Is Sales Training Only for the Slow Times?


A senior manager recently confided he is considering training to keep his sales team busy now that volume has dropped since the refi boom. He also revealed that many of his peers share a similar concern:  If originators aren’t kept busy, they will jump ship for another company.

In mortgage lending, the prevailing wisdom among senior leaders is that when everything is going gang-busters, there is no time to train and when business slows down, there is no money for training. More often than not, “training” ends up being a flash-in-the-pan moment at a sales rally, nothing more. Another common response to a downturn is to invite motivational speakers to share their life’s journey and how they overcame adversity.

The net result is that training is rarely seen as an important retention tool that separates organizations by improving employee development and the customer’s experience. If customer experience really mattered that much, lenders would invest more for sales training.

Likewise, organizations say that they care about their employees but if company reviews on Glassdoor are any indication, employees aren’t buying it. Need proof? A company’s turnover rates tell the real story.

Obviously, mortgage lenders provide employees with income and benefits but is that enough to retain your best sales professionals? The proof is in the pudding: When selling gets harder, training budgets are the first to be cut.

As the very nature of work is being redefined due to the pandemic, lenders must think strategically when determining how to keep employees engaged, challenged and productive.

In an environment where the only differentiation between lenders is financial incentives, firms with higher guarantees and payouts will dominate the talent market. When compensation is the only thing a lender brings to the table, employee development is left out of the recruiting conversation.

This is unfortunate because in an ultra-competitive market where consumer behavior is continually changing, the only thing separating one company from the next is an originator’s ability to deliver an exceptional customer experience worthy of repeat or referral business.

Employee Training as Retention Strategy

Lenders who want to build a strong foundation for future sales success and retain their producers will make employee training and development a top priority.

Lorman Education Services recently compiled employee training statistics from a number of major surveys and their findings were especially eye-opening. Notable statistics included:

  • 59% of employees claim that most of their skills were self-taught
  • 87% of millennials believe learning and development in the workplace is important
  • 74% of employees feel they aren’t reaching their full potential at work due to lack of development opportunities
  • 76% of millennials believe professional development opportunities are one of the most important aspects of a company culture
  • 59% of employees invest in their own upskilling to a certain extent
  • Over 70% of high-retention-risk employees will leave their company in order to advance their career
  • Retention rates rise 30-50% for companies with strong learning cultures

As senior leaders prepare their 2022 budgets, employee development and training should be included if their lender wants to master the difficult year expected ahead.