Credit Union and Community Bank sales tactics are different from other industries because they're primarily focused on service, doing the right thing for the member/customer and deepening relationships. Sales for the sake of meeting quotas or earning a bonus is rarely a focus for community-based financial institutions.
There is, however, a lot to be learned from traditional sales methods, much of which aligns well with the initiatives of community-based financial institutions.Below, we'll uncover how Inbound sales methods provide value through advocacy to create a deeper relationship with prospects.
Picking up the phone to call a customer or prospective customer because they've been identified on a prospecting list, selected for an up-sell campaign, or interacted with your inbound content can feel like a daunting task. In many cases staff are reaching out to a lead provided by the marketing department with no real basis for what they may need or how, as a customer service professional, they can help.
Often, the default opening statement on a connect call sounds like this "Hello Sally, this is John calling from ABC Financial. Is this a good time for you to talk? I noticed you downloaded our eBook about Mortgages and I was wondering if you have any questions I can answer for you." This type of opening is okay...ish, but it's easy enough for the prospect to answer "No." and there you are, stuck.
Instead, engage in a more meaningful way. Let's learn how.
In a true sales environment, there exists this concept of a Three Sale Sale. It's designed to move from the phone call introduction to securing commitment to your company through three steps:
The principles of the Three Sale Sale apply perfectly to your Community Bank of Credit Union sales outreach.
No, this isn't the Simon Sinek TED talk (although I suggest you watch it some time if you haven't already). What I'm talking about is changing the first question you ask a lead from "I see you downloaded our Mortgage eBook, do you have any questions?", which easily leads to the answer "No."
Instead try an open-ended question or statement that helps you understand why they might be in the market for change. Perhaps start with:
"I noticed you downloaded our eBook about Mortgages. I am curious about your interest. Would you mind sharing your future home ownership plans? I'd love to learn more and see if we can help." or
"Tell me about the reasons you're looking for a new home." Any statement that starts with "tell me about..." is more likely to start a real conversation about why they're looking for a change and will garner the information you need to help.
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Once you have a good understanding of why they're looking for a change you'll be able to explore which solutions are available, together. It's important you explore options with the prospect versus telling them what the solution will be.
If the prospect indicates they need a mortgage for a new home because they dream of an open concept white kitchen with stainless steel appliances and a pot filler over the stove, you might make a statement like:
"Wow!! That sounds incredible! I totally hear you. And understand you're looking for an upgraded, modern kitchen. So I'd guess you could either shop for a new home with the features you're looking for, or you could use the equity in your current home to upgrade your current kitchen. Have you thought about each of those potential approaches?"
By asking what they think instead of simply providing solutions like you're reading a menu, you're building rapport with your prospect, earning their trust, and demonstrating you're an advocate for finding the right solution that will work best for them.
Now Sally could say...
"I don't want to stay in our current house. The yard isn't big enough and we're not happy with the school district." Then you can explore other options with another leading question like "Ok, that sounds reasonable and makes sense. You can't change the size of the yard. Are you considering solutions for new construction or a new home that might be a fixer upper?"
Exploring all the options significantly helps deepen your relationship, and ensures you're thoroughly exploring the gap between the prospects current situation and where they're trying to go. Finding the right solution provides more value than simply fulfilling the original articulated need.
Once you've explored why a change is needed, and discussed a few possible solutions meet their needs, the final step is to determine how you're going to help them with the right solution. During this step don't be afraid to talk about your competition! If you fail to address what they'll hear and see from competitors it'll be easier for them to walk away from you.
It would sound something like this:
"Ok Sally, so it looks like upgrading your current home, or building a new home on land are not options you would like to consider at this time. I think you are hoping for a new home with all the upgrades you're looking for, but if the right fixer upper came a long you would be open to exploring the possibility. Here at ABC Financial we have solutions for both of those scenarios. There are many similar options from other lenders in the marketplace so let's discuss how to choose the right institution for you."
[Total shocker for the prospect! They were ready for you to push a sale, but you're still advocating!]
You might also add some details like these:
"Some nationwide lenders allow you to apply online and process everything electronically. There are also some banks and credit unions that periodically offer discounts or specials on closing costs. Here at ABC Financial we pride ourselves on knowledge, experience, and service to make sure you receive the best care possible.
We're not here to simply fulfill requests each time we hear 'I need a mortgage,' but instead we make sure we understand why you're looking for a new home, and ensure that we've helped you explore all possibilities to guarantee we're getting you not only the right solution, but the best solution for your goals. I hope you felt that on our call today."
"Now, if you'd like to self-service with a lender that does everything electronically I completely understand. If you'd like to look for a promotion or giveaway I understand that as well. If you've felt as good about this call as I have, and would like to develop a relationship with an institution that will partner with you and advocate for your best interests, I hope you'll consider ABC Financial for your mortgage solution. Would you like some time to think about it, or should we start the pre-approval process now to get you in your new home as quickly as possible?"
When you address competition like huge nationwide lenders that offer fast online turn around, and other banks or credit unions might be offering promotions that you're not, make sure you explain the value you offer and why you think it's a good fit for the prospect. With this approach you're doing something called 'anchoring.'
The prospect can anchor your solutions to the value you provide and because you've already addressed the 'shinny penny' marketing they're likely to see. They'll be able to pass by the $500 off closing costs advertisements because they won't perceive any more value in it than just $500. They'll feel the value you'll offer them is much greater than a quick $500 or worth the worry of self-navigating online solutions.
Addressing how to solve for any of a prospects needs by talking about competitor solutions is crucial for community banks and credit unions whose value propositions are primarily based on service and morals for doing the right thing.
Have you ever spent time with a lead talking about an auto loan, maybe even pre-qualified them, just to lose them at the dealership? Frustrating, right...
Did you talk to them about what to expect at the dealership and demonstrate the value you provide in comparison?
Did you explain that your pre-qualification included consideration for everything on their credit report AND the their lifestyle expenses, yet at the dealership they should be prepared to hear that they can afford more with a 0% or very low interest rate?
Did you tell them that, while the dealership won't be wrong that they can afford it on paper, the reality is much of their lifestyle isn't reflected on a credit report? Informing them if they want to continue to afford season tickets their favorite NFL team, eat out three times a week, and take two family vacations a year, they really can't afford the $800/month car payment?
Talking openly about the competition will help you close deals every time. Never put anybody else down, just be candid with what the prospect can expect from others, and then talk about the value you provide. They'll figure out the difference.
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