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The 7 Keys to successful lending: Strategies to grow business at your bank

Kate Randazzo
April 2, 2024
Read Time: 0 min

Stand-out bank business strategies for lending success

These bank business strategies will help you market, target, add value to your lending services and build lasting relationships with your borrowers. 

You might also like this SMB Lending Insights report for banks and credit unions

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Lending is a competitive and challenging industry, requiring constant innovation to attract and retain customers. Offering the lowest rates or fastest approvals is no longer a sufficient bank business strategy. To stand out, you must provide a unique and memorable experience that demonstrates value and respect to borrowers. 

In a recent Abrigo webinar on relationship banking, Chris Carlson of the Relationship Banking Academy shared keys to successful lending based on his extensive research and experience. This blog will break down those proven strategies to help you grow your business, increase referrals, attract new customers, and retain loyal customers who return for their future financing needs. 


When it comes to annual goal setting, it's not uncommon for bankers to simply pledge to do 5% more than last year again and again, sometimes succeeding and other times failing. This can often lead to frustration, but according to Carlson, setting higher goals might be the solution to getting out of a rut. If you aim for linear growth, you will likely stick to the same methods and work harder to increase your productivity. If you shift your mindset and aim for exponential growth, you are more likely to think outside the box, be creative, and find new solutions like small business loan origination software or other automation tools to help you achieve your goals. Be ambitious and set higher goals for yourself. 


You need to be selective about which potential customers you pursue, which means identifying the right prospects. As part of its business strategy, your bank should have well-defined and specific criteria for screening your leads and eliminating the ones who are not suitable for your services. You should also use data and analytics to group your prospects based on their behavior, interests, and needs to find a niche in which you are successful. This way, you can work to become the go-to banker in your geographical area or a particular industry due to your expertise.  

“Most bankers overestimate their ability to close people on their targeted list and they don’t have enough pipeline to hit their goals,” Carlson said. He advises bankers to create a list of 25 solid target prospects to prioritize closing and a second, longer list of targets in their niche. Contact and stay connected with the second list with a consistent drip campaign that will keep your bank top of mind but focus your efforts on the smaller list first.  


Bankers tend to stop and start marketing efforts as their schedules allow, but good marketing is consistent. It takes planning and time to reach the right decision-maker with the right information. Create a monthly marketing calendar to plan what you want to show your potential customers, and keep in mind that the easiest formats for campaigns aren’t always the most effective. Email is fast and inexpensive, but direct mail might make more of an impact.  

Whatever marketing tactics you employ as part of your bank business strategy, your messaging cannot be all about you and your bank. Look for ways you can add value to your potential customers and use your marketing materials to show them how you can help them reach their goals. Carlson suggests creating a banking podcast and inviting small business owners to share their stories. Ideas like this create deeper relationships with potential customers without overtly selling.   



To grow your business and work on larger deals, you need to expand your network of centers of influence. Don’t be afraid to ask for high-quality introductions. Have a focused list of existing and potential centers of influence and work to expand it when possible. Most bankers have a few people who can connect them with prospects, but that might not always be enough for significant growth. Ask yourself: Who in the community can help you reach your target prospects, and how can you develop a relationship with them? 


It's crucial to implement a sales system that guides prospects through the conversion funnel. Take the time to thoroughly understand each prospect's position and needs upfront. This ensures that your products align with their requirements. By excelling in your initial interactions, you can effectively prioritize customers who are the best match for your bank. This approach allows you to cultivate these relationships and avoid wasting time on prospects who may not be a good fit. 


Banks should implement proactive business strategies to retain valuable customers, adding value to their services along with a personal touch. Introducing benchmarking reports during annual reviews can provide customers with a clear picture of their financial standing compared to industry peers, aiding in strategic planning and improving customer loyalty. You can also build personal relationships with customers through individual attention and celebrating milestones. Engaging with customers and their teams beyond transactional interactions fosters stronger relationships and demonstrates your commitment to their success. 


Lending bankers should prioritize tracking key metrics to gauge their performance effectively. While banks collect various metrics, two critical items to track are business development (BD) activities and referrals. It's essential to assess your level of activity in BD, including events, cold calls, and drop-ins, as these directly impact your success. Measure the effectiveness of your activities to refine your approach. Remember, even a single high-quality introduction every other week can have a transformative effect on your bank. Invest time in networking and asking the right people for referrals to maximize your potential. 

Reduce operating cost while ensuring loan policy consistency. Community lending software can help get you there. Read the buyer's guide to lending solutions.

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About the Author

Kate Randazzo

Content Marketing Manager
Kate Randazzo is a Content Marketing Manager at Abrigo, where she works with industry thought leaders to create digital content that helps financial institutions better serve their customers. Before joining Abrigo, Kate managed social media and produced articles for Campbell University’s quarterly magazine and other university content initiatives. She earned

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About Abrigo

Abrigo enables U.S. financial institutions to support their communities through technology that fights financial crime, grows loans and deposits, and optimizes risk. Abrigo's platform centralizes the institution's data, creates a digital user experience, ensures compliance, and delivers efficiency for scale and profitable growth.

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