How One Decision Can Make or Break Your Future Success

This week the baseball play-offs got underway and unfortunately, my home team — the Philadelphia Phillies — is not included this year. The Phillies have had their worst season in 14 years causing the owners and management to focus on how to turn the team around. On the other end of the spectrum, the St. Louis Cardinals had the best record in baseball (97-65) giving them home field advantage for the National League Championship series. Two teams with completely different results: Why is one team on an upward trajectory while another is in deep trouble that will take years to correct?

According to USA Today sports writer Bob Nightengale, the fate of these two teams was determined October 7, 2011. It was the night that St. Louis won Game 5 of the NL Division Series 1-0 against the Phillies. One game reshaped the direction of an entire franchise. The Cardinal’s general manager John Mozeliak explained, “that game created a springboard for us. Game 5 meant everything to us.” The hero was Skip Schumaker, second baseman who doubled scoring the run that won the game. He fouled off five pitches and finally teed off hitting a double from Roy Halladay, the best pitcher in baseball at the time.

How did Schumaker become a hero? By listening to his hitting coach (good coaches do pay for themselves!) who advised that he remain patient and wait for his pitch. It worked big time.

What does this mean for mortgage banking? Can one event or decision really change the future for your sales team? It sure can.

Mortgage banking is a tough business. It requires senior managers to make the correct long-term strategic decisions in a business where financial success is inextricably linked to interest rate fluctuations. When interest rates decline, success can be achieved with less effort because customers are seeking out sales organizations. However, these periods of lower interest rates can mask poor decisions being made by senior managers — decisions that can precipitate future failure.

In my consulting practice, there are several “fatal” mistakes I see senior managers make that can prevent long-term success. They are:

&#8226 Keeping underperformers and rationalizing that they are profitable instead of addressing the underlying issues, terminating them or redeploying them to another position.
&#8226 Believing that a producing manager structure is a good idea and that coaching doesn’t matter.
&#8226 Reluctance to adopt a structured hiring and coaching process for fear that sales managers will leave the company. (Do you really want someone on your team who fights you on this issue?)
&#8226 Failure to recruit younger sales professionals and train them in the business. (If a company does not take action soon, they might as well close their doors since Gen Y is coming as the dominant generation in less than 1,000 days. Are you ready?)
&#8226 Hiring order-takers and believing that call reluctance is the problem when the real issue is that they can’t sell or won’t prospect.
&#8226 Failing to require that a structured sales process be put in place throughout the sales organization. (Don’t customers deserve to be treated the same way throughout the company? Having a strong company brand is a fundamental requirement.)

Are you making the right strategic decisions? Let’s discuss.