In many sales organizations, the question of how to improve sales talent is now on the front burner for management teams. Certainly, having a specific set of personality traits is critical for success in mortgage origination (as our research has shown). But even when sales professionals have the required personality characteristics, not every top producer uses the same selling model. Does a mortgage originator’s sales model really matter in a market where products and pricing are similar? The answer is a resounding “Yes!”
I recently attended a sales rally where the company’s top producers shared tips with colleagues. As is often the case, top producers had difficulty explaining what they do beyond the usual advice that they have very deep relationships with their referral sources. While it is true that top producers are relationship-builders, their selling model is more nuanced than that. If it were just about cultivating great relationships, then friendly extroverts would be the best performers. This is obviously not the case. So, what is the sales model for top producers?
Top producers are masters at understanding their customer’s needs but more importantly, they teach borrowers and referral sources how to be successful in the new market. Selecting the right product for a borrower’s personal situation or helping a referral source close more loans makes a lasting impression. It isn’t enough to be pleasant, accessible and have great service levels. Everyone pretty much has that. And don’t say that your value proposition is unique. How unique is a 30-year fixed-rate loan? Selling and the mortgage industry are undergoing major changes that extend past Dodd Frank regulations.
What happened? At the sales rally, I discussed the fact that the mortgage industry has not only witnessed dramatic capital and regulation changes but marketing and selling fundamentals have also changed. (If you would like a copy of my presentation, just let me know). A large part of why our industry has had difficulty righting the ship is that these changes happened simultaneously. (More than likely, the same thing happened when the automobile replaced the horse.) There is no doubt that selling is more difficult today even if you are great as a relationship builder. Customers are demanding more from sales professionals; they want insight on the ramifications of their decisions. Therefore, products and services must be placed in the right context in order for customers to make a decision.
However, being a good teacher is only part of the equation. The best originators are also experts at refining their insights to tap into the customer’s value drivers. To accomplish this level of understanding, they must truly listen and have a meaningful two-way conversation with prospects. Finally, top producers take control of the sales process and ask for the business. In studies conducted in financial sales, only 38% of sales professionals initiated asking for the customer’s business — a shocking number to say the least.
The bottom line: A new day is happening in sales and the most effective selling model is when the originator serves as a teacher for prospects; gains insight into customer’s value drivers; and controls the sales process. Failure to operate under the new model explains why many producers with the right talent have a difficult time succeeding in the new sales environment.