Jack Hubbard on How Covid Has Changed Selling Forever (And What Will Never Change)
This week we are brining back one of our favorites — Jack Hubbard of St. Meyer & Hubbard. Jack has trained over 70,000 bankers in his lifetime and his content can be seen in ABA Bank Marketing Blog, RAIN Today, The American Banker, The Financial Brand, and RMA Journal. Jack is co-author of the bestselling book, Conversations with Prospects, which has become the standard for bank acquisition strategies.
The views, information, or opinions expressed during this show are solely those of the participants involved and do not necessarily represent those of SouthState Bank and its employees.
Intro: Helping community bankers grow themselves, their team and their profits. This is the Community Bank Podcast.
Erik Bagwell: Welcome to the community Bank podcast. I’m Eric Bagwell, Director of Sales and Marketing for the correspondent division of SouthState Bank and joining me is Caleb Stevens. Caleb works in our business development area and helps produce the podcast. Caleb, how are you?
Caleb Stevens: I’m good. Excited to talk to Jack Hubbard today. He’s a repeat guest, one of our only repeat guests. I think we’ve had Joe Keating on a number of times, but I think other than that, Jack is really our first guest we’ve had on for a second time. We had him on about a year ago and man, things have changed since then, and then in some ways things really haven’t changed. And so, it was a good discussion about sales and what does it look like going forward for lenders, for bankers as we’re trying to develop new business, both in person again finally, but also still with technology over zoom and things like that.
Erik Bagwell: He just brings a wealth of information on anything sales. He’s actually done sales training for us at the bank and he has spoken at a conference that we put on and Jack is just, always great to have him and so we’re excited. Thanks, you guys for tuning in and as always, we’re hearing from some of you guys that you really enjoy the podcast, please keep reaching out to us, we’d love to get that feedback. So, let’s go straight to the interview with Jack right now.
Caleb Stevens: Well, Jack, it’s great to see you back on our podcast. I think we had you on almost a year ago or maybe a little over a year ago, so it’s good to see you. How are you doing?
Jack Hubbard: Well things are good, Caleb and it’s good to see you as well. And Eric, time goes by really fast. I’m not sure time has gone by quite as fast as people would like it around this whole pandemic thing, and we’ll see where that all goes. But yeah, it was a year ago and a lot has certainly changed, and a lot hasn’t changed in a year.
Caleb Stevens: Right, right. I remember when we talked to you about a year ago, we were in the throws of COVID; we had no idea what the future hold. There was no vaccine, on the horizon or at least not in the near term. And we were sitting here as bankers saying, how are we going to develop business? How are we going to build relationships? How are we going to stay in front of our clients when taking people to lunch, popping into their office, visiting people, going out for a round a golf, was off the table in many cases. And you provided some excellent thoughts on what does that look like? And you made the case that there’s a lot that hasn’t changed and the principles that you preach at St. Meyer and Hubbard haven’t changed. I love to start with this question as we come out of COVID or at least we think we’re hopefully on the back end of COVID. How has the pandemic changed selling for the long haul? And then what are some things that you think will always remain constant?
Jack Hubbard: Well, what of the interesting things about this? I was thinking about this as I was getting ready for this over the weekend and watching the golf tournaments and college football and baseball and the number of people packed in together. We had Lollapalooza here in Chicago and we had a hundred thousand people a day. Interestingly enough, there were only, I think, 400 reported cases of COVID within that whole thing. So when you talk about super spreader events it isn’t happening. But I would say this Caleb, I think that we’re in a forever normal, and I think anyone who thinks that we can turn back the clock to 2019, is living in a leave it to beaver moment; this is a forever kind of a thing, and what does that mean? Sure, we’ll go back to two events, that we’re business people gather. I’ve got a couple of speeches and a couple of classes in the fall, so it’s slowly kind of inching up, but what’s really interesting is that as much as it inches up, we take a step back because I’ve had five classes cancel and move into 2022. Part of that is the pandemic certainly, and the Delta variant part of it is in states that aren’t as vaccinated as others, and so people are a little more concerned. We have a banking school that takes place in the near future, and that’s gone from face-to-face to virtual, partly because we’re on a university campus where there’s some pretty strict mask mandates. Now having said all that, we’re going to continue to do business, but I think we’re in a very interesting time now. And I work calling it BEC-Blended Environment Conversation. If you look at the statistics, here’s what’s going on, some people, including CEOs, CFOs, Senior Executives, the people that bankers want to meet are, are saying to themselves and to the community, we’d like to work from home a couple of days a week, because we got used to it, we now are sharing childcare, what are we going to do with the dog that we adopted during the pandemic and et cetera, et cetera.
