LAS VEGAS-The Southern Nevada Chapter of the California and Nevada CU League hosted a sales training seminar here that attracted representatives from five CUs.

Led by Sherri Davison of WestStar Credit Union here, the "Everybody Sells, Everybody Wins" seminar drew everyone from front-line personnel to CEOs. The workshop was split into two segments, according to Mona Joseph, VP-business development for $138-million WestStar CU.

"The first two hours were specialized for supervisory staff and the second two hours were devoted to tellers, call center and collections," she said. "Supervisory staff was invited to stay for both sessions and many of them stayed because it was so entertaining and informative. People are really hungry for this knowledge."

CUs Poised For Success

"Right now the credit union industry is poised for great success, and sales evolve from great service," Davison told the Nevada CUs. "The credit unions that devote their time to the development of staff to serve their membership will be the ones that thrive. Supervisors should spend their time developing those employees with the right attitude instead of the employees who just seem to be taking up space. People remember what they are rewarded for and will repeat that behavior."

Instead of memorizing long scripts, Davison supplies attendees of her training sessions with open-ended phrases designed to get members to open up and tell their stories

"It is not about the moment, and a salesperson attacking the moment, it is about building trust first," Joseph explained. "If someone mentions they love their car loan payment but the payment is too high, instead of just saying, 'We can refinance that,' Davison teaches people to ask, 'What kind of car do you have?' This turns the conversation into a dialogue, not a sales pitch, and eventually it will lead to a sale. But the key is to empower whoever is talking to the member to create a relationship with that member."

Interactive Feedback

Melissa Fama-Flis, marketing coordinator for America First CU, said she and others representing the $5.8-billion, Riverdale, Utah-based credit union "really enjoyed" the event.

"Sherri was great, and everyone was engaged and entertained," she said. "We do a lot of training and have heard a lot of training concepts before, but being around everyone else and getting interactive feedback really made it better."

Fama-Flis is on the Southern Nevada Chapter board, which she said is looking to promote unity among its credit unions. "We want to provide our members with training and information they might not be able to get on their own."

Jaron Singleton, cards services representative for $472-million Boulder Dam Credit Union, in nearby Boulder City, Nev., praised Davison for providing several takeaways. He said part of the value of the seminar was bringing together people from multiple credit unions and a number of areas within those credit unions.

"One takeaway was training is expensive, but not training is even more expensive," he said. "Another was the importance of accountability instead of making excuses. She taught us to treat every bad situation as an opportunity."

Universal Message

Singleton also is a Chapter board member. He said the Chapter is trying to convey a "universal message" to credit unions in the Las Vegas valley, "that we are one team, and be the best credit unions we can to our members."

"There is an understanding people will have different takeaways from a seminar because each topic applies differently to each credit union," he said. "We like bringing credit unions together for the networking aspects."

"What I loved hearing the most was the interaction between the employees of all the credit unions at the recess," said Jamie Hall, loan servicing supervisor for WestStar CU. "There were heads nodding. People were enjoying and absorbing what they heard. It is not rocket science; it is about really showing our members that we care."

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