In mortgage banking, it is commonplace for originators to adopt the practices of successful producers. If one salesperson rises at 4:00 a.m., everyone else feels they must follow suit. If a top producer is active on LinkedIn, other originators will incorporate the platform into their own marketing strategies. Likewise, lenders are copycats too. If a competitor pays 100 basis points, a lender will compensate the same amount even if the firm’s value proposition is different. The list goes on. Herd mentality is prevalent in our industry at every level.
While we often believe we are making rational decisions, most of us don’t realize the degree to which our actions are influenced by the people around us. In the Forbes article, “The Power of Social Influence: 5 Ways to Avoid the Herd Mentality,” author Amy Morin noted that researchers found “when people didn’t have a strong opinion about choices presented to them, they simply mimicked the people around them. Rather than asking questions, or spending time learning about products, people deferred to the social default.”
Depending on other salespeople’s opinions is a quick way to learn what colleagues or competitors have learned regarding an issue. But, problems can arise if a producer is not relying on knowledgeable sources. This point underscores just how important it is for originators to surround themselves with the right people who are able to share wisdom that applies to a producer’s specific situation.
Building a professional network of trusted friends, business acquaintances, and outside advisors does not happen overnight. However, originators who take the time and effort will be rewarded with an invaluable resource — contacts who can help them choose activities that match to their personal strengths.
Avoiding the Herd Mentality
Sometimes, the best decision for a salesperson means doing something different from the rest of the pack. Morin recommends five keys to avoiding the herd mentality:
- Stop Being on Autopilot: Take time to consider your options when making a decision. Sometimes this requires talking to a large number of business friends; sometimes it is about having an experienced coach. It depends on the importance of the decision being made.
- Make a Conscious Decision to Form Your Own Opinion: Educate yourself about your choices so you can make a well-informed decision. This can mean speaking with three people or 25 depending on the magnitude of the decision.
- Take Time to Make Decisions: Research shows that when people are pressed to make a decision or are in a hurry, they will invariably default to what others are doing. This may not be wise or correct.
- Be Aware of How Stress Affects Your Decision-Making: There is a reason why thinking about a problem overnight and making a decision after a good night’s sleep works. It is a truism because individuals can be preoccupied with other issues that impact clear thinking. The likelihood of making an incorrect or poor decision is higher under stressful conditions.
- Be Willing to Stand Out: In selling, what separates the top performers from the rest of the herd is their willingness to stand out and be unique. This takes confidence and a recognition that what others are doing may not match your strengths.
Every originator owes it to themselves to make the decisions that enable them to be their best. Prospects, customers, and referral sources will notice!