How to Choose the Best Sales Channels For Your Credit Union
Updated: Aug 26
In the previous article, we looked at the 21 sales channels potentially available to your credit union.
Now we need a structured process to sort through them, and figure out which are likely to most successful. A useful and simple way of achieving this is through the Bullseye Framework.
The bullseye framework was created by Gabriel Weinberg, Justin Mares, in their book, Traction. Gabriel Weinberg is the founder of DuckDuckGo (DDG), a search engine that offers private navigation on the web. As a result, this framework is aimed at startups that need to generate rapid growth. That's what also makes it so attractive for mature businesses like credit unions that are looking to move the needle.
The Framework Layers
The bullseye framework borrows from the concept of a target with three layers.
The First Layer
The first layer is about what’s possible. In other words, this is a brainstorming phase in which we dream up some strategies for each of the 21 channels we covered in the last article.
Some will be relatively easy "Let's do Facebook ads" while some will be more challenging "Let's persuade Wholefoods to let us put a widget on their website". Some channels, like Engineering as Marketing, may be a stretch for a credit union but let's see. The idea is to think of as many ideas as possible. This is easier if you get your colleagues together to discuss ideas.
The Second Layer
The second layer is about what’s probable. In short, this is the phase where you start experimenting and testing the strategies that were brainstormed in the first step. Here it is crucial to start with inexpensive tests. That is not the phase where you have to go all in. Look at it as a testing phase. Where you start testing the market to see what works and what does not.
The Inner Ring
The inner ring is the bullseye. That is where you identified the channel or channels that are fueling the growth. This is where we focus our resources. As channels shift over time this is a process we should repeat from time to time.
STEP 1 - BRAINSTORMING
The goal in brainstorming is to come up with reasonable ways you might use each sales channel.
Everyone approaches sales channels with biases. This first step is meant to help you systematically counteract your biases. That is, it is important that you try not to dismiss any sales channel in this step. You should be able to think of at least one idea for every channel. Having said that some channels, like Engineering as Marketing, may not apply to your business model. Still, the idea is to think of as many ideas as possible.
This is easier if you get your colleagues together to discuss ideas. Here are some other brainstorming tips:
Bring together a diverse team - Mix people with varied backgrounds and skill sets to get better possible approaches to a solution
Discourage criticism but encourage wild ideas - The worst thing you can do in a brainstorming group is to critique or criticize initial ideas. Encourage open giving of ideas so that other people can react to a “creative” environment and share their “deep” ideas. Research into creativity and brainstorming sessions has shown that even in a good brainstorming environment, most participants still hold back 50 percent of their ideas for fear of being wrong
Make quantity of ideas more important than quality - Brainstorming is one place where lots of ideas are good and quantity trumps quality. Why? Because a group of five people creating twenty-five ideas/solutions to evaluate is better than only evaluating five ideas or solutions. Also, you are more likely to combine or create ideas off each other when you have a high quantity
When energy fades, build on the best idea - This is another reason the quantity of ideas or solutions is so important. Once you get to a place where the energy of the group fades, now you build on the best idea, which itself may end up being a combination of other ideas. Get the group focused now on designing and building the best solution
Avoid Having the Boss Speak First - There is no better way to intimidate your team or employees than to have senior leaders speak first. Who is going to disagree or potentially disappoint them with a perceived weak or crazy idea? No one. Let everyone or anyone go first, even the intern. This person may spark a winning idea
Avoid having people talk in turn around a table - When you do this you limit the input of unique ideas because people get caught up in building on what they already heard or thinking they have to be “smart” on the spot when it’s their turn next. Remove the pressure and gently involve all people by encouraging random and different ideas; encourage quantity and don’t judge any ideas until you are at the end of the ideation part of brainstorming
To help you record your ideas and rank them, I have created a GoogleSheets Template which you can download here (you will be prompted to make a copy).
For other tips on brainstorming you may want to read our article How Credit Unions Can Innovate Like Start Ups Without Writing a Single Line of Code.
STEP 2 - RANKING
The ranking step helps you organize your brainstorming efforts. It also helps you start to think a bit more critically about the sales channels in aggregate. It helps to establish some ranking criteria.
Feel free to choose your own but I tend to use these three:
Volume - Obviously we want to generate a decent volume of potential new business if we are going to spend time on a sales channel
Speed - How quickly do we think the channel will generate leads? Some sales channels are thinner than others and others take time to produce volume.
Cost - Some channels may produce volume organically (like SEO for example) and have lower lead acquisition costs
STEP 3 - PRIORITIZE
Now identify your inner circle: the three traction channels that seem most promising.
In the Google Sheet Template you can sort by ‘Total Score’ so see which the most promising channels that emerge from ranking.
You'll want to have more than one channel in your inner circle because you don’t want you to waste valuable time finding your successful sales channel by testing channels sequentially when you can do so equally well in parallel.
STEP 4 - TESTING
The testing step is where you put your ideas into the real world. The goal of this step is to find out which of the sales channels in your inner circle is worth focusing on.
You will make that decision based on results from a series of relatively cheap tests. These tests should be designed to answer the following questions:
Cost - Roughly how much will it cost to acquire customers through this channel?
Volume - How many customers do you think are available through this channel?
Quality - Are the customers that you are getting through this channel the ones that you want right now?
These questions are very similar to the scoring criteria we suggested in the Google Sheet Template. When testing, you are replacing your educated guesses with real answers.
Keep in mind that, when testing, you are not trying to get a lot of volume with a channel just yet.
Instead, you are simply trying to determine if it’s a channel that could be fruitful for your business. Your main consideration at this point is speed to get data and prove out your assumptions. You want to design smaller scale tests that don’t require much upfront cost or effort.
STEP 5 - FOCUS
If all goes well, one of the channels you tested in your inner circle produced promising results. In that case, you should start directing your sales efforts and resources towards that most promising channel.
At any stage in a business’s lifecycle, one sales channel tends to dominate in terms of customer acquisition.
That is why they suggest focusing on one at a time, and only after you’ve identified a channel that seems like it could actually work.
The goal of this focusing step is quite simple: to wring every bit of volume out of the sales channel. To do so, you will be continually experimenting to find out exactly how to optimize growth in your chosen channel.
I hope you find this exercise useful. Its purpose is to encourage you to think outside of traditional channels so that you can attract more members at a lower cost.