When organizations struggle with, or as we have put it, stink at selling there are generally a few critical things that are just not working right. Luckily, those things can be identified, addressed, and improved.
We have presented these things as credit union-specific, but they do apply to all sales organizations. Yes, a credit union is a sales organization. In fact, the primary purpose of a credit union is to provide the financial solutions their members need to solve their financial needs, help them realize their wants, and work towards their dreams.
To understand these three things about our membersthe credit union’s sales team needs to first ask great questions to understand those needs. Second, they need to align a solution’s features that will benefit the member. Third, they should make a recommendation. And forth, the sales team must assist the member through the solution’s opening process to closing. This is selling, regardless ofwho initiated the sales discussion, the member or a credit union employee.
All credit unions are sales organizations. Some are not just selling as well as they could. In part one of this article, we reviewed six things that must be working at a credit union to build the sales organization and achieve a high-performing sales team. Here are a few more aspects of running a strong, healthy sales organization, which a credit union that stinks at selling, can assess, and improve.
7. No Sales Coaching
At credit unions where selling stinks, sales coaching is virtually non-existent. Salespeople are the athletes of the business world. In the same way that athletes must exercise, train, and receive coaching to improve their performance in the game, salespeople must also continue to improve their skillset through consistent coaching and accountability.
Who should be providing the sales coaching then? All sales coaching should come from the team member’s manager. Any manager that oversees a sales team should be a proficient salesperson who understands the sales mindset, processes, and skills necessary to succeed at selling.
This doesn’t mean the manager has to be the best salesperson on the team. Frank Vogel, coach of the Los Angeles Lakers isn’t a better basketball player than Lebron James. Andy Reid, the coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, isn’t a better quarterback than Patrick Mahomes. The sales leader simply needs to understand selling in a way that he can identify needs and provide appropriate coaching to support his employee’s development.
8. Hiring the Wrong People
In order to have an effective and productive sales initiative, a credit union must hire individuals that value the processes of selling. Often what we see are team members who are shy, afraid of selling, or unwilling to adjust their “order-taker” ways. If the credit union wants to stop stinking at selling, they need to hire effective salespeople.
9. Promoting for the Wrong Attributes
Along the same lines as hiring the wrong people, credit unions also promote individuals into sales positions and sales leadership roles for the wrong reasons.
A credit union’s key sales teamsinclude all branch and contact center employees, managers, and senior leaders as well as the credit union’s business development team, mortgage team, insurance team, business services team, and so forth.
Promotion is one of the highest forms of recognition for a job well done. Therefore, what a credit union prioritizes as promotion worthy will be what the team focuses on. Operational excellence and job knowledge are important for promotion, but for a key sales role, the credit union needs to make sales excellence a top priority.
Any individual considered for promotion to a sales leadership role must have a positive sales track record and should have the skills and values to lead a high-performing sales team. To have the necessary skills and values, they need to value the importance of coaching, accountability, and the development of their team members over all other responsibilities.
10. Poor Time Management
One of the primary excusesgiven by credit unions for the reason they stink at selling is that they just don’t have time to do it.
Selling does take time, or at least more time than simply processing a member’s order. Sales coaching does take time, or at least more time than simply focusing attention on the operations of the branch or sales team. The conundrum comes when comparing a credit union that excels at selling with one that stinks at it and discovering thatthe one thing they both have in common is time.
To stop stinking at selling, a credit union needs to start selling, regardless of the time issues. From there, sales leaders can address staffing, training, processes, systems,and attitudes,which are generally what cause the time constraints. But until selling starts happening, nothing can change.
11. Poor Sales Performance is Tolerated
In nearly all situations where sales performance stinks, there is a lack of accountability. Ifsales expectations have been set but are not being met, it’s generally because team members are simply allowed to underperform without recourse.
Now, I am not advocating that credit unions simply march through the office handing out pink slips to everyone not meeting sales expectations. It’s important to understand that performance issues are multifaceted. Team members must be given an opportunity to succeed. That includes the credit union providing:
- Effective sales training
- Consistent sales coaching
- Time for the salespeople to succeed
But salespeople must individually put in the time to learn and excel. That includes, applying what they are being taught, responding to coaching by following through, and making measurable progress. The salesperson should also be expected to report back on the progress they make and on their results.
