Dear Branch Managers:
Business development is a team sport that needs your active participation to be on top of its game.
Influencers in your branch market area, local organizations/associations, community and SEG leaders should all know you, or at the very least, recognize your name as a trusted partner.
How? Why? When? I understand and your concerns are valid. You don’t have the time to add another responsibility or the fine-tuned outside sales skills needed and most importantly, business development feels outside your comfort zone. I get it. I walked in your shoes for several years. You are busy.
And yet, even if your credit union has a business development team, it’s important to lean into relationship building outside your four walls. Think of yourself as a connector between the communities served and your branch team standing ready to help people with their daily financial needs, moving toward their goals and dreams. You can also be the “boots on the ground” messenger to amplify marketing communication. When you embrace being the face of the brand in your branch market area, it comes to life.
If you aren’t already involved with business development, I recommend talking with the business development team and/or leadership. Here are some ideas to consider as we prepare to embark on a brand new year.
Own a mile.
Ask for responsibility for SEG groups within a mile of your branch. Meet with the HR teams or business leaders to learn about their business and find connection points around employee wellness benefits. Educate them about financial wellness in the workplace. Research stats and share why a partnership with you makes sense for the business and their employees.
Deep dive participation.
Take ownership for a few community partnerships. Maybe you are the “owner” of the Chamber relationship, or the Food Bank partnership, or even the Economic Forum Committee in your area. This means you engage to the point that everyone knows your name and understands the value you bring to the community. Get on a committee, speak at an event, maximize sponsorships if you have them.
Be genuinely curious.
Learn and then learn more when you meet with people. The biggest mistake I believe we make when we get a meeting is we talk too much about ourselves and the credit union. That passion is awesome – high five. But first, get to know them. What specific challenges are they facing? What initiatives are they planning for 2021? What employee engagement activities were successful this past year? When you take the time to listen, the points of connection will become clear, opening the door to discussions about more meaningful collaboration opportunities. All tying back to what is important to them.
The reality is people in our communities need our help. To make a real difference, we must be proactive in building more relevant relationships. Choose to position yourself to find more communication channels to share your credit union story, build more raving fans, and connect to the community in meaningful ways.
The easiest place to start? Who needs to know your name? Make a list. And then get curious.