Build a Sales Environment
In the fall issue of LoneStar Perspectives I talked about the “7 Habits of Highly Successful Lending,” the first being “Great Underwriting.” Without an experienced, well-versed underwriting team/person you will not get very far. As a matter of fact, many times you won’t even get off the starting blocks. You need to hire, train, develop and continuously educate your underwriters. That is where everything in lending starts.
One point I wish to clarify and get out of the way right up front: “sales” is not a bad word. As a matter of fact it is a very good word—a word many credit unions fail
So what does it take to build your sales culture?
A lot of time, hard work and a core foundational commitment to developing a program that teaches your employees how to deliver a positive, retail experience for your members
Define it properly and clearly for your staff to understand and fully comprehend what they are being asked to do. Once they know the “why,” they will rally around the “how.”
Well, while this may be true for approximately 2-3 percent of your members; the other 97-98 percent are pretty sharp, well educated, and know what they want. We would do a much better job for both them and ourselves by presenting viable options and allowing them to choose what fits best for them.
Over the years I have found three ideal definitions to selling that you may want to consider incorporating into your credit union’s sales program:
NBS: Needs-Based Selling
Selling should always be based on the needs of the member and not on the product to push for the month. Pushing products could be dangerous, especially if the member is working hard to get out of debt. That would be like offering a recovering alcoholic a drink.
The only way you can find out what the members’ needs are is by asking questions. By asking the right questions you will be able to clearly identify what the best solution is for the member at that time. Start by asking “why.” By the fifth “why” you will fully understand the root of the situation. Then you will be able to properly offer the best product or service that fits the need. If you train your staff to do this they will become a great sales force.
Most people don’t necessarily want a loan or another payment, but they do want and
The sales business is all about following up. If you are not teaching your folks how to properly follow up with every potential needs-based sales conversation they have, you will never build a sales program. This is a technique that has been around since the beginning of time; however, it seems as though we have lost our way. Back in the day it was called “working your book of business.” Just following up on your members alone would increase opportunities if done properly and purposefully by your staff.
Pretty simple stuff, huh? There are more pieces to the puzzle like making sure your pay structure has a strong “pay for performance” incentive piece to it and other crucial factors, but bottom line: start with the top three and go from there. By the way, make sure you have a meaningful recognition program that promotes the behavior that will make a great sales and service organization.
Pierre Cardenas is a senior consultant with Credit Union Lending Advice. Reprinted with permission from the Texas Credit Union League (www.tcul.coop).
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