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How Thought Leadership Can Reduce the Cost of Sales
by Patrik Havander, Havander & Partners
A focused attention on the costs incurred by the global sales and marketing processes is becoming increasingly important for corporate banks and their transaction banking departments. While the client/bank relationship remains vital, research has shown that in fact relationship selling is the least effective sales approach. If banks wish to make big leaps in increasing their ‘share of wallet’ in the existing customer portfolio, increase their hit rate in prospecting and client retention, I suggest that the most effective way of achieving this begins with creating awareness in the mind of the customer. Many banks are under-investing in the sales process and the entire customer journey, and one of the most important ways of rectifying this is to be positioned as a ‘thought leader’ in the market place. Changing a bank is a major decision and corporates look for a supplier that is dedicated to developing and leading the relationship in a way that will contribute to their own success. While many surveys have indicated that corporates often cannot tell the difference between the banks’ offerings, it is possible for banks to counteract this by providing ‘thought leading’ ideas; building channels to reach clients; and budgeting for market investment. The aim is to build on existing client relationships by implementing a structure that can deliver new solutions month after month, year after year, and crucially to show commitment to the treasury industry. I have found that industry-specific treasury magazines, both printed and digital, are by far the most effective channel to thought leadership. The special supplements and guides, concentrating on one particular topic such as supply chain finance, or on a specific region such as EMEA, are very valuable. They have a long lifetime and can be distributed directly by the sponsor to the existing and potential client base. I believe that it is vitally important for banks that wish to strengthen their reputations as thought leaders to partner with an industry magazine that can support them in this process, and over a period of many years I have found Treasury Management International (TMI) to be a leader in this field. There are several compelling reasons for this. TMI’s CEO & Publisher Robin Page has a deep understanding of the banks’ need to reach the market with relevant and insightful content while being readable and targeted at corporate treasurers. The magazine has the best financial editor in the industry - I think that many will agree when I say that Helen Sanders is a unique editor. She has a profound knowledge of the industry as well a talent for making ‘gold out of sand’, by which I mean her ability to work with the sponsors in a way that helps everything go smoothly, asking the right questions and challenging the content in a proactive way. The end result is always great, and the fact that the sponsors then have to make very few amendments to her articles means that the process is extremely time-efficient. The TMI team has a unique network, knowing everyone in the industry: corporates, banks, system providers and consultants, and the close co-operation with different country and regional treasury organisations is also very valuable. In the thought leadership planning with the sponsors TMI is often able to suggest co-operation possibilities in order to make the whole article or series more interesting. They are happy to introduce you to their network, which should not be under-estimated as a business catalyst. When I was at SEB we were planning a guide focusing on the challenges and opportunities of working capital in different industries. TMI introduced me to PwC, who were also focusing on this topic but from a different angle. The end result was phenomenal, and this guide is still frequently down-loaded from TMI’s home page. You also get great bang for your buck- there are always opportunities with TMI at a reasonable price. They support your efforts both in print and on the web. Doing business should be fun. Working with TMI is always a professional experience, but it is also great fun working with the whole team. These are a few pointers to reducing the cost of the sales process. Customers are looking for a supplier that is forward-looking in developing their business, shows commitment to their problems and the treasury industry, introduces new ideas, demonstrating experience, leadership and success; this goes for existing clients as well as prospects. Looking back at the customer journey, it starts here!