BY NICK BROWN
Your Credit Union is a retail sales establishment, meaning you sell products and services direct to consumers. As a retail sales establishment this means your credit union has a sales culture and a sales philosophy whether they were strategically designed or not.
A few months ago I wrote more on this topic in an article titled “Leading Your Sales Culture from Reactive to Proactive”. In the article I described these two cultures in detail from the perspective of a credit union undergoing a culture change. There are some amazing tips on how to identify what culture is guiding your employees in each member interaction, and how to improve it. One of the tips which I’d like to elaborate on, is the importance of a credit union sales process.
When I first discuss sales processes with some credit union leaders they will often say “Yes we train all of our employees on our sales processes. When doing a loan we teach the employee to start the application, gather the loan information, get supporting documents, send it to underwriting and so forth…We have that down.”
I have to chuckle and cringe a little each time I hear this. Why?It’s because this is not the sales process at all, but rather the steps to processing an application.
Certainly processing is part of the sales process but it only occurs after the employee has discovered and discussed what need the member truly trying to solve. And this misconception is actually what contributes to much of the “Sales” frustration for credit unions. Let me explain.
Processing and selling are actually two completely different functions and quite frankly they require two completely different employee skillsets. If we see, for example, the steps to processing a loan as selling we generally hire employees that are great at processing. As a result we end up with a sales staff which produces tidy accounts and loans with clean audits but doesn’t effectively upsell ancillary products or cross sell additional core products.Don’t get me wrong, you need employees with a processor skillset, but they are most effective in a sales support role rather than a sales lead role.
A sales process encompasses the entire member interaction. It should outline each step your employee takes a member through from needs assessment to closing and onboarding. All employees should be trained on the sales process and receive consistent coaching to ensure they are executing it at a high level.