All sales professionals know that their main objective is to persuade potential buyers to select them over their competitors. In mortgage banking, this is a monumental challenge considering the vast number of originators chasing after a finite group of prospects. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are 322,000 loan officers in the U.S. This figure is projected to remain unchanged until 2030, even amid volatile interest rates. All this competition can lead originators to develop a bad habit of overtalking their prospective clients. Prattling on is the number one turn-off for home loan prospects and producers must avoid doing it during sales conversations if they want to earn new business.
How well the sales conversation is handled by originators is what separates the best originators from the rest of the pack. In my experience, originators fall into two groups when presenting to prospects: those that talk too much and those that talk too little. Talking too much is more common where originators go on about how great their company is or how wonderful their products and services are but don’t spend enough time listening to what is important to prospects.
Why Originators Talk Too Much
There are a few reasons why this happens, some more obvious than others. Let’s take a look at what’s behind all the chatter:
- Originators who talk too much often feel pressured to show their expertise. Competition is fierce in the mortgage industry and telling prospects how many corporate awards they’ve racked up may seem like a good way to prove their expertise. This approach never works. While overtalking might make originators feel good, it doesn’t necessarily convey that they are trustworthy and have the client’s best interests at heart. When originators dominate the conversation, prospects feel unheard and ignored. During presentations, a better rule of thumb is to have prospects speak 70% to 80% of the time and originators speak for the remaining amount.
- Nervous originators who ramble on risk alienating prospects because potential buyers are unable to discuss what is valuable to them. Being nervous while presenting is nothing new in selling and even the best producers can experience it. Top originators overcome their nervousness by practicing their sales conversations and preparing for how the call should be handled and flow. Practicing takes time and commitment —there is no other way. Winging it in a competitive world is a poor sales strategy.
- Meandering sales conversations often make a poor first impression. Originators who embark on these kinds of conversations might mistakenly believe that they are building relationships. Developing rapport is important but the sales conversation is about influencing, persuading and advocating for the prospect. There needs to be a beginning, middle and end that leads prospects to the next step in their home finance journey.
Keys to Winning New Clients
Asking questions and listening should be the starting point for any originator when conducting a sales conversation. But that isn’t enough to win the business. Yes, trainers frequently emphasize these two items but there are other components critical for sales success. Specifically, originators must set the agenda, educate, recommend to and persuade prospects why they are the best person to work with to secure a home loan.
In “Rainmaking Conversations,” a great book by Mike Schultz and John Doerr, the authors point out that “the technical training and development of sellers of complex products and services hinders their ability to be good listeners. They know a lot which often causes them to err on the side of advocacy versus inquiry.”
This is certainly true for mortgage originators who are operating in a complex financial market that can change on a dime due to external events. The most successful originators are able to convey their extensive product knowledge while relating with inexperienced prospects by listening and persuading them to move forward in the loan process. It’s a delicate balancing act but one worth mastering!