During my sales training classes on prospecting, I ask originators how many referral sources they have. I see the same thing again and again. A majority of originators are dealing with only three or four consistent referral sources. For these originators, this scenario is a time bomb that could negatively impact their budgeted goals unless corrected.
When refinance volume was dominant, a low number of referral sources might have been sufficient to generate adequate volume and personal income for the originator but in a purchase money environment, it’s simply not enough. The reality is that if originators do not have at least 15 to 20 consistent referral sources, they will be in deep trouble this year maintaining their position in the marketplace.
Given these dynamics, prospecting is more critical than ever if the LO or lender is going to succeed. The challenge is that prospecting isn’t as easy as it used to be and that is a problem for many originators. Failure to prospect is one of the primary causes of poor production.
Prospecting is a daily activity that requires planning, making a commitment and learning new things in order to increase referral sources. It also means that direct managers must hold originators accountable for performing these activities.
As we all know, times have changed and referral sources aren’t sitting in a real estate office anymore. Most work remotely and dropping by unexpectedly is no longer an option. Originators must adapt and update their sales techniques to better reach today’s prospects.
In my opinion, the following components are essential for successful prospecting: a robust personal social media strategy; a focus on presenting (in person or via webinar) and educating potential referral sources on how to increase their business; and implementing creative ideas to wow customers enough to refer their family and friends. This all involves adopting strategies that can be scaled since a handful of referral sources will not be enough. The originators that do so will move past the mortgage “zombie” originators who won’t make the effort needed to bring in new business partners.
For many originators, prospecting will involve learning new things, changing daily habits and scaling their outreach to obtain more referral sources. While connections and introductions take time and effort to develop, advanced sales tools and technology can make a difference. Many sales tools are easy to use but they do require a commitment to learn and and a daily investment of time on the part of the originator.
Can individuals transition to new prospecting techniques on their own? Some producers can but old habits are hard to break and continuous reinforcement is required in order to develop new habits. Without ongoing support from their direct manager or a third-party vendor, originators are unlikely to scale prospecting efforts and increase their referral sources.