In the fall of 2014, Purdue Federal Credit Union ($1.0B, West Lafayette, IN) held a series of focus groups with its branch-level sales managers. The focus groups consisted of three managers each, and the credit union tasked each group with coming up with a solution for a specific problem.
Sarah Fassnacht, sales manager of the credit union’s Northwestern Branch, was in a group that considered how to increase business at SEG institutions. At the time she was already putting together call nights, but she knew they could be more successful.
“I had outbound calling experience from my previous credit union and I wanted to bring that initiative here,” Fassnacht says.
CU QUICK FACTS
Data as of 03.31.16
HQ: West Lafayette, IN
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 11.64%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 9.53%
And so the PFED Producers — a team of salespeople who contact members via email or phone to improve relationships — was born.
The PFED Producers
Fassnacht’s focus group helped establish the PFED Producers in late 2014, and now she leads the team.
The team currently includes six branch-level salespeople, although at its largest the team had 10 members. That’s a number Fassnacht would like to reach again, but bulking up the team’s members requires more than just tapping a salesperson or two. PFED Producer work must be completed in addition to normal job duties, so the members of this team are all high-achievers who consistently beat their sales goals.
“Not just anybody gets to be on the team,” Fassnacht says.
PFED Producers must be high-energy team players and tend to be experienced sales people. Sales managers nominate potential PFED Producers, and current PFED Producers review nominees before asking them to join.
“It’s a great group of people and a great environment,” Fassnacht says. “Their energy bounces off one another. We’re sensitive to impeding that, so we want the team involved in selecting new team members.”
Monthly Call Nights And Working Lists
Each month, the PFED Producers hold a 90-minute call night. All team members go to Fassnacht’s branch and make outbound calls to credit union members.
Team members are focused, Fassnacht says, but the credit union tries to bring some fun to the event. Before the calling begins, team members have dinner together. And at the end of the night everyone reconvenes for a debriefing and prizes. Prizes are given to employees for getting members on the phone and for those who start loan applications. The credit union knows that staying after hours is a sacrifice of personal time and it wants to show its appreciation.
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“We try to include everybody in the prizes,” Fassnacht says.
Call nights generally revolve around a specific theme, such as auto refinances or unsecured loans, but Fassnacht also expects PFED Producers to dedicate at least one or two hours of their own time each week making calls, which don’t need to be focused on a specific topic.
Although the credit union keeps them to a minimum, other sales teams do make cold calls. PFED Producers, however, work from more focused lead lists, of which the credit union usually has three or four in play at a time.
To help pull these “working lists,” the GROW team, a committee of sales and assistant managers meets each month to discuss sales opportunities based on factors such as time of year, market fluctuations, and credit union promotions. Members of the PFED Producers also have input.
After establishing the criteria for a list, the credit union pulls names and contact information for its SEG-based members from Raddon and its core system (Fiserv).
We want to see if we can improve our services with our members. Would they be interested in learning more about a certain product? And the conversation starts from there.
For example, the credit union has segmented members by age, credit score, and debt load to determine the best candidates for an unsecured loan promotion. It has also made a list of members who had checking accounts but no credit card. For an auto recapture list, it has segmented members who recently took out auto loans at another institution.
Other lists have aimed to increase equity loans, checking accounts, and e-services adoption.
“We want to see if we can improve our services with our members,” Fassnacht says. “Would they be interested in learning more about a certain product? And the conversation starts from there.”
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Goals, Successes, And Best Practices
Fassnacht admits that tracking within this team is relatively primitive. For a long time she used excel sheets to monitor efficiency and productivity, although tracking is now becoming more sophisticated.
The credit union’s loan system allows Fassnacht to drill down to see which lists proved most fruitful — for example, auto or credit card — but she’d still like to improve things. The credit union recently implemented a new phone system, called Interactive Intelligence. With this system, which Fassnacht and her team are still experimenting with, she’ll be able to more accurately track the number of member conversations and how many loans came from those conversations. Right now, she says, all the credit union tracks is the total dollar amount produced.
For 2015, the PFED Producers had a $2 million production goal. And although the credit union’s loan system wasn’t in place until after first quarter 2015, the team was still able to beat its goal using activity from only the last three quarters of the year.
The credit union has not yet set its 2016 goal because it is focusing many of its resources on a large internal project, but Fassnacht expects to set goals by the start of third quarter. After first quarter 2016 the team had produced slightly more than $1.5 million, putting it on pace to out-perform 2015.
“We’ve been in maintenance mode,” Fassnacht says. “But we’re looking forward to third and fourth quarter this year to incorporate new ways to make the team more successful.”