November and December for many means the holiday season filled with fun activities, parties, and gift giving.  It’s the time of year for us to visit family, take extra vacation time and reflect on what was hopefully an amazing year.  But for some sales teams, it’s the season for something else, excuses.

Okay, so what am I talking about?  Well, one of the stories I often hear from credit unions is that sales results in your outbound call center and branches will always fall in November and December.  It’s typically followed up with at least one of the following three excuses:

  1. Members just don’t want to be bothered during the holiday season
  2. Members are too busy to answer the phone and follow through
  3. We have already hit our goal or we are too far away from our goal to stay focused

I call them excuses because they simply aren’t true.  For many industries this is crunch time, the time of year when they finally turn a profit.  It can also be a very successful time for a credit union’s outbound sales department and branch sales initiatives.  So if your sales team struggles to stay productive during this time of year here are some suggestions to cut the excuses and get results.

Excuse #1: Members just don’t want to be bothered during the holiday season.

It simply isn’t true.  It’s true that your members may be busier than normal but “Bothered” is a strong word.  In my 15 years’ experience selling in a branch and outbound sales department I can’t recall a single member ever saying they were bothered by my call because it was the holiday season.   In fact if approached the right way you will likely get the opposite response.

If your credit union outbound sales department and branches are struggling with this excuse it’s time to consider the purpose of what they are doing.  As a credit union, you are likely calling to help your member save money or get to a better financial situation.  When is there a better time than the holiday season to do this?

Actually this excuses is used year round but seams to gain more traction with leadership during the holiday season as a reason why sales fall.  It’s time to put this excuse to bed.  Simply put your members want to hear from you with ways to save money and save time.  If you are calling with their best interest at heart, they will love you even during this time of year.

Excuse #2: Members are too busy and don’t answer the phone or follow-up.

People do get busy during the holiday season but that’s no reason for your sales team not to produce.  To fix this problem simply increase your contacting efforts and create powerful calls to action.  Here are couple ideas that will help you do both.

Experience shows that at this time of the year people don’t all of the sudden become ruder, they just become more distracted.  So if your contact ratios are falling then change up your contact approach a bit by adding a warm e-mail, or if you have the ability a text message.  Your members will know they missed your call and will be interested in what it was about.  Be sure to leave a message and then send them an e-mail or text the next day explaining a little about why you were calling.  Don’t be surprised with if they respond.  If they don’t respond call and e-mail a few days later.

Referring to excuse #1, if you have your members best interest at heart, and you are tactful in your approach they will not be bothered by this.   If they don’t respond wait a few weeks and try again.  Be sure to first work with your marketing team to create your e-mails and ensure your credit union is in compliance with contact strategy regulation.

If your outbound team is focusing attention on loan recapture, there isn’t a better time of the year than the holiday season to get results and here’s why.  When you recapture a loan you can often push the new due date far enough out to help the member skip a month’s payment.  Using this method year round is a good idea but at this time of year it is an amazing call to action. Check out the custom built free Loan Recapture Calculator here. 

As you can imagine, most members will be thrilled with the opportunity to skip their auto and even mortgage payment, freeing up some extra cash to pay for gifts, entertainment and travel.  But this isn’t the only call to action.  To skip a payment the member will likely need to close by a certain date which means they will be more likely to follow through with commitments and close when you need them too.

Excuse #3: We already hit our goal, or we are too far away from our goal to stay focused

For sales teams that have had an exceptionally good year, you may have already hit or are way ahead of the goal for the year.  For other teams, you may be well behind the goal to consider hitting it.  Both situations can be exceptionally demotivating for your sales team and can cause backsliding for the remainder of the year.

So what can you do to keep your team driven and producing?  First off, celebrate the success you have had.  If the success was hitting the goal early it should be recognized.  If you aren’t going to reach the goal take time to identify what went right and recognize those that have performed the best.  Once you have celebrated then it’s time to get back to work with a new goal.

A goal is simply a target to keep everyone accountable and pressing forward.  I doubt in the writing of your goals it said “Once you have achieved this goal you can take the rest of the year off paid” or “If the goal isn’t attainable then feel free to give up”.  No, that would be ridiculous.  Crafting a new goal for the end of the year that stretches your team’s performance and helps support the amazing results they accomplished already will ensure that your membership is being served, and come January, that you don’t have a bunch of limp noodles to re-motivate.

These are just some ideas you can implement to help avoid low production and the excuses that follow during the holiday season.  I know there are many more and I would love to hear from you what is working at your credit union.  So if you feel so inclined, please take a moment to share some of your successes in the comment section below. And please check out the really simple to use Loan Recapture Calculator created specifically for Credit Unions! 

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