Prospecting has been a hot topic for sales organizations this summer. As the industry moves away from a refinance market, generating new customers and referral sources is paramount. The challenge is that reaching customers is not as easy as it was before. Today, there is technology to block prospecting efforts on all fronts. There are spam filters, do-not-call lists and ad blockers. This trend will only become more prevalent as technology improves. Even Verizon recently came out with an offer that you can filter television programs and don’t have to pay for programs that you don’t want!
In this new sales environment, companies must change the way they think about prospecting. Today it is all about being found by customers rather than finding them, according to John Jantsch, author of Referral Engine. Jantsch contends that “people are still looking for solutions, trying out new services and buying things they want. They’ve just changed how they go about doing it.”
Prospects get their information from the internet, especially from search engines, blogs, and social media sites. Rating services are increasingly popular in determining where we want to eat, which movies to see and where to stay when we travel. I use online resources for many of these decisions and I am not alone. Online peer recommendations will continue to influence purchasing decisions — a phenomenon I believe will one day extend to mortgage origination.
Collaborating with others before making decisions is an innate human behavior that dates to prehistoric times. From a sales perspective, originators must learn to position themselves in the path of prospects, whether they wan to attract consumers or brokers. A company’s brand image isn’t enough to seal the deal; each originator needs to have his or her own personal brand. As Jantsch observes, companies and salespeople “need to create spokes, online and off-line that lead people to you. The spokes need to be education–based marketing material and content.”
This doesn’t mean that all lead generation will be online, but it does indicate that this trend must factor in to the first-step in the buyer’s process. Originators need to recognize that their online presence must be the hub of their brand. Jantsch’s analogy of lighting candles in the dark leading people to you is another great point. Education-based entries such as white papers, checklists and research reports are effective ways to help introduce your brand and teach prospects that you have the required expertise and experience. An endless variety of educational tools can be used to reinforce your brand. In my opinion, this is what is exciting about sales today — there are so many opportunities to form a community based on education.
The good news is that a community can include not just borrowers or brokers but strategic partnerships and other alignments that help grow an originator’s business.
Are you ready to prospect according to the new rules? Time to get started.