A few months
ago, my growing 15-year old son needed some new pants. He had saved up some
money and wanted to purchase a few pairs.
We went to
the mall and walked into a store we had never been to. As we entered the store,
a saleswoman approached us and I readied myself for the all-too-common question
we’ve all grown accustomed to:
“Can I help you find something?”
that’s not what she said. Instead, the saleswoman said, “I bet you came in
looking for pants.”
As I was
about to respond with a; “Nope. We are just looking.” I realized she didn’t ask
the question that I was expecting. The statement caught me off guard, and in
our shopping mode I simply answered, “Yes, we are.”
skipping a beat, she asked a few more questions to learn the size and style of
pants my son was looking for, picked up three pairs of pants, and had him
trying them on in the dressing room.
In less than thirty minutes, she had
helped him find a few pairs of pants he loved and checking out at the register.
That’s significant because my son is kind of choosey about his clothes.
In spite of
my experience as a sales coach and trainer, as well as my extensive exposure to
numerous great salespeople, this young saleswoman impressed me. She was
comfortable and confident. She knew what she was doing. And she followed some
very effective sales processes to win the sale.
analyzed the sales experience, I could readily see three major things that she
did right. These three things can also be applied by credit union salespeople
to consistently sell, and I’d like to share them with you—with a credit union
spin of course.
inserted herself into the buying process
In the credit
union world, salespeople often rely on a reaction-based, order-taker approach
to sales. That means the salesperson waits for the member to ask for a product
before beginning the sales process. Because of this, these salespeople rarely,
if ever, sell a product or service for which the member didn’t first ask. They
don’t take initiative, and they don’t insert themselves into the buying
On the other
hand, when a salesperson does attempt to ask for new business, the attempt to
insert himself often comes off as “salesie,” “pushy,” and objection-promoting.
It goes something like this:
“We have a
really great rate on our CD’s right now. Is that something you be interested
certainly better than not asking at all, this “just ask for the business”
approach isn’t reliable or effective. Despite the ineffectiveness of this
approach, it’s used all the time. In fact, you have likely heard this approach
and maybe even used it a few times yourself. If it’s so ineffectual, why does
it get used so much? Here are four reasons:
This is how
most people are taught to sell. They are taught to be bold and just ask for the
business with this type of phrase.
hear this approach being used everywhere and it just feels intuitive (I have
something to sell, I should just ask if someone wants it).
employees have been asked to sell but don’t really understand the product or
service, and they don’t know how to have productive sales conversations.
this approach sometimes actually works.
approach does sometimes provide results, though inconsistently and rarely. It
doesn’t take the salesperson a lot of effort to approach selling in this way so
if they have the stomach for all the objections they will receive, and if they
are persistent enough to push their way through the objections, the occasional
“yeses” perpetuate its use. It also keeps their managers promoting it.
a great salesperson understands that selling is not a smooth statement with
clever and persistent comebacks to overcome objections. She realizes that
selling is a process that taps into the natural buying process every person
uses to make buying decisions and that an effective sales process elicits very
few sales objections.
saleswoman who helped us find my son’s pants started the sales conversation the
right way. She avoided an opening question that would have pushed her out of
our buying process. Instead, she asked, “I bet you came in looking for pants.”
When we said, “yes,” this was her opening to insert herself into the buying
process with us. At that moment, she took ownership of my son’s desire to buy
pants, saw herself as the pant-buying expert, and moved him efficiently through
the steps to make a buying decision.
question or statement a successful salesperson uses in the sales conversation
cannot be the one that elicits an objection 95% of the time. Throughout the
sales process, any step that generally ends in an objection or a failed commitment
needs to be re-thought.
at selling a checking account for example. It is not easy to sell a checking
account to a member who is already established with another financial
institution. Members simply don’t want to go through the hassle and time of
switching over their checking accounts. Although this is a universal objection,
many salespeople still ask, “Would you be interested in moving over your
checking account to our institution?” To which the member replies, “No, I’ve
had it there for a while and everything is set up. I think I’m good.”
asking that question over and over again, an effective salesperson will
consider another question that inserts her into the checking account
buying/transfer process. A question such as, “Would it be okay to ask you a few
questions about your checking account?” will give her permission to do just
that as well as provide her the opportunity to educate the member and share
benefits before asking for the final commitment.
