I’ve said it before and I will continue to say it – business development continues to take the credit union industry by storm. On this blog, I’ve provided some tactics and steps that I think will lead to greater business development and increased productivity. Today, I’d like to offer some commentary on some big mistakes that need to be avoided by credit union business development professionals.
The Drop-In or Drop By – this refers to the act of just showing up at someone’s office and asking for “just 5 minutes of their time.” This is a mistake that would be most often made by SEG-based credit unions prospecting for new Employee Groups. You show up unannounced and without an appointment hoping that your prospect will be available to listen to your pitch. Not only is this incredibly annoying but it is tremendously disrespectful. The people that you need to speak to are most likely very busy and you need to respect their time. If you get lucky and they do agree to see you – as soon as they realize that the purpose of your visit is one of solicitation, chances are you’ll walk out of their office very disappointed. So save yourself the grief – don’t just “drop-by”…even if you are “in the area.”
Talking Exclusively About Products – as a business development professional, you have to be able to trigger the emotions that will lead your prospects to do business with you. People act as a result of experiencing emotional responses to what is being proposed to them. Simply listing product specifics won’t cause those emotions to be awakened. You must always answer the W.I.F.M. question – what’s in it for me? You must demonstrate value and benefits to your prospects. Product details will only take you so far.
The “unchecked” hand-off – a lot of credit unions have procedures in place whereby the business development team “hands off” a new-member relationship to another department (Member Services, etc.) after the initial on-site visit or presentation. Such a process is both good and bad. The reasons that it can be beneficial are fairly obvious. But it’s important that the business development team members follow up with their fellow employees to ensure that the accounts are opened properly, information is sent in a timely manner, etc. Please note that I am not advocating micro-managing or stepping on toes. But the fact remains that it’s usually the business development professionals that make the promises and set the expectations at first. Therefore, they have a responsibility to ensure that those promises are kept and the expectations are exceeded. That takes teamwork, cooperation among departments, and a system of checks and balances.
Not having a system. In his book, “The E-Myth Revisited,” Michael Gerber discusses the importance of establishing and working a system – a process. There will be a lot of trial and error. Chefs go through this exercise of establishing systems for creating signature recipes as they learn to experiment with different flavors and as their palates become more refined. Likewise, credit union business development is an art and it takes a while for the process to become refined and effective. Every credit union is different and every system will therefore be a little different from the others. The worst thing for business development professionals to do is to not establish and follow a methodology that works and that produces results.
Not knowing when to “move on.” We’ve all heard that ultimate success comes from persistent action. But the best business development professionals know when to stop calling or prospecting on a person or company that hasn’t been responsive. Eventually, you’ll have to learn when to “chalk it up” and move on. Rejection sucks – there’s no doubt about that! But it’s part of the gig. The trick is to know when to act upon the next opportunity. Otherwise, you’ll go crazy!
Avoiding these 5 mistakes will save you time, energy, and your sanity! Feel free to contribute to the discussion by leaving a comment below.