How To Create a GREAT Business Development Plan

October 4th, 2017

About this time each year front line banking staff who are responsible for developing new business for the bank are generally required to compile an annual budget/target for what they expect to achieve next year.

Most business development staff – lenders, financial advisers, cash management, branch managers, area managers, plus many more – generally budget for a moderate percentage increase that could be reasonably achieved based on the current level of activity they undertook this year.

Alternatively, the community bank leaders may simply decree that the bank has a specific target for next year and expects the business development team to rally behind it with no specific activity plan.

But is that what the banker – or the bank – really wants?

Many community banks struggle to grow because they simply assign mediocre targets that they believe their team can automatically achieve without investing enough effort on planning HOW they are going to achieve it.

By focusing on the desired activities you want your business development team to perform and understanding the support and development needs required to execute those activities, you may begin to envision the attainment of a loftier and more ambitious target.

Determining these activities however should not be the sole responsibility of the leaders. In order to truly determine what activities could be achieved and the skills available/required to achieve them, you must engage your entire team in the planning process.

Think “collaborate in order to be great.”

To achieve greater strategic success the bank leaders must first create an environment that motivates excellence. An environment that inspires your team to stretch beyond their traditional targets and job descriptions. An environment that promotes collaborative thinking and sharing of new ideas and best practices.

Reversing your strategic sales planning approach from top-down directive to bottom-up collaboration will have a powerful effect on engagement, performance and results.
This highly engaging process becomes a powerful first step towards creating an environment that motivates the team to achieve better than moderate results – perhaps even GREAT results.

Five simple steps to creating a “GREAT” sales planning session:

  1. Gather
    Gather your sales team at a central location (perhaps away from the branch) that inspires “fresh” thinking and new ideas. Ensure paper charts and markers are available to document the discussions.For effective collaborative planning you will need half a day but consider scheduling a full day. Whilst many bank leaders are challenged by the immediate adverse impact this may have on business activity, this will be significantly offset by the enduring benefits of having your team engaged in more highly productive activity throughout the next year.Consider inviting both inside and external business development people along with key support people in Marketing, Operations and Risk Management.

    Consider also engaging an independent professional facilitator that can provoke discussion, challenge limiting beliefs and drive outcomes.

  2. Reflect
    Reflect on the team’s objectives and expected outcomes from the planning session. This provides a great insight into their motivations and current challenges (or limiting beliefs).In order to assess future opportunities it’s important to reflect on past successes and current state.Consider asking the team to undertake a SWOT analysis – a review of your current Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats –and present/share the findings.
  3. Explore
    Invest the majority of the planning session on exploring the WHAT, HOW and WHY of sales success.Explore and capture (on the paper charts) the answers to three key questions:a) WHAT are your value proposition, target markets and goals for the next year?
    b) HOW will you engage, proposition and retain your prospects/clients?
    c) WHY have you chosen those goals and activity?

    Consider separating participants into groups and capturing answers on paper charts for presentation back to the broader team for discussion (and debate).

  4. Agree
    Recap and summarize key conclusions and gain agreement from the team. Confirm next steps including responsibilities of both the bank leaders and the business development team(s).Challenge any limiting beliefs to ensure greater engagement and motivation.Identify support required to execute activity, specifically coaching requirements.

    Formally document the session into a Business Development Plan capturing all the paper chart notes, key activities and agreed next steps.

  5. Take Action
    Execute the Plan and implement reporting/monitoring process to ensure agreed activity is being effectively undertaken.Revisit the purpose/structure of your regular team meetings to ensure they engage and motivate your team. Provide regular coaching at your team meetings to enable the effective achievement of activities and results.

Designing Greater Outcomes

Clearly the biggest outcome you can expect by investing time, effort and resources into a simple gathering of your business development team(s) will be a highly motivated and engaged sales force with a GREAT plan for achieving better than moderate results.

Article written by Joe Micallef – Sales Strategist & Coach – Grow UP Sales. Grow UP Sales has partnered with BankTalentHQ to provide career, management and leadership coaching to its members. For sales strategy facilitation and sales coaching contact Joe at or visit the webpage