#2: She engaged
us in the buying process
inserting herself into the buying process, this great saleswoman engaged us in
the buying process quickly. Let me explain.
likely bought pants before. Unless you know exactly what you are looking for,
the buying process for pants goes something like this:
at the different options and styles
the right size
on pants until you find the perfect pair
the color and style you are looking for
seem simple, and it is. Buying is one of the easiest things we do. Selling is
simply the opposite side of buying. When this is understood, selling becomes
saleswoman believed we needed help to buy pants because we did not know how to
get exactly what we wanted quickly. She engaged my son in an effective buying
process and helped him find exactly want he wanted quickly and naturally.
principle is also true in the credit union industry. Great credit union
salespeople know their products and services well, and they know how to help
their members navigate the different options to find the best solutions to the
member’s needs. They engage their members in the buying process.
too often members apply for a credit card because they believe it’s the only
way to consolidate their other credit card debt, or they believe it’s the best
method to make a large purchase. In an order-taker environment, the member gets
the credit card. However, a great salesperson will engage the member in the
buying process by asking questions, uncovering his true need, identifying other
methods of consolidating the debt, and delivering a solution that solves the
true need with the best rate and term available. Many times this solution will
be one the member would never have considered on his own.
a checking account, a great salesperson will engage the member in the buying
process by asking questions that identify what he values most in a checking
account. She will ask the member to provide information and take action,
carefully walking him through the process of moving the checking account over
member is engaged in the buying process, he becomes invested in the process and
it is easier for the salesperson to move through each step to get to closing.
unnecessary details out of the conversation
“great thing” this saleswoman did was leaving out unnecessary details. For
example, she never discussed the price of the pants. The price was marked on
the pants and she assumed my son and I knew what we would pay for the pants if
we decided to buy. It wasn’t necessary for her to try and convince us that the
pants were worth the price.
Why is this
significant? Had she brought up the price, this could have become an objection
point. A great salesperson does not elicit objections. She understands how to
use the process to address objections, but more importantly, to avoid
in the credit union industry, assurance products (GAP, Extended Warranty, and
Debt Protection) often elicit a price objection from the member. The objection
comes up because the salesperson waits to discuss these products and their
prices untill the very end of the process after the member has already planned
on the lower principle and interest payment.
salesperson understands that if she wants to consistently sell assurance
products, she must build the value of the products and prepare the member for
their prices throughout the sales process.
Opportunity For Improvement: Cross-sell, cross-sell, cross-sell
I would not
be a very great sales coach and trainer if I didn’t see an opportunity for
already pointed out the amazing things this saleswoman did to help my son buy a
few pairs of pants. However, she could have also cross-sold him other clothes that he likely
would have wanted to buy. My son walked out that day with pants, but he could
have also used a few shirts and maybe even a pair of shoes to complete his look
and made him really feel good about it.
often the case with member accounts. The credit union frequently falls short in
unions should have a goal of reaching that primary financial relationship with
every member. While every credit union has their own definition of what a
Primary Financial Relationship (PFI) is and looks like, a true PFI should
include at least the Three Key Core Products and the ancillary products and services
associated with them.
Key Core Products are as follows:
Account (with an actual savings balance)
percent of Americans have savings and checking accounts, and seventy-five
percent have a credit card. If a member doesn’t have all three of those
products with the credit union, there is a high likelihood he has them elsewhere.
Which means he has his primary savings, transaction accounts, and/or credit
card relationship with another institution.
Just like my
son would not walk around with just pants on, members would not be without the
“Three Key Core Products.” So it just makes good business sense to assure that
they have those accounts at your institution rather than elsewhere.
actually quite simple when it is approached properly. For a salesperson to sell
more and do it naturally, she needs to insert herself into the natural buying
processes of the product or service. Simply asking the member, “Is that
something you’d be interested in,” is often insufficient. She also needs to
engage the member in the buying process, walking him through each step
efficiently and intentionally.
she needs to avoid eliciting sales objections. This happens by bringing up
unnecessary discussions and by not preparing the member throughout the buying
process for predictable objections. And
finally, she should remember that the member often needs other products and
services in order to complete his financial relationship and solve other needs,
wants, and dreams.
salesperson approaches selling in this natural and engaging way, they will sell
more and create exceptional value in the members’ lives because of it.