Why It’s Time to Change Originator Responsibilities

Patricia Sherlock

When I am conducting sales training at lenders, it is clear that originators are asked to perform an inordinate number of duties that are not selling activities. The typical lender expects originators to generate their own business; put a file together; follow up with customers; and retain the customers once the loan has closed. If there is a problem with the loan, they are expected to address it too. Originators who work for banks might even be asked to service a number of branches on top of their other activities.

Over the years, as more responsibilities have been added to the originator’s plate, it is no wonder that producers are spending less time engaging in the sales activities that matter the most. Industry research estimates that many originators are interfacing with customers less than 30% of the workday. With 2020 just around the corner, I think it is a good time for managers to ask: “Are originators conducting the sales activities necessary to succeed in today’s marketplace?”

Since the Great Recession in 2008, management teams have increasingly dumped more administrative responsibilities on the originator with the goal of improving the quality of loan files. At the time, this made sense because of the extraordinary circumstances that the event triggered in the industry. But now, we are in a different place as an industry and a revised strategy is required. Managers must determine whether they want customer service reps or sales professionals.

Starting in 2008, management teams defined sales success as pull-through rates and how complete the application file was rather than whether the originator had enough new referral sources. Application issues are fading as mortgage lending documentation becomes more automated and customers can upload their data directly to a website portal.

In my view, the biggest issues originators face is whether they can create loan demand and retain new customers. As a result, lenders should consider reviewing their sales success criteria. This starts with measuring the sales activities that actually impact results.

Financial Industry Transformation

The reality is that the financial industry is undergoing a major transformation. This is not a temporary event but a true disruption. New communication and process technologies have fundamentally changed the customer interface and the sales process forever. But now, the real challenge for originators is to convince a consumer to buy a house.

Today, sales success is a function of performing activities that generate more customers—true selling activities.  A real salesperson is an individual with the ability to form relationships quickly and influence the customer in their decision process. Does it make sense to have these originators using the bulk of their time handling administrative duties that could be accomplished with technological tools?

A better use of an originator’s time would be to build their own tribe of followers and position themselves as financial advisors. This means communicating with consumers and referral sources continuously and creating a community of people who are loyal to them. These selling activities are not easy and require time, effort, creativity and additional learning for an originator to be effective.

As 2020 nears, management groups should be reevaluating how they measure sales success starting with setting standards for originators’ selling activities.

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