If your staff can sell now, they can sell in any economy. Remember, members still need products and services. And one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to avoid selling to people during tough economic times. One of the cardinal rules of effective selling is “Don’t say no for them.” In other words, offer products and services and let members decide if the time is right for them to buy.
To encourage members to use products and services from your credit union instead of from a competitor:
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1. Be familiar. Members notice familiar faces and they’re comfortable with employees they know. When staff build relationships, members trust their recommendations. They feel secure knowing the credit union is there to see them through financial challenges. Members notice the difference at TLC Federal Credit Union, Tillamook, Ore., says Mike Pierce, president/CEO. “Community commitment, financial strength, and most of all, great employees have helped make our credit union one of the top 10 nonprofits to work for in Oregon.”
2. Ask for the business. Urge staff to look for a need, engage the member, provide a solution, and then ask for the business. “Employees aren’t order-takers. They’re proactive solution providers,” says Amy Alexander, marketing director with Mutual Credit Union in Vicksburg, Miss. “It’s a waste of dollars to hand out an application if we haven’t first engaged them.”
3. Make it attractive. Capitalize on the positive press credit unions are receiving. “In today’s climate, doing business with ‘the credit union’ is seen as a wise financial decision,” says Lanet McCrary, vice president of marketing and business development at Magnolia Federal Credit Union, Jackson, Miss. Encourage members to make the smart decision to do business with you.
Next: Reduce the risk
4. Reduce the risk. With the lack of job security today, members might be reluctant to acquire new debt. Again, don’t say no for them. Instead, offer loan products and terms that match members’ needs and budgets. When appropriate, your credit union’s loan officers might be able to help members rework or modify loans to meet specific needs.
Mark Waller, vice president of business development at Associated Credit Union, Atlanta, says his credit union is encouraging members to refinance auto loans held by other financial institutions. In some cases, the credit union is reducing loan rates by as much as 2% and putting members in better financial situations. By reducing the risk of acquiring additional debt, Associated is building trust. Reduce the risk. Establish trust. Ask for the business.
5. Create a sense of urgency. Encourage staff to ask questions that propel the member to act. For example:
Get the business now, not after the tough times. And remember: Don’t say no for them.
BECKY McCRARY, CSP, is a national expert in member service, relationship networking, and business communication. Contact her at 800-576-6709.