The SME Services Department of the Citadele Bank’s branch in Estonia has implemented a new sales strategy that is based on more active sales via network marketing and provision of consultations to clients. The new strategy also speaks to a major role in terms of close partnerships with Citadele Leasing and Factoring.
In early June, the head of the SME Services Department at the Estonian branch, Sirle Truuts, and a senior consultant for the Estonian branch of Citadele Leasing and Factoring, Peeter Pahla, attended a seminar organised by the Estonian Agricultural and Rural Landscape Consultation Centre and made a presentation. The seminar was attended by some 50 agricultural and rural landscape consultants from all of Estonia. The main topic for the presentation involved recommendations about the issues which should be of particular importance to clients when preparing business projects. The presentation also included information about loans and leasing products which Citadele offers.
“Because there is harsh competition in the SME sector in Estonia when it comes to lending and leasing products, it is important for us to concentrate on more active sales and close contacts with the target audience in our country,” says Truuts. “We know that small and medium businesses need additional financing, and it is of essential importance to find the right channels via which we can access our clients. This was the first presentation of this type, and judging from the many questions which participants posed, we can conclude that clients are interested in the products which we offer.”
A similar client event was held in Narva in mid-June. The head of the Narva client service centre, Svetlana Bogdanova, invited several existing and new clients for a small tea party. Sirle and Svetlana told the businesspeople about Citadele and its new product – microloans. This was a successful event in that clients were actively involved in the discussion. Last week the lending committee reviewed the first microloan application which was received by the Narva branch.
“There are many large companies which are starting up operations in eastern Estonia, because that is the frontier with Russia,” explains Bogdanova. “The business culture in that part of the country, however, is a bit different than is common in the rest of Estonia, so we need different marketing plans. It is also true that we must base our client services on the business culture of Russia.”
“In future, we plan to organise similar projects and client events to inform our target audience and our clients about Citadele loans and leasing products,” adds Truuts.
“It is nice that the SME strategy, which was presented to bank management in May, is being implemented and is not remaining on paper,” says Corporate Services Division director Agnese Paegle. “I hope that the Estonian branch will achieve its goals in attracting SMEs, because the SME segment must become an important source of commission fees for us.”
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