BY NICK BROWN
Are your credit union’s staff members playing the role of order taker rather than taking advantage of member interactions and selling products and services? Such inertia may be seriously hampering your CU’s financial growth. Read on for some insight on how to shift your employees’ mindset into that of active salespeople.
For many credit unions, the struggle to get employees to reach out to members and sell is real. Often when speaking to credit union leadership, they are frustrated because their staff won’t take the time to engage their members beyond what they specifically ask for. Such staff members are stuck in an “order taker” mentality. Years ago, I had the opportunity to sit with an employee and coach him on sales. Of course this is something I have done numerous times, but this particular experience stands out to me. I had been invited by the branch manager to come in and provide an outside perspective on sales with her branch team because they were struggling.
Before coming out, I asked her to share what was happening and what she thought needed to change. She said that she continually encouraged her employees at the teller line and new account/loan desk to offer products and services the member needed, and from her observations, they were doing this. However, even though employees consistently followed her nudging, sales results were low, even lower than other branches that, according to her, were not “focused on sales.”
It was clear that the sales process was the issue. As I sat to coach this employee, I wanted to specifically see how her organization conducted a sales discussion, how it uncovered needs, how it aligned benefits, introduced the product, and created engagement and commitment in the member.
I had scheduled an hour to just sit and listen as my client helped members. I call this “shadowing” because I simply sit and observe. I don’t say a word unless asked. This isn’t the time to coach but rather to learn. It is something I do every time I work with an employee one on one to help him or her achieve sales success, because it gives critical insight when it is time to coach.
While shadowing, the first member to come in to the organization needed an auto loan to buy a car from a friend. The member had everything with her and was ready to finance that day. With instructions to do what he normally does, the employee went through the process of starting an application, getting an initial approval, quoting a loan amount and a payment. Then it came time to sell the member GAP, warranty and payment protection products. His first question went something like this:
“Sally, our credit union offers GAP insurance in case, you know, you total your car. It’s only $$$. You wouldn’t want that… Would you?”
My eyes shot over to the member to see her response. Her forehead scrunched as if thinking, then she said,
“No, I don’t think that’s something I need.”