Some banks that have for some time offered a cash forecasting solution to their clients have been disappointment in the meagre demand. The most common cause for this is selling the solution wrong and to the wrong buyers. Banks should specifically target medium-sized and small businesses and take a page or two from the playbook of fast-growing cloud software vendors.
I will offer eight tips that help you succeed in selling a cash forecasting solution to your clients. The same tips work as a checklist if you are planning cooperation with a developer partner.
1. Make the solution easy to use
By ease of use I mean the user being able to use the solutions without extensive training or hand-holding. Many solutions fail in this and it pays to really concentrate on this.
Ease of use saves customer resources AND your resources as you do not need to organize extensive customer-specific training and giving online support will be much easier.
If you are just contemplating offering a cash forecasting solution to your clients, ease of use should be very high among the requirements for the solution.
If you are already offering a solution to your clients and the solution does not deliver on the ease of use front, dedicate the maximum amount of future development resources to improving the usability. Stick to your guns even if the loudest customers want you to develop new functionality – after all, these guys are the ones who know how to use the solution already.
2. Make buying easy
You can easily curb your clients’ enthusiasm if you make them wait weeks for a proposal. Your customer should be able to buy the solution RIGHT NOW.
The solution is easy to buy if the customer:
- can easily see the price
- can test-drive the product by themselves
- can buy the solution by pressing a button
Especially here, a bank should emulate cloud software vendors. Their web sites always show the price, the product can be tested, and buying is done by approving a simple online agreement.
3. Make selling easy
If your sales people do not have experience from cash forecasting processes, you can be sure selling a cash forecasting solution is not easy for them. Besides, traditional face-to-face sales are far too expensive for selling a solution like cash forecasting.
When you make buying easy, you also make selling much easier and decrease the need for expensive sales resources. If you provide a thorough description of features and functionalities online, add an intro video, and provide industry-specific references, you only need some marketing efforts to start automated sales.
Your cash management sales people just need to make sure that all clients are aware of the solution you offer.
4. Make deployment easy
In the best scenario, the solution will guide the client to manage deployment in the right order. This is the default assumption in modern cloud solutions. You can start by just making a simple and clear deployment manual to support clients.
Customer deployment is further facilitated if you offer them ready-made, industry specific forecasting models. Additionally, the integration of the clients’ AP/AR systems needs to be easy and simple. You need to make sure that account balances are automatically reconciled with the forecasts.
But even the best of instructions and tools are not always enough. You need to have an effective on-boarding team that proactively helps the customer in the deployment.
5. Automate account balance reconciliation
Make sure that account balance reconciliation with the cash forecasts is an an automatic and fine-tuned process. When the customer buys the solution, balance reconciliation needs to work right away.
6. Make the client feel safe
From the perspective of a corporate customer, one of the major roadblocks to buying a cash forecasting solution from a bank is the fear of the bank gaining access to the company’s forecasts. Make sure the clients understand you are not going to snoop on them and make it clear that customer information is only viewed with the customer’s explicit permission – if the customer, for instance, wants consulting services.
7. Acknowledge multi-banking
You need to understand that the client is going to use services from other banks, as well. If you focus solely on customers that use your services only, you significantly limit the potential and benefits of the solution.
Make adding accounts from other banks into the solution as easy as possible.
8. Don’t require single sign-on
Banks often are fixated that the login to the cash forecasting application should be through the bank’s cash management solution. But remember that cash management is usually used by only a few people and cash forecasting can be use company-wide.
Implementing single sign-on typically delays the project. I recommend you start without it and add it later if it is absolutely crucial.
All sizes of companies need to develop their cash forecasting. Large corporations have primarily a solution for it (albeit with varying success). You are likely to be more successful if you focus on medium-sized or small companies, that have much smaller resources. By offering a modern cloud-based solution you can help those clients solve their problem fast and cost-effectively.
Timo Hämäläinen, CFO
If you have any questions,