Business development – is it the fastest growing trend in the credit union industry? YES! More credit unions are realizing how critical it is to have a great business development program. Those credit unions are investing more in business development training, staffing, and advocacy.
Business development used to be synonymous with SEG Development. But with more credit unions switching to community charters, the business development function had to evolve as well. My passion is business development. It’s how I started in credit unions and continues to be a big focus for me. Unfortunately though, I still hear folks say that community-chartered credit unions don’t need business development because SEGs aren’t their primary focus. WRONG!
Why is it wrong? Because the same principles apply to both successful SEG Development and community outreach. Here are some of those principles:
Building strong and beneficial relationships. In SEG Development, it is important to have great relationships with the decision-makers and influencers at the company. They won’t let you in if they don’t trust and like you. Credit unions need to apply the same attention and desire to build strong relationships with “centers of influence” in their communities to achieve success. Find out who the” movers and shakers” are within the community. If they love you, they will tell others about you. And people listen to the movers and shakers.
Showing support for what is important to them. For SEG Development, this may be participating in the company’s benefit fair or supporting a charity that is connected to the company. In the community, this could entail taking part in various events that are sponsored by a city, town, or borough. I know of credit unions that have a big presence in 4th of July celebrations, town clean-up efforts, and holiday parades. If your credit union is consistent in this regard, people will start to notice. Keep in mind, however, that consistency is the key here. Don’t expect the floodgates to open if you attend just one event.
Adding VALUE. SEGs should be able to clearly define the value that your credit union provides. That value proposition must go beyond low loan rates and high CD rates. Consumers expect much more. In a similar fashion, it takes considerable time and effort to demonstrate the value that a credit union can offer to the community it serves. In some ways, community value propositions are more difficult to craft since the target audience is more diverse than that of a single company. With SEGs, the company has hopefully already created the culture and ethic that resulted in success. While developing strong value propositions differ for SEG development and community development, the fact remains that, no matter who credit unions serve, they must demonstrate value.
Develop business. Develop people. That’s the way forward!