Do Your Originators Have the Skills to Move Borrowers to a Decision?

Patricia Sherlock

Many managers believe that improving their originators’ product knowledge is one of the most important investments they can make. The reasoning makes sense given that mortgage loan products are the lynchpin of the mortgage selling process. Qualifying borrowers and slotting them into the appropriate loan is essential for an originator’s success.

However, managers tend to overlook another critical element that is mandatory for origination: excellent communication skills. In general, managers fail to invest in improving originators’ communication skills because they assume that sales professionals are already experts in this arena.

The truth is, no matter how knowledgeable originators are about mortgage lending guidelines, if they don’t have the skills to move a borrower to a decision, all that product information is for naught.

Whether the borrower is purchasing based on price or value, moving a prospect to make a decision isn’t easy. Today’s customers have unlimited access to mortgage loan product information because of the internet. Whether the information is accurate is another story!

Price buyers represent a simpler sale for originators because their decision-making process is clearer. Either the numbers add up or they don’t. Price buyers will shop until they find the lowest price. It is important to their self-image and the lender with the lowest price wins.

But for value buyers, the decision-making process is more nuanced and figuring out what makes them comfortable to close a deal requires originators with great communication skills. To determine what matters to a value buyer, sales professionals must engage with borrowers and ask the right questions.

While all customers talk price that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are price buyers. When I hear originators say price is all that matters, this reveals more about the seller’s mindset than the buyer’s.

What makes value buyers more challenging than price buyers is that value is all about perception. What one borrower perceives as valuable can be completely different than what another prospect values. That said, originators with poor listening skills may find moving value buyers to a decision nearly impossible.

What separates top producers from average originators is that they adjust their selling style to align with the buyer of their services. The best in our business are masters at listening to prospects and asking in-depth questions that tap into what the buyer values.

While these advanced-level communication skills can be taught, many high-performing sales professionals possess these skills naturally. Finding “naturals” who have the ability to communicate well is the goal of every hiring manager. This is why recruiting better originators requires more than looking at a W-2 and a pipeline report. It means finding sales candidates who are emotionally intelligent.

Why Emotional Intelligence Matters in Origination

So, what is emotional intelligence and why is it important in selling?

In a nutshell, emotional intelligence refers to the ability to identify and regulate a person’s own emotions, to recognize the emotions of other people and feel empathy toward them, and to use these abilities to communicate effectively and build healthy, productive relationships with others. Daniel Goleman’s book, “Emotional Intelligence,” brought attention to this important quality as a driver of personal and professional success.

According to Goleman’s research, emotional intelligence is a trait that can be strengthened in adulthood so sales professionals can learn to communicate more effectively with individuals who are not like them.

So, how emotionally intelligent are your originators? How well are they communicating with value buyers? If you’ve never addressed these issues with originators, now is the time to evaluate and level up your sales team’s communication skills. This could be the most transformative training investment you’ll ever make!

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