(A Q&A with Sales Training Expert Tim Wackel)Sales

Tim Wackel is a sales training guru. He has helped numerous companies all across the country improve their sales efforts. His clients include numerous Fortune 500 companies, such as Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems. I recently had the opportunity to visit with Tim about credit union sales cultures and practical ways we can increase sales at a credit unions. Below is that Q&A.

(1)    You conducted a session at the Texas Credit Union League Marketing Conference titled “Tough Tactics for Tough Times.” What strategic things should credit unions focus on during these tough times?

That’s the million dollar question. I’m about ready to write a book about the lost art of “wow.” Companies don’t put a mindset into a wow factor from a strategy standpoint. There is no wow for the consumer anymore. If credit unions put strategic thought into wowing their members they will move their organizations forward.

(2)    What three things should business development professionals do every week?

  1. Reach out to people that you ought to be doing business with. For example, spend some time with people who don’t know who you are.
  2. Reach out to people who are in your pipeline but they are not doing business with you.
  3. Reach out to people who know who you are but are not in the pipeline. For example, maybe send them an informational piece (not a sales pitch).

(3)    You said “customer satisfaction is useless.” Why is that and can you explain?

Satisfaction is not a bad thing. However, loyalty is so much richer and deeper. Let’s use the restaurant analogy.  If they seat you timely, the food/service is good and the prices are fair, then you are satisfied. But you are probably not beating a path to their door: those were just table stakes in the game.

However, if the owner comes to greet you and gives you a free little sample appetizer, then he is giving you a little bit more. That makes us feel good about ourselves. Be sure your credit union is making your members feel unique and different.

(4)    Everyone seems to be competing on service now. Is that a dead model and if not how can you really make service memorable?

Service is not a dead model.  Unless you have a picture of fruit in your logo, who has people getting up at 4:00 a.m. to buy their product? Apple is the model. They can thumb their nose at you and you still love them. My last service call with Apple lasted 94 minutes. Their call representative took his time with me and didn’t rush me off the phone. That was a wow experience.

How many examples of great service can you give that you’ve received in the last week? In most cases, nothing comes to mind. That shows that not everybody is really competing on service.

(5)    How can sales people stand out and be different?

Quit trying to sell. The less you worry about the sell the more you’ll sell. Quit acting like a seller and act like a buyer—the world will pay more attention to you if you do. Don’t communicate “I’m here to sell you something.” Instead listen with them, dialogue with them and help them.

And remember, no one wants your brochure.

(6)    What are some good questions to ask an existing member (in order to get more business)?

Stay away from talking about products and services.

Say something like, “We enjoy having your checking account, but no relationship is perfect. Can I get some open and honest feedback? On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate us and what would it take to get a 10?”

It’s more about how they feel than about product pushing.

(7)    If you could boil the secret of sales success down to one thing, what is it?

Be curious. Salespeople have a tendency to assume too much. They talk prematurely.

The best sales people are genuinely curious. Engage the customer or potential customer at their level. Ask them to share and talk about themselves. Your prospects are going to enjoy that conversation (because it’s about them) and you will learn all you need to know.

There is no script and no sales process. Curiosity is the foundation.

(8)    What business books should every credit union professional read?

The Accidental Sales Person, by Lytle and The Greatest Sales Training in the World, by Nelson.

(9)    Are there any additional comments you would like to make with regards to helping credit union business development professionals with sales?

Nobody drifts into greatness: you need to have the following:

  1. Desire—if you don’t want to get better it doesn’t matter
  2. Design—make a plan to improve
  3. Discipline—it won’t happen overnight; it takes time
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