CUs Must Define 'Success,' Determine Proper Measurements To Be Successful

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Is your credit union successful? How can you tell?

Jason Norton, director of league relations for the Madison, Wis.-based American Association of Credit Union Leagues, told the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council conference here that when it comes to success in generating new business, it's imperative to establish criteria before ever beginning.

"Goal setting only works if people do it," he declared.

According to Norton, there are nine crucial issues related to tracking success in business development, starting with a proper definition of what works.

"'Success' has not been defined by the industry," he said. "Most credit union leaders have difficulty identifying if they have achieved a sales and service culture. There are many measures, and each requires a unique strategy and plan."

Second, management must emphasize cross-selling does not equal sales effectiveness. Norton said a high cross-selling ratio can just as easily result in low profitability as high profitability. People must make sure to cross-sell the most profitable products and services.

Third, Norton said CUs must use the right measures. Many credit unions do not measure employee and member satisfaction, which he said are leading indicators of sales productivity. "Too much focus is placed on short-term sales rather than long-term organizational goals."

Fourth, credit unions must instill greater product knowledge in their staff. In particular, Norton said, line people are "crying out" for more information on the products and services their CU offers.

Simply placing a product manual on the Internet is not enough, he continued. "Employees must be able to hear a member's needs and tell him or her which product he or she needs."

Over-reliance on incentives is Norton's fifth critical issue.

He said credit union managers create an atmosphere of "energized incompetence," rather than one of learning and productivity. This shortfall is closely related to issue six: supervisors need to coach behaviors instead of end results. "They need to define a preferred way of selling," he said.

Managers at credit unions must not focus all of their attention on their marketing and business development personnel. Norton's seventh issue is the need to have more focus and accountability at the member contact area. Receptionists and tellers form members' impressions of a credit union, he said.

"Issue eight is the integration of sales among business units," he said. "All components of sales need to be linked together both functionally and in goal setting. The best organizations have service-level agreements between departments and weekly accountability meetings among senior managers across business units."

Ninth, Norton said CUs must put the right people in the right places.

"Define what type of person the organization needs in each role. Define skill sets. If a person is not in the right role, move him or her to something else. Van Gogh should not be laying bricks, he was a painter."

"In the absence of a good sales process, credit unions cannot rely on training and incentives to get the job done," he continued. "Sales is a process, it is not rocket science. Sales people must focus on goals, and managers must make the sales people accountable."

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