I had the opportunity a few months ago to attend the Texas Credit Union League’s Marketing & Business Development Conference. In his opening keynote speech, Tim Wackel spoke about “Tough Tactics for Tough Times.” One of his principles was “follow-up or fail.” That is so true when it comes to sales, business development or even public relations.
“Success Magazine reports that the biggest challenges business development professionals face aren’t caused by a deficiency of product or technical skills,” Wackel said, “but from a lack of interpersonal skills. Investing time to increase this expertise will enhance both your professional success and personal achievement.”
Here are some of the salient statistics Tim made and how we can apply them:
- 99% of business development professionals don’t set good objectives—what is your objective going into a call or presentation? Is it to make the sale, give information, talk, see what they want, etc.? Not every sales situation will have the same objective. So don’t call just to call. Have an objective in mind.
- 95% talk too much—This is a classic mistake. Most sales people are good at talking; after all, that is why they are in sales! In John Maxwell’s book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect he stresses the importance of listening. The last time you were in a sales situation did you talk more or listen more?
- 86% ask ineffective questions—This is linked to listening. The best questions are the ones that are open ended; those type questions get them talking. You should have prepared questions to ask and be sincere when asking them.
- 82% don’t know how to differentiate—What makes your credit union or place of business different? Why should someone do business with you instead of a competitor? I would recommend you practice the answers to those questions.
- 62% don’t earn the business—How do you earn the business? By being real. Check out my post about “Smarmy Sales Guys Are Dead,” in which I elaborate about the importance of being real and authentic when in a sales situation.
Additional information Wackel provided was:
- 2% of sales are made on the first contact
- 3% of sales are made on the second contact
- 5% of sales are made on the third contact
- 10% of sales are made on the fourth contact
- 80% of sales are made on the fifth contact
Think about those numbers for a minute. How many of your sales and business development people are giving up on members, potential members, select employee groups or potential business partners after the second contact? These statistics show repetition is the key. Not annoyance, but repetition.
If you expect to make any type of sale on the first contact, you will fail. So follow-up, follow-up, follow-up. It’s the key to successful sales.
Lessons Learned from ThatsSoNorthwest.com
In the September issue of my free monthly E-zine On The Mark, I included a case study on Northwest Community Credit Union (NWCU) and its social medial efforts. The blog – ThatsSoNorthwest.com – is arguably one of the best credit union blogs in the country. I think it’s because they’ve done some key things very well. If you don’t subscribe to the free e-zine or you haven’t had a chance to read the article yet, I encourage you to do that before moving forward with any social media initiatives at your own credit union.
For now, I want to focus on two things they did right: strategy and philosophy.
The fact that they actually had a strategy is key. So many credit unions start a Facebook page or a blog just to have something out there. Usually, they don’t know where they’re going with it, and they don’t nurture it the way it needs nurturing.
NWCU did the exact opposite. Its blog began internally and was used as a communication tool between management and the employees who were spread across the state of Oregon. The strategy was to rally the staff around a unified vision and identity and bring them together virtually.
It took a year and a half, plus focus groups around the state for the credit union to set up a public blog for its members. The strategy was to create a separate identity for the blog so the credit union could reach people it might not otherwise reach. It then tied that to its traditional audience through its website and Facebook page. The blog targets a specific age group (20 to 30), and there are six bloggers that age who regularly contribute. The strategy there is to engage people in the target demographic with real life experiences they can relate to. NWCU has a social media manager who keeps everything on track and ensures that all of the credit union’s social media efforts are working together.
Northwest Community Credit Union has invested quite a bit in social media, but it doesn’t focus on dollars signs. In fact, social media isn’t even treated as a technology investment. It is considered a major element of the credit union’s brand strategy. Therefore, return is measured by experience standards and how the credit union’s personality is leveraged. How many times has your credit union measured ROI by its personality and its people?
NWCU believes the return is a staff not only excited about the brand, but living it as well. The credit union can now focus on people bringing their money and choosing the credit union because it’s more focused on the community.
What really intrigues me about this credit union is the success they have had with social media when their average member age is 49. That’s not even the target age for the blog, which is just one indication of how well integrated its social media channels are. We all have something to learn from Northwest Community Credit Union.
The Subway restaurant chain was recently named the most trusted quick serve restaurant brand by American consumers. In a nationwide study conducted by Decision Analyst, nearly 25 percent of consumers said they "completely trust" nutritional claims made by SUBWAY®, when compared to all other popular quick serve restaurants. In addition, 42% of SUBWAY customers said they chose to eat at the fast food restaurant because it "has a good selection of healthy items." The study tracked food and beverage consumption, restaurant behavior, health attitudes and lifestyle management.
Subway has given consumers a reason to believe in its brand. It has built a reputation for serving fresh, healthy, affordable food. It provides nutrition information on all of its menu items both in the store and online. It has even joined forces with organizations like the American Heart Association and hit TV show The Biggest Loser to inspire consumers to live healthier lifestyles. Subway hasn’t just made a brand promise to consumers. It has kept that promise, grown on that promise and given consumers tangible reasons to believe in that promise.
What is your credit union’s brand promise? Have you given your members a reason to believe in it? If you’re competing on convenience, do you offer Sunday hours or stay open until 7 p.m. in the evenings? If you’re competing on value, do you offer free services without conditions and allow overdrafts from savings accounts and lines of credit at no cost? If you’re competing on service, do you notify members either in person or via technology when their checking account is about to be overdrawn or their loan payment is about to be late? Do your people call members by name and look for other ways to help them maximize their money without them asking you?
You may be familiar with the quote that says, “You teach people how to treat you.” When most people reference this quote, it’s to make the point that people won’t treat us with disrespect if we don’t allow them to. I think it can also be taken a different way. If we lie to people and continue to break the promises we make to them, we are teaching them to stop trusting us. If your credit union is not following through on its brand promise, you are teaching your members to not believe in you.
You don’t have to have 34,000 locations like Subway to become a trusted brand to your members. You simply have to follow through on your brand promise and give them a reason to believe you.