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    Episode 71 - What Will Work to Drive More Sales Success at Your Bank or Credit Union

    Episode 71 - What Will Work to Drive More Sales Success at Your Bank or Credit Union
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    In this episode, Meredith Olmstead, CEO of Fi Grow Solutions, and Danielle Fancher, Director of Sales, delve into innovative strategies for enhancing sales success in banks and credit unions. They discuss the importance of prioritizing service-oriented skills over traditional sales abilities, the benefits of proactive customer engagement through CRM tools, and the crucial role of integrating marketing and sales efforts. Their insights aim to transform the way financial institutions interact with and serve their members.


    Key Takeaways:

    Prioritize Service Over Sales: Focus on hiring employees with a strong service orientation rather than traditional sales skills. Employees who excel in customer service and genuinely want to assist members will naturally drive more success in financial institutions.

    Embrace Proactive Engagement: Utilize tools like CRM systems to understand customer interests and engage them proactively. This approach shifts the sales strategy from reactive to proactive, enhancing member satisfaction and retention.

    Integrate Marketing and Sales: Strengthen the collaboration between marketing and sales teams to ensure a unified approach to member engagement. This alignment helps both teams understand and leverage each other's efforts, leading to more effective consumer targeting and improved service delivery.

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    Transcription:

    Meredith Olmstead:

    Hi there. I'm Meredith Olmstead, CEO and founder of Fi Grow Solutions. We are a digital marketing and sales consulting agency and we work exclusively with banks and credit unions. And I am here with our director of sales, Danielle Fancher. Say hi, Danielle.

    Danielle Fancher:

    Hi, everyone.

    Meredith Olmstead:

    And Danielle and I were just having a really interesting conversation about some of the work she's been doing with our clients around... Our credit union and bank clients, around driving more sales success. So it's kind of like marketing, but also very much around... A little bit more specifically around closing the loop and closing those deals. And so Danielle has worked in financial institutions for most of her career, until last year when she joined Fi Grow. And I was like, "You know, why don't we hit record on this conversation and let you share some of what you have learned over a pretty lengthy career about how to drive more success at a regional bank or a mid-sized credit union?" So the first thing you... I love this term, but the first thing you mentioned to me is making sure that you have the right employees in the right seat. Or think of it as your company or your institution as a bus. Are they in the right seat on the bus? So what do you mean by that, Danielle? Talk about that a little bit more.

    Danielle Fancher:

    Yeah. So what I learned very early on was I didn't necessarily need to find an employee that really knew sales. I never looked for someone that was a really good salesperson. I looked for someone that really liked to serve people, that had really great customer service skills, and that really wanted to go the extra mile to help people. And so I think a lot of times in the financial institution industry, whenever you have loan officers or frontline employees, they get so nervous about offering products and services, and I think from a management perspective, sometimes we think, "Well, we maybe need to hire more salespeople." And I don't think that's the answer at all. I think that you just need to make sure that the people that you're hiring have a true heart of service and they want to go the extra mile and serve the members and ask the right questions and they're willing to have those conversations, so.

    Meredith Olmstead:

    Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, honestly, certainly there's going to be some of that frontline staff that might need a little bit more training around products and services, or pain points that a typical customer or a member might be facing at different stages of their lives. Or if somebody comes in and they're like, "I'm interested in an auto loan," maybe there's a couple of questions you might dig a little bit before you were to, say, take their information or offer a solution of some kind. So absolutely, there's going to be training opportunities there, but just caring, really. Just wanting a lot... I don't know if you say that, but sometimes people say really good sales is just service.

    Danielle Fancher:

    Oh, 100%. Yeah. I don't even like to use the word sales at all. And so I think sales really scares people, especially in the credit union and community bank industry. And so I say just don't even say the word sales. We're not selling anything. We're providing a service to our membership and to our customer base. And so that's what I mean. If you have a heart of service and you aren't listening to respond, but really listening to learn about the person in front of you, then you have completely taken sales out of it. You're just serving that person.

    So if they're talking about their grandkids or a vacation, you can really customize your approach and conversation with them, and you're only talking to them about things that they're actually interested in. So you can start talking about a new savings account for their new grandbaby, or you can start talking about a money market account that's earning a ton of interest for a vacation that's coming up. So it's really just about listening, and not just listening to respond to them, but really listening to get to know them and then to educate them about what's important to them.

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    Meredith Olmstead:

    Gotcha. Okay. Now, you also were talking about just generally being more proactive. And one of the things that we've always run into, especially with credit unions, but even community banks as well, is there isn't very much a culture, a sales culture, at those institutions. Typically, what happens is they kind of react to situations with customers or members. So they wait for someone to come to them with an issue, a question, a problem, and then they, a lot of times, will do an amazing job of solving that problem for that individual at the time, but it's very reactive. And so you said sometimes it's really important to also be the opposite of that, which is proactive. So when that comes to sales, what does that look like?

    Danielle Fancher:

    So being proactive in a sales environment or in a financial institution industry is, to me, it's not just sitting and waiting, and that's what happens unfortunately. Unfortunately, we have employees and branches that are kind of just sitting around waiting for people to come in. And for me, that's really the benefit of what we do at Fi Grow. And that's really what connected the dots for me whenever I was introduced to Fi Grow, is having the CRM and having HubSpot and being able to fully understand the customer journey, and being able to see what our members and customers were actually interested in on the website. Seeing that they downloaded a blog about a first time car buying experience or seeing that they were interested in improving their credit score. And being able to connect dots and being able to train my employees to get into HubSpot and to go through that contact record and actually look and see what the members are interested in and what they're engaging in, and then being able to be proactive and reaching out to them and just being a resource to them.

