Sales leaders fall into two distinct groups when it comes to what they think about social media use in mortgage origination. One camp believes that it is a time-waster and a compliance nightmare and don’t want their originators actively using it for business. The other group understands that selling has changed and originators must engage with prospects earlier in the home-buying process. These leaders recognize that social media is a powerful tool that helps to establish trust and drive top-of-mind awareness among an originator’s target audience.
In my conversations with sales executives, many believe that originators devoting time to social media efforts are not actively selling. These managers fail to see the real value of social selling. Mike Orr, a co-founder of Grapevine6, a digital marketing firm puts it succinctly: Social selling is more like “a Rolodex that’s never out of date, a network you can be in front of 24/7 and a treasure trove of background information on every contact you want to reach.” Social selling provides sales professionals with a significant competitive advantage over producers who don’t use it.
Today’s Selling Environment
We live in an era where consumer distrust of corporations is prevalent. Whether it is a bank, car manufacturer or a pharmaceutical company, there are daily news stories about data breaches, corruption and outright lying. As a result, the public no longer believes that companies are being truthful and will do the right thing by them.
On the other hand, consumers still trust their friends, family and social media connections. They look for recommendations online because they believe in the wisdom of the group in giving advice before they make a purchase decision. Rating services from Yelp to Open Table are a perfect reflection of this shift in the dynamics of trust where prospects will seek advice or recommendations from previous customers.
Leveraging Social Media
Today, social media platforms provide an important channel for originators to establish their voice in a crowded mortgage finance marketplace by sharing relevant, valuable information with their customer base. When originators fail to post daily, they are not optimizing tools that can deliver social proof. Social proof is the all-important goal of every originator who wants referrals and repeat business.
Why is social proof so important? When a salesperson’s service levels are validated by a third party, it is much more impactful and believable than a producer’s claims of providing great service. An added advantage of social media platforms is that customer testimonials can be obtained in scale. Before these new tools existed, it was more difficult to accumulate testimonials in large numbers.
Certainly, large corporations and their marketing departments have recognized the stickiness of social media engagement. The most savvy global companies are now staffing entire departments to deliver social engagement for their brands. But when it comes to the average salesperson, adoption of social media marketing has not been as robust.
Either originators are discouraged from using social media or they are not skilled in how to use the major tools. Of course, when a refinance wave happens, originators are then faced with no time to execute a social media strategy. As a result, the boom and bust cycle continues in their sales performance.
When lenders step in to provide and distribute content to the originator’s customer base, that is helpful to a point. However, when the content is generic and not personalized for the originator’s target audience, prospects will ignore or delete it.
Instead, consumers want relevant, insightful information from their loan advisor that reflects their specific interests and where they are in the home-buying process. Delivering this type of content is what builds and deepens relationships. Relationships are what generate referrals.
Social selling gives the originator the opportunity to show customers and prospects that they care in scale and for this reason, it is a game changer.