Redefining the Cross-Sell: 3 Steps to Turn a Transaction into a Relationship

The moment my favorite restaurant crossed my mind in the middle of an eventful week, I knew that’s where my wife and I were headed for a Friday date night. It had been a couple of busy months since we had visited my favorite tapas restaurant so we got a babysitter and headed out for a relaxing evening.

Our night was everything I have come to expect from this restaurant. The friendly service anticipated my questions before I could ask. I enjoyed my favorite dish in a relaxing atmosphere with great company.

Here’s what I didn’t expect. At the end of dinner, the manager walked over, asked us about our dinner and handed me an envelope. It said, “We would like to thank you for your loyalty and for spending your summer with us. Inside this envelope is a surprise for you.” The envelope instructed me to return it unopened to redeem the prize inside — anything from a free dessert to a $100 gift card.

It was a simple, unexpected gesture that I thought about it for the rest of the weekend. I observed three basic principles from this experience that could easily apply to credit unions.

1. Check In With Your Current Members

Now, it wasn’t the manager’s responsibility to stop by our table; we had a very capable server. Yet, it wasn’t the person that made the difference, it was the gesture.

Credit unions and other financial institutions are in a unique situation with membership becoming increasingly web and mobile savvy. Member transactions that lack face-to-face interaction are likely to keep increasing.

Has your credit union invested in a dedicated outbound call center? These employees help complete regular financial check-ins, drive relationships, and promote products and services.

Or when is the last time you have done the unexpected for your members? Send them a hand written note, a welcome package, birthday card, or even a sealed envelope that contains a surprise like a rate discount on their next loan. After all, buying decisions are based on emotions, not facts.

2. Have a Purpose

At the restaurant, the manager was simply interested if we were satisfied with our meal.

Treat each interaction as an opportunity. Know what information you are trying to find before you contact your members.

Does your credit union ask questions to identify members’ life stages? You could be anticipating a need. There are certain events that we can predict, each with specific financial needs (college, marriage, buying a first home, new baby, new careers, empty nest or retirement).

Have you provided a free credit score review for your members? With their permission, help them identify if everything is accurate and up-to-date while looking for opportunities to put the member in an overall better financial position. They’ll appreciate it.

Do you call members immediately after they have been approved for a loan through the internet or their smartphone? Go through the closing and funding details, educate them about payment protection and determine if there is a cross-sell opportunity. Do the unexpected with a purpose.

3. Bring Something to the Table

With the first two principles you are requesting your members’ time, so be sure to show your members that you value their time, too.

Remember, people make decisions for their own reasons, not yours. Your members might be asking ‘what in it for me?’

Do your members’ credit reports contain loans from other financial institutions? If so, offer pre-approval or provide a rate discount on their next loan.

Keep in mind, when you offer your members a referral reward for telling their friends; don’t forget an incentive for the friend, too.

Keep these principals in mind and remember to sell solutions, not products. Move your credit union from a culture of transactions to a culture of building relationships and generating revenue. Your acquisition strategy will take care of itself as stronger relationships cultivate stronger advocates.

Karim Habib

Karim Habib

Karim Habib is the director of lending for CUNA Mutual Group. If you have questions about establishing a sales-and-service culture at your credit union, contact your CUNA Mutual Group Sales ... Web: Details