. Some want to solve the problem no matter what while others want to solve the problem without adding resources.
  • Tell a story about how another client solved a similar problem—Lately, I have been seeing a ton of demos on fraud detection systems. We get it—ID theft and check fraud are nightmares. Remember, I am living in the problem. Please don’t show me seven slides with industry stats on fraud. Instead, tell me how your solution helps me detect check washing and deposit fraud where the bad guy uses fake checks. Even better, tell me how another bank or credit union my size on similar systems stopped that check fraud.
  • Speak my language—Use “members” not “customers” when talking with a credit union. Use “customers” not “members” when talking to a bank. So many demos use the same script for banks and credit unions. A little hint: one of these groups typically cares a lot more about consumer relationships while the other typically cares a lot more about commercial relationships. Make sure that the problem you are solving is relevant to the business model.
  • If you sell painkillers, give me a prescription—Close with why your solution addresses the client’s pain points. Offer tangible next steps like a proof of concept or trial evaluation. Offer to have the prospect chat with an existing user—bankers love to validate what you told them with someone in their shoes. Please do more than set up a call in a few weeks to see if the prospect has further questions.

These are a few of my suggestions. Let me know in the comments some of yours.

John Meyer is a senior director at Cornerstone Advisors. Follow John on LinkedIn.

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