So, I think that the mistake that some bankers are making is that they’re looking at this as a zero-sum game. When we talked a year ago, we had just launched our program called a Remote Relationship Development, the video training series about how to have a conversation like we’re having today in a remote kind of a way we had about 4,000 bankers subscribed to that which blew us away. We thought, well, our clients will take advantage of it, et cetera, but they were in the thousands as we go back and say to bankers now, oh do you want to renew? A lot of them are saying, no, we’re good because we’re out selling face-to-face. I think that’s mistake this hybrid model, this BEC-Blended Environment Conversations model, I think, is going to be around for a long time because we’ve gotten used to it, and we now know better how to do it. I’ll give you a quick case study. We have a bank that we work with where, a resource manager, not a relationship manager, but a resource manager, went to a doctor on a virtual call and said, I’d like to talk to you about your relationship, et cetera. And so got to the point where the doctor said, you have some interesting things to say here. It’s a little different than my current bank, I’d like to get all my doctors together. And in a virtual call on zoom, the doctor got seven other doctors in the zoom room together, and the banker was able to close the business, not over the computer, but as a result of using the computer. He went out and did some face-to-face calling, but there’s some blended environment situations here with virtual, I’ll just tell you one other thing that I think is that’s happening for sure, and this is the whole idea around net sharing events are coming back. Now, you notice, I didn’t say networking, it’s net sharing.
If it’s my mind, if it’s work, it isn’t worth it, I think what we’ve taught people in the past is to go out and work the room, go out and have an elevator speech. Well, those are as antiquated as black and white television. What we really need to be thinking about is when we go out into a face-to-face environment, as we will, what value am I providing? How do I customize my introduction? How do I make sure that I’m providing value, not working the room because it’s better to be interested than interesting? So whether it’s on a hybrid model and a virtual model or a face-to-face model, I think that the change in selling is a forever kind of an approach.
Caleb Stevens: And can you talk about the BEC blended environment? I would imagine, and I’d love to hear your perspective on this, that prior to COVID, that would be a much bigger challenge from a technology standpoint and from a comfort level standpoint for a lot of bankers and having gone through COVID though, it wasn’t fun. It was sad in many respects and it was difficult and there are some bright spots and there was a lot of learning to be had and maybe some new opportunities and new doors that have been opened because of it. That’s kind of my take on it. What do you think?
Jack Hubbard: Don’t disagree at all. In fact, what we’re seeing is that business is being closed, on a hybrid kind of basis. And the interesting thing is the business that is being closed is actually higher on an average basis, larger deals are being closed on a hybrid kind of a basis. But one of the things that you did mention, and we talked about this a year ago is the importance of two things, technology and training. And we found in a study, this was after we launched our program, that 70% of CEOs suggested in a survey that they had not provided the tools or technology, the training and the computerization at home that the bankers needed to be effective. And when we asked why they believed it was a short-term thing. So back to our model, if we believe that this is a forever issue, I think that executives need to realize two things. Number one, there are going to be weather related issues. There are going to be childcare related issues that are going to cause the banker to have to be at home from time to time, they need to skill up and we need to provide the technology. But there’s one more subtlety that a couple of our community banks are doing, and this is really powerful. They’ve created what they call a zoom room in their office, they’ve set up what you’ve set up in your studio. They’ve got microphones, they’ve got good lighting, they’ve got good computers and so when someone wants to go in and make a call, they can use that room in a hybrid kind of way at the office, and still set up in a way that’s going to be very professional. Now here’s, what’s really powerful and we can all agree, that’s a really good idea, but here’s where marketing has come in. Marketing said, okay in the room, let’s put some posters behind the banker. So let’s say they’re calling on a veterinarian, let’s get some quotes from service-related industries, doctors, et cetera. So that in the background, what the veterinarian is seeing is quotes about how wonderful the bank is in, then maybe in the afternoon at different bankers, calling out a manufacturing company, they change out the posters to make it manufacturing. I think this whole pandemic, as tragic as you have suggested, it certainly has made creativity and innovation at banking, kind of come to the forefront and people are starting to realize, hey, these bankers aren’t as boring as I thought, they could really do some pretty good things,
Erik Bagwell: Jack. I had a guy tell me one time, he’s actually an insurance salesman, and he made the comment. He said, yeah, salesman, they don’t ever have wives that are not pretty because they’ll talk to anybody, and that’s the only thing I ever remember that guy telling me, as I said, in an interview with him probably for 45 minutes, but there’s probably a lot of truth to that. Talk about cold calling and it’s something that I don’t care how good a salesman you are, it’s probably not your favorite thing to do. What are some effective ways people are cold calling now? I’m assuming that picking up the phone, a lot of folks don’t answer the phone anymore. Emails, I delete probably 20 emails a day that are basically cold calling emails. What are you seeing today that’s effective?
