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Mining a Hidden Gem: Unearthing Sales Success through Branch Referrals

BY RYAL TAYLOE

Is your credit union taking advantage of all the business cross-selling opportunities that are crossing your branches’ thresholds on a daily basis? Keep reading to see how one CU has successfully mined its branch networks for business referrals and how you can implement a winning referral program of your own.

Like many credit unions today, you may not realize that a highly effective yet underutilized sales force is hiding right under your nose: your branch team. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are 28 million small businesses in the country, an increase of 49 percent since 1982. Odds are, small business owners are walking into your credit union branches every single day. This tendency presents a huge opportunity to cross-sell member business loans and deposit products to your existing member base.

So, how do leading credit unions mine their branch networks for business referrals, and how can you implement a successful branch referral program at your cooperative?United Federal Credit Union has enjoyed immense success in this arena over the past several years. With branches spread across six states, including Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Nevada, North Carolina and Arkansas, the $2 billion-asset credit union works overtime to maintain consistency in sales and service across such distinct and diverse markets. I recently caught up with Stacy Fillmore, vice president of national sales and service, and asked her about United FCU’s branch referral sales program. Here is her road map for success:

  1. Sales Fits the Credit Union Culture: Ask any number of credit union professionals about sales, and the typical response will range from fear to loathing. Long-time credit union employees were broughtup in the culture of providing outstanding service to their member-owners, and to them “sales” runs counter to the concept of doing what’s right for the member. Strict sales goals and incentive-based compensation have long been the province of traditional retail banking, and credit unions pride themselves on being the “anti-bank.”
  2. This content is for CU BUSINESS eMagazine + WEB ACESS and THE TEAM BUILDER (GROUP SUBSCRIPTION) members only.
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