Every salesperson has heard the old adage, “What matters in selling is who you know.” While this saying has been around forever, the state of selling has moved to who knows you. This means that an originator must become top of mind among prospects and referral sources in their territory. No longer is it enough to collect business cards and not have a real relationship with your contacts. This might seem like parsing of words but the deeper the relationship originators have with prospects, the better their sales results will be. What type of originator are you: Someone who knows a lot of people or someone who knows them well?
For a long time, a salesperson’s packed Rolodex was the envy of their competition. Today it is not enough. While it is still important to actively network, moving a casual contact into a deeper relationship is what drives sales success.
Having the most social media connections has replaced the Rolodex as a key indicator of a successful salesperson. LinkedIn grants All-Star status to individuals with at least 500 connections. What is missing is an understanding that originators need to have their own tribe who will follow them and buy their services regardless of what is happening in the marketplace or at their lender. In other words, consumers and referral sources must not only be aware of an originator’s presence, but they must think so positively about the salesperson that they will contact them first when financial needs or questions arise.
Positioning Yourself as a Trusted Advisor
This raises the issue of how well prospects understand financial information today. According to the S&P Global Financial Literacy Survey, 43% of Americans are not financially literate. This is a tremendous opportunity for originators to bridge the gap and why originators must position themselves as knowledgeable financial advisors.
In order for people to listen to financial advice, they must believe or trust an originator. The good news is that social media helps originators cultivate quality relationships on a larger scale. This is achieved when originators share relevant and personalized information via social media platforms. This is about making people “superfans.”
In Pat Flynn’s excellent book Superfans, the author notes that selling is all about developing superfans who are “stakeholders. They are the electricity that will spark a salesperson’s growth and the lifeblood that will keep your business energized.” The old Rolodex connections are now being replaced by a tribe of followers who value an originator’s advice and enjoy their online presence.
How do you develop a tribe of superfans? Many originators and their management think that closing on time is enough for someone to become a superfan. They are mistaken. Closing on time does not make a person feel special. Having the latest app doesn’t either. In fact, consumers expect that closing will happen on time and that they can communicate with their lender easily. Something more is demanded.
Superfandom requires every interaction to be magical. Yes, magical or at the very least, delivering more than what is expected. This is a high bar for any originator in a world of sub-par sales professionals.
It starts with grabbing the prospect’s attention and adding value to their lives. “Adding value” is an overused term in selling similar to the word “mentoring” in managing. Adding value has been misinterpreted as being just about helping the customer understand their problem and provide a solution. Instead, originators are tasked with making the person’s life better.
This isn’t easy and requires a series of contacts over time that are beneficial to the potential customer. It means forming a community of liked-minded individuals who are linked together by common interests. According to Flynn, superfans are created at the community level. With this approach, originators must direct their sales focus on what prospects and referral sources need.
Three Keys to Developing Superfans
Little things matter in this new selling environment. Here are three things that an originator can do to transform casual contacts into superfans:
• Schedule meaningful content to distribute to former and current customers. Not pictures of where you went on vacation but information that improves their financial health.
• Learn something new to share with your contacts that will help them. There is an endless amount of interesting information for potential homeowners from the practical to fun facts about certain towns. Did you know that New Jersey (my home state) has the most shopping malls in one area in the world with seven major malls within a 25-square-mile radius?
• Finally, help a consumer even if it isn’t going to end in a transaction for you. There are always deals that your lender can’t make but someone else can.
Don’t wait! These are tactics that you can implement today to begin building better quality relationships with prospects.