Selling faster payments to corporate treasurers can be a tricky proposition.
Through our advisory board practice we’ve had plenty of opportunities lately to hear corporate customers talk about faster payments. The common theme in those discussions is the requirement for a sales process that’s very different from traditional bank treasury management products.
“Show me who’s using faster payments, how they’re using them, and why” is a constant refrain in the discussions that take place.
To be successful, the sales process for a complex, highly integrated, potentially game-changing new capability should start with a testimonial in the form of a case study — and the more detailed the better. This is particularly effective if the example in the case study is a company using faster payments that has a “just like me” feel to it. The use of case studies such as this are critical because the inertia that a significant innovation like faster payments needs to overcome in order to secure a spot on the development list of a corporate treasury team is highly underestimated.
Defense vs. Offense
Traditional sales practices for bank treasury management assume that a corporate treasury team is playing offense vs. defense, but these days it’s just the opposite. Solving problems, preventing risk and increasing predictability dominates the team’s goals – valuable, but definitely defense vs. offense.
Banks will be far more successful when they thoroughly understand the payment problems a corporate treasury team is facing, and present ways their other customers have solved the same problems. It’s a simple fact that an incremental improvement that’s certain has far more value these days than a significant improvement that’s possible.
Faster Payments is for Everyone, Differently
All corporate treasurers have found applicability and value for faster payments. The challenge is that no two companies have identified the same value. An in-depth review of the treasury operation and a sales methodology that unlocks that hidden problem takes patience and talented resources. It’s more expensive, but well worth it. Banks that don’t recognize that faster payments are customized and costly to sell will likely pass the opportunity on to their more patient competitors.
Co-Invention vs. Sales
We’ve heard a couple of interesting concepts surface in the early-stage discussions on faster payments – discovery and co-invention. Corporate practitioners suggest that applications for faster payments will be “discovered.”
Discovery is a process, a series of discussions and information sharing. Discovery doesn’t happen on a sales call. Based on the feedback that we’ve heard, we believe the discovery will be led by the corporate treasury team, armed with the insight of the banks. It’s today’s traditional sales process but with a twist.
Faster payments are a capability, not a product, and when the bank and the corporate treasury team partner to understand the capability, the solutions will be invented, even better – co-invented.
Integration is Everything
Corporate treasury teams have little or no capacity for change, and are highly skeptical of bank claims of effortless integration of anything. It’s always harder, takes longer, and is more expensive than promised. Corporate treasury teams are demanding a fully transparent, honest, and comprehensive understanding of the integration requirements. The case studies and success stories that will capture their attention will include the entire story.
Ultimately, the successful adoption of faster payments will come down to banks recognizing the importance of understanding the journey for Corporate Treasury, not just the destination.
Doug Hartsema specializes in connecting corporate treasury practitioners and business owners to their bank treasury providers. He is the Managing Partner of The Hartsema Group, a practice with a foundation in a formal customer advisory board that helps organizations develop, lead, and learn from a group of key customers to improve their business and strengthen key relationships.