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One Percent Sales: "Opening is the New Closing"

By: Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional

Over the past year, specialists in sales success have recognized sales traits (and subsequent skills) that predictably deliver results.  Simply put, experts, consultants, and closers reliably produce superior outcomes in sales.  Experts know their products cold; consultants recognize the right fit for each product and circumstance; and, closers ensure that accounts are opened and loans are closed.  Hire and train to this skill set and you will witness surplus sales at your credit union.

And – once again – members’ perspectives have changed.  In a nutshell: Members know they have choices; they recognize they have sway; and, they can select and fulfill their wishes at the click of a mouse or the tap of a screen.

If we, as sales and service professionals, wish to establish, enrich, and expand relationships, the real opportunity lies with beginning inputs to the sales process, rather than the expected ends.  Opening is the new closing.  The opening is about results – made-to-order for your members and beneficial for your credit union.  Here’s why and how.

It is no revelation to claim that, over the past decade, the credit union industry and financial services market have undergone far-reaching adjustments – with competitors, member expectations, and ease of disintermediation.  Each of these ups and downs created a powerful influence on how we sell.

First, our competition is not limited to banks.  We compete with finance companies, insurance multinationals, big box retailers, and other credit unions – and that’s just the beginning.  It is a dog-eat-dog marketplace and when there are more entities contending for our retail and business members’ commerce, it is challenging to tell us apart.

Second, members have increased their understanding of financial matters and insist on top value for every purchase.  Price matters – always has, always will – but value matters more.  “Sell me,” a member might say, “On why I should do business with you and what’s in it for me.”   

Lastly, the Internet transferred the balance of power between members and credit unions, presenting members added access to additional knowledge, selections, and occasions to begin, modify, or leave financial relationships.  Just last week, a friend transferred a substantial IRA from his credit union to Vanguard – all online and in ten minutes.  Regrettably, this friend intended to keep his IRA under the credit union’s management, but off the balance sheet.  After ten days, two phone calls, and zero return phone calls, he simply moved his money.  It was that easy.

So, how does a credit union sales and service professional boost his or her odds of closing while still at the opening?  Include these three proficiencies in your sales acumen.

Be Ready to Sell from the Get-go 

We are all busy, especially members who are stopping by your credit union (live or online) with specific business to conduct.  How do we sell when a consultative appointment is competing with running a business, a lunch hour, a jump on afternoon traffic, or the next stop on the Mom & Dad Shuttle?  Customer relationship management systems, predictive analytics, and smart selling are accommodating.  Based on a member’s relationship, what relevant product or service improves their relationship with you?  Present that product in a manner that makes your member’s association with you more efficient and appreciated.  No one has time to squander any longer, and we have to concede that matter and display understanding for it.        

Lead your Sales Conversation with a Message of Value

If it’s a deeper retail relationship you seek, an example could be: “I invested some time in seeing how your current loan balances elsewhere compare with our loan products.  You’re approved and a simple transfer will save you $102 per month.  Once you’re satisfied that this is the right move forward, I can begin the process this afternoon.”  If it’s a new business appointment you seek, add something like this example to your initial message: “I have two ideas that are helping medical practices similar to yours produce better results in cash flow management and payroll services.  I’d like to share them with you and leave you with some ideas you can use to produce better results in your business now.”  In the end – and regardless of what the member chooses – your leadership actions are focused on results for your members.3.) 

Invest in a philosophy of Member Capitalism

In 2010, Roger Martin of the University of Toronto wrote an article titled, “The Age of Customer Capitalism.”  Succinctly, Martin argued that capitalism has shifted further than the models associated with managerial science and shareholder wealth creation.  An advancement, customer capitalism (let’s call it member capitalism) insists that a primary focus on member profitability leads to sustainable results.  In practice, it focuses on ensuring that each member profits more in a relationship with your credit union.  Lower fees, better interest rates, relationship pricing, and greater use of e-services lead to more profits (cash flow and ease) for a member.  This individual sales focus, multiplied across all credit union members, creates more revenue and profits for your credit union.  Profits for all.

In any relationship, first impressions matter most.  Our opening opportunities with members – in business development, establishing new accounts, and nurturing loyalty in existing relationships – are no different.  If opening is the new closing and leadership from the start is expected from our members, consider including these add-ons to your marketing, prospecting, and onboarding systems.   

© 2013 by Jeff Rendel.  All rights reserved.

Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional, and President of Rising Above Enterprises works with financial services providers that want elite results in leadership, sales, and strategy.  Each year, he addresses and facilitates for more than 100 credit unions and their business partners.

You can contact Jeff by email or phone at 866.340.3770. For more information, check out this website.

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