If your bank is anything like my bank, we often find ourselves excited about a new product or service, do all our risk management, approve the purchase of the product or service, train our staff....And then....we put it on the shelf. Yet, we still expect it to earn a return on our investment. If this scenario sounds familiar, you're not alone. As community bankers, we wear multiple hats and juggle tasks that are normally handled by several people in mega bank operations. However, if we are to stay competitive and make good use of our existing products, we must devote the time and staff necessary to get our leasing program off the shelf and out the door.
As a leasing bank with 25+ years of experience, we have found the key to success is to designate a direct sales person. This doesn't mean that you must go out and hire additional staff. BUT, it does mean that you will need to select one of your best lenders or most experienced sales staff and create a plan allocating time in his/her schedule to do the following things:
- Create a database of prospects & dealers (use CRM software to manage contacts, sales pipeline, generate management reports, etc.)
- Cultivate relationships with prospects & dealers (equipment dealers are a good source of credit/character references. Provide factor sheets to them for easy payment quoting.)
- Utilize tools like EDAdata software (helps with developing new prospects & seeing where current customers are getting other financing.)
- Cultivate relationships with real estate agents (aids in cross-selling loans for real estate/land.)
- Call on former lease customers
- Keep up with leasing industry trends (utilize sources like ELFA, Equipment Leasing and Finance Association to monitor trends.)
- Follow-up, Follow-up (with a call, note, visit, email, etc.)
It's time to knock the dust off your leasing program, put some boots to the ground, and turn over those rocks. Leasing sales are out there. I challenge you to review UCC filings in your area. You'll be amazed at the amount of equipment being financed in your back yard. As always, we are here to help you build your leasing program and wish you much success this year.
Community Bank President