Red Canoe CU Reinvents its Sales Culture

New incentive structures, creative training lead to award-winning results.

November 12, 2010

Red Canoe Credit Union, Longview, Wash., is so passionate about its approach to helping employees live its sales culture that it required 62 pages to describe its efforts.

The extensive list of goals, incentives, training, and results accompanied the $540 million asset credit union’s award-winning entry for the CUNA Operations, Sales and Service Council Best Practice Awards.

The multiple changes made as part of Red Canoe’s sales training implementation include:

  • New incentive structures;
  • Creative follow-up training;
  • Internal campaigns to create “Loyalty Royalty” and bring other creative themes to life;
  • An intranet-based sales blog for managers and staff;
  • Quarterly management meetings; and
  • Staff recognition.

Incentive structure

Red Canoe set three goals to help link incentives to rewards:

  1. A 93.5% quality service rating, with one-fourth of that rating based on the use of mystery shoppers and three-fourths based on random member surveys;
  2. 10% net loan growth, or $42 million at year-end; and
  3. Net deposit growth of $47 million at year-end.
Red Canoe Credit Union
Red Canoe CU's new sales culture helped it refinance $7 million in competitors' loans in six months. Accepting a CUNA OpSS Best Practice Award are Red Canoe's Michelle Trekas, training specialist, and Rodney Snyder, AVP branches/sales.

Each goal was placed on a chart that indicated when progress toward the goal had reached 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%, with progress marked quarterly.

Reaching a target level was worth one point. Earning three points resulted in a $50 gift card for eligible employees as well as a “celebration lunch” for all staff.

That structure allowed the credit union to celebrate success toward a specific goal, even if some goals proved challenging. It also kept employees aware of progress toward year-end incentives.

Next: Training and reinforcement



Training and reinforcement

Training focused on creating member loyalty and was broken down into core sales strategies and referral training for sales employees; call center sales strategies for call center employees; and advanced sales training and sales leadership strategies training for managers.

Subscribe to Credit Union MagazineOverall, 127 employees participated in a total of 198 hours of training.

Creative internal programs reinforced training and created options for short- and long-term follow-up, including:

Rockin’ the Referrals was a follow-up training class that helped employees recognize common referral cues and then promote the benefits of using credit union products and services.

Building Everlasting Relationship as a Team (BERT) created a sales blog on Red Canoe’s intranet (known as ERNIE), where managers could post sales challenges and successes, and staff members could ask questions and seek advice.

Mystery shop planning guidelines used case studies drawn from mystery shopper reports to provide examples of how tellers can increase sales effectiveness. Staff recognition highlighted tellers who successfully used sales strategies when mystery shoppers later visited the branch.

Creative sales promotions rewarded employees for reaching specific targets. Themes included creating “Loyalty Royalty” by achieving sales goals and using the “Little Riddler” to teach sales staff to ask the right questions.

Measurable results

Reinventing sales at every level of the credit union has delivered measureable results. As of June 2010:

  • The closed referral ratio was 20.54%, or 205% of the credit union’s goal;
  • More than $7 million was brought in through buyouts of competitor loans; and
  • Loan protection was added to 59.61% of consumer loans, compared to a goal of 40%, and on 49% of home equity line of credit loans, compared to a goal of 25%.

At Red Canoe Credit Union, learning to live the sales culture is a best practice that pays off.

View the full entry [pdf] and visit the CUNA Councils website to learn more about the CUNA Operations, Sales & Service Council and the Best Practice Awards.