If that isn’t happening, then it must be treated just like any other performance issue. Certainly, a call center manager wouldn’t turn a blind eye to an agent who’s sitting on “unavailable” half of the day. The same applies to a salesperson not meeting the expectations of his sales role.
12. Focusing on the Wrong Measurements of Sales Excellence
A few months ago, we published an article called 8 Sales KPIs Every Credit Union Should Be Measuring. This article outlines the measurements that help a credit union know if real sales activity is taking place, and more importantly, that sales improvements are taking hold. I’d strongly suggest reading this article to see how well your credit union is measuring true sales performance.
Often, credit unions take pride in their production. They get excited because their loan volume increased the last quarter, or deposits were up. However, as you dig deeper, you find that these metrics increased due to a simple jump in member activity, not sales excellence.
There are three types of sales that happen in the credit union. They are member initiated, employee initiated, and relationship initiated. Each of these must be measured accurately for sales success. Allow me to briefly explain.
Member initiated sales happen when a member engages his credit union for a new product or service need. Member initiated sales should be measured by the closing percentages. For example, if the credit union receives 100 loan applications in a month and 20 loans close, this would be a closing percentage of 20%. Knowing this, the credit union can use this as a baseline,take action, and adjust expectations to increase it.
Employee initiated sales happen when an employee proactively engages a member in the sales process. Employee initiated sales are typically measured by volume or penetration percentages. For example, not many members ask for an extended warranty with their auto loan. The credit union would want to measure the percentage of auto loans where an extended warranty was sold to see if progress is being made and where further training and coaching needs to take place.
Finally, relationshipinitiated sales happen when a member, a professional, or a business refers new business to the credit union. The credit union should be measuring relationshipinitiated sales by the rate of occurrence and follow-through. For example, the credit union has developed a relationship with a union. The union refers its members to the credit union for new products and services. The credit union would want to know how often referrals are being sent, if the union member is being contacted, and what new products or services are being sold.
When a credit union measures sales excellence correctly, it is empowered to address concerns and monitor improvement. Effective measuring of sales delivers a realistic perspective on sales performance.
13. Lack of Motivation and Drive
And finally, one of the areas where poor sales is most evident is when a member engages the credit union online or over the phone for a new account or loan product.
Something I do with almost all my new credit union clients to gauge the level of motivation and drive for sales is apply for a loan online. I want to see how quickly I receive a response and how effectively the the credit union employee engages me. From this I gauge how driven the credit union is to assist their membership and how effective they are at engaging their members in the sales process. I am sad to report that I’m often underwhelmed.
An incoming product or service request is generally the sum result of years of relationship building and marketing. It represents the payoff of a significant investment of credit union resources. With this in mind, it should be a top priority of the salesperson to close this business. Often though it takes hours and even days to get a response to my online loan application. The longest wait I have experienced was over 48 hours. Nearly every time the response I receive is in the form of a generic email that says something to this effect: “I just got around to noticing you applied for a loan. I am now just getting to that request and will email you again when I have more information. Hold please” (Sarcasm implied.)
Serving members is an honor and a privilege. They could choose any other financial institution. Exceptional service and an enthusiastic response when a member initiates a sales opportunity should be a top priority. Taking the time to go beyond that and make beneficial recommendations on products and services that will provide value should also take precedence. Afterall, the member deserves it, and the credit union can deliver it with a little extra effort.
It’s time to make selling an essential part of the credit union’s service standards. If your credit union stinks at selling, it’s time to address the issues and make the investment to fix them. It won’t be easy; it likely won’t be cheap either. But it will be worth it. Investment in sales excellence pays many dividends, and the ROI is immeasurable. How? Because selling provides perpetual valuefrom which everyone benefits. And that’s what credit unions were created to do.
SalesCUis a credit union-specific sales training company dedicated to bringing a proactive sales approach to every credit union. SalesCU accomplishes this by providing sales consulting and training to enhance branch sales, contact center sales, outbound sales, and lending center sales. The goal of SalesCU is to empower credit unions to cultivate primary financial relationships with their members. Engage Nick Brown directly at 801-860-5807 and firstname.lastname@example.org . Ask about his credit union specific workshops and online sales training, featured at www.salescu.com.