UWCU's directors admitted it. They had no talent-at least when it came their turn to belt out a company cheer. Luckily, this wasn't a talent show.
Their performance was part of a half-day rally themed "Ready, Set, Grow" to motivate staff to become active participants in the CU's new sales culture. "We felt it was important to stop being order-takers," explained Mary Hanneman, director of marketing at the $522-million UWCU. "But in order to do that, we had to give our staff the right tools to help our members make good financial decisions."
After a year's worth of sales training and many months of planning, the executives and directors sponsored a sales rally to serve as the official kick off of the new culture. "We sent invitations to the homes of about 150 employees," she said. "Because it was held on a Saturday afternoon, it was not mandatory."
As a lure, free babysitting was offered along with a slew of teasers that emphasized this event as fun, including an assignment for branches to designate teams to write and choreograph a company cheer to be performed during the event.
"In addition to the CU getting something out it, we wanted it to be a pleasant and interactive experience for them," Hanneman said.
While things may not have gotten off to a great start-"We were very first to do our cheer and we were horrible, just horrible," Hanneman joked-the acts, games and speakers that followed more than made up for it. CEO Rod Staatz kicked things off by stressing that it would take an entire staff's belief in the new sales culture and their actions to make it work.
UWCU (formerly University of Wisconsin CU) was founded to serve faculty and staff at its namesake. It is now a community CU with 85,000 members. Hanneman said they played Match Game, Jeopardy and Family Feud-all of which incorporated questions about CU terms, marketing campaigns and products and services.
In addition, staff had to team up with people they did not know and participate in a scavenger hunt to find answers to a list of questions about plants (the event was held at Old Brick Botanical Gardens), sales topics and CU products.
In lieu of an outside motivational speaker, the staff instead asked six "of our star" employees to give testimonials about sales breakthroughs in the year since they started their new sales training. "Our sales coach helped them write their speeches and coached them on their delivery," Hanneman said. "Each stood up there and talked for five to 10 minutes to their peers about how the last year had been meaningful and how they themselves grew from the experiences."
Some even moved their audience to tears, she said. Many said that the training has enabled them to ask better questions that not only help the members pinpoint their needs, but help the staff determine which products and services are best suited to handle those needs.
For example, Hanneman said, instead of forcing a member to hear about all the different checking accounts and their options, they can ask questions such as "Do you overdraw?" and "Do you like to have a comfort zone?" Hanneman said that as part of the training, the staff has learned that not all people have the personality type to sell products. "We have started to address that in the hiring process," she said, noting that personality type tests are given to potential hires.
The sales rally closed with dinner and ceremony that included a drawing for an all-expenses- paid trip to the Winter Olympics. Hanneman said the trip was given to the credit union by Visa for meeting goals.
"Typically the president takes it," she said, "but our president said it should be used for the people who actually earned it."
Hanneman said the CU is initiating a tracking system to determine sales successes of individual members, rather than just by branch location as has been done in the past. With that, she said, monetary incentives may follow. As for the rally itself, she said it was an obvious success and likely will be repeated again next year.