‘Big Picture Conversation’ Training at First Horizon

By Lori Freifeld

In late 2010, financial services provider First Horizon National Corporation partnered with Clarity Advantage to produce a customized workshop that taught its business bankers how to conduct a “Big Picture Conversation” from the owners’ perspective.

Building on the program’s initial success, one of the strategic goals of the program in 2012 was for First Horizon was to increase the cross-sell numbers for its small business market.

Program Details

Big Picture Conversation training initially started with a one-day workshop targeted to First Horizon’s most influential financial centers. Based on its success and word of mouth, it expanded its audience in 2012 to all financial centers.

In this one-day, rapid development session that involves line management, training, marketing, and field representatives, learners complete two different activities:

1) They start with What Do You See? and What Could We Ask? These activities create a visual frame of reference for how a business operates from the inside and what questions to ask a business owner to draw out that information.

2) In table groups made up of various “small business owners,” learners focus on the bank products and services that the business and its owners and employees currently use, and what additional products they could use to improve their financial situations. When those are identified, learners generate specific questions that will help them understand the value of the bank products to the business.

At the conclusion of the one-day session, business outcome objectives are established and an accountability plan designed by line management is drafted.


After the workshop, sustainment activities include the use of Decision Trees and Daily/Weekly 10s. All managers are trained to conduct Daily 10 coaching sessions, which are 10-minute, daily, step-by-step reinforcement sessions that occur between the branch manager and each sales employee. A Decision Tree is a two-sided job aid and questioning strategy tool that is customer facing. The tool is crafted to ask high-impact questions that uncover customer needs and gain sales commitment.

The sessions are tracked in myPLAN, First Horizon’s talent management system, and reviewed by market and executive management weekly. Each phase of the implementation includes secret shopping to ensure accountability.


Last year, First Horizon trained approximately 200 employees in Big Picture Conversations for Small Businesses. These employees have recorded nearly 2,000 business contacts during the last year focused on expanded conversations with small business owners.

First Horizon has seen a 10 percent increase in the number of loan applications, a 10 percent increase in average individual pipeline size, an increase in total loan pipeline volume, and an increase in booked loan volume. In addition, over an 11-month period (from the end of August 2012 through the end of July 2013), First Horizon’s cross-sell ratio increased 6 basis points from 1.29 to 1.35.

This translates to roughly 2,800 more products sold during that time period and approximately $840,000 in additional annual revenue. Amy Shreve, executive over the consumer lending center, specifically cited her partnership with Learning as key in the positive change.

Reprinted from Training Magazine

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