The credit union differenceSay the letters ABC to a true sales person and inevitably images of Alec Baldwin spelling out "Always Be Closing" will come to mind. But the days of Glengarry Glen Ross sales tactics are (thankfully) in the past, and have never really had a place in the credit union world. Yet, opening new accounts and positioning loans is imperative to a credit union’s success. According to, in the 10 years following the recession, the credit union industry has grown its loan portfolio 82.7%. There is still a lot of growth to be realized, and even in today’s digital world, most new sales will be handled by branch employees. This means that the sales program needs to be focused on making suggestions of products and services, opening new accounts and writing new loans... and making sure MSR's are comfortable with the sales aspect of their role. Accomplishing the task of a soft sale day after day can be a struggle for branch employees. If your results are not where you need them to be, here are 5 areas to look to improve the process:

1. Not Asking the Right Questions and Listening

95% of buyers state that the typical salesperson talks too much, and 74% of buyers said they were much more likely to buy if that salesperson would simply listen to them. Credit union employees have to be good at asking the right questions, so their conversation gives them the information they need to really understand that member. Only then can they give suggestions about meeting the member’s needs.

2. Not Understanding the Member’s Priority

What a member wants and needs will be different from person to person. Additionally, the same person can have different priorities from one day to the next depending on what’s happening. So once the branch employee asks the right questions, they need to be able to make the determination of what to recommend for their situation.

3. Not Understanding the Product

In order to effectively explain and recommend products and services, all employees need to completely understand each of them. Not only what they are, but how they impact your members and their financial situations. This may mean having regular education sessions on what your credit union has to offer and best practices for helping your members find the right solution.

4. Not Having the Right Incentive Program

The point of having an incentive program is to encourage selling behavior that benefits the credit union and at the same time rewards the employees for helping members and doing the right thing. Yes, you want more sales, but not at the cost of integrity or sacrificing the credit union difference. An incentive program will encourage higher performance from your employees but in ways that still put member needs first.

5. Not Being Held Accountable

You certainly don’t want an environment of negativity or threats. However, when there isn’t any accountability, people will tend to only perform to their own comfort level and not push themselves. Accountability doesn’t have to be unpleasant - reviewing numbers and goals can also offer recognition and rewards. Employees often actually feel more empowered when everyone is clear on expectations and where they stand with their efforts.

Ensure that you have a plan in place for your sales goals and that branch employees understand what they are required to do. Then make sure you are backing them up with education and support that can give them help when they need it.

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Topics: Credit Union Best Practices, credit union marketing

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