Jack Hubbard: Well, we’ve sent and received more emails in the past year that in our history, a billion emails go out everyday and that’s increased during the pandemic because it by very nature, it had to but let’s talk about cold calling. We have rejected any bank, that wanted to have us teach their bankers how to cold call you in a relationship-based environment, cold calling is about the worst thing I can imagine, except for blitzing. This is another thing that bankers do. So, we get a bunch of bankers in a room together and we beat our heads against the locker, and we have a motivational speaker and we’d go get them tiger, and then we each get thrown out of about five buildings and the day, and the next time we do blitzing, we look in the mirror in the morning and we go, oh God, it’s blitz day. And you know, what’s really interesting? The buyer looks in the mirror and goes, God, I hope a banker who I don’t know from a bag of donuts will come in and tie my entire business up for about 30 minutes, that’s what blitzing and cold calling do. Now having said that there are some things I believe that you can do effectively, one of them is, and you had the amazing Brynne Tillman on a couple of weeks ago. And one of the things that she may have talked about, and if she did, and I know she does it herself and there’s video messaging. So one of the things that we’ve seen bankers do really effectively is you can send a video message to a first-degree connection only. So that’s forced the bankers to get out and connect. Number two, when you send that, you can send a six seconds to one minute message. During that message, if the banker provides something of value, says something of interest, says something that piques the curiosity of the buyer, the buyer is much more likely to respond so what’s an example of that? If I call a manufacturing company and I say in the past year, during the pandemic, we’ve helped three manufacturing companies include, increase their cash flow by an average of 17% and I’d like to share some tools that might help you be able to do that as well and put some money in your pocket.
The likelihood is they’re going to call back versus hi, I’m a new banker in the area and I’d like to come out and learn a little bit more about your business. A trainee hat is not put on the buyer here, we don’t need that, what we need is the buyer is looking for value. And so, there are some ideas that you can do. I’ll tell you one other thing, Eric that I’ve found to be really effective, and that is what we call combo prospecting and what simply that means is I send a letter or an email rather I submit email, and then I follow up with a voicemail or I send a voicemail late in the evening. And I follow up the next morning with an email that kind of says a little bit more extensively of what I said in the voicemail, but either way, if you want to do cold calling the real key, the one word that’s a key to get your calls returned is curiosity because becoming a commodity by telling everybody it’s always good to get to know another banker I’d like to come out and show you how I can save you some money on your banking.
Those things aren’t going to cut it anymore.
Caleb Stevens: Yeah. And Jack, one of the things I like about the approach you take is, you take these common sorts of salesy terms and you flip them to adding value. So, we talked about earlier, a relationship manager versus a resource manager, and there’s a key difference there. One term that I really liked that you flip is the idea of taking cross selling to cross solving and there’s a lot of banks out there who have a lot of customers who probably only have one line of business with a bank, whether it’s just a deposit relationship or a loan relationship and they’d love to talk about mortgages or talk about SBA or talk about all the treasury management, all the different products that a bank can offer their clients. Talk about what are some of the effective keys to cross solving, and what do you even mean by cross solving?
Jack Hubbard: Sure. Well, I’ve been very blessed in this industry, I’ve worked in banking for six decades and I’ve gotten to know an awful lot of people in some of those people are competitors of mine and companies like clarity advantage, Ned Miller, who’s just phenomenal. Marty Cohen, and you can go Linda Richardson, you can go on down the list one of the things we all have in common is that what we’re trying to do is to change behaviors and to help bankers understand that what they sell is not a drill, they sell a hole. And, and so what we’re trying to say is you don’t sell a loan, you sell the results of the loan. So we all teach, what’s called needs-based selling. Now we’ve tried to take it to another level and take it to a level of what we call trust-based selling. But it’s all about the same. I believe that when you put in the mind of a banker cross selling, what that tells me as a banker is that there is a company out there that might be a single service household, and they may have a loan with us, for example, and in a cross-selling environment, my goal is to sell them more stuff. Well, sure, that’s fine, but in a cross-solving environment, what I do is I look at the seven basic financial needs, every business has very dynamic managing cash, managing growth, managing risks, et cetera, and I put in my mind, instead of selling products, I’m trying to solve their problems. So, in a cross-selling environment, many times, it’s me versus you, it’s a battle, it’s a war, it’s manipulation in a cross-solving environment; It’s me and you versus your problem. So, while I don’t do this physically, I see myself kind of going around to the other side of the desk with the buyer and saying, let’s figure out a way to solve your problem.
