Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: sales (page 1 of 2)

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/

“I am Groot. I am Groot…I AM GROOT!”

Originally published on CUInsight.com

By now, every tree, raccoon, and 80s-mixtape loving space traveler has seen the newest Guardians of the Galaxy. And, if by some chance, you missed that ship as it soared past, explosions trailing in its wake, then I’ll lay off the spoilers. They’re fun movies. Go watch.

One character became everyone’s favorite: Groot. But that might be our human weakness for puppy trees. Or baby stalks? Saplings? Yeah, that’s it.

So Groot is interesting. What does he say? And what else? That’s all? Yes, here is a character which has now gotten through three films (and years of comic books) with a three word vocabulary: “I. Am. Groot.” But you can always tell what he means.

There’s a science to his communication. You might have heard of a study which showed 93% of communication is non-verbal. Wax washing Dumbledore patio furniture sounds pen computer! Yeah, that’s ridiculous. Dumbledore would never use a computer. So words still matter. Like most science, it was more complex than reported, unless, apparently, you’re Groot. It’s possible they excluded talking trees from their research.

Here’s the reality: What you say is important. But how you say it means the difference between ending the conversation right there or continuing onward.

It’s the difference between someone who cares about talking and one who can’t wait to get away. You see it at networking events, in stores, and on some phone customer service lines. The person who is expressing with animation garners more interest. Seems pretty obvious. If you don’t care about what you’re saying, why should I? Likewise, if you cannot contain your excitement about a new CU initiative, the smile becomes contagious.

Staff who express themselves in this manner create excited members. Excited members are engaged members. Staff who feel obligated to mention products or services do so…in…a…monotonous…and…disinterested…style. The member thinks, “if they don’t care about it, why should I?”

Don’t be teenage angst Groot. Be saving the galaxy for the second (third?) time GROOT!

Clarity. It’s Pretty Obvious.

Originally published on CUInsight.com

The topic for this post emerged while I was at a vendor expo prior to a major run. Ok, you got me. It was at Disney. Readers, “every mile is magic”!

One of the vendors was a title sponsor you may have seen mentioned on this blog: Misfit. They are an activity tracker/watch/smart device company owned by Fossil. I’ve used their original device since release: basic but functional. Since then, they have released a number of more advanced wearables. The evolution of the device I have now interacts with your phone as a camera remote, a “get me out of this awkward situation by calling me” feature, ability to control music, and even turn on/off smart lighting. And I thought mine was cool when it knew I was sleeping!

Their other devices range from a full-fledged smartwatch (like an Apple Watch) to one called the Phase. It’s marketed as a “hybrid smartwatch”. If you’re being honest (and isn’t that why we’re all here?), you don’t know what that means. It’s ok, I didn’t, either. Does it run on two power sources? Can I make it a normal watch, then flip a switch and have a screen turn on? Is it a tiny Autobot? I even picked up a brochure, and the only guidance it gives is that “it’s more than time”. Luckily, the company had representatives at the event to explain. Us charlatans were all off the mark. A “hybrid smartwatch”, as you obviously should know, is a device with a normal watch face, physical moving hands and all, yet inside, it has all the computers you’d expect out of something much more impressive. Instead of using a power-hungry screen, the watch moves the hands around in different patterns, which you have to remember their meaning. It’s like morse code for the tech world. (Was 10 o’clock Mom or Steve texting? Oh, it’s actually just 10:00.)

Now we are all on the same page when it comes to hybrid smartwatches. They’re normal watches that can do some “smart” things. Couldn’t you figure it out from the name? No? Psh, what are you, a normal person or something?

Misfit did that little thing we all fall victim to sometimes; they assumed. If you make up a new term, it needs to be repeatedly explained until it becomes common knowledge within your target audience. Otherwise, all you’re doing is confusing your readers and maybe even scaring them out of making a decision. “I don’t know what they’re talking about, but since it’s not explained, I bet everyone else does. If I ask, I’m the dumb one, so I’m not saying anything.” I’m sure within the industry, “hybrid smartwatch” is a common term with broad understanding. But did anyone check the real world?

There’s a possibility your own credit union is making this same mistake. As with most industries, we do love our proprietary terms and acronyms. VSC, GAP, CPI, PPI, AD&D, and more. You’re right, some have general understanding in the public, but not all. And aren’t you about educating your members to make better financial decisions (which may involve you making more money)?

All of your member-facing services should be presented in a simple, easy-to-grasp way. If a member wants the full details, that’s fine, but initial encounters must be instantly understandable. Take, for example, PPI (Payment Protection Insurance): “Get hurt or sick and can’t work for 30 days or longer? This pays your loan.” Everyone will get what it offers. GAP: “Totaled your car and insurance didn’t pay the whole loan? This pays the rest.” VSC (or Warranty for some CUs): “Car breaks? This pays to get it fixed.” In the latter example, you need to be offering a top-tier warranty service to say something so simple.

And that brings up a good point. Besides missing member purchase opportunities due to a lack of clarity, you could also be making things difficult for everyone by partnering with a challenging provider. Remember, my business works with CUs. No matter what we offer, we aim for it to be easily digested by staff and members, without lots of exclusions, loopholes, or other places where relationships break down. Your MSRs want solutions which can be quickly presented to members. Once you have to start clarifying where it does and does not apply, the sale opportunity is gone.

Ok, there was a lot in this piece. Let’s bring it all home.

  1. Hybrid smartwatches are normal-looking watches which do cool stuff. They show you by spinning their physical hands.
  2. Assuming always gets you in trouble.
  3. Every member service should be instantly understandable (if only at a, “that sounds useful, tell me more” level).
  4. All offered products, in-house and partnered, must be top-quality to ensure you don’t need to start presenting where they don’t apply (ie. A warranty which doesn’t cover sales tax).

Credit unions exist to help members make smart financial decisions. If we’re stuck with industry jargon, assuming everyone understands, while presenting complicated solutions, are we really fulfilling our mission?

This leads me to a future post which will discuss the idea of selling. Yes, you should be selling to your members. Why? And how? You’ll just have to wait and see!

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