Strategic Inflection Points: What is the Best Strategy?

Patricia Sherlock

 

Every day, sales professionals experience how the customer’s buying journey has changed. This is not unique to mortgage banking but is true across the entire retail landscape. Whether a company is selling widgets or lending products, the world of customer purchasing has undergone a dramatic transformation. As a result, the traditional sales techniques for lead generation and building relationships no longer work as they once did.

Right now, all lenders and their employees are facing a strategic inflection point whether they realize it or not. The term “strategic inflection point” was first coined by Andy Grove, co-founder of Intel. Grove stated that “strategic inflection points are changes that alter the taken-for-granted assumptions underlying a business model.”

While many people believe that radical change appears to be sudden and coming out of the blue, it doesn’t happen that way. Actually, change builds up slowly and then gathers momentum until the shift is clear to everyone. At that point, it is often too late for organizations to make the required adjustments needed to succeed in the new business environment.

A successful company’s dominance can be over quickly in any business or industry. Just think of companies like Chrysler, J.C. Penney, and Myspace. They were once innovators and market leaders but steadily declined after years of trying and failing to make significant changes.

There are many reasons for an organization’s downfall ranging from lack of vision and complacency to rising costs. But, the end result is the same: The company becomes obsolete and irrelevant in their marketplace.

In Rita McGrath’s excellent book, “Seeing Around Corners: How to Spot Inflection Points in Business Before They Happen,” she writes that companies fall into three categories when it comes to making changes:

  1. They fail to see the inflection point and don’t do anything about it. She cites as an example, executives at brick and mortar companies who refused to believe how many people would purchase products online.

 

  1. They realize the inflection point is underway and place a huge, last minute bet on catching the wave. McGrath mentions Adobe’s major shift from selling software individually to a subscription-only basis as an example. Adobe was able to make the transition which was a complete change in their sales model. According to McGrath, companies that wait rarely are successful but there are exceptions to the rule like Adobe.

 

  1. They place small bets over time to position themselves to take advantage of shifts when they do occur. These companies are the most successful based on her research.

McGrath says that “the best strategy for companies is those that make small bets over time to position themselves to take advantage of shifts when they finally happen.”

This is the responsibility of the executive management team who must have leadership skills to ensure that the company is successful not only today but in the future. Senior executives should prepare the organization for the shift and bring them along to the post-inflection point. This is not easy and requires vision and the ability to think outside the box on tough issues. It is one thing to say that change is constant in business today but it takes strong leadership skills to convince an organization to embrace and execute a new strategy when it is so easy to stick to the status quo.

I also think that this same issue applies to individual originators who are really CEOs of their own business. Sales professionals can wait for a change to happen and be reactive or they can invest in their future and take proactive steps to adapt their selling models to better match the consumer’s home-buying journey.

For lenders and originators alike, now is the time to make critical adjustments to their sales models if they want to succeed in 2020. Delaying change initiatives can have devastating consequences down the road. Don’t wait. Take action today.

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