    Again, you don't have to sell them anything. It's really just about reaching out and being able to say, "Hey, I see that you might be interested in a first-time car buying experience." Like, "I'm Danielle. I want to help you. What can I do for you?" And so I think that's what is so unique about what we do at Fi Grow, is really being able to connect the dots between sales and marketing, and helping the frontline staff really understand what the marketing efforts are and how to communicate with the members in regards to what they're actually interested in.

    Meredith Olmstead:

    So you said also... You touched on this a minute or two ago, about not even calling it sales really. I mean, so how do you refer, or how is that taking the four-letter word... Whatever, it's close enough. But it's like people think of it as a four-letter word. People are just trying to make money. I know that one of the ways that we've always coached when I've worked with clients in a sales enablement capacity is that whatever it is that you are trying to share with the consumer needs to authentically make sense for them. It has to be the best thing for them. And if you're trying to figure out a reason why the product or service, the change, makes sense, then maybe it's not the right time or the right fit, and that's really important. And I think this kind of goes into what you're saying about it's not all about just closing the sale, but it also has to be a really good fit. How has that translated for you and your career as a VP of sales, or a VP of consumer lending, really?

    Danielle Fancher:

    Yeah. So same thing, exactly what you said. We're customizing the approach, customizing the product offering, to the member or to the customer based on what they're talking about. For instance, I had a lady who, just through conversation, had told me that her husband had passed away and she was having to go through the difficulties of trying to pick up the car payment and pay this vehicle off, and all of the things that come along with that, and getting death certificates, and she was helping her daughter co-sign on a loan.

    Well, in the credit union space, we have payment protection. And so that would've been a more difficult sale if I wouldn't have taken the time to really understand the lady that I was talking to, the member that I was talking to. But because I listened and I heard her story, I was able to then tell her, "Hey, we have this really, really great product that, if you were to pass away, your daughter's not going to have to deal with this since you're both on the loan, it would completely pay the loan off." And so again, you're taking that sales side out of it and you're really offering a customized approach and a custom service to the member that makes sense for them.

    Meredith Olmstead:

    Yeah. Well, and it's funny, you were so focused in most of your career in a lending leadership capacity or role, and now you've come over to the agency side, and we've been doing a lot more sales coaching and working with sales teams at different institutions. But that kind of connects the dots for you and the last thing you were talking about, which was probably the most important thing, around making sure sales is more successful is bringing together marketing and sales. So tell me a little bit about that. Because you were talking about how... And for a long time, when you were working in sales and consumer lending, you had no idea what marketing was doing. So that's crazy. I mean, I can't even imagine.

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    Danielle Fancher:

    That is so common. I remember one financial institution I worked at, people would come in and tell us they got an email or there was a promotion, and everyone in the branch is like, "What are they talking about? We have no idea what's going on." And so I'm panicked as the branch manager trying to figure out what is going on. And so it's been really, really refreshing at Fi Grow to really see and understand the importance of sales and marketing working together. And so being able to... And not just for the marketing side, but for the retail side as well.

    And so it's like marketing puts all of this effort towards bringing customers and bringing members into the financial institution to grow loans and accounts and deposits and all of these things, but sometimes they don't even get to see the end result. They don't get to see the people that come in. Well, on the other side of it, they kind of just think, or we think, on the retail frontline side, that people are just coming in. We don't understand that marketing is actually on the backside doing digital ads, doing Google Ads, posting nonstop, sending emails, mailers, all of these different things, the onboarding that we do. And so with HubSpot and with Fi Grow, it's been really, really refreshing. And I can see this aha moment whenever I train our sales enablement clients for them to be able to see, "Oh, this person applied for this loan because they saw an ad on Google, which then they went to the website, and then they went to the loan application, and then they downloaded a blog, and now they're here."

    And so you're able to track all of that and really see the entire journey of the consumer, and that's what I mean. Then your approach to them is customized to them. It's about what they are interested in. And so it's like this marriage of marketing and sales where it just all comes together and it's like, "Okay, now I understand how this works and why these people are coming in and applying for loans." And so it's really kind of a cool thing.

    Meredith Olmstead:

    Yeah, it's really nice. It's like when you... If you're working with retail, like managing a retail team, and you get a really nice set of reviews, or a customer comes in and tells you how great their experience was in closing a loan or buying their first home or whatever it happens to be. It's really important to share those stories with your employees, right? Because if they don't hear that feedback, if they don't hear how they've made an impact on somebody's life, they don't understand the positive influence they have.

    We can all take pride in our work, but it's great to hear when you're doing something well. So I think that also goes towards marketing and back towards sales. Marketing likes to see, "Oh, hey, look, we actually brought in all of these loans," or, "We brought in all of these new members and they opened up new accounts," or, "This is helping drive deposits, which now we can lower our interest rate or offer a dividend," or whatever it might be. So it is really nice for different individuals and different departments to understand that they're a piece of the success of the institution as a whole.

    Danielle Fancher:

    Absolutely.

    Meredith Olmstead:

    And so, awesome. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Danielle. This was really great feedback. It's really nice to hear that you're having such nice interactions with our sales clients, but also just generally being able to share some of that best practice. So I hope you all enjoyed some of this and you're able to kind of get some ideas around your own sales success at your financial institution. If you want to learn more about digital marketing or sales for your bank of credit union, please visit us at figrow.com. We have lots of other blogs, podcasts, case studies, so please visit us there. Otherwise, let's just all get out there and make it happen.

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