During a recent conversation, an experienced top producer lamented that companies don’t teach selling anymore. Early in her sales career, the originator learned sales techniques using Xerox Professional Selling Skills, a leading global sales training system. She observed that without a system in place, sales professionals must learn by trial and error which leaves results to chance. She noted that she still uses many of the concepts that she learned from the Xerox system many years ago. She also commented that sales training is often the first to be cut in mortgage banking and that it is perceived as a nice feature but not critical to helping originators perform better.
She raised some excellent points. Today, at many companies, “training” is limited to teaching product and system information. Developing and improving selling skills is largely left up to the originator. Obviously, some producers take improving their sales skills seriously as reflected in their own investment in coaching. But that is only a small percentage. According to recent research, roughly two-thirds of originators do not have a coach.
Expecting producing managers to also serve as professional coaches is wishful thinking with so many other responsibilities that they have on their plate. I know one manager who has more than 50 people directly reporting to him. In this scenario, how can an individual originator get the attention he or she needs and deserves? There are just not enough hours in the day for producing managers to pull this off.
For many lenders, failure to invest in a sales training system has translated into an inability to consistently deliver a great customer experience. Providing an excellent customer experience should be the goal of every mortgage banking employee but it is not something that happens automatically. It takes everyone following the same sales system and structure, in essence, a sales methodology.
Today, many originators lack a true selling model where each day is hectic but not really productive. These originators focus on whatever is urgent that day but not necessarily what is most important. Years ago, Xerox developed a selling system to standardize the selling process for its commissioned sales professionals. At its heart, the Xerox sales training program was all about installing a daily system for the salesperson to use.
For those unfamiliar with Xerox’s Professional Selling System, its training was centered on three parts: success-focused (what really works); process-driven (what are the parts of a successful sale); and a skills-enabled sales force. The goal of Xerox’s training was to help sales professionals perform when it mattered the most — during the sales call. The training program was difficult and was designed for the individuals to succeed in a high-pressure, competitive environment which they faced each day. The Xerox corporate culture was all about enabling high performers to move up the corporate ladder by providing training every step of the way, not just at the beginning of their careers. By the way, this approach was also followed by other long-term successful companies such as General Electric and IBM.
Unfortunately, sales training in our industry is often a series of unconnected tactical events that are not measured or analyzed beyond whether a presentation was deemed entertaining or not. This method has led us to the point where we are rated below the used car industry in terms of credibility. Is it any wonder that consumers are not positive toward the financial sector when originators are at best, average but just as likely below-average?
If a company wants to deliver a great customer experience on a consistent basis, haphazard sales training isn’t going to cut it. Quality sales training should be part of a company’s DNA because it not only helps salespeople become successful but reinforces to the consumer what makes the lender unique in the marketplace. Companies that understand the value of sales training and implement a successful sales methodology have a distinct advantage over their competitors in execution and performance.