What it Takes to Control the Customer Interaction

Patricia Sherlock

Many originators believe that sales success is driven by their lender’s products and technology. A lender’s ability to compete in a commodity market such as mortgages requires these basic elements to be in place. But, what really determines an originator’s success comes down to the individual’s sales capabilities and skills.

Whether they’re selling widgets or intangibles such as financial services, sales professionals achieve success by selling themselves to people with whom they interact and do not have a familial relationship. At its core, mortgage origination is entrepreneurial which means producers must adopt a self-employed mindset to succeed.

Why Origination is Difficult

To convince prospects to purchase a home loan, originators must be likable and establish a rapport quickly with people they do not know. However, it is equally important for producers to be an authority who controls the sales conversation. While average or sub-par originators think that selling is about being a friend or a buddy to customers, that isn’t enough to influence prospects to buy.

After analyzing hundreds of top producers over 22 years, our research has shown that likability is a foundational quality for originators. But to capture the business and close the deal, sales professionals must take control of the customer interaction from start to finish. When prospects control the conversation, there is a greater chance that they will maintain the status quo and fail to make a buying decision.

 Taking Control of the Customer Conversation

Taking control of the conversation requires producers to ask questions that illuminate the customer’s needs, wants and aspirations (i.e. what does the consumer want to achieve). It also means presenting options to help customers achieve their goals and recommending what works in the real world based on the salesperson’s experience. When originators put all three together, that is when the magic happens: a prospect makes a decision and does business with them.

A tell-tale sign of mediocre salespeople is when customer reviews say they were “nice.” A better response would be if buyers said “they learned a lot” or “the salesperson made me think.”

Unfortunately, “being nice” doesn’t translate into repeat or referral business for LOs.  Likeability might be sufficient in a refinance market, but not in a tougher purchase money environment when salespeople must persuade consumers to finance a house and incur long-term debt. Higher-level selling skills are needed.

Persuading a consumer to buy a home loan is an originator’s primary role. If it wasn’t their job, then mortgage origination would become an AI chatbox on a computer screen. Instead, selling is still all about influencing someone to take a specific action.

Taking control of the customer conversation isn’t easy and requires originators to be highly confident, knowledgeable and decisive about how they navigate an increasingly short interaction. It requires constant updating of a salesperson’s selling skills.

In the past, consumers and referral sources were willing to let sales professionals discuss their services at length. Today, the time span to deliver an effective sales pitch has been condensed. What used to take an hour has been reduced to 10-20 minutes tops. However, originators must still build rapport, ask discovery questions and communicate how prospects will benefit from choosing their services. A shorter time period requires a higher skill set, planning and practice.

It is easy for originators to feel pressured and give a canned presentation talking about features and benefits. Before originators realize it, their time is up and they never got to ask their discovery questions. The sad part is that these originators may know the ins and outs of the mortgage industry and may have helped the buyer greatly, but babbling about features doesn’t form a meaningful relationship with consumers.

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