In recent conversations with originators, the complaint I hear most often is that they are working harder than ever and seeing less results. They attribute their lower production to an ultra-competitive environment where they conduct pre-approvals only to have the customer go with another lender with better pricing. In many cases, this feedback is coming from former top producers who feel that consumers and Realtors don’t seem to care about a value-added selling approach anymore. These originators blame their lenders for not being more price-competitive in today’s mortgage marketplace.
While the current mortgage lending circumstances are challenging, this is the time for originators and their lenders to become radicalized in their selling approaches. Doing what they did before isn’t going to work as it once did. The reality is that originators must engage with prospects much earlier in the consumer’s purchasing journey. Originators must also be willing to have hard conversations with referral sources who are refusing to manage their consumer’s selection of a lender. It is obvious that the days of waiting for the business to come to the originator are long gone. Originators must become sales ninjas who are proactive and execute selling techniques at the highest level if they want to succeed.
While the term “ninja” gained popularity from a television show bearing its name, it actually refers to medieval Japanese mercenaries who were trained in the martial arts and highly skilled assassins. Today, originators are challenged to be well-trained and to implement the latest selling techniques with skill.
With prospects’ access to 24/7 information, the buyer’s journey has forever changed. This means that originators must establish their personal brand and credibility earlier than ever before and they must cast a wide net for lending opportunities and referral sources. If they are not top of mind in their territory, they will be struggling in their production. Certainly, the lender’s corporate brand can help an originator; but in the end, consumers will default to a price decision when the salesperson is not memorable.
Originators who say they sell using a value-added sales approach need to objectively re-examine what they think is “value-added.” If the originator is defining it as spending time explaining the customer’s options, consumers can research their options simply by looking at YouTube videos. The bottomline is that what is considered “value-added” is continually being redefined by the consumer. As an example, at one time sending a closing gift or a birthday card was unique but it is no longer as impactful because many originators are doing that now. Frankly, doing the same thing as other sales professionals doesn’t set the originator apart from their competition.
Delivering something unique requires knowing what your competitors are providing and being creative in offering something different. This means originators must be on top of market trends and constantly updating their selling knowledge and techniques. This isn’t easy and requires a time commitment and an investment in their business model. Of course, an originator can rely on their lender to offer training but with today’s tight margins, this may be a long wait. Hoping that their manager will provide insight and help if the individual is a producing manager can turn into a “Waiting for Godot” experience.
Originators who fail to adapt their selling efforts to match what today’s consumers require are going to be left behind. This isn’t new information. It is already happening where past sales success is no longer a relevant benchmark because selling has changed so dramatically in the last several years. The question “What have you done for me lately?” applies here.
Developing new selling skills all starts with being aware that frustration and blame will not change anything. It is better to take a breath and objectively recognize that only one lender can be the lowest priced and everyone else is competitive. Being an originator at a competitive lender requires sales professionals to deliver an exemplary customer experience at every touchpoint.
Originators must ask themselves, “What makes you different from other originators? Are you the Sales Ninja that you need to be?” If these questions are difficult to answer, originators must review their customer interactions and positioning and be ready to make a change.