Now in a trust-based environment and we all talk about this idea of trusted advisor in a trust-based environment, what the banker would certainly want to do is, sell a product that they have, but if they know that another bank or another competitor has a better product, a trusted advisor would actually maybe steer that buyer toward that product, or at least give them that as an option when we started this company 22 years ago. The first thing that my wife did for me was buy me this great book, it’s called The Trusted Advisor by Charles Green, and Charlie just put out the 20th anniversary of the trusted advisor this year. And I’ve gotten to know Charlie really well. And I said, Charlie, give me an easy definition of trusted advisors; it’s really simple.
A trusted advisor is someone who is willing to refer their best customer of their most hated competitor. When you do that, because your competitor does a better job than you do in a certain situation, you are a trusted advisor. So, Caleb, I’m really glad you brought this up because a lot of people and I’ve taught 71,000 bankers and a lot of people say, oh, okay, Jack you’re here, you go with your terms again and resource manager is different than relationship manager.
A resource manager is proactive, a go-to bankers, someone that’s going to use things like vertical IQ and REL pro and LinkedIn and articles and white papers provide proactive value. A relationship manager may do that, but they may be more likely to kind of sit on the relationship and I’ll call it, babysit the relationship, and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, but what I’m suggesting is, and you started this by talking about what’s changed in selling. Well, what’s really changed is this whole idea forever of a banker, really needing to add value, and I view the same as cross solving. It’s not about it’s about solving problems; it’s that simple to me.
Erik Bagwell: Jack, let’s talk about sales management for a second and something that most leaders struggle with. And it’s probably, I don’t even know what the known, maybe 90% of leaders struggle with this, but what’s the best way to hold somebody accountable, both for effort and results from a sales management perspective? Because it involves hard conversations at times to talk about what you think is the best way this is done?
Jack Hubbard: Well, as we begin the football season, Eric, I’m always reminded of a quote from Mike Ditka, and Mike did used to say at the first day of practice, Chicago bears, you will either be fired with enthusiasm, or I will fire you with enthusiasm. Unfortunately, many times in community banking, when a manager gets to a certain level; to a sales management position, the level of accountability tends to go away; we always account down, we tend not to account. In other words, we want to make sure that as I get promoted, I am held accountable by the people above me to do what I think is, is really important. Now what’s important, well let’s talk statistics first during the pandemic, 71% of bankers said they were either not coached or coached less by their manager. I find that extremely tragic and challenging in that in a hybrid environment, I could coach somebody every day, just pick up the phone or do a zoom meeting. It’s so much easier, but what if you look at the manager side and when they were asked, why they didn’t do it, it was, I didn’t want to get too much in their space, I was really concerned about their safety and security, I wanted to create a balance, but they were doing just the opposite because people do want to be held accountable. They do want to be coached. So, then it gets to the point of, hey, what what’s, what’s above me. I recently watched the FedEx cup and, I park it back to the one and only time in 2003, that I went to the masters in the FedEx cup and in the masters, there were two things in common, there was a coach for each golfer, those golfers could run rings around their coach.
