Four Characteristics of Successful Business Development

Extend your CU’s reach by building productive relationships within the community.

July 8, 2014

Credit union business development is the art of building relationships with local businesses, community organizations, and existing and potential members. It’s more than just bringing business through the door; the goal is to increase your credit union’s viability and visibility within its community.

Put another way, business development professionals often serve as the public face of the credit union.

This individual might represent your credit union at business and community functions, and he or she might even be your credit union’s official spokesperson. The credit union business development professional might also be called on to act as coach, mediator, contact person, loan officer, teller, report runner, data analyzer, project manager, or marketing coordinator.

Many credit unions are creating their own business development departments or assigning business development responsibilities to other departments—most often the marketing department. Collaboration between those two functions is important, but they require different skill sets. Training and professional development are crucial, as is the realization that not everyone is meant to be a business development professional.


It’s important for credit unions to understand that business development involves selling. Sales tactics, however, should be based on businesses’ and members’ needs and shouldn’t involve the high pressure tactics that have given some sales efforts a bad name.

Credit unions are in the relationship-building business. Your credit union’s business development professionals should be comfortable calling on new people and organizations, attending networking events, coaching other employees on how to give referrals, and focusing on building relationships with centers of influence in the local business community and in the community at large.

Successful credit union business development programs share these characteristics:

SEAN McDONALD is president of Your Full Potential, LLC

Adapted from the 2014-2015 CUNA Environmental Scan (E-Scan), which features an enhanced tablet app available free to purchasers of the recently released print report.