BankBosun Podcast | Banking Risk Management | Banking Executive Podcast

BankBosun is a biweekly syndicated audio program that provides the multi-tasking bank C-suite officers ideas and solutions from key executives from all types of businesses operating in the banking ecosystem. BankBosun provides relevant ideas and solutions clearly, concisely and credibly to better enable them to navigate risk and discover reward. Kelly Coughlin is a CPA and CEO of BankBosun, a management consulting firm helping bank C Level Officers navigate risk and discover reward. He is the host of the syndicated audio podcast, Kelly brings over 25 years of experience with companies like PWC, Lloyds Bank, and Merrill Lynch. On the podcast Kelly interviews key executives in the banking ecosystem to provide bank C suite officers, risk management, technology, and investment ideas and solutions to help them navigate risks and discover rewards. Kelly earned his undergraduate degree (BA) from Gonzaga University and a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College in Wellesley, MA. Kelly lives in Edina, MN.
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Aug 28, 2017

Title: Pick Up the Damn Phone Means No Cold Calling! Listen to Joanne-of-the-Nice-Voice Explain.

Date: August 25, 2017

Attendee and Guest:  Kelly Coughlin, CEO, BankBosun; Joanne Black, Author and Consultant,

[Boatswain’s whistle] That’s the Bosun’s whistle calling you bankers to attention.  Listen, compete, win.

Intro: Kelly Coughlin is a CPA and CEO of BankBosun, a management consulting firm helping bank C Level Officers navigate risk and discover reward. He is the host of the syndicated audio podcast, Kelly brings over 25 years of experience with companies like PWC, Lloyds Bank, and Merrill Lynch. On the podcast Kelly interviews key executives in the banking ecosystem to provide bank C suite officers, risk management, technology, and investment ideas and solutions to help them navigate risks and discover rewards. And now your host, Kelly Coughlin.

Greetings, this is Kelly Coughlin, CEO of BankBosun, helping bank C- suite execs navigate risks and discover reward in a sea of threats and opportunities. It wasn’t so long ago, that there were really only three ways to communicate with people: the mail, in-person, and on the phone. That was it. That’s the way it was only 40 years ago. Imagine that…no texting, no social media, no cell phones, no internet, no email…just 40 years ago.

Today, we have all these new different ways to communicate…and frequently, when something “new” is introduced in the market, it gets overused and misused. Why? Because we lose sight of the purpose of the new concept and focus simply on using the new concept. In communications today, I will say the reliance upon binary digits…technology…is overused and misused today. As most of you know, we at BankBosun are huge fans of using the human voice as a way to more effectively communicate your message…whether it be your company mission and vision, your product features and benefits, or your assessment of the market landscape and environment, the power of the human voice to communicate empathy, energy and emotion is one of the strongest powers as human beings we have. And if we don’t use that power, we miss a huge opportunity to connect and communicate with our tribe. We like to say, while the pen is mightier than the sword, the voice is stronger than both. Use it. The new communication tactics today are terrific and I use them constantly and consistently. But in terms of effectiveness, nothing compares with the sound of the human voice…I fully recognize that it is not efficient, and that is why many companies founded in the digital era have adopted a business model that minimizes or sometimes completely eliminates the human voice…Facebook, Google, Uber…have you ever tried to get an Uber customer service agent on the phone…forget it…it just won’t happen.

This audio interview is an example of the power of the human voice. I posit that if you only read the transcript of this interview, you will miss a huge portion of the underlying message. See how I said huge there? You would miss that if you just read it…it would sound huge…If you only read, you will miss the guest’s energy, empathy and emotion. You just don’t get that with the written word. Oh, and did I mention people don’t read anymore…they don’t. If you send a written piece longer than three quarters of a page it most likely won’t ever get read. Over 65% of written documents over one page in length get put down for later reading…and over 50% of those docs never get read…period. But if you listen, you get to hear a whole new dimension of communication. And you technical people that think your products and services are way too complex and need to be communicated with a written doc or flow chart or a Powerpoint. Wrong. You especially need to tell your story with your voice. I am not suggesting you abandon your written material. But frankly the more complex your offering the more you need to be able to tell your story with your voice…if you can’t, you need to learn your story better.

My guest today is also a strong advocate of using the human voice. She is a thought leader, author, and consultant.  And frankly, she is the genuine article.  She has written a number of books, one is called No More Cold Calling: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust.  And then another one, Pick Up the Damn Phone!: How People, Not Technology, Seal the Deal.  She is America’s leading authority on referral selling.  She is not bragging though, her publisher gave her that moniker and she runs with it, and runs with it hard.  And now she is going to run with it at BankBosun to help our community and regional banks compete and win, not through cold calling or the traditional tactics like getting referrals from centers of influence, rather, she is quite the contrary and thinker who believes no sales person should ever have to cold call or send cold emails.  Let’s hear about that.  But what I like most about our guest, Joanne Black, she has a nice soothing voice, especially, compared to my rough and gruff voice.  And so, I am going to welcome Joanne and hope she is on the line so we can all hear her great wisdom and insight and hear her especially nice voice. 

