Tips, Advice On SEGs, Business Development Shared

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SEGs still have legs.

Working with select employee groups remains the primary focus of many executives within credit unions, and a panel discussion of individuals with those job responsibilities was part of the CUNA Marketing Council and Business Development Council's annual meeting.

Panel participants were: Rob Kimmet, SVP-Public Relations and Marketing with the Massachusetts CU League, who acted as moderator; Mike DeShazo, SVP-branch operations with Cabrillo Credit Union, San Diego; Rhoda Summerbell, senior manager-university relations with University FCU, Austin, Texas, and John MacDonald, AVP-Business Development and political affairs with Merrimack Valley FCU, North Andover, mass.

The $160-million Cabrillo, which primarily serves the Border Patrol, also operates two other CUs with which it has merged and allowed to retain their names. The $700-million University FCU primarily serves the University of Texas, but also several other smaller colleges, and the $450-million MVFCU has converted to a community charter but still has 232 SEGs, although as MacDonald noted, "We can't call them that."

Kimmett: Business development may be the only pure sales function in a credit union. Do you see it that way and do you recruit people who are sales people?

MacDonald: I don't believe you need a salesperson. I believe you need someone who is outgoing and positive about the credit union. I don't look at it as sales. I see it as building relationships and being ambassadors. The people you hire have to be enthusiastic and organized and dedicated to the credit union.

DeShazo: I don't think of myself as a salesperson but as a representative of the credit union. I've never sold anything to anybody. I go out there and talk about how we can make your life easier. I was at a Border Patrol class and a guy had a loan rate of 9.6%, and I said what if we gave you 5.5%? We ended up saving him $1,700. If your finances are better, your life is better.

Summerbell: Relationship management is a big part of business development.

Kimmitt: Where do we go to look for training, as typical sales training is about how to generate leads and close sales?

MacDonald: When we first started and it was just me in BD, I recruited staff members who were motivated, excited and knowledgeable And it happened to be someone from the call center. They knew what they had to do, but it was kind of baptism by fire. They accompanied me on some visits and it evolved. I think the best thing we do in terms of BD training is to take advantage of networking opportunities. There is no silver bullet to the right approach. They have to have it in them.

DeShazo: At a credit union, a lot of it is on-the-job training. They just have to have that personality. They may be fast and efficient and doing cross sales without thinking about it and then you think that's our next BD person. Then they want to get involved, and you start to give them the challenge and doing some training. Unless you let them make mistakes, they won't learn. We look within our organization. If they have what it takes and you want to groom them, groom them.

Sumemrbell: It's all trial by error. There's no formal training plan. Again, the personalities are very important. We hired a university relations coordinator and we took her to her first function and as we were leaving she was already hugging people good bye. Some people are just naturals.

Kimmett: What about business lending and business services? A lot of BD officers say 'I'm not a business lender.' But on the other hand the BD officer is the one in the community and is networking with the business owner.

MacDonald: Business lending and business services are relatively new to our credit union. We have a new AVP of business lending. However, we are trained on the various products and services of the business side of the house and we are expected to have knowledge when we go out there. We're easing our way into it. If there is a business lending opportunity, we make sure to put that person in touch with our AVP-business lending and help establish that contact.

DeShazo: Ninety-nine percent of our loans are consumer loans. We did do last year our first participation loan in business lending. Our business lending practice right now is that it has to be in California, it has to be real property, and at that point we will do a participation. We're going slowly. The participations make it easier.


There's still time to register for The Credit Union Journal's Best Practices conference, which has an emphasis on business development, April 27-28 at the Hyatt in Miami. For info, visit, but hurry!

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