In recent conversations with sales managers, I’m surprised to hear how many originators do not know the basics of selling. One executive was particularly stunned when he asked originators what percent of the real estate agent’s business they were getting. They had no clue where they stood with referral sources! Another executive said when he was doing sales ride-alongs, originators visited familiar, dead-end accounts instead of prospecting for new customers. No wonder managers are so frustrated!
Unfortunately, these scenarios are commonplace in the industry. Many originators spin their wheels and look busy, but they are not necessarily working smarter or being productive. When I am in the field with originators conducting a sales audit for a lender, I see this frequently.
How can managers correct this situation? Obviously, experienced originators should know better but the real culprit is having a first-line manager who does not set the activity expectations for performance. Too often, in our industry originators are viewed by management as “Uber drivers” — independent contractors who are on their own to generate business. If originators are less than productive, managers rationalize that these individuals are on commission. However, managers seem to forget that their own income is directly impacted by underperformers. And if the manager is also a top producer, he or she tends to view other originators as generating incremental volume anyway.
The answer is hiring exceptional sales managers who convey personal improvement as the heart and soul of their group. If the originator has sales talent, his or her manager needs to be constantly looking for ways to take the producer’s game to the next level. This requires first-line managers to have a coaching mindset. Their mantra should be: “What can I do to improve originators’ selling techniques to help them change the game and stay ahead of the competition?”