Kelly: Joanne, are you on the line?

Joanne: Oh, I wouldn’t miss this for the world, Kelly. This is fabulous.

Kelly: Thank you Joanne for taking the time.  I know you are on the west coast of California, is that correct?

Joanne: I am in the San Francisco Bay area so it’s a beautiful sunny day here and we haven’t had any earthquakes in a while and I hope that continues.

Kelly: Excellent!  Well, Joanne, are you ready to get right into it?

Joanne: I am always ready. 

Kelly: Alright. Well, Joanne, I am going to start out with a challenging question here.  I am going to start out by asking you to reconcile two seemingly contrary and opposing messages that are the titles of two of your books.  One book says, Pick Up the Damn Phone and the other says, No More Cold Calling.  Well, what do you want us to do, call or not call?

Joanne: Oh, I want you to call but only if you have gotten a referral. The reason I wrote that second book is, I truly was alarmed by how so many people depend on technology and not only depend on it, I think they hide behind it.  And instead of actually having conversations they are depending on emails, on e-books, on social media to get people’s attention.  But the titles may seem like they are not aligned but they actually are. To only wants you to pick up the damn phone, when you have done your research online, when you have talked to people and then when you have been introduced to the person you want to meet or you are going to pick up the damn phone to talk to some of your colleagues, to talk to your clients and ask them for other people you should be meeting.  That’s what the phone is for, not to cold call. 

Kelly: Well, are people afraid of the phone these days or are people afraid to contact people?

Joanne: It depends on who your clients are.   So, we need to communicate as our clients communicate, and if they communicate by text then text them and set up a time to talk to them.  But you have to have the conversation when you are asking for a referral.  You know, you can’t ask for a referral in any digital format.  That’s my point of view and I am sticking to it.  And the reason is that a referral is very personal and before I can introduce you or I can introduce any banker I need to have a conversation.  I need to know the business reason why I am going to make the introduction. Because when I refer someone my reputation is on the line.  I need to depend on you to take care of my client just as I would.  So, therefore, I need to have that conversation.  I also need to equip you with a language to introduce me.   And it’s not just because I am a nice person.  It’s not just because I have written two books.  It’s not just because I have had my company for 21 years.  It’s not just because you say I have a nice voice.  I mean, that’s not business reasons for the introduction.  There has to be something I do that’s going to resonate with the person you are introducing me to that’s going to help them solve a problem. 

Kelly: Now, you are kind of picky about using the term referral, why don’t you define what you think a referral is and then what a referral is not.

Joanne: Well, it is what I know, not what I think.  But a referral means that you receive an introduction.  Let me contrast that to my definition of a cold call, any cold outreach, whether you are sending an email, whether you are on social media, whether you are just popping in to a client.  I mean, I don’t know if anybody does that anymore, but some do.   A cold call versus a referral, a cold outreach means that you are contacting someone who doesn’t know you and doesn’t expect to hear from you.  That is ice cold, you are definitely interrupting them. They don’t know you. And in many times there are actually circumspect whether that person really said that you should talk or not, a lot that goes on there.  So when a referral gets you the introduction you always get the meetings, because you have been introduced by someone your prospect knows and respects.  Make sense?

Kelly: Yes it does.  I’m interested in the term outreach.  I’ve been in the sales business one way or another many many years and it’s only been in the last eight years maximum that the term outreach has become popular.  It is just selling, correct?    Is it just making a contact, whether it be outreach on the phone, outreach on email, outreach in person, it’s selling, correct?

Joanne: I don’t agree.  So here is the thing, I’m want to go back a whole bunch of years when I did work in the banking industry.  I worked for a makeup performance and my clients were all banks, mainly community banks, and at that time if you wanted to get information on a bank you would call their corporate communications department and they mailed you an annual report.  That’s how we learnt about a company.  We did not have the internet and when the internet first became frequently used, I’m going to say mid 90s, maybe, when people were contacted all over the world and then it went from there. We now have many different ways of reaching people so it’s not just calling someone to get information.  It’s not just making a phone call.   And, by the way, I think those times were probably a lot simpler, but there are so many ways of contacting people now.  And that’s what I mean by outreach, because it could be by phone, in person, social media, email, I can’t think of anything else, but there probably is, but there are just so many avenues we have now to reach people. So that’s why I call it outreach, and I don’t think it’s selling.

