Understand Your Sales Culture

Ultimately, CUs should identify and address members’ underlying financial needs.

October 22, 2013

Having a sales culture is consistent with the credit union movement’s mantra of “people helping people.” A positive and productive sales culture reinforces credit union employees’ duty to help members and potential members with all their financial needs, not just the ones they ask about.

Creating a sales culture involves many puzzle pieces, according to “Recipes for a Sales Culture,” a white paper from the CUNA Operations, Sales & Service Council.

subscribefrontlineCredit unions that have tried to launch a sales culture primarily by introducing sales training likely weren’t satisfied by the results if they didn’t also invest time and resources to develop strategies, goals, and action plans. Another key: equipping employees with the tools, coaching, and technology to support sales success.

Ultimately, a sales culture aims to identify members’ underlying needs for financial services—and deliver the products and services to help members achieve the best possible fi nancial outcomes, says Carla Schrinner, implementation manager and senior master trainer for the CUNA Creating Member Loyalty program.

Just because a product is tailor-made for members doesn’t mean they’ll take the time, or have the inclination, to sign on for it immediately. But they should know, based on their interactions with your service team, their credit union understands their needs and has tailored its products and services to meet them.

Even some organizations working toward a full-fl edged sales-as-service culture might need to be more memberfocused to optimize their member relationships.
Avoid “product pushing,” Schrinner says, because it poses the danger of distracting you from focusing on and responding to members’ needs for financial services.

In “Sample branch interactions” (below), consider the differences in sales approach among Credit Union A (traditional), Credit Union B (sales-as-service), and Credit Union C (sales without regard for member needs).

Credit Union B demonstrates redirecting the focus of the interaction from product to the members’ needs, Schrinner says. The member service representative (MSR)
begins by asking permission to ask a few questions, and explains the benefits of that approach.

Maintain your commitment to extraordinary service as your credit union expands its sales culture. And keep in mind that members’ needs must drive sales.

“Sales and service are about defining the type of interactions you’re going to have with your members and what type of outcomes you’re looking for—managing the relationship versus approaching member interactions as an order taker,” Schrinner says.

“Members don’t come in for a loan,” she adds. “They come to you because they need to borrow money to buy something. What is that something? How important is it to them? And how can your credit union help them meet that need?

This article appeared in the November issue of Credit Union Front Line Newsletter.