Crush the Cross-Sell: Eight Tips

CUs sometimes fail to exploit cross-selling’s full potential.

June 10, 2014

Cross-selling can dramatically increase sales volume, but many credit unions use techniques that are either inefficient at driving new revenue or not appealing to members.

But by taking an innovative approach and extracting full value from technology, credit unions can revitalize their cross-selling efforts. Here are eight tips to help you crush the cross-sell:

1 Show them you’re paying attention

According to a Gallup report, two-thirds of engaged financial institution customers say their financial institution does not personalize its marketing messages. And more than half say they’ve received offers for products they already own.

In our computer- and data-driven world, when it is realistic to personalize offers and track what services a member is already using, there is no excuse for taking such an impersonal approach. Many members now recognize this fact and expect more from their credit unions.

2. Mine your data

In addition to tracking existing services by customer, it’s also beneficial to track, analyze, and mine data about members’ expressed needs and preferences.

There are numerous opportunities for a credit union and its representatives to collect information. Lobby sign-in systems and customer service encounters are two avenues where data collection can help build member preference databases over repeat visits.

3. Check your data platform

As you evaluate data-collection options, be mindful of the benefit you will gain “under the covers” through reporting and analysis of member needs and salespeople’s efforts.

Technology-based lobby tracking systems, for example, can be extremely valuable for data mining, but only if they perform sufficient data analysis and reporting from the information they gather. They should also be able to display that information on a representative’s computer screen during member consultations.

4. Expand existing relationships

The easiest sales come from selling “sticky services” to current members. Direct deposit, bill pay, automatic savings transfers, personal lines of credit, and security solutions such as privacy protection (a huge concern right now) are frequent-use products that ensure members engage with your credit union more often—affording greater rates of retention and enhancing the overall member experience.

5. Use digital technologies

When reaching out to your current member base, go beyond outbound calling (which is still valuable but not with all demographic groups). Craft and disseminate cross-selling messages via email, website banner ads, ATM messaging, text messaging, and other tech-centric methods.

6. Take an indirect approach

In addition to direct cross-selling, consider indirect mechanisms to engage and inform specific member segments and predispose them to your cross-selling messages.

Posting targeted updates to digital channels (i.e., home purchase or renovation tips), for example, will help ensure your credit union stays top of mind when those members look for a related product such as a loan.

7. Leverage existing networks

If you can incent current members to share their enthusiasm for a new product or service with family, friends, and coworkers, you can enlist them in your cross-selling efforts.

Wireless carrier, Sprint, made big inroads in its customer base when it started its “family” plan, which lets friends and family get a discount when they all sign up for the same services. Take a hint from this approach, but use it instead to sell certificates, loans, financial consulting, and more to an entire group of members (with a special offer, of course). I think you’ll enjoy equally positive results.

8. Don’t forget the basics

No matter which tips you explore, always ensure that your cross-selling team is appropriately trained for its tasks. This includes understanding the nuances of cross-selling, such as being enthusiastic without being overbearing, and being attuned to any negative signals that members send.

Like any member-facing program, effectively using available technology and encouraging employees to stay professional and considerate are winning approaches for measurable results.

W. MICHAEL SCOTT is president/CEO of Financial Management Solutions Inc. Contact him at 877-887-3022.