Do You Have A Broken Sales Culture?

Do You Have A Broken Sales Culture?

Barb and Bob at CUNA 2014

Many Bank and Credit Union Sales Cultures Could Use a Makeover

We recently gave a presentation and exhibited at CUNA’s Ops, Sales and Service conference in Las Vegas. Barb’s program, Is Onboarding the Beginning or the End? What Next in the Member Relationship? attracted many people to our booth expressing frustration with their sales culture. The whole experience confirmed what we have been seeing in our work with banks and credit unions: many of them don’t even realize they have a broken or stagnating sales culture.

They are stuck in the past “doing sales” the same way for the past 25 years. What looks like success is actually holding many of them back from getting to another level. They’re still trying to get to the magical point in their sales culture which, like the horizon in the ocean, keeps moving farther the more you try to sail toward it. All the while customers and members aren’t responding like they used to and becoming disengaged.

Here are nine symptoms of a broken sales culture that were confirmed by our conversations at the conference. The good news is at least these folks recognize what isn’t working. See if you see any similarities to your bank or credit union.

Nine Symptoms of A Broken Sales Culture

  1. Our people are so incentive driven they sometimes will avoid solving customer problems in order to focus on opportunities that can lead to a sale and extra cash.
  2. Our onboarding and sales processes are very transactional and product-driven which sometimes repels our members.
  3. Our staff makes excuses or avoids making their onboarding follow up calls so we don’t get to know the customer well enough and miss follow up opportunities.
  4. Our managers just tell our staff they need to generate more sales but they spend more time focusing on numbers and reports than on actually coaching, observing and developing their team members.
  5. We’ve been using the same entry level sales training and approach for years focusing mostly on identifying cues and matching a product. We want to get beyond immediate, “onesie twosie” transactional selling to a more holistic approach to meeting the member’s future goals.
  6. Our mission statement says we are focused on the financial well-being of our members. However, our goals and incentives encourage a short-term, “sell whatever you can approach”. We really don’t know their long-term goals and dreams so we can’t realistically make that big of a difference in their lives.
  7. We focus heavily on walk-in and new customers. However, we’re neglecting to reach out and do relationship building with existing customers that no longer visit our branches. So we’re not growing organically and I’m concerned these customers are at risk of leaving us.
  8. Our staff does not consistently capture member conversations, life events, dreams and challenges in a member profile so we really can’t anticipate their future needs and be viewed as a financial partner.
  9. Our staff has not embraced and adopted our CRM as a true relationship-building tool so we’re concerned we’re not getting an ROI on our investment in CRM.

With strategic planning coming up, now is the time to make any course corrections. Clearly, if you have quite a few yes answers above, it may be time to ask your leadership two BIG questions?

  1. Is it possible we’ve gone overboard in our sales culture and created behaviors that conflict with our mission, purpose and values of serving the well-being of our customers or members?
  2. Is it time we advance our culture and encourage organic growth by transitioning from a transactional selling model to a relationship-focused approach?

We recommend you share this post with your leadership team and enjoy what will likely be a robust and heartfelt discussion.

— Barb and Bob

 Your Thoughts?

Build loyalty in your bank or credit union: www.highdefinitionbanking.comWe are interested in your feedback. In the comments section below, please tell us whether you agree or disagree with the ideas in this post. Also, what challenges or questions do you have that we can answer in this post? Feel free to email your questions to

A Video Roadmap to Another Level of Your Sales Culture

View a 45-minute video of a presentation Barb gave at Symitar’s 2014 Annual Educational Conference in San Diego this past August. Click on Nine Steps to Create a Relationship-Driven Credit Union (and yes it applies to banks as well). It’s almost identical to the one at the CUNA conference and provides a roadmap to get to the next level of your sales culture–a relationship driven culture.

What Our Clients Are Saying

“We’ve used a variety of consultants and your firm is the first one that correlated with a direct increase in sales. When we began we had one person in our $1 Million Dollar Loan Club. Now we have 15 people in the club and some are on their way to hitting $2 million. Only one-third was making their goals and now three quarters are and are members in our 100% Club.” — Commonwealth Central Credit Union

“We are extremely pleased with your program and the value we received from our Employee Training Day and Manager’s Retreat. You inspired our managers to be better coaches, departments to improve internal service and increased the level of buy-in by everyone to our sales culture and relationship initiative. Our CEO commented, “I am excited that we now have more guidance and a road map to follow that will make Leaders a Five Star credit union”. You did an exceptional job at capturing what was going on in our organization. Our folks were glued to every word and your uplifting and entertaining style made the day breeze by.” — Leaders Credit Union


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