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Do You Really Want a Sales Culture?

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BY KENNETH C. BATOR

Your credit union may think it wants to adopt a sales culture, but when it comes to the nitty-gritty behind achieving such an atmosphere, that desire may not be what it seems. Using a case study from his longstanding brand, culture and strategy alignment career, CUB’s sales training expert illustrates why it’s time to stop and examine your surroundings.

I wrote a version of this article in 2003 about 18 months after I started my consulting firm. I had had some success in sales, both in retail banking and in business-to-business (B2B) financial services, throughout the 1990s. So when I started offering consulting services to credit unions in 2001, my primary offering was teaching front line staff how to effectively cross-sell products.

The fact that I started my own firm in 2001 is part of the “sales culture” story in and of itself. The successful B2B selling I accomplished in the late ’90s had been done with and through a competent business development team while working as Business Development Manager, and later as VP of Marketing, for a corporate credit union in the Midwest.

In early 1999, the CEO announced a planned merger with another corporate credit union. I remember distinctly, about an hour after that announcement, sitting in an office with a fellow executive talking about the potential merger. One of the first things he said was: “I hope we don’t lose the sales culture we built.”

His words were a bit prophetic as about two years later I was… shall we say, made available for other employment. It’s quite possible my sales-driven management style didn’t fit as well with the more operationally centered culture that had evolved after the merger. It’s also possible that if I had been more self-aware and adaptive in my early 30s that I might not have been shown the door in 2001. But that’s a subject for a different article, or a conversation over a glass of wine during the GAC.

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