It’s a new day for credit union business development departments.

During a recent CU Times ON AIR broadcast, Unitus Community Credit Union Business Development Officer Brett Wooden, MECU of Baltimore Director of Business Development and Strategic Alliances Bonita Bush and APL Federal Credit Union Marketing Director Kevin Marvel shared that the challenges of bringing on new prospects have led to a shift in approach.

“While in this economy it might seem like a no-brainer because partnering with the credit union adds value to benefits package,” said Bush. “What we’ve seen in the past two years in meeting with HR departments is that the mindset is that many are not sure if they’ll have a job tomorrow and that $5 to open an account may be the difference in buying groceries or paying a bill.”

Wooden added that rather than running promotions and campaigns at SEGs, he’s been offering more seminars, and HR departments have been requesting his team be there to help provide services to employees during layoffs or any turnover.

“We switched our sales pitch to get HR to talk about their pain, and we then use those pain points they identified to let them know here’s what we can do to help,” said Wooden. “Our mantra here has always been ‘let your questions show your intelligence; not your answers.’”

The ongoing challenge many business development departments continue to face in terms of reach has been quantity or quality. Bush, Wooden and Marvel all agreed that it’s important to have both.

“What good is hitting a certain number without quality? So let’s say we sign up 60 new SEGs but of what value?” said Bush. “There are different schools of thought, yes you met your goal but when you think about the resources that go into building true relationships, which brings greater value: 60 mom-and-pop stores with one to two employees or a few big companies with hundreds of employees?”

Marvel suggested that instead of setting a goal based on the number of SEGs added perhaps the quantity measurement used should be on the total number of employees.

At Unitus CCU, Wooden’s team uses a formula of activity times effectiveness equals results.

“We have a lot of existing SEGs we go into and just sit there passing out donuts, so I think the thing is balance,” said Wooden. “We’ve got to bring in the new, while catering to the existing SEGs as well. So we look at companies with a higher employee volume because going into smaller companies with a lot of onsite visits to get to your goal is like a baseball batter who swings 500 times to hit the ball.”

Bush added that it’s more than just having people sign up for a share savings account but building relationships.

“We’re interested in the relationships and the cross-sell ratio,” said Bush. “We need to enhance what we do offsite, offering seminars or other activities that make more effective use of our resources.”