Kelly:  I think probably selling implies doing more talking than listening. But if an outreach is listening and talking then that probably makes more sense to use the term outreach.

Joanne: I think it is very much about building relationships and expanding connections, and those lead to sales.  Here is what happens. I have been exposed to several people recently who have said to me, I don’t know if I should go to that event because I have been to things like this in the past and I don’t get any leads.  Don’t say that to me, I say that’s always a wrong approach.  We need to be out there meeting people all the time, whether it’s for breakfast, for lunch, for a beer, whether it’s part of a golf tournament, a tennis tournament, whether we are going to our kid’ their baseball or soccer games, we need to be out there all the time meeting people, getting to know people, sharing ideas.  That to me is what selling is about, because the number one reason that people do business with us, because they trust us.  That doesn’t happen overnight.  It does happen when you get a referral introduction.  For me, sales is about having a conversation and being clear about what their issues are before ever talking about what we do.  

Kelly: Let’s talk about account based sales. You seem to spend a lot of time, a lot of energy on account based sales activity. What’s your definition? Why is that important and what’s the alternative to that?

Joanne: It’s the old saying that there is nothing really new again.  So account based sales is a newer term used for those of us who have named accounts.  We have a certain book of business, a certain book of accounts that we are responsible for meeting with and ultimately selling to.  It’s a book of business, period, named accounts.  And as bankers then we know we need to meet these companies and talk to them and build relationships with them. That’s what it’s about. That’s account based selling.  It’s just a new term but there is nothing new about it.  The opposite is, so many companies now have people on the phone all the time, inside sales reps, people calling and wanting to open up a conversation.  They don’t build relationships.  They are the ones making a hundred dollars a week, a day or whatever it is, and maybe talking to a few people.  That is not what I’m talking about and that’s not where bankers are playing either.  It’s not where I play.  Account based sellers build relationships.  That’s the differentiation in the term. 

Kelly:  Do you distinguish between retention of business or for cross selling, up-selling purposes?

Joanne: One of the downfalls that I see is that in so many organizations, that we do business with a client, we close that business and then we move on.  To me, when you talk about cross selling and up-selling, it’s always listening.  So, we get in there with one product or service because most of these companies have more than one bank they are doing business with and through developing the relationship and getting to know them better, yes, our goal is to find other opportunities within that client.   We may or may not, or it could be that a bank that they were doing business with, maybe they changed bankers and their client doesn’t like this new banker and suddenly reaches out to you because they like you. It’s critical to stay in touch with people.  And yes, if the door opens and you see an opportunity to talk about another product or service, you do that, but more importantly, we need to be asking those clients for referrals to other people they know. And that is not happening.  It’s happening yes, ad hoc, but it’s not a discipline.  It’s not systematic.  And it happens but we can’t depend on that.  

Kelly: Okay, you make a pretty bold statement in some of your work.  One of these statements says this, Why closing is never a problem in account based selling. Why is that?

Joanne: First thing, it’s never the problem, it doesn’t matter what you do.  So, when people say to me, I’ve had a sales leader say to me, Joanne, my team can’t close, can you help me?  Well, that’s my time to step back because it is never about closing.  It’s always about something earlier in the sales process that was forgotten. That was over looked.  If we have done our true discovery and we built relationships with all the people who are going to be involved in the decision, that we found out their timeline, we found out what they need, we’ve made a lot of check ins. I don’t even like to call it that, but we are in touch, then closing should be like one foot in front of the other.  Closing is never the problem.  I am going to give you an example.  I realized that I missed a step, very recently, and I knew the deadline was short so I wasn’t even sure about that. But a client was having a meeting and they were bringing in their account executive and suddenly they wanted to expand it to a bigger group so now we are looking at like 25 people instead of 10.  The mistake I made was, I did not have the conversation with the right person about what that would cost them when they expanded that number and I would have made a recommendation to start with a smaller group.  The group that really would get the most benefit from referrals, start with them first.  Let’s get proof, let’s get results and then we can expand it.  So, I missed that step. Now, as a result, first of all, the date didn’t work and second, it was too big. And it will happen because they do these quarterly business reviews and bring the whole team together then.  And now I have to do a lot more work on my end which I am willing to do and we have already outlined some next steps to bring a referral program into a quarterly business review with a smaller team. So, I made that mistake.  It’s called, sometimes...I have an author friend who calls it "happy ears”.  You know, when a prospect or a client just says, oh, this is fabulous, yes we need to do it.  This absolutely meets what our challenges are.  I never thought about it that way, you have given me so many insights   and good advice, on and on and on.  We have “happy ears”, and they go sure, they are going to do business with us.    That’s not business, that’s “happy ears”, and that was my downfall.

