Becoming the Next “American Idol” Originator

Patricia Sherlock

While social media is one of the most talked about subjects in selling, relatively few salespeople are using this sales tool consistently and effectively to generate loan demand. The most common excuses I hear from producers who aren’t taking advantage of social media are “I’m too busy” and “I wanted to but other things came up.” What I find astonishing is that many originators and managers are already engaging on social media platforms every day on a personal level. This just makes no sense.

At the same time, managers are still emphasizing cold calling in a world where landlines are quickly becoming a thing of the past.  The National Center for Health Statistics recently released a study showing landline phone use has dropped significantly over the past 12 years, with 53.9% of all U.S. households now depending solely on cellphones for their communication needs, up from 15.8% in 2006. On top of that, AT&T has long planned to phase out landline use by the year 2020 which is right around the corner. Other service providers are also expected to follow AT&T and not provide landlines. It is believed that these changes will not only impact households but that businesses will ultimately follow suit.

To compound today’s selling challenges, the consumer’s buying journey has changed dramatically. Just ask any originator how difficult it is to get referral resources and prospects to return a phone call much less do business with them!

What has led to these circumstances is discussed daily by experts. The bottom-line is that sales professionals are being pushed further back in the buying process. Today, consumers have access to unlimited information on the Internet and don’t need to speak to an originator to learn about their product options. This is only going to get worse and should cause all originators to revamp their selling model accordingly.

What is the answer? One of the most important strategies is to get in front of prospects by being where they are. Today, all potential buyers are on the Internet and that means salespeople must have an online presence. When originators are on the internet, they have an opportunity to be discovered and listened to as an unbiased resource of valuable content.  This is a powerful position that gives a salesperson an advantage over competitors who are not providing it.

Being discovered sounds like something that should only apply to American Idol or The Voice. However, if originators want to generate new business, they have to be discovered in their marketplace. It is no longer enough to buy an ad on a shopping cart or in the church bulletin and hope that will be enough. More is required; your brand must be everywhere where it matters in your territory.

Whether it is on LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram, originators must have an active online presence on the social media platforms their customers and referral sources are using. One thing we know for sure is that prospects won’t be using landlines.

But, cultivating a dynamic online presence takes time, patience and above all, consistency. As a social selling trainer, I think most originators recognize that social media is where they need to be. The problem is that to achieve influencer status, producers need to have the latest social selling skills; provide great content; and concentrate on social selling part of each day.  This requires experienced originators to learn and adapt to new sales strategies. The good news is there are numerous services that can help in all phases of this effort. Of course, it is always possible to hire a virtual assistant too. But this all requires a vision and commitment of time and money to make it happen.

Where the rubber hits the road for many originators is making social selling a priority. This is hard when there are loans to close and fires to put out. Urgent always seems to win the day. Successful social selling requires daily activity. Producers who post occasionally will never see the results they want from social media. It isn’t that social media didn’t work. It just means that enough wasn’t done by the sales rep to be discovered.

In many aspects of life, from sports to business, consistency is the key to success. The most disciplined sales reps always outdistance their competitors. This isn’t a surprise.  Sending out a post every once in a while has no impact and will not change sales results but consistently sharing valuable insights can improve lead generation opportunities.

It is clear that both consumers and referral sources are using new communication tools and it is time that all producers and their managers use them too.

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