How to Set Sales Goals that Stretch your Credit Union and Reach Them in 2024
Much of the work we do with credit unions is focused on setting and achieving sales goals. Often credit unions reach out to us because they are not reaching their goals or the potential they know is possible, and they feel that opportunity is being missed. Does this sound familiar to you?
Missed opportunity hampers the credit union’s growth and success, stifles its ability to remain competitive, and handicaps the value it is providing to the membership of the credit union.
When a credit union is not capturing the opportunity and reaching its potential, it is generally due to three common mistakes or oversights:
• They are not using sound data to measure progress and set growth goals.
• They are viewing goals as adjustable and arbitrary.
• They are focused on the ideal rather than improvement.
A lack of correct focus and appropriate action in any of these three areas can create less than desirable results for any credit union and lead them to miss their sales goals. Let’s take a look at these three areas and how to approach them effectively.
Using Sound Data
Goals should be intentional and based on sound data. They should also be tied to a tangible outcome. Goals are more powerful if that tangible outcome has meaning and purpose. Clearly goals should be tied to growth and revenue, but for what purpose? What will the growth mean for the credit union? What will the revenue do to aid in advancing the mission of the credit union? And how will this growth and revenue benefit and positively impact the membership? What will missing these goals mean for the credit union and the membership?
Goals must be based on sound data. While reviewing sales KPI’s with a new credit union client, I came across a situation where sound data had not been used to set year-end bonus goals. In that conversation they shared their checking account goal of opening 300 new checking relationships. After some discussion I learned that this was a gross goal rather than a net checking growth goal. Concerned, I asked them to gather the number of checking relationships they had closed the previous two years and then projected the net checking account loss for the year. It turned out that they were going to close 320 checking accounts during the year, equating to a net loss of 20 checking relationships.
In an article titled “8 Sales KPI’s Every Credit Union Should Be Measuring,” and a webinar with the same name, I outline how to measure sales performance. While there are other measurements a credit union may use to set goals, these eight sales performance metrics should be included in some way in annual organizational goals, branch goals, and ultimately in the goals of each sales team member of the credit union. Everyone contributes to the success of organizational goals.
These eight KPI’s will assist you in using sound data as you set goals for your institution. Let’s look at each KPI categorized by measurement type.
Net growth includes the following areas:
• Net new checking accounts
• Net new credit cards
• Net new deposits
As illustrated in the story above, the net measurement includes both new accounts opened and existing accounts closed. When setting a growth goal, it’s important that it is based on net growth, not gross growth. The aforementioned story effectively demonstrates this principle, but stated again, if the credit union wants to experience growth, they need to focus not only on new accounts opened, but also retaining the relationships they currently have.
The intention behind the 300 gross new checking accounts was to grow checking accounts. Had they set a net growth goal of 300, the credit union would have needed to improve checking account retention. For example, they should have set three separate goals:
1. Grow checking accounts by a net of 300.
2. Open 556 gross new checking accounts.
3. Reduce checking account closures by 20% to under 256 for the year.
By using correct data, the credit union can become very specific in their goals and expectations. This then gives leaders and front-line management the direction they need for training, coaching, and accountability. For example, a branch manager may set her own team goals to ensure they are overcontributing to the expectation, such as:
• We retain 100% of our checking accounts.
• All checking accounts closed will be reviewed by the manager with the team members.
• We will open twenty new checking accounts per month (the branch’s share of the goal may only be ten per month).
When goals are clear, sales leaders are empowered to train and coach their teams on the right mindset, behaviors, and actions that will ensure they reach the expectation.
Two critical sales KPI’s that are measured using ratios are the:
• Funding Ratio – A measurement of the percentage of fundable loans that are ultimately funded.
• Assurance Products Penetration – A measurement of the total number of loans that are funded with GAP, Extended Warranty, and/or Debt Protection added to them.
Ratios are a combination of several factors. For example, to measure the funding ratio, a credit union must measure:
• Total loan applications submitted.
• Total loan applications denied due to being non-fundable at the time.
• Total loan applications withdrawn because the member decided not to move forward with a loan (including members who financed with another financial institution).
• Total fundable applications.
• Total loans funded.
Assuming a credit union is currently maintaining a funding ratio of 55% and wants to grow that to 75% in the next year, they may need to set four clear goals:
1. Improve the credit union’s loan funding ratio to 75%.
2. Contact all loan applications within two hours of the application being submitted.
3. Close all loan applications within two businesses days.
4. Improve the loan closing process by closing all loans in person or over the phone.
Each of the factors listed above, and possibly others, will determine whether the credit union will reach their funding ratio goal. Understanding the importance of these factors ensures the credit union is focused on the right factors that will help them control the outcome and exceed the goal.
Our example shows how to improve a ratio; however, this is not the only way to set a ratio goal. Once a desired ratio has been set, the expectation moving forward should be focused on maintaining the ratio. For example, if the credit union is satisfied with maintaining a ratio of 75%, they should not feel pressured to set a goal the next year of reaching 85%.
Total sales goals measure the total number of sales made in specific areas. Certainly, the credit union is measuring the total number of products and services sold in the other two sales measurement categories. However, in this case the total number sold is the measurement with these performance indicators:
• Loans recaptured (dollar amount funded)
• Products and Services per Household (PPH)
• Referrals received.
