Looking To Sell!, Sell!, Sell!? What You Need To Do, Do, Do Before Starting

When it comes to success in sales, the most productive organizations have sales systems-the progression of sales cultures-that generate measurable, reliable, and predictable results.

As you devise approaches for your credit union's ongoing success in sales, consider including these operative elements to your sales practice.

Once and for all, as a credit union, decide to sell. Fact: no one buys until someone sells. And, if you want current and new members to buy, you must sell. Call it what you want, but successful sales-based credit unions with sales-focused cultures do one thing well-they sell and their members buy. Commit to sales growth.

Go to your members, before a competitor does the same. Successful sales professionals, systems, and cultures are disciplined about prospecting for new opportunities, nurturing potential accounts, and closing deals. The member buying process requires leadership from sales professionals who are highly skilled, thoroughly trained, and dedicated to the entire sales process and member buying cycle.

Goodbye cross selling, hello smart selling. Throw enough mud against a wall and something will stick, but it sure makes for an inefficient sales process. Smart selling processes provide offers to members that make strategic sense-for the member. Based on a member's profile, what additional product or service betters their relationship with you, creating more loyalty? Upsell that product in a way that makes your member's connection with you more efficient and valuable. No product or service makes sense? Thank them for their loyalty and live to sell another day.

Get enterprise-wide buy-in for sales. Often, the sale isn't final without a bit of paperwork completed at another desk, if not another department. Therefore, it's critical to map out the interrelationships of departments within a credit union. In the end, we want our members and credit union to succeed. Work to see that all departments help meet that need, sharing in the recognition and reward of a job well done.

Specialize in sales. An "expert" beats a "jack-of-all-trades" every time. Deep technical knowledge and dedicated focus, as opposed to the reading of regular all-purpose product features and functions to members, will result in greater levels of successful sales. Dedicate staff members solely to the sales function (full time, part time, or hours per week), allowing others to focus on service.

Keep your sales pipeline loaded and coded. The most successful sales processes understand that sales fall into different categories. Some sales opportunities are fresh and require more time and information. Some opportunities are ripe, but can slip through the cracks and never make it on the books. Coding improves your sales force effectiveness by allowing sales professionals to focus their time and efforts in the right places for each sales opportunity.

Use "Big Data" for the macro- and micro-sales functions. Big Data, predictive analytics, and MCIF-driven sales and marketing helps to focus sales efforts. As opposed to salespeople creating their own action plan for sales activities, shrewd sales management systems will direct them to call on certain members, accounts, and prospects with greater probabilities of success.

Learn from your sales champions. Your in-house sales manuals and training sessions teach how your systems work and processes flow. They are designed to enable repeatable and predictable experiences. Yet, one of your most valuable teaching tools resides in your sales leaders who deliver impressive results. When you examine your leading salespeople to understand how they develop their successful strategies, you learn how they take your formal training systems and produce real world results. These sales champions can help others who may be new or still accepting the system understand how to best deliver immediate results.

Become a skillful communicator who consults. Sales semantics is a field of study about how members and salespeople use and understand language during the decision-making process. In short, it's not only what you say, but how you say it. When this is added to the time-tested consultative and relationship based sales approaches, you can build a professional sales team committed to sitting "on the same side of the table" with your members, helping to ensure their success comes first. When your members succeed, your credit union succeeds.

Keep some old fashioned networking in your sales function. Technology has, and always will, significantly improve the effectiveness of salespeople. However, the most successful sales professionals do not prosper as a result of always being tied to their smart phones, working e-mail, or updating your sales management database. Too much technology and too little time in the field burns your sales champions out. Make sure they meet, face-to-face, with members and colleagues; and, that they participate in credit union-sponsored events in the community.

Success in sales lies in quantifiable, consistent, and sure systems that deliver fail-safe results. Well executed, they generate stability-a must for building a lasting credit union in an industry of continuous transformation.

Jeff Rendel is president of Rising Above Enterprises, which works with financial services providers on leadership, sales, and strategy. Mr. Rendell can be reached at jeff.rendel@RisingAboveEnterprises.com.