Feb. 25, 2013


  • Unfortunately, sales is often considered a bad word and we have been successful at hiring people who want to help people but not sell to them. That is the first change we need to make, identify who is really good maybe even great at helping others and place them in positions to do so. Then identify or find staff who are motivated by earning money or selling ideas and put them in sales related positions like new accounts and lending.Then pay the second group a fair incentive program to get new business for the service people to help take care of the business. train the service people to listen for cues and have meaningful conversations for leads but don't place the sales pressure on them, they won't succeed. We call our sales culture the help culture, all we are trying to do is help members and the only way to do so is to find needs and offer solutions to meet the needs. And yes, that often means closing the sale.
    Dennis D. Degenhardt
  • Many of the staff won't accept it. If that's a chief concern, don't attempt it. Should an incentive be instituted? I've never seen a successful sales program without aggressive goals matched with incremental rewards. If "sales" is a bad word, find a model more befitting a traditional single-sponsor credit union whereby the credit union receives subsidies like free office space, and be content with modest or no growth. There are fewer and fewer of these types of credit unions, but some that remain are very good at what they do. The others are getting gobbled up in mergers. Installing a sales culture is hard. Lots of people will resist it, because they weren't hired for that, and their skills may be unsuited for it. If the board has staff pets and sacred cows, then prepare for a rough and unpleasant transition. The board should be prepared for some high initial turnover. Managers should be prepared to spend a lot of time measuring, teaching, communicating, and coaching. A lot of time. And then be prepared to change out some of the staff, even those that everyone likes. Obviously if they can transition to a non-sales position, keep them on the bus, but that won't be possible with all of them. The benefits of a strong sales culture will be enjoyed by all staff, and certainly the members. Better earnings naturally follow, along with growth. More earnings means more investments in training, staff development, salary and benefits. You empower sales staff to have control over their own compensation. On the member side, they [should] get more and better products, more conveniences, and the opportunity to partake in more low-cost credit union products and services, thereby saving them money.
    Tony Hale