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Shut up and Listen…Part II

In Part I, I covered the conversation-opener recommended by Linda Gardner in her RMA article, Understanding your Middle-Market Customer. Here are the questions she suggests you ask to understand the business:

  • What are the future growth opportunities in the <industry type> industry?
  • What strategy has <company name> chosen to compete in this industry?
  • What is your market position?
  • What is the effect of growing competition on your business?
  • What kind of current and future resources are necessary to succeed?
  • What is the company’s historical and projected financial performance?

What I find interesting about these questions, from a business owner’s perspective, is that they are helpful questions for me to revisit from time to time. To have the banker help me do it positions the banker as a financial adviser, not a sales person.

Which would you rather be perceived as? If it is the financial adviser, then questions and listening will always proceed ‘selling’.

And if you listen carefully, I’ll tell you about my industry, about where I think my business is now and where it is going.

Next post…questions to help you understand the business owner.

About the Author
Linda Keith CPA is an expert in credit risk readiness and credit analysis. She trains banks and credit unions throughout the United States, both in-house and in open-enrollment sessions, on Tax Return and Financial Statement Analysis. She is in the trenches with lenders, analysts and underwriters helping them say "yes" to good loans. Creator of the Tax Return Analysis Virtual Classroom at, she speaks at banking associations on risk management, lending and director finance topics.