BY NICK BROWN
As a credit union leader you understand the important role that sales plays in the success of the organization. Now, more than ever, if your credit union isn’t effectively selling to its members, it is losing business either to the competition, or to unserved needs of the member.
Despite the need for sales success, credit unions suffer from an “Order Taker” mentality amongst their retail and call center sales staff. In other words, employees deliver what the member asks for, but fail to exemplify the behaviors that lead to product expanding and relationship deepening conversations. At the root of this reactive selling approach is a lack of quality sales training and coaching.
Over the last year we have published a handful of articles discussing how to successfully craft and maintain a sales initiative at your credit union. In these articles we have discussed how and when to provide sales training, how to hire for sales excellence, the behaviors to develop in sales people, and effective ways to coach employees on selling. To finish the year, I’d like to add one more topic that will hopefully propel you into action for 2019. That action is to provide competent sales training to your frontline staff and leaders.
Sales training is an essential piece of any sales initiative. I am a firm believer that training, followed by coaching and accountability, is the key to enhancing the performance and production of any team. So, let’s look at five benefits of implementing sales training in your credit union in 2019.
#1 Develops Your Sales Culture
If your credit union suffers from a reactive sales culture, one of the best ways to begin the transition to a proactive, member engaging approach is through structured sales training. Even if your credit union is underway to developing a proactive culture, improving your sales training will give your employees to tools they need to succeed.
In an article published by American Express, titled “10 Steps to Creating a Top-Selling Sales Culture”, Roy Vaden says it’s critical to master the sales training process in order to establish and cultivate an efficient sales culture. He goes on to say “It’s your company’s job to give your salespeople the tools and training they need to succeed in their position. Sales cultures have well-defined systems to help their sales people grow, learn and achieve.”
Sales training itself isn’t going to ensure your sales culture will succeed. That training must be backed by coaching and accountability. Sales training though, is the way to give your employees tools they need to improve selling. Often leaders put goals and incentives first, thinking they can “carrot and stick” their employees to somehow do something they don’t truly know how to do. Don’t get me wrong, goals and incentives are critical elements of a well-run sales culture. Starting with these is like asking employees to draw more water from an empty well.
With sales training, you will empower your member-facing staff with the tools they need to succeed, giving them the confidence to hit the goals and earn the incentives they desire. This is especially true during the new employee orientation and evaluation period.
In an article by HCI Capital Institute titled, “The First 90 Days Will Make or Break Your New Hire”, it states, speaking of the first 90 days, that “New Hire experiences during this highly-impressionable period directly affect the long-term engagement, retention and performance.” If the training and coaching during the first 90 days’ focuses heavily on transaction or call volume, balancing, audits and busy work, that’s probably the type of production you are getting from you team.
#2 Clearly Communicates Expectations
One of the primary reasons salespeople fail isn’t because they lack the motivation, work ethic, or ability, it’s not knowing what is expected of them.
In an article titled, “7 Reasons Why Employees Don’t Work and What You Can Do About It”, published on BusinesTown.com, it states, “One of the primary reasons employees don’t perform well is that they aren’t aware of the work standards they should maintain.”
Effective sales training, built for credit union employees, clearly communicates to employees what they should be doing in every situation and member interaction.
When you think of selling, you may think first about upselling and cross-selling products and services the members are not asking about such as recapturing loans, checking account conversions, and closing the difficult products such as payment protection. All of these are important, but selling is much more.
Your credit union is a retail sales establishment. This means, as Eliot Burdett so eloquently stated, “Nothing happens until someone sells something”. Selling also incorporates educating, advising, and assisting a member with the product or service for which they are asking. Think of all of the loan applications your members start online but never close?
As employees are delivered a complete sales process through training, they know how to capture the additional business and close the business for which the member is asking.
#3 Establishes a Standard Sales Process
- Edwards Deming, renowned management consultant, said, “If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you are doing.” This is especially true in the world of credit union sales.
Selling is a process, not a phrase. Effective sales training teaches clear, well defined sales processes and approaches before it teaches scripting. With processes, employees know exactly what is expected of them, and how to accomplish it. Processes, vital to the success of any sales initiative, also simplify the coaching and accountability pieces.
I shared much more about this in an article titled, “7 Steps to a Complete Sales Process” published in the October 2017 issue of this magazine. Take a few moments to read that article to learn more about sales processes and how sales training strengthens them.
#4 Develops Sales Skills
Likely, the most evident benefit of providing sales training to your employees is knowing how to sell. As previously mentioned, competent credit union-specific sales training will give your employees the skills they need to be successful.
New employees who come out of training, and through their 90-day orientation and evaluation period, should have the ability to clearly identify sales opportunities easily because they know what to look for and where to look for it. They should have the ability to confidently start sales conversations. They should be able to ask the right questions to identify what the member values most and align product or services features to member expectations. And finally, they should understand the process of gaining commitments through to closing.
With this foundation, additional training and coaching can deliver the specific skills needed to become a sales expert. This would include selling the products and services which fill the members’ stated needs, as well as up/cross-selling those products and services the member isn’t asking for. Examples of this are:
- Checking account conversions
- Sales of assurance products (Payment Protection, GAP and Extended Warranty)
- Savings transfers
- Loan recapture
- Credit card penetration
- Referrals of mortgages, investments, business services, insurance, etc.
#5 Structures Accountability
Finally, with sales training, your employees will understand for what they will be accountable. Likely, training they already receive clearly communicates operational accountability such as balancing, fraud prevention, and loan audits. Sales training will clearly establish for what the employees will be accountable in the sales process. Leaders will also know how to hold employees accountable to the processes and expectations sales training establishes.
A quality sales training program Sales training benefits the credit union in so many more ways than just providing training. This list of 5 benefits only scratch the surface. Additionally, credit unions who have a commitment to sales and provide training to their team find that employee satisfaction, member engagement, and brand awareness also increase as a result. If sales training is not something you are providing to your employees, you could revolutionize your credit union in 2019 by implementing a program.
SalesCU (formerly Nick Brown Consulting) is a credit union-specific, sales training company dedicated to bring a proactive sales approach to every credit union. SalesCU accomplishes this by providing sales consulting and training to enhance branch sales, contact center sales, outbound sales, and lending center sales. The goal of SalesCU is to empower credit unions to cultivate primary financial relationships with their members. Engage Nick Brown directly at 801-860-5807 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Ask about his credit union specific workshops and online sales training, featured at www.salescu.com.