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There's a big difference between making calls and telemarketing, and that's been the key to success of Dupaco Community CU's business development efforts, according to Leo Costello, VP-business development at DCCU.

Dupaco established an Officer Call Program to develop a systematic approach to making calls on SEGs and prospective SEGs.

"I like to make calls. I don't like to telemarket," Costello told the audience at The Credit Union Journal's SEG & Business Development Conference, noting that a true "call" should be an actual visit in person, not a simple phone call.

In order to ensure that all SEGs are being called on frequently and consistently, Dupaco branch managers are also involved in the process, though Costello noted that some branch managers need more coaching than others on how to make an effective call.

In the OCP there are three types of calls: cold calls, calling by phone to make an appointment, mailing and follow up.

"People don't want to give an appointment to someone they don't know, so you have to work at it so that eventually, you are no longer an unknown," Costello explained. "It typically takes six or seven calls to close a sale. Calls one, two and three aren't fun, but that's how you get to calls six or seven."

That's why even though being told "send me some materials" is most often a polite put off, a credit union rep has to follow through and send those materials, he said.

While Costello said he typically tries to have two or three appointments scheduled a day, he isn't above going somewhere unannounced. "There is something to stopping by," he said. "Even if it's just to say 'hello.' There is some trial and error to this."

Another key: know the business being called upon.

"Few people have the business savvy to sit down with a business owner," Costello said. "When you're talking with these people, it can't be all about transactions. You need to understand how they do business and what's important to them. You can't be talking to them about how this will help them retain employees if they only have 2% turnover and their big challenge is controlling their vendors, and here you come wanting to be another vendor. Find out what their challenges are and how you can help them with it."

When making a call, a BD officer should never just get right to the point-building rapport isn't simply about making a person feel good about doing business with you, it's also about learning what that person wants to hear from you.

"Spend at least five to 10 minutes on rapport, and preferably 15 to 20 minutes, because then you've got 20 minutes of ammunition when it comes time to make the sale," Costello offered. "Then, when you've got your five to 10 minutes to sell, you've got it."

To put together an effective business development plan, top-level management and board have to be behind the strategy and support it wholeheartedly, Costello noted. "It's a whole lot easier to get your budget if you have support from staff and management," he added.

Plus, that support will be necessary when it comes time to start signing up new members from the new SEGs.

Costello had eight other tips:

Don't ever leave a SEG site visit without signing up new members. If they don't have an ID or don't have money on them start up an account (and indeed, many CUs don't allow BD officers to take cash on site anyway), find other ways to work with them. Go to HR to confirm identity, for example.

Make sure the SEG knows you're coming and has informed its employees so they're ready to do business with you.

Be alert to opportunities. "If you hear a big bank is coming in and buying a local bank, that could be an opportunity, so bring it to the CEO," Costello said.

Bring a partner. "We bring a financial service rep with us as often as possible," he noted.

Be ready to give value. "Every other time we're there, we have something good for them," Costello said. "Like financial education or some special product or service. It's not always about us."

Tracking is critical. Invest in some sort of member relationship management tool.

Be held accountable. That means setting goals, like having branch managers have 10 calls as the standard for them to make.

Leverage the CU cooperative spirit. Costello noted that if Dupaco serves a SEG that has a facility outside of Dupaco Community Credit Union's field of membership, it will seek out a sister credit union that is in that area to serve that facility.

"If you help them, they'll remember you when the reverse situation happens," he told the meeting. "You've built credibility with the SEG, developed goodwill with the other credit union and you've kept the business in the credit union family."

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