Kelly. Yeah.  You make another statement here, How digital dependence derails account based selling teams.  I want to give some background in this question.  At BankBosun, we believe that audiocasting is a very effective way to communicate your message, whether it be a company message, a product message, service message, a human voice communicates with energy, empathy and emotion and you just can’t get that out of the written word unless you are writing like Yeats or Shakespeare, most people really don’t read anymore anyway.  So, we like to use digital audio to capture this, like we are doing today.  In my interview with you, we get the emotion, we hear your wonderful voice, we hear your energy and then we envision banks would share that message with their referrals or current customers or prospective customers.  I am not at all suggesting that banks rely upon this and be dependent upon it, but do you think that tactic challenges your statement, digital dependence derails account based selling teams?

Joanne: No, if digital is the only outreach then I would say yes.  The point in that post and really the message in my second book, Pick up the Damn Phone, is that if we sit behind technology and we rely only on technology, whether it’s audios, videos, emails, e-books, whatever it is, webinars, podcasts that we are not developing the relationships we need to develop when we have a conversation, and that’s what I mean by digital dependence.  Now, audio is one tool, video is another.  I just wrote a post, in fact, about why video doesn’t work for me.  You see, everybody has a different way of accessing and understanding information.  For me, I can read way faster than I can listen, of course then, I have to put in my blue tooth or my earbuds.  You know, whatever I’m doing, it’s one other block for me.  Now, I agree that there is nothing that replaces hearing a human voice, that’s why we need to talk to people and have conversations but we need to communicate in different modalities.  Some people love videos, some love audio, and many people love audio because they put it on their phones and can listen in the car.  If it’s the written word, there is Infographics.  Some people love those.  Infographics gives me hives. I just don’t know where to look first.  I get, you know, where is this?  It’s like charts and graphs. I want someone to explain it to me.  That’s my learning style.  We need to use various modalities in digital but then we need to have an actual conversation.  And when I talked about digital dependence is there are so many people who are not having conversation. They are relying on digital for everything.

Kelly: Got it. I would like to reserve part two, if we could, to talking about strategy and tactics on getting referrals, could we to that in part two, do you think?

Joanne: Well, of course we can and I look forward to it.

Kelly: Okay, I want to end part one with, I find it interesting, the contrary, and you are, that you use the term, circles of influence and many of us use the term centers of influence, is there a difference between how we use the terms?  I actually kind of like your term better. It implies, large, diameter, circumference, wider in scope whereas a center implies something that’s closed.  It’s got a door and only few people are allowed in it, closed, narrow. What are your thoughts on that?

Joanne: I think they are interchangeable.  I mean, truthfully, with everything I say is maybe I meant center and I said circle. You know, it’s really the same thing. We understand these are the people who would most likely to give us referrals over time.  And that’s centers of influence, circles of influence, it’s exactly the same.

Kelly: Okay.  Well, with your permission, unless you have some kind of trade name, ownership and you are going to charge me every quarter every time I use it, I am going to start using it.

Joanne: Oh, fantastic Kelly, please do.  

Kelly: Joanne, I would like to know how bankers can get in touch with you.  You could put a plug in for your books again and any other thing.  I think we are doing a giveaway on the book, No More Cold Calling: The Break Through System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust.  Is that correct?

Joanne: That’s correct.  The way to reach me is, Joanne, J o a n n e, and the first 10 people who send me an email and put in the subject line “listened to your podcast with Kelly” will receive a book.  If you would like to chat and hear a human voice, it is area code 415-461-8763, 4154618763, and that’s Pacific Time. I invite you to visit my website,  And yes, both of my books are available on Amazon, on Kindle as well as in hardcover for No More Cold Calling and paperback for Pick Up the Damn Phone

Kelly: Very nice, sweet.  Joanne, thank you so much and we will be in touch about scheduling part two which is “the circles of influence and how to get them to work for you.”                                                  

Joanne: Terrific, thanks Kelly.

Kelly: Okay Joanne, thank you, good bye.

Outro: We want to thank you for listening to the syndicated audio program, The audio content is produced by Kelly Coughlin, Chief Executive Officer of BankBosun, LLC;  and syndicated by Seth Greene, Market Domination LLC, with the help of Kevin Boyle. Video content is produced by The Guildmaster Studio, Keenan Bobson Boyle. The voice introduction is me, Karim Kronfli. The program is hosted by Kelly Coughlin. If you like this program, please tell us. If you don’t, please tell us how we can improve it. Now, some disclaimers. Kelly is licensed with the Minnesota State Board of Accountancy as a Certified Public Accountant. The views expressed here are solely those of Kelly Coughlin and his guests in their private capacity and do not in any other way represent the views of any other agent, principal, employer, employee, vendor or supplier.

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