Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: products

Is Selling In Your Credit Union Culture?

“We’re a service organization, not a sales culture.” I’ve heard those words from a number of credit unions. Too bad they’re wrong.

Ahh!! Put down the pitchforks and torches! Please, at least for a moment! Those credit unions were incorrect about one half of their statement. Of course they should remain a service organization. That’s what makes a credit union, well, a credit union. But no sales culture? Everything is sales.

  • What you eat for breakfast is sales,
  • If you choose to read my posts is sales,
  • Every decision is sales at its core.

What many credit unions have in mind when they hear “sales” is the aggressive “used car salesman”. You know, like this guy. (Which happens to be Kurt Russell from the 1980 film “Used Cars”.)

Kurt Russell Used Car Salesman

I’m in sales, and they’re a horrible representation of it (but he’s a great actor). I’m also professionally trained in a sales system which insists upon clarity and respect for all parties. As my sales coach used to say, “sales is a noble profession”. We don’t look at a bad driver and say, “drivers are all terrible”. Except here in Florida, where they are. Besides that, generalizations distort the truth.

Your credit union can deliver world-class service while being a sales culture. In fact, the latter supports the former! An MSR truly connecting with members learns about them. Their goals, their needs, their worries. This considerate MSR can suggest Payment Protection Insurance on a loan to someone who is worried about their family being burdened by a loan if they can’t work. Sure, they’re selling a product, and the credit union is making money (as should the MSR), but the member feels better served and more secure. They’ll remember how your credit union helped, especially if they need to take advantage of the policy.

Curious as to where to start? The Missouri CU Association shared their guidance with NCUA as a step-by-step process.

The other side of the discussion is a member who was not sold at all. They closed a loan and were “sold” nothing. Congratulations, your staff served the member by not selling them any additional services. Then, three months later, their car is totaled. Without GAP coverage, they now owe $4000 to make up the difference. Are they:

  1. Angry
  2. Disappointed
  3. Really pissed
  4. All of the above,

…with your credit union? You were serving that member, yet never told them there could be a large gap between what their car is worth and what they owe? That’s not service! Your lack of a sales culture could have changed this person, and their family’s life, for the worse.

Having a sales culture based on honesty and up-front discussions with members creates a win/win scenario. Members are happy to be offered services which may fit their needs (and can easily say no once informed). They’re thrilled when these services are used and they save money as a result. You’re a real life-saver in these cases. Through it all, your credit union makes more money, enabling you to offer more community services, lower rates, and better fulfill your mission.

Knowing what you do now, will you adopt a sales culture?

When you do, in the words of Dumbo, “Don’t just fly, soar!”

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Image credits: http://images4.fanpop.com/image/photos/20500000/Dumbo-in-Kingdom-Hearts-walt-disney-characters-20542266-786-568.jpg, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081698/

A Loan By Any Other Name…

By now, you are likely acquainted with hybrid vehicles. It all began with the Prius, and to this day, it is still the dominant vehicle in the class. For many people, Prius is synonymous with “hybrid car”. Toyota managed to achieve the holy grail of marketing: Proper noun in place of a noun. What does that mean? Let’s take some examples. What do you call the activity of using the copy machine? How about a tissue? Or an adhesive bandage? And then, there’s the king of them all…that gelatin-based wobbly dessert.

Can your idea become the Kleenex of tissues, the Jello of jiggly sweets, the Band-Aid of bandages, or the Xerox of copying?

Probably not.

Hey, I have the utmost faith in your efforts! First, however, consider the odds. How many products/services do you refer to by their brand? A dozen, at most? Your idea can be a great success without becoming a fixture of public consciousness. Sure, you Google your way through an Internet search session, but do you “credit union” your loan application? You know the answer. And that’s just fine.

These brands achieved success beyond their wildest marketer’s dreams, yet it is not an absolute. When you take a picture with your phone, do you call it a Polaroid? Why not? It’s instantly available, able to be shown and shared with others near and far, and might even become clearer if you shake it around. Some brands don’t adapt, and the word goes with them.

So it’s not the fact that people say the brand name, it’s that the product offers such a great benefit. Band-aids still cover cuts and bruises, with the confidence its removal will be pain-free. Jello still jiggles as if it were alive. Xerox machines still represent the boundary between screen and paper in an office.

At the end of the day, the (arguably) horrible pickup line still applies: “Hi, my name is Joe, but you can call me anytime.” As long as your members are aware of and getting great service through your credit union, does it really matter what they call it?

All brand names copyright their respective owners and are referenced in fair use, but, I’m no lawyer, so who knows?

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