Sales Culture at Banks

Feng Shui: The Way Out?

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These articles were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on November 11,

1998. All rights reserved.

Be Assertive: Marge Smith

How many times have you nodded in agreement to something

you never truly agreed with? Or said "yes" when it should

have been "no?" How many times have you wished you had been

more assertive? It happens too often, says Marge Smith, who

speak about "Assertiveness Skills for Business Success" at

the YWCA Business/Professional Women’s Breakfast Series on Wednesday,

November 18, at 7:45 a.m. at the Nassau Club, 6 Mercer Street. Cost:

$20. Call 609-252-2006 to register.

A consultant to business and nonprofits, Smith teaches at the Mercer

County College and has a home-based business, Princeton Association

for Training and Development, which offers workshops on communication

skills, decision making, and problem solving for corporations.

Not being assertive enough to say "no" to the lesser

priorities

could get you into awkward situations, says Smith. "But when you

say `no’ you should be clear that you are not rejecting the person,

but just the request," she adds.

Assertiveness is very different from being aggressive, says Smith.

"Assertiveness improves relationships, while aggressiveness

destroys

them. Being assertive does not necessarily mean getting what you want.

You respect others and you respect your own needs. You treat people

as equal. Aggressiveness, on the other hand, is an I-win-you-lose

attitude. You may win, but the results may be short term. The other

person may get even when he gets the chance. Being non-assertive is

the opposite of being aggressive. It is an I-lose-you-win attitude

and a non-assertive person is always angry or pitying himself."

Assertive behavior can be developed, says Smith. Some behaviors

associated

with assertiveness are:

The ability to initiate and maintain a conversation.

The ability to state one’s opinion.

The ability to handle conflicts so as to improve the

chances

of resolving them.

The ability to express negative thoughts as well as

positive

thoughts. Praise should be given when appropriate and many people

find that difficult to do, says Smith.

The ability to receive compliments. Smith says that you

should know how to say "thank-you" to compliments and not

simply brush them off.

Smith majored in English at Smith College and earned a master’s

in education at Columbia University. She was executive director of

the Princeton YWCA for seven years. Under her leadership the YWCA

grew from 8,000 to 14,000 members, the eighth largest in the nation.

Some people tend to be assertive in certain areas but not in others.

"You might be assertive at work but not with family and

friends,"

says Smith, who feels that women especially have trouble with being

assertive and sometimes go to extremes to please people and make

everybody

happy.

"Whether at work or at home being assertive will make a real

difference

in our lives," Smith says.

— Teena Chandy

Top Of Page
Sales Culture at Banks

A group of people are learning about cross selling

opportunities,

how to overcome objections and when to go for the close. It sounds

like a Zig Ziglar sales rally, but it’s actually bank employees

learning

about sales culture. Financial institutions are becoming more

assertive

in helping you find investment vehicles for your money and are

training

their employees to make the right moves.

Learn what it takes to create a sales culture within a bank from

Joseph

R. Kaminski, vice president of business development at HLR Federal

Credit Union in Nutley, who speaks at the Financial Institutions

Marketing

Association (FIMA) Wednesday, November 18, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30

a.m. at the JFK Conference Center in Edison. Admission is free. Call

973-785-9200, ext. 326.

Establishing a sales culture within the bank means that everyone in

the bank from the CEO on down is personally committed to creating

new revenue opportunities. No one is immune, "even the accounting

and IT personnel are expected to make referrals," says Kaminski.

"Banking is a different process because of the changes over the

past 15 years. Competition has become very acute and financial

institutions

for the first time are finding themselves competing against other

financial institutions that are very sales oriented."

For smaller financial institutions with a smaller universe, it’s vital

that they increase revenue from existing customers and retain these

customers. "The way a sales culture benefits the institution is

that in order to maintain a customer base, you’ve got to get the

customer

to have as many products as you possibly can — the greater the

number of products, the more likely they are to stay with you,"

says Kaminski.

Employee attitude is the starting point. "You have to sit down

and take a look at the culture in the institution and determine what

it is specifically. Is it operations oriented, service oriented?

You’ve

got to canvas your people to get a feel for how they feel about sales

as a whole," says Kaminski. After that you need to 1.) put into

place a sales tracking system, 2.) institute basic sales training

and 3.) establish a sales incentive program that allows employees

to earn up to an additional 25 percent of their salary.

