Today’s customers are smarter than ever regarding the products and services they purchase. The internet has changed everything by providing a vast wealth of information on every topic imaginable including mortgages. Furthermore, customers are rating their experiences from eating at restaurants to buying vitamins to working with mortgage originators. These opinions carry an inordinate amount of weight during the consumer’s buying journey and can influence purchasing decisions. In this environment, sales professionals need a higher level of selling skills to succeed. Being nice and pleasant while waiting for a buyer to contact them is no longer enough to capture the business.
It is no secret that the traditional retail landscape is undergoing rapid, monumental change. Need proof? Just go to the local mall and look at the firms that were once household names such as Sears, J.C. Penney and Macy’s. All are struggling with how to sell to a more knowledgeable customer who has unlimited access to information and pricing. In the past, the sales process started with the customer contacting a salesperson. Now it begins much earlier with consumers researching information and recommendations on the internet.
It is interesting to watch how even Amazon has changed its selling platform by adding customer feedback for every product listed and providing a recommendation based on these product reviews. Frankly, this feature is something that I use and value when making a purchase. It is clear that mortgage origination is changing too where the originator must start educating prospects earlier on why they should purchase and finance a house for 30 years and why the salesperson is the best option for making this happen. A 30-year loan is difficult to sell when the job market is uncertain. During turbulent economic times, a long-term commitment is not a preferred solution.
To start, the mortgage industry must recognize that the days when the consumer relied on the salesperson for information are long gone. Certainly, consumers have always “kicked the tires” before making a purchase, but that part of the process is now online and is known in the auto industry as “clicking tires.” This is where many originators are losing the battle because they are not engaging prospects early enough in the process. Waiting for the consumer to contact them to ask for a pre-qual is simply too late in the information-gathering stage that is central to how consumers make purchases today.
Even Realtors have recognized that social media isn’t a fad but a means of communication that they must master or risk becoming outdated. When conducting sales training, I am amazed how behind the times mortgage originators are when it comes to using new technology. For example, an effective LinkedIn profile is a basic requirement and still many originators do not have one.
Other critical prospecting elements include being able to convey a company’s value proposition and an originator’s personal brand to consumers in 30 seconds or less. If an originator can’t explain why they are different from thousands of other originators or account reps, how is the customer going to figure it out?
To sell effectively in today’s marketplace, originators must be able to articulate how their services will help consumers achieve their personal goals. Selling value over price or easy underwriting guidelines demands a higher skill set from sales professionals. Are your originators savvy enough to connect with prospects and win them over?