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To land Middle-Market Customers…Shut up and listen!

In the February 2007 RMA Journal, Lynda Gardner’s article on Understanding your Middle-Market Customer shared some great questions to ask when you first meet with a business lending prospect.

To start…what do you say when you meet someone at a networking event? If you start in with how great your bank is and the services you offer, you might notice your listener backing away.

In her article, Gardner’s sample company was a regional manufacturer. She recommends as a conversation-opener: “I love your products! I have always been fascinated by your business. How do you keep up with the likes of those large national competitors?”

And then you listen…and ask follow-up questions.

If the conversation turns to what you can offer, explain that you’ll need to thoroughly understand the company’s strategic objectives as well as the owners’ goals before you’d know what services would be a good fit.

Unless the networking environment or the chance meeting lends itself to a quiet conversation, this likely will lead to a suggestion to meet later to talk more.

In the next post, I’ll share Ms. Gardner’s questions for the company. In the third post, her questions for the owner.

How are you opening the conversation with business prospects? How are your bank’s most successful business lenders opening the conversation?

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.