Success is measured in terms of a cross-sell ratio, the number of

bank products and services sold to a customer per sales contact. At

HLR, the loan portfolio went from a cross-sell ratio of about 1.3

to about 2.

As can be expected, some employees may not leap at the chance to join

the new sales culture. "If you have an institution that has never

emphasized sales before and has been basically operations or service

oriented, it can be very difficult to do. The employees will say `well

gee, you didn’t hire me to sell’," says Kaminski. "Primarily

because they have to change the total culture within the institution,

and that’s a very difficult thing to do, it’s not something that you

can do overnight or in one or two years. It’s a continuing process

and can take up to six years to accomplish. Most institutions try

to work with existing personnel, but sometimes very hard decisions

about people have to be made."

Kaminski started in banking while he was still attending college,

working nights in the transit department (check processing) at First

Pennsylvania Bank. After graduation from St. Joseph’s University in

Philadelphia in 1964 with a BA in psychology and economics, Kaminski

entered a management training program at Germantown Savings Bank.

Kaminski’s background includes tours as financial sales manager of

the northeast region of Travelers Express Company.

Kaminski admits that sometimes smaller institutions are reluctant

to change "because they have a smaller number of employees and

they are concerned about upsetting the apple cart because they are

niche institutions dealing with a specific group."

Kaminski contends that there is confusion about what is sales and

what is marketing. "Marketing is the creation of awareness among

your customers about your products and services. Sales converts that

awareness into the purchase of a product or service."

— Jeff Lippincott

Top Of Page
Feng Shui: The Way Out?

If your business is going downhill, your family life

is in shambles, or your career prospects look bleak, it could be

because

your house is facing the wrong way or you have placed the wrong things

in the wrong places. Knocking down a few walls or moving your

furniture

around could make a big difference. Or at least that is what a feng

shui practitioner will tell you.

Feng shui (pronounced fung shuway) literally means wind and water

and dates back more than 7,000 years. This ancient philosophy revolves

around arranging one’s life with the forces of the universe. The

Chinese

also refer to it as the art of placement. Feng shui attempts to

harness

and manipulate life energy called "ch’i," which exists

everywhere

in the universe, to find harmony and balance in one’s personal

environment.

Cathy L. Nissley, who has been involved with advanced feng shui

courses and is preparing to be a feng shui practitioner, will share

her experiences at the Central Jersey Women’s Network meeting on

Tuesday,

November 17, at 6 p.m. at the Holiday Inn. Cost: $30. Call

908-281-3119.

A high concentration of ch’i allows the environment to function and

produces good feng shui. A beneficial concentration of ch’i also

affects

emotions and attitudes, says Nissley. The eight areas of influence

where feng shui can be applied are knowledge and education; health,

wealth and prosperity; recognition and fame; nurturing and creativity;

relationships; helpful people and networking; and career prospects.

The feng shui practitioner asks what area needs improvement and

attempts

to enhance the flow of energy to that point.

This can be done by spatial arrangements, use of interior design,

and the use of color and sounds. It also involves common sense and

intuition, adds Nissley. "It may not be possible to eliminate

everything that may be considered bad feng shui, like the slope of

the roof or the angle of the room. In such cases you do things to

counter balance the effects of bad feng shui." The Black Hat Sect

school of feng shui, the most widely practiced in the United States

since the 1970s, uses the "bagua," a tool which analyzes the

room based on the room’s main entrance.

Nissley grew up in the Philadelphia area and graduated from Drexel

University, Class of ’75, with a BS in design and merchandising. She

has her own marketing communications and consulting firm, CIC Creative

Inc. based in Newtown, Pennsylvania. A life-long interest in the

philosophy,

harmony and serenity of the Far East led her to the study and practice

of martial arts, feng shui, T’ai Chi, and Oriental art and

architecture.

Feng shui essentially means tugging at one fringe of the universe

so everything else falls into place, says Nissley. "It is an

attempt

to send out messages to the universe. The universe is very logical

and literal and the messages sent out should be clear." Symbols

are a very important part of feng shui. A live plant, an aquarium,

three Chinese coins on a red string, are some energy drawing symbols,

says Nissley. So bring that goldfish into your office. It just might

be what you needed to do to land that big business account.

— Teena Chandy


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