The S Word

My 5 year old nephew will not say “stupid” or “shut up” in front of me or my sister because he knows they are bad words. When I was his age, my mom would catch herself after spilling something in the kitchen with “sugar honey iced tea”, instead of saying what she really meant. There are lots of S words that you’re not supposed to say because they are considered to be rude, vulgar, offensive, naughty or just downright bad.

Until just a few years ago, there was another bad S word in my credit union: Sales. Let’s face it, the word Sales has been getting a bad wrap for years. It’s been going on since people started telling fables and fairy tales to their kids. In these stories, people selling goods are often portrayed as negative influences or outsiders trying to take advantage of people. There is also the iconic used car salesman, who has been a negative source of characters in movies and TV shows. There are some choice S words that can be used to describe this image, such as “sleazy”, “scum bag” and “slime ball”.

But Sales does not have to be a bad word for credit unions. In fact, it’s a good word! We’ve proved that at Aspire through the changes we’ve implemented so far. Since the inception of our Lending Sales Team, we’ve actually grown our loan portfolio in a down economy, when other financial institutions our size are struggling just to keep the loans they already have on their books from going delinquent or being charged off. As I mentioned in my last blog, the next step in our process of developing a sales environment in a culture of service is to create two separate but related functions designed to meet specific member needs: Sales and Service, with the requisite Support functions.

Sales: The Sales group completes Day 1 activities, which refers to things that must be completed for members initially when they join the credit union. This group consists of people, departments and functions that sell or consult directly with a member. A Day 1 opportunity is any selling opportunity. Sales under this model also includes new account opening and IRA, Certificate and Money Market purchases. All of the new deposit opportunities as well as loan opportunities are included here. The job of the Sales group is to deliver an outstanding member purchase experience, remembering that the sale must be in the member’s best interest.

Service: The Service group completes Day 2 activities, which are all non-sales functions related to member needs. All of the follow-up tasks and responsibilities fall on the Service Group: account maintenance, address changes, balance inquiries, teller functions, member service staff that work in a support role. Their job is to deliver outstanding member service.

Support: This is the area that doesn’t directly touch our members. These functions support the needs of the staff and the greater organization. The customers of the Support group are the credit union employees.

This is how we will group our departments, positions and activities by function or role:

Lending and Deposit Sales:
In-Bound (Sales) Call Center        
Out-Bound Call Center            
Loan Consultants            
New deposit Account Opening
Mortgage Originators
Indirect Lending
Business Lending
Sales Coach/Trainer

Loan Processing                
Loan Underwriters            
Collections/Financial Recovery        
In-Bound (Service) call Center        
Member Service Representatives
ACH, Wires, Drafts
GAP, MBP, Debt Cancellation Processing
Title Tracking

Bank Secrecy Act Compliance        
Information Technology            
Data Processing                
Project Management            
Report Writing                
Procedures Specialist
Business Development
Website/Online Storefront
Human Resources

So you see, not all S words are bad. Some are very good and will help credit unions succeed and better serve our members. By restructuring our credit union into clearly defined Sales, Service and Support functions, we will be better positioned to maintain and grow our profitability while helping our members realize their financial dreams. Sweet!