It is Time to Get Serious About Prospecting

Patricia Sherlock

In 2020, many originators pushed prospecting to the backburner. Thanks to the record-breaking refinance boom, originators were able to hit volume and income goals without much effort in the prospecting department. This year, a very different story is playing out. While interest rates are still low, marketplace volatility has complicated the financial outlook. A recent Forbes Advisor article noted, “the dynamics in the bond market continue to cause some angst in stocks. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury remains near its year-to-date high after big jumps in February and March. After decades of generally falling interest rates — and more than 30 years of rising bond prices — investors are trying to sort out what the era change means.”  What should originators do to navigate what could be a rocky road ahead? In my opinion, the best strategy is to have a solid prospecting action plan and execute it well.

When borrowers are flooding your pipeline with refinance business, it’s all too easy to become complacent about prospecting. But, once the marketplace changes — which it inevitably will — producers who have not been actively prospecting will be struggling to survive.

Make Prospecting a Top Priority

Prospecting consistently during good times and bad is essential if originators want to create sustainable, long-term success in mortgage banking. Top producers understand this and make prospecting a top priority regardless of marketplace conditions.

Here are a few tips on how to shift your prospecting activities into high gear:

  • Change Your Mindset: Top producers recognize that prospecting is their job. Poor sales performers think that lead generation is the lender’s responsibility, not theirs. It might seem odd that sales professionals would believe that prospecting is not in their job description but this mindset is often the root cause of lackluster sales results. Selling is a numbers game and the quantity and quality of an originator’s prospecting sales funnel drives what happens at the bottom — completed deals.
  • Be Proactive: Poor-performing producers are not proactive, a fact made clear by their failure to schedule prospecting time. Just look at their calendars. Top producers block out specific time for prospecting activities. They realize that if it is not scheduled, prospecting will not be done. In mortgage banking, there is no shortage of tasks to be completed but the key is to devote time to sales activities that generate loan demand.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: The best producers in our business are continually perfecting their prospecting skills. Similar to the sports world where legendary athletes such as Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods achieved phenomenal success by endlessly practicing their craft, sales professionals must invest the time and effort to improve their prospecting techniques.
  • Track and Measure: As the saying goes, “if it is important, track and measure it.” It is not smart to have a prospecting plan with no way to measure whether an originator’s efforts have been effective. Initially, measuring is to establish an originator’s success ratio. How many prospecting efforts lead to appointments with clients? Top producers know their numbers. Without tracking and measuring prospecting activities, sales professionals will not know what they need to change to improve their results.

While this may seem like a tall order, originators who refuse to prospect would be better served in another occupation. As Todd Conklin, CEO at Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties, noted in his recent Inman article, “This is our job. If someone didn’t tell you there would be prospecting and sales involved, I am sorry. We are sales professionals. We find customers, we talk to customers, we serve customers. If we are trying to skip any of those steps, we are not doing our jobs.” I couldn’t agree more.

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