Do You Really Want to Be a Successful Originator?

Patricia Sherlock

Every crisis provides an opportunity for mortgage managers to put everything on the table and re-examine their LOs’ selling models as they determine the best path forward. One manager recently said to me, the pandemic has changed everything and “inmates are no longer running the asylum in mortgage banking.” Of course, this may not be true for every sales organization but it does raise an interesting point. Clearly, some managers feel that they are not really in charge of their sales groups and that originators are basically “doing their own thing.” As we look to the future, will that trend continue or are we going to transition to another selling approach?

When I analyze originators’ sales activities in my consulting practice, I find most producers spend the majority of their time on reactive sales tasks. A reactive selling approach is centered on being helpful and not driving or controlling the sales process. These originators hope that providing assistance will be enough to earn a prospect’s trust and business. Unfortunately, this sales approach is just another version of “winging it” with a core strategy of hoping it will all work out in the end.

In a refinance boom, a reactive sales approach may appear successful because customers are driving the transaction. But, in a more normalized marketplace where an originator must generate new business, a proactive sales model is required to succeed.

A Proactive Selling Approach

What is proactive selling? It means that the salesperson moves the prospect to the next step in the buying process rather than just responding to what the individual does or asks. Unfortunately, some originators believe that answering questions and handling requests will make them a preferred lender. Nothing is further from the truth. Being friendly and nice has more to do with the salesperson wanting to be liked rather than doing what it takes to succeed in origination.

Proactive originators ask the right questions to determine whether a potential prospect or referral source will do business with them. By qualifying prospects, originators can separate true prospects from those just kicking the tires.

For example, if prospects are not willing to attach dates and times to a purchasing decision, they are in the earlier stages of the buyer’s journey and require less of a salesperson’s time. Similarly, if a prospect fails to return phone calls or emails, these are early warning signs that the timing isn’t right or there is another problem that has not been addressed.

Originators with a proactive selling approach recognize when a deal goes dark and promptly move on to better qualified prospects. They may keep in touch with potential buyers and referral sources via social media and other communication tools but reserve phone calls and face-to-face meetings for individuals who are closer to finalizing a buying decision.

A great example of proactive selling that I believe will become more prevalent in the future is when originators take on the role of strategic partner for referral sources. With this approach, originators help generate leads for their referral sources which ultimately benefits both parties. I am not talking about another version of MSAs. Instead, producers are conducting webinars, podcasts or live streaming events in direct partnership with referral sources.

While the reactive selling model has been around for years, it is no coincidence that top producers have already transitioned to a strategic partner selling model where they are truly helping referral sources get new business and are receiving leads in return. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.

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