Their coach was there to help them see something that the golfer couldn’t see, move your foot, just this much your arm position, just this much. That means the difference between $5 million in winnings and $15 million in winnings. So when people say, I’ve been in this business for 30 years, I don’t need to be coached anymore. I find that to be tragic on the sales side, what’s even more tragic is if I get to a position of SVP or team leader or whatever many times, I’m not coached anymore. And I got to give a lot of props to your dad, Caleb, because Neil Stephens is one of the best coaches I’ve seen, and one of the reasons is because of the question that Eric asked, he asked about accountability. Neil always held people accountable. He always viewed consequences as a positive and a negative, if you go to the gym, there are consequences, if you don’t go to the gym, there are consequences. We find that the billions of dollars that are spent in sales training go to waste about 92% of the time, because nothing changes after the training. So, team meetings, if I’m a good leader, I’m going to run get to go team meeting. I’m going to wake up in the morning and I’m going to look at, and I’m going to say, I get to go to that meeting today versus, oh God, I have to go to that meeting today because that mindset translates into learning. I want to do check-ins with my people one-on-one I want to make them behavioral and I want to make them out the windshield, so I want to look forward. I want to do one-on-ones and I want to do coaching, and I want to get to go have, get to go team meetings. And one more thing, guys and that is back to your original question, the forever normal is going to require different coaching skills for example, every single technology that is used allows you to record, you’re doing this exactly that way today. This allows you to go back, maybe edit, listen back, it allows me to listen back, did I talk too long? Did I talk too much? Did I not say enough about this question? Did I not answer their question the right way? In a remote environment, a manager could see every call, they can record them. All the banker has to do is forward the recording at the end of the call with the permission of the buyer, oh, do you mind if I record the call? No. 97% don’t have a problem. I send it over to my manager and now my manager can be on every single joint call with me. Well, my manager can then do is to target the skill that I’m lacking in those seven minutes.
I’m not very good at questioning, let me see that. Then I schedule a meeting with my banker and we go over them. And then I do a coaching situation. Phil Jackson wrote a great book; I’ll end with this. Phil Jackson wrote a great book a number of years ago called Sacred Hoops, in the book, he talks about the great Michael Jordan and one of the things he says about Michael Jordan is everyone needs to be coached differently, but everyone needs to be coached. And unfortunately, in our industry today, we tend to say, well, we hire adults, they know how to do this. Well, this is so interesting. I always say to bank presidents, they say, oh, we’ve got our 30-year bankers, they don’t need to go to training because they have plenty of experience. I always fast bank presidents of the 10 people that you’re talking about with 30 years or more experience. If you started your own business and you needed to eat, how many of those would you hire and who, and what it comes down to is they’re really good bankers. They’re not so good at selling and part of that is because during their career, they haven’t been coached very well.
Erik Bagwell: That’s a great quote. I love that if you started your own business and you needed to eat, all right. So, your golf and coach analogy, made me think of a quote from the famous lead Trevino and it’s opposite of what you said. And I agree with everything you said by the way about coaching, but you remember his quote. Somebody asked him, why have you never had a golf coach? And he said because I’ve never found one that could beat me, and I just always thought that was a funny quote that he had. But I’m wrapping up with Jack. One more question for the person out there, that’s listening, what’s the one thing they’ve got to be doing today that if they’re not doing this, they’re missing sales with everything going on in the world with the changes with everything we’ve talked about today? What’s the one thing, if they had to make one change, you would say, you’ve got to do this?
Jack Hubbard: Your banker-preneur and have a top 20. In other words, there are 20 businesses that I, as a banker, very likely want to bank in 2022, unfortunately too often, what happens is we let the game come to us instead of going to the game. So have a list of a top 20 figure out the best way to touch each one of those top 20 in a value-based kind of way. I think a mistake we make as bankers is because we live, you guys are in Atlanta, we have large markets and we say, look at all the opportunity. The problem is it’s too big, we need to get it down to the law of small numbers and say, I can’t bank everybody who do I want to bank? And we started out with banker-preneur. If I’m a banker-preneur, I’m going to focus on who I want to bank in my territory because it’s my business. I take control of that and when I do, and when I focus on small things, instead of big things, I tend to be more successful.
Caleb Stevens: Well, Jack, I feel like we could go for another hour here, but if folks want to get in touch with you, if they’re hearing this and they’re saying, wow, I really haven’t put in the time to learn how to sell remotely, these blended environments, that’s something I need to get on top of. How can they reach out to you, connect with you guys and access your resources?
Jack Hubbard: Well, connect with me on LinkedIn as the first thing, Caleb, that that’s really important. firstname.lastname@example.org is my email. We also do a program every Thursday called Jack Rants Live, where we have really great guests and I have a private LinkedIn group called the Hashtag Rant Pack, so a lot of ways to get ahold of me and love to chat with you guys. Thanks again for having me again. It was really fun. Let’s do this in a year, okay.
Caleb Stevens: Let’s do it! We’ll make It a tradition every year. We’ll see you back in 2022. So, thanks Jack.
Jack Hubbard: Thanks guys.
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