Understand Your Sales Culture

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

October 22, 2013
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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.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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