With recent interest rates at historic lows, originators haven’t had to worry about perfecting their selling skills because customers have come to them in droves. At the same time, Covid-19 restrictions have prompted consumers to shop remotely for food, cars, and everything in between. In response, businesses have quickly rolled out applications and delivery services to address this shift in buying behavior. Many experts predict that this trend will continue post-pandemic, impacting every aspect of retail including how consumers purchase home loans.
To generate loan demand in an online environment, remote selling skills will be essential for originators if they want to succeed once interest rates inevitably rise. In my view, remote selling is more challenging than face-to-face selling in terms of developing rapport and trust with buyers. As a result, originators will have to master new skills to effectively connect with prospects and referral sources.
With in-person meetings, non-verbal clues make it easier for sales professionals to make a positive impression. In remote selling, these cues are not available in the same way. What matters in remote selling is what you say; how you say it; and the tone of your voice.
A significant problem with sales presentations delivered via video conferencing technology is that they often lapse into one-way communications instead of two-way communications with prospects. Typically, producers focus on features and benefits listed as PowerPoint bullet points. In this scenario, buyers are in a passive role and are not included in the conversation until the end of the sales pitch when the presenter asks if there are any questions. During online meetings, prospects are also prone to distractions and more apt to tune out what the presenter is saying.
Keys for Remote Selling Success
While video conferencing and social media platforms offer companies a chance to scale their selling efforts, originators must learn new skills to forge relationships with prospects and referral sources in an online environment. In my opinion, there are several important considerations if sales professionals want to remain relevant today and in the future.
First, originators will need to become proficient at using a wide range of communications tools including video conferencing; conducting webinars; and digital marketing on LinkedIn and social media platforms. This is a fundamental requirement to reach prospects and cultivate relationships online. If lenders don’t trust originators to use social media, then they have made poor hiring decisions that should be corrected.
Second, originators should prioritize pre-call planning. While producers know pre-call planning is a critical part of the sales process, many fail to include it in their selling techniques. Pre-call planning includes brainstorming creative ways to engage prospects and involve them in the presentation. It means knowing the backgrounds and interests of all parties in the meeting. Sales professionals who devote time to pre-call planning have a much better chance at capturing and keeping prospects’ attention.
Third, Zoom fatigue is real. Online meetings should be shorter and focused on how a seller’s services will bring value to the prospect. For example, spending precious presentation time discussing a lender’s history does nothing to secure a prospect’s buy-in. In an online meeting format, keeping content brief and to the point is a more effective tactic. Creating a compelling, shorter sales presentation requires more skill than producing a longer presentation.
The time to master remote selling is now. Are your originators skilled in the new tools and communication methods required to successfully present online?