Are You Willing to Be a Disruptor?



As a sales organization “fixer,” I see first-hand how companies are defining their current sales problems in terms of external events such as rising interest rates, compressed margins and too many regulations. In my opinion, this outward focus masks the real issues why a company fails to implement essential changes.

Too often, change at the company level is defined as adopting new technology, when it needs to start with having a vision of what consumers want and how to engage and serve them. For sales professionals, it is about shifting from a transactional mindset to a trusted adviser role. Both are big leaps for mortgage bankers who have been reactive for so long due to declining interest rates that have now run their course. Today, what is required is being a disruptor.

When I consult with executives on organizational changes, many managers are reluctant to take big steps because they don’t want to upset the apple cart. Unfortunately, incremental changes don’t work anymore when consumers are demanding more from their lenders and advisors.

The reality is that a new CRM or mobile app isn’t enough to earn consumers’ confidence and trust in a lending provider. A recent Wall Street Journal survey revealed that customer’s expectations fall into three categories: convenience, security and serve me well. How to “serve well” is the challenge of every lender and originator.

While the market is flooded with lending products, “serve me well” strategies are in short supply. The winners in the current marketplace will be those organizations that understand what consumers want from their financial services partner versus lenders who keep hoping that things will revert back to the good old days when the lender was in the driver’s seat.

When you see the recent consolidations in mortgage banking, it isn’t just about the expenses that have gotten out of hand or outrageous compensation. While these issues are certainly a large part of the problem, the real reason is that executives and originators are not willing to disrupt their outdated mindsets and corresponding sales behaviors. Instead, what is happening is the executives blame the sales force and the sales force blames senior management for not having better pricing and leads. The concept that they are part of one team that must navigate this new marketplace is rarely considered.

In many ways, the most important step that any company or salesperson can take in this new environment is to recognize that change is urgently needed. Yes, urgency is needed. That means not waiting for when you have better margins or are not as busy. It means doing something today. Lenders must take a closer look at their culture, mindset and sales process and ask the hard questions: What will it take to deliver extraordinary service?

Market conditions will only get harder going forward. Originators and managers who are change agents are needed in every position. Just look at Amazon. They didn’t just improve retail business practices, they reinvented them! This is the same challenge for every financial company and salesperson. Be a disruptor or become irrelevant.

The current purchase money environment is our new normal and those who are able to reach out before others in establishing their brand to consumers and executing on it will be ahead of the curve.