Sometimes I feel like my soul is in Sales.

Even though my career has not really been about sales, I am more and more convinced that the techniques of sales positively impact me – both personally and professionally. It’s been widely said by sales managers and CEOs (such as Shai Stern of CheckAlt and V-Corp), “People do business with people.” 

This blog started today when I read a piece in the American Banker titled “Bankers Should Want Customers to Know Their Names.”  Now as a banker and communicator at a bank renowned for its personal service, I can confidently assert my belief that most of our colleagues are well versed in the power of a personal connection.

However, I know that there are bankers here, and elsewhere, who could use a reminder that, as Hank Blank posted in his wonderful blog “It’s not about who you know, it’s about who knows you.”

I wish I could link to the American Banker article, but there’s a mighty pay-wall preventing random visitors from stopping by.  So, instead I’ll quote some of the key points made by Dave Martin, executive vice president and chief training consultant at NCBS, a SunTrust Banks Inc. subsidiary that offers consulting, training, design and construction services for retail banking programs.

Brian is our plumber. Ricky repairs the sprinkler system. Ziad? Home renovation and repair. Mallory cuts my family’s hair. Freddy and Butch tag-team my website work. And where would be without Guy, the guy who fixes our computers?

But ask me to name our banker … and I’d be stumped.

Why is this important? Let me continue quoting Mr. Martin:

I’ve had a few discussions with some marketing friends recently about what messages actually differentiate our banks in our commoditized environment. What are we actually promoting to folks that the other guys can’t as well?

They’ve got convenient branches, long hours, mobile apps and “free or near free” services, too. They’ve also got extensive ATM networks or waive fees when they don’t.

What the other guys don’t have are your best people. But would a customer know that?

A customer would only know that if they had a strong impression of the bankers they deal with.  And the best way that can be cultivated is with personal contact.  Mr. Martin writes about the impact of seeing your bank manager in a photo posted on the ATM you use, as well as on in-branch monitors. Both are high tech ways to invite your customers to get to know you.  But, he points out:

…  another effective technique for increasing the name recognition of our bankers involves pretty sophisticated technology: 3.5″ x 2″ pieces of card stock. In a technology-driven, advertising-saturated environment, a hand-delivered business card still has meaningful impact.

And it’s a seemingly vanishing activity. I’ve suggested to middle managers before that regularly asking their managers to give an estimate of how many business cards they handed out in the previous week accomplishes plenty.

And this brings us back to “Who Knows You.”  Whatever your goal is, selling widgets, getting hired, promoting the American Marketing Association, or gaining more members for your house of worship, there is nothing like face time – not just Facebook – to make the best and most memorable impression. 

Yes, people do business with people.   Even today, in our linked in social-media obsessed world, personal contact still packs a potent – and potentially profitable – punch.