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How to Easily and Effectively Develop a Sales Culture

woman in a call center with computers
Meridith Elliott Powell Photo
Author, Keynote Speaker and Business Strategist

6 minutes

7 strategies every credit union needs

Seems like the “hot” topic these days is culture. Everyone is talking about it—how critical culture is in attracting top talent, retaining team members and developing leaders. While all of that is true, there is one part of developing culture that is often overlooked and sometimes even neglected.

If you want to develop a strong and well-rounded culture, you have to ask yourself where in your culture do you address sales? How well-positioned is your credit union to attract new members, deepen existing relationships and drive overall performance?  

Let’s face it, the world has changed. COVID-19 took what you had been trying to do for years—get your members to use mobile and online banking—and put it on steroids. Members have gotten comfortable not coming into the branch, doing their banking remotely, and educating themselves online about the products and services they need to protect their assets and build their businesses.

While all of that is progress, it is greatly limiting the interactions you have with members—critical interactions that, in the past, have allowed you to engage in conversations to identify needs, gain referrals and increase sales.

If you want to compete going forward, if you want your credit union to remain relevant, you need to take a long, hard look at your culture and ask yourself: Does it includes sales? If it does, congratulations. You are well-positioned for success. If it doesn’t, keep reading. We have three reasons you need a sales culture now, and seven strategies you can use to easily and effectively develop a sales culture. 

3 Reasons You Need a Sales Culture Now

1. Members Are in Control. As mentioned above, the world has changed and members now control the buying cycle. They can buy whatever they want, wherever they want, from whomever they want. They no longer have to come into the branch to learn about products or buy services. If you are waiting for members to come to you, rather than going out to meet them, you are “banking” your future on a dying model.

2. Top Talent. Your best strategy for attracting and retaining top talent is to be progressive, looking to compete and ready to grow. Winners work with winners, and smart, talented, strong team members and leaders know the future is in financial institutions with strong sales cultures. Without one, your best and most talented employees will leave for your competitors where their progressive mindset and desire to win is valued.

3. Members Need You. The most important reason you need a sales culture is because your members need you, period. The average cross-sale ratio of most credit unions is less than three products and services, and yet most members have need of 12 to 15 products and services. Other than their families and children, there is very little members care more about than their money. You have the knowledge and services that can help them make more, save more and gain peace of mind. You share that knowledge through sales. If you don’t take care of your members, your competitors will. 

There is no mistake that you need sales to be part of your culture, and you need your team on board and excited about proactively meeting your member’s needs. Creating a sales culture is easier than you think, just follow these seven strategies and watch as your teams’ attitude towards sales shifts, your member relationships expand and your bottom line grows. 

7 Strategies for Easily and Effectively Developing a Sales Culture

1. Engaged Leadership. The foundational step in creating a strong sales culture is for leadership to be engaged. The more the CEO and C-suite emphasize the importance of sales, explains why it is critical and engages in it daily, the more effective your sales culture will be.

2. Team Ownership. Never drive a sales culture top down. Build it with the people who have to implement it—your team. People support what they help create. Get their buy-in right from the start by making it their sales culture—not yours. 

3. FUNdamentals. If you want your team to sell, you are going to need to invest in the training and development they need to sell. That includes the skills to prospect, network, have solid sales conversations, follow up and gain referrals. The basics! But look to take your training up a notch. Put the “fun” in the fundamentals, and design your training programs so they are something your team wants to attend.

4. Behavior Focused. Focus on the behaviors. If you focus there, the results will not only come but you will exceed your goals. Most teams reject sales because they have been in a culture that prioritized results over behaviors. If you want to take the “edge” off of sales, and get your team to embrace it, design your sales culture around behaviors and actions. If you do, the results will be so much better. Focusing on behaviors versus results creates a safe environment for growth and development, which is critical if you want your team to be successful.

5. Full Team. Sales training is no longer just for those interacting directly with members. In today’s world, your entre team needs sales training. That includes those in operations, delivery and support. Sales is about the member experience, and every touch point is an opportunity to deepen the relationship and needs to be exceptional. 

6. Data Matters. Getting the right target market, understanding what your members have, what they need and where they are lacking is critical to the success of your sales culture. Sending your team out to make calls without the right and real-time information about their members and markets, is sending them out there underprepared and unable to compete. In today’s world, data matters.

7. Reward Everything. Well, at least at first. Your team is looking to make change, and the more you emphasize the good things they do, the more they will do them. What you as the leader focus on will expand. So, look for those employees who are early adopters and praise and recognize them, and you will see the rest of your team will follow. 

The time is now to get your sales culture in place and proactively work to engage your members and expand relationships. Putting a sales culture in place sounds so much harder than it actually is. Follow these seven strategies and then watch as your team embraces the idea of sales and your members reap the rewards.

A former banking executive, Merdiith Eliott Powell earned her way up from entry to level to C-suite having done it all from teller to commercial banker to banking strategist. She now works with financial institutions to help them develop healthy sales cultures, get teams passionate and engaged, and develop a deep and strong leadership bench. 

Learn More at Execu/Net™

“Business as usual” stops here. Learn how to set your credit union up for a successful future with Meridith Elliott Powell at Execu/Net, Aug. 15-18, 2021, in Whitefish, Montana.
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