Community banks have traditionally struggled to sell additional products to customers. But Bank of North Carolina hopes it has found a solution to this common conundrum.

The $3.7 billion-asset bank, a unit of BNC Bancorp in High Point, is piloting mobileBANKER, an iPad and desktop application it co-developed with Zenmonics that supports sales and customer relationship management. The bank has been on an acquisition spree in recent years — it has purchased 10 banks since 2010. As the company's branch network grew, management realized that it could no longer rely on Excel as a customer sales platform.

Now the company is piloting, at two branches and among its private bankers, an application that can quickly identify products and services to discuss with customers. If a customer isn't interested in a product, the system won't suggest offering it again for 18 months. The iPad application allows the company's bankers to call on customers outside of the office while still having access to key information.

"It has the smarts to know what products you have and what you don't have, so with just a glance you can bring up a customer and begin a conversation" about new services, said Michael Bryan, the company's chief information officer. "It gives our sales force the confidence to begin talking about products."

Bank of North Carolina has been working on the project for about 14 months and established an internal committee, including representatives from consumer banking, marketing, compliance and IT, to help with the project. The company plans to expand the use of the application to commercial bankers, ATMs and other areas.

"When you are a small bank you tend to know your customers better," Bryan said. "As the products evolve, it is hard to know what every customer has and as we got larger we needed a tool that could tell us what we needed to talk about with customers."