Every originator knows that selling is not easy. Competition is intense with thousands of originators basically offering the same products. This is the mortgage landscape in 2021 — a commodity business. When originators are asked to distinguish themselves from their competitors, is it any wonder that their reaction is disbelief when the products and services are so similar and investors are limited?
Whether we’re talking about lenders or originators, differentiation in the marketplace is essential for sales success in mortgage banking.
So how can originators set themselves apart from the rest of the pack? Certainly, many originators depend on pricing but often that is a short-term solution. Margins can change on a dime, forcing low-price lenders to raise their prices quickly. Price-dependent sales professionals are then left high and dry, trying to determine why else a consumer should opt to do business with them.
The best originators distinguish themselves in a crowded marketplace by delivering value to prospects and customers that other sales professionals can’t match. Top producers recognize that while pricing advantages can fade, what doesn’t disappear is how they personalize the customer interaction. As a result, they target prospects who value what an originator brings to the transaction.
Exactly what personalization looks like is different for every originator and must be defined in their selling model. For some originators, this can be continuous engagement with their clients; for others, it can be service 7 days a week. Originators should select a quality or mode of interaction that matches to their unique strengths.
An originator’s distinct positioning is at the heart of what drives long-term success in mortgage lending. This is not something producers are going to receive from their lender’s marketing department.
Differentiation is hard and requires effort, analysis and a commitment by originators to consistently deliver their value proposition throughout the sales process — from the first interaction with a new customer to closing the loan.
This is a tall order for many originators who frankly are not willing to take it on when they are establishing their selling model or redefining it due to market changes.
It is easy to sell the lowest price with the accompanying refrain, “we are the best lender who cares about their customers.” Unfortunately, industry research shows that this sales pitch only resonates with 20% of borrowers. The other 80% are simply not falling for it.
Consumers switch lenders because they never develop any meaningful relationship with the originator. More importantly, their originator didn’t do anything to distinguish themselves from other LOs.
On the whole, today’s retail environment is characterized by poor or nonexistent service and consumers are desperate to work with people they believe and trust. Unfortunately, many originators are not able or willing to deliver an extraordinary customer experience. Instead, lenders ask customers to endure endless phone trees, or originators send out emails that don’t apply to their customer base. It is no surprise that consumers are frustrated with the mortgage loan process.
Mortgage lending is a complex business that in my view will always include salespeople for the simple reason that technology can’t make you feel warm and fuzzy about committing to carry a large debt for 30 years.
As we move into a purchase money environment, originators will be faced with selling to referral sources. Convincing real estate agents that it’s worth making a change from their present lender will require a high level of selling competence. How an originator personalizes the experience for referral sources and their customers can be the difference that seals the deal.