Cross Educating is the New Cross Selling

By. Fred Brown, Northeast Family Federal Credit Union

“OK, twenty, forty, sixty, eighty and one hundred. Thanks and have a good day.”  Does that sound like your tellers? If so, it shouldn’t.

Selling! Does that word scare you? It scares me. I’m not a salesman. Never have been, never will be, but that’s OK. I grew up enjoying the retail trades like many of us throughout our youth. That’s how we cut our teeth. We took low paying jobs selling products we didn’t really believe in, much less use, but we did it because they were giving us a check at the end of the week.

I sold, among other things, newspapers (when I was a kid), women’s shoes (that one was fun) and vibrating pillows. Selling vibrating pillows. That one scares me to this day. People bought them though and I found there was a trick. If I used one, sat on one or against one, people were intrigued. We all found limited success in the retail sales field, but mostly we did it as quickly as we could to get out of it and move on to something less degrading.

For years I’ve wondered what the problem was with selling. It’s the word, selling. No one likes selling because they don’t want to be rejected. We’re rejected in other parts of our lives, we want a piece of life without rejection. I remember when I was working for a public TV station, “selling” memberships, my boss said “Don’t take it personally if they say no. They’re not saying no to you, they’re saying no to the station.” Yeah, well that’s fine until it starts happening. It took me awhile, but it finally sunk in. It wasn’t me. They don’t know me. How could they reject me. It was the product/service they were rejecting.

Credit union front lines across America are filled with young kids, just starting out, who are afraid to sell. Hold on to your seat. Radical thought coming. Let’s not call it selling. Let’s call it educating.

And let’s make it easier and teach these kids (and others) to interact, watch and learn about their members. Once you create a rapport with people, it’s easy to get to know them and their lives.

I’ve seen tellers at Northeast Family FCU (my credit union) casually talk a member into applying for a car loan or talk them into sitting with a loan officer to get a home equity loan to renovate their kitchen. These members have no idea they were “sold”. They think they came into deposit/cash a check and a friend helped them with their decision.

After all, isn’t that how we make decisions? We talk to our friends about where they got their new car, their new kitchen, their new loan for any of those products. What if that friend was the teller at your credit union?

Gee, that sounds easy doesn’t it? It is if you’re the outgoing, extroverted type like myself, but if you’re not. If you’re not a naturally extroverted person, you’re going to need some help.

While I would normally recommend some sort of formal training and I’m sure there are a host of people willing to teach you to talk )including me), for the time being don’t waste your money. There will be plenty of time to hire professionals to visit.

This can be as simple as talking to your members. Seriously. When a member comes to your station first, greet him/her. Make sure you take notice of what they’re wearing, their demeanor and anything else. Find something to comment about. “Wow, nice shirt”, “Did you just get that jacket?“ or “Your new toupee looks good”. Well, maybe not that last one, but you get the idea.

Create a cheat sheet. Jot down something that will help you remember that person in the future. When a member visits and you can ask how their daughter is doing in first grade, how they like their new job or how their girlfriend responded to “the question”, it creates intimacy. It also shows that you care enough to remember them. How many times do you hear it about a bank? “Every time I go to my bank, there is someone new working there”. The new people aren’t there long enough to remember anything about the customers. At credit unions, we’re different.

So remember, when you’re out on a Saturday night, talking to your friends, talking to a potential “date”, you have no problem selling yourself. You think of what to say to get what you want. Now do it at the credit union. You want to help these people into a new car loan or mortgage? Just talk to them.

In conclusion, remember, you can have all of the latest tips & tricks up your sleeve, but the winner will be the person who can carry a meaningful conversation with the member.

Fred Brown

Fred Brown

With over two decades in the marketing and communications industry, Fred Brown has performed many roles: designer, special event planner, motivational speaker, trade show coordinator and superhero. He’s worked ... Web: Details