Relationship development skills: Journey to success

When working with branch managers, MZ Bierly Consulting refers to relationship development skills as a progression that involves four stages. “We are very careful to use the word progression as it implies that you are not necessarily stuck in any one stage,” maintains Buck Bierly, president of MZ Bierly Consulting in Malvern, Pennsylvania. “We tell the sales leadership team, ‘You can move somebody from Stage 1 to Stage 2 in 90 to 120 days, but moving somebody from Stage 2 to Stage 3 would take you a year to a year and a half. So in the end, what we want to imply here is that you’re stuck in that stage because you want to be stuck in that stage. You don’t want to change your skills, because you can progress if you work at it.”

Now that’s a slight oversimplification because this is tied into fundamental interpersonal communication and cognitive skills. But in the end, a lot of the people who work in branches just have never been asked to stretch those skills as far as we’re talking about here. “With appropriate accountability and coaching, it’s possible to get them there,” says Bierly.

Tip: Many branch managers never progress through the stages because their bosses never really developed those skills. “If you’ve got Stage 1, Stage 2 people coaching Stage 1, Stage 2 people you’re not going to see too many branch managers getting any further than their bosses,” notes Bierly.

The Four Stages

The four stages of relationship development span from “reacting to opportunities” to “developing new opportunities.” In Stages 1 and 2, bankers tend to focus on products; in Stages 3 and 4, they focus on building end-to-end relationships with business owners.

continue reading »