This Way to a Disney-Level Sales Culture

highway road sign pointing way to Disney world
By Adam Pickett

5 minutes

Your team members are the key to unlocking the financial dreams of your members.

It was the fall of 1999, and instead of starting my sophomore year in the classroom, I was spending the semester working in merchandise on the Walt Disney World College Program. 

At the end of my “Be Our Guest” class for new Magic Kingdom Cast Members (Disney’s name for employees), one of the trainers left us with a message that still resonates 20 years later. 

“Don’t ever lose sight of the connection you’ll have with every Guest you meet,” he implored. “The Cinderella Castle snow globe or Mickey Mouse toy someone buys aren’t just pieces of merchandise—they are keepsakes that instantly transport our Guests back to the magical memories they made here at Walt Disney World.”

Financial Products Are your “Keepsakes” 

The products you offer your members are the tools that will positively impact their financial lives. A personal loan isn’t just a way to consolidate debt; it gives members comfort and peace of mind as they battle inflation and an uncertain economy. A car loan isn’t just a way to get a new vehicle; it allows members to accommodate their expanding family and ensures their kids arrive safely to their soccer games and dance recitals. And a mortgage isn’t just a way to buy a property; it’s the catalyst for members to live the American dream. 

Your team members are the key to unlocking the financial dreams of your members, but they must be properly equipped to identify opportunities, share products and services, and most importantly, not be afraid to have a genuine and open conversation with their members.

Disney Never Misses an Opportunity  

In addition to their incredible guest service, Disney has mastered the art of creating ways to enhance your vacation experience. 

When you book a Walt Disney World trip, one of the first products they offer is Disney’s PhotoPass, which captures all your images throughout the theme parks. Cast Members who schedule your dining reservations will always ask if you’re celebrating a special occasion to see if you’d like to make the experience extra magical.  

And Disney is famous for having attractions exit through their shops to give you an opportunity to purchase ride-specific t-shirts and souvenirs, allowing you to take a piece of the magic home.

Now, imagine you took a vacation to a Disney park and none of these products were offered. How would you feel finding out, after the fact, that you could have purchased all the pictures from your trip, enhanced your daughter’s birthday dinner or brought home your son’s favorite attraction on a “Haunted Mansion” t-shirt?

The same holds true for your members. It is your mission and obligation to make sure the right products are presented at the right time to impact their financial lives. Your members may not even be aware of everything your credit union offers. Others may not understand the details of certain products or how they could directly benefit from them. And some may be so busy with life they simply forget to ask about a product even when they stop by a branch. 

“Sales” is not a dirty word; it is the only way to truly serve your members. 

Service Without Sales isn’t Great  

At Accelergy, we have yet to encounter a credit union that doesn’t have a focus on providing excellent member service. However, most CUs don’t have a sales culture on par with their service standards, which hinders the overall member experience. 

One of my friends recently experienced this first-hand. Lucia had fraud on her debit card and needed to get a replacement. On the drive into her CU, she started thinking about getting a HELOC. After 19 years in their house, she and her husband had significant equity and were contemplating several home improvement projects. 

Arriving at the branch, she was warmly greeted by the front desk team member who promptly assisted with the fraud issue. He expedited the request and was courteous and attentive throughout, providing excellent service while her new card was being processed. 

However, as Lucia drove away, it dawned upon her she neglected to ask about a HELOC. No one took the opportunity while she waited to discover what was happening in her financial life. While Lucia received excellent service, she ultimately had a subpar member experience because she didn’t get any information about a HELOC!  

Systemize Product Discussions 

I will let you in on a little secret: Disney doesn’t always hire elite sales talent or individuals with extensive sales backgrounds. They have built an outstanding sales culture that turns team members who excel at guest service into natural salespeople with the right processes, infrastructure and training.

The good news is you can implement the same strategies at your CU. For each product, we recommend documenting every step of every process and building out the supporting elements that go with each: discovery questions, key benefits, talking points, common objections and next steps. Establishing processes allows your team to feel comfortable having sales conversations with members while eliminating the feeling of being “salesy.” And it makes sure members are being offered the right product at the right time. 

If you or your CU still thinks “sales” is a dirty word, it is time to change your mindset. cues icon

Adam Pickett is founder/president of Accelergy Consulting, Winter Garden, Florida. Combined, the Accelergy team has over 30 years of experience working for Disney, where guest service is paramount.

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