Often when we hear the word “sales”, we cringe and get uncomfortable.
Images of the greasy salesperson wearing an oversized sports coat and slimy smile creep into our mind’s eye. Fast talking, pushy, and doesn’t take “no” for an answer. This isn’t the 80’s anymore. But these techniques still exist and are making a comeback (unfortunately).
A tough market makes some businesses desperate and willing to take these short-term gains at the risk of reputation and trust.
However, the opposite is just as true. The imagery of the greasy salesperson makes some organizations shy away from a sales culture entirely. Walking on eggshells around it and losing out on needed income and not providing customers or members with products that really could benefit them.
I’m here to tell you that “sales” is not a swear word. It’s the front line of your organization’s income and without it, you may not be keeping the lights on for long. But the way sales are done needs to change to survive.
So, what’s the middle-ground? Relationship-based sales. What’s the secret? Genuinely caring about the person in front of you and their well-being. If you’re not capable of compassion and a willingness to get to know a complete stranger, then I will save you the time. Sales is not for you.
Credit unions often thrive in this space. But it’s applicable to any industry.
It’s important to be fully knowledgeable about the products you offer, why you offer them, and what they do for the member and the organization. There’s nothing wrong with, on a high level, having a goal to meet for production/products/etc. In fact, it can be motivating. Understanding your organization’s financial needs helps you understand the need for sales.
Where the mistake gets made is making the achievement of these goals the motivating force behind selling the products or services that you have to offer. The primary goal needs to be offering solutions to members. And you do this by creating a meaningful connection with your members. You take the time to learn a little about your member’s life, build up a rapport, and establish a healthy relationship with them.
You make recommendations towards only products and services that are applicable to the person in front of you. Not because it helps the credit union’s income or possibly even your own (if you are lucky enough to have a incentive package at your credit union). But because you’re trying to help someone you care about and want them to succeed or be safe.
If you build up trust and a healthy relationship with your members, the metrics of sales goals will take care of itself.
Will you hit your metrics, monthly, quarterly, or yearly goals every single time?
But you will see an increase over the greasy salesperson, or the salesperson too afraid to even recommend a product/service.
More importantly, you’re building up a relationship with someone that will keep coming back to you. That will truly listen to what you have to say and recommend, because you’ve provided them with the same courtesy of being a listener and being respectful.
It is time for an evolution towards sales culture.