How to Manage Inconsistent Originators

For managers, there is no challenge more frustrating than working with originators who have sales talent but are inconsistent producers. In my consulting practice, I often hear senior managers share their personal torment regarding these individuals. Managers feel these producers could be great and have been known to spend countless hours attempting to develop their talent. However, the reality is that while these originators show flashes of brilliance, more often than not, they never achieve that higher level of production. These proverbial “C” players clog up sales organizations and take up managers’ valuable time that could be better spent elsewhere.

Frankly, inconsistent performance has reached epidemic proportions in mortgage banking where recent research has found that almost 70% of originators do not meet their budgeted goals. Think about that. Roughly seven out of ten originators are not productive in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Just last week, Amazon quietly announced that they will be getting into the real estate referral business. This should have the full attention of every corporate sales leadership team in mortgage lending. While the job of face-to-face selling will continue to exist, clearly it will be different in the years to come and only those who can quickly connect with potential customers and effectively communicate lender differentiators will survive.

As I’ve mentioned before, the cost to originate has skyrocketed to more than $7,000 per loan. Mortgage teams who continue to carry underperformers and inconsistent originators are committing financial suicide.

For most managers, underperformers who fail to make volume goals represent a pretty straightforward decision. Inconsistent originators are a different story. Producers with up-and-down sales performance are more problematic to handle. Inconsistent performance can take many forms. Here are two typical patterns managers encounter:

• The “closing frenzy originator” who takes off during the first few weeks of the month, followed by a rush to close deals during the last week. This originator can cause havoc for ops.

• The “fading originator” who has solid sales during the first two weeks of the month then collapses during the last two weeks. This originator tends to have an endless supply of excuses why deals didn’t happen.

So how should a manager handle inconsistent performance when it occurs?

In Suzanne Paling’s practical book, The Sales Leader’s Problem Solver, the author recommends the following:

• Gather the facts and run the numbers in different ways to determine what patterns the rep has. Look at the monthly averages and months of missed budgets.

• What is the pattern? Is it a closing frenzy or fading originator or something else?

• What is the formal policy for when a rep misses his or her production goals and activities? If there is no formal corporate policy, what is the group’s policy?

• Meet with the rep to discuss inconsistent performance and nothing else. This is not a coaching meeting.

• Show the data to the originator. Use a graph or chart showing the rep’s performance compared to that of  other high-performing employees. Have the rep review the graph on their own and set up another meeting to discuss the originator’s plan to improve results and activities.

• Have the originator write down a game plan after the second meeting.

• If the pattern continues, put the originator on probation.

Have you addressed your inconsistent originators? Now is the time.