The Fallacy of “I am Different”

Patricia Sherlock

 

Why do sales groups and originators fail? While there are many reasons for poor results, one that I see frequently in my sales consulting practice is the “I am different” rationale for not making necessary changes and adapting to a new environment. Yes, every lender has a distinct customer base and marketplace. But, the differences from one company to the next are incremental when looking at what it takes to succeed in mortgage banking.

Oftentimes, managers who use the “I am different” excuse to justify sub-par sales performance are masking a deeper flaw within their sales organization. Delaying or avoiding implementing best practices that could transform sales results is a form of self-sabotage that is typically based on fear, according to psychologists. In many cases, management knows changes need to be made, but doesn’t take action until it is too late.

A perfect example of this issue can be seen in a company’s hiring practices. Lenders who don’t have a structured, systematic hiring process across the board will inevitably suffer the consequences in terms of poor results. In study after study, research has proven that unstructured hiring practices lead to poor sales performance. While senior managers know this and have even experienced this first-hand in their own careers, many fail to address the issue because they are fearful that they will not be able to meet their recruiting numbers. In their view, a warm body is still better than nothing.

How a company selects sales candidates speaks volumes about an organization and its projected sales success. The quality of a company’s sales hires has a direct correlation to a group’s sales performance. Hiring better quality sales professionals yields better results. This isn’t rocket science.

A firm’s technological advancements or other perceived advantages will not make the difference in today’s retail marketplace where competition is coming from all sides. In my opinion, what really matters is how the customer interaction was handled. Was it memorable? Did it make the customer feel good about the originator and the organization? If the customer experience was not of the highest quality, firms are relegated to a world where price is the only differentiator. That’s a tough world to be successful in!

 

Self-Awareness and Success

At the originator level, I often hear producers blame poor performance on their lender or the marketplace when the truth is that they do not want to learn the new sales skills needed to connect with prospects and referral sources. Top producers know that the marketplace is continually changing and as such, are always adjusting their sales models to resonate with target audience groups.

Selling is not for the faint of heart and is one of the few fields where self-awareness is critical. It starts with knowing your strengths and weaknesses; and making improvements where necessary. This is part of the job.

Originators can certainly luck out if they are in the right interest rate environment, but long-term success requires sales professionals to take responsibility for results. These volatile times are a perfect opportunity for originators to learn something new. Sales professionals rarely get a break in the action so take advantage of it.

As Olympic gold medalist, beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings said upon finding out that the 2020 games had been cancelled, “I can’t worry about something I can’t control—I can only control how I react to it and move on.” I think these are wise words in accepting personal responsibility that sales professionals can heed moving forward.

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