Likely one of the most difficult performance indicators to measure is the Products and Services per Household primarily because it includes so many factors. It requires the credit union to measure several areas, including:
• All households (credit unions can also measure this by account or individual social security number).
• All products and services the credit union offers.
• Account open date.
• Product and service open date, and where more appropriate last activation date.
Why are so many factors required? It is because the life state of the household is a critical component. A credit union needs to be able to differentiate accounts that are new (less than ninety days old) from those that are one year old, five years old, and older. By assigning these accounts out by age, the credit union can set goals to improve product penetration on new and existing accounts.
In addition to this, the credit union will want to have the ability to measure core product sales and the penetration of assurance products to determine how thorough and effective credit union sales team members are in their interviewing as well as consistently cross selling and upselling.
To improve in this area, the credit union needs to set goals for products and services sold within the first ninety days of an account relationship and to identify and capture additional sales on existing accounts. Goal processing may look like this: the credit union may currently be at 4 PPH, and wish to increase that ratio this next year to 4.5 PPH. If there are currently 10,000 households, they will need the following goals for the next year:
• Increase PPH on existing account relationships by 5,000.
• Sell a minimum of 4.5 products and services on new accounts under ninety days old.
Again, using appropriate data clarifies what goals need to be set and achieved to reach the levels of excellence the credit union is seeking. It also empowers sales leaders to ensure they are training, coaching, and creating accountability channels for their team members to focus on and work towards the right things.
Adjusting Down Goals
Goals should not be adjusted down for any one group or any one individual. The goal is the goal. Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances which may warrant adjusting a goal down, however it is rarely advisable as it communicates the wrong message.
In a recent sales leadership workshop I conducted, a credit union CEO asked a question to the group. He wanted to know whether he should adjust the loan growth goal they had set at the beginning of the year.
He explained that they had set a goal to grow their loan portfolio by 15%, which would have taken the portfolio to over $50 million. Based on the data available, a 15% projected growth goal was reasonable, reachable, and very applicable. The one-branch credit union had just opened a second location, and the loan growth goal took into account the additional loan generating power of a new location fully staffed.
Senior leadership set the goal, communicated it to the board and leadership team, and it was accepted. On January 1st, the goal went into effect and the team began working to reach it. However, without warning a business owner came in on January 4th and paid off a $1 million commercial real estate loan, throwing off their projections. What should they do?
Because the goals were set with clear intentions and a clear need, the credit union should see the goal through regardless of the unexpected loan payoff. Although the payoff adds an additional $1 million to the already challenging $6.5 million net growth goal, obtaining the goal is still possible and still just as applicable as it was before the payoff. It should be acknowledged though that it, no doubt, will take a substantial effort from the entire team to accomplish the goal.
When goals are not met it warrants a review of the circumstances that led to the shortfall. Some questions that should be asked are:
• Did we do what we could to reach the goal?
• Were there additional steps that could have been taken to ensure the completion of the goal?
• Were there things we did that prevented us from reaching the goal?
• Were we prepared to reach the goal?
• What needs to change to reach future goals?
While it is true that these questions will lead to uncomfortable realities, knowing the answers should feel empowering to an organization committed to excellence. This brings up a final point. Always measure backwards in business.
Always Measure Backwards
In the book “The Gap and the Gain,” Dr. Benjamin Hardy and Dan Sullivan explain that the very best way to measure success is to focus on the GAINS that have been made, rather than the GAP that still remains.
Gains are a measurement of the progress the credit union has made in comparison to previous performance levels. To measure gains, a credit union must focus on where they were compared to where they currently are.
The gap is the measurement of where the credit union is in comparison to the ideal. To ascertain the gap, the credit union must evaluate where the credit union is currently and determine where they wish they were.
Gap thinking, as Hardy explains it, leads us to frustration and a belief that the credit union just isn’t good enough. In short, gap thinking leads to dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Such negativity is certain to bleed into all areas of the credit union, creating a scarcity mindset.
Gain thinking on the other hand, leads to positive energy and optimism. Realizing that while the ideal has not been reached, progress is being made and the credit union is always improving. Even failures can be seen as gains.
For example, the credit union that set a goal to achieve a net loss of 20 checking accounts that year gained a new and important perspective of what they truly wanted to accomplish. They were also able to correct the goal and begin focusing not only on new checking accounts opened, but also retaining checking relationships they already had. These gains have paid significant dividends in the years following as they have been able to successfully grow checking relationships, and they feel growth is within their control.
It is my hope that you have one or two, if not several, key takeaways from this article. If so, we would love to engage with you on LinkedIn or by email. There are three specific takeaways I hope you glean.
First, I hope that you take a closer look at what your credit union is measuring, how it is being measured, and how you are using that data to set effective sales growth goals.
Second, I hope that your credit union applies better leadership when challenges arise that jeopardize the goals that have been set. I hope that rather than reducing goals to make them more “reachable,” your credit union steps up its leadership, training, coaching, and accountability to push the team to higher levels of performance.
And finally, I hope your credit union does a better job celebrating its gains rather than focusing that gap that still exists between their current situation and the ideal.
If your credit union can effectively apply these three things, it will be better equipped to reach its sales goals in 2024.