In his work as a strategic planning professional, Jeff Rendel has built relationships with nearly 500 credit union CEOs. He has surveyed those top executives to determine what kind of approach they prefer when learning about new initiatives.
In an address to CUNA Management School in Madison, Wis., Rendel offered five suggestions on selling ideas to the CEO:
1. Bring new ideas. This sounds obvious, but CEOs are looking for fresh ideas rather than the “same old, same old” in an industry that is built on tradition but threatened by disruption.
That means knowing what’s on the horizon and what’s working elsewhere. Don’t shy away from imitation, or being a fast follower.
“The true value of innovation comes from imitation,” Rendel says.
2. Focus on your credit union’s vision. New ideas must fit with the direction of the credit union, Rendel says. This begins with understanding the credit union’s strategic objectives as you approach your job each day.
For example, if one of your objectives is to reduce member attrition, it’s important to understand that members who use mobile banking are much less likely to leave their financial institution.
3. Understand return on investment. If new ideas meet strategic objectives, they must then be analyzed for their effect on the bottom line.
Bringing profitable products to market is a matter of survival in any business, Rendel says.
“Creating more bottom-line value makes everyone look good,” he says. “There’s no better way to help the CEO succeed than bringing ideas that are well thought out that they can take to the board of directors and show how they can help the credit union grow.”
4. Understand public perception. Historically, this has been defined as helping select employee groups (SEGs) succeed. For example, if a credit union serves a community college, its products and services should help that members of the that campus succeed.
“If I’m the chancellor of that community college and I hear that you have better priced student lending products, now I win because of my relationship with you,” Rendel says. “Be ready to help your SEGs sell their business.”
5. Follow up. This is about making commitments and offering refinements and enhancements when necessary.
“You’re not always going to have all the information before and after a conversation,” Rendel says, “but you usually can follow up with a solution.”
Rendel was one of the many speakers at CUNA Management School, which ended Wednesday with the graduation of more than 30 credit union executives.