Why Originators Don’t Ask for the Business

Patricia Sherlock

In today’s more difficult volume environment, higher level selling skills are needed to succeed in mortgage origination. After prospecting, the sales skill I see originators most deficient in is asking for the business from potential clients. Why do originators fail at this essential task after they have invested time and effort presenting to the customer? While there are many reasons why this happens, there are a few primary causes that warrant a closer look at hiring practices and sales knowledge assessments.

The Number One reason is well-known in mortgage origination: fear of rejection. While no one likes being rejected, poor originators take it personally and do everything possible to avoid this scenario. These originators tend to work their pipeline above all else—even when it doesn’t make any sense because the back office is on top of the file.

Good originators don’t like to be rejected either but their personality trait of resilience is strong and they are able to bounce back when this happens. The important point is that good originators do not take the rejection personally. They understand that the rejection may be that the product, service or timing isn’t right for the prospect. This is no surprise to me because in my pre-hire assessment, resilience is one of the nine personality traits that are predictive of an originator’s selling success.

Some originators are reluctant to ask for the business because they don’t want to be perceived as pushy. More often than not, this is tied to a producer’s own personal experiences when they were on the receiving end of an aggressive sales pitch — an experience they do not want to replicate with their own prospects.

Fear of rejection and not wanting to be seen as pushy are personal biases that need to be reframed in an originator’s mindset. Otherwise, the producer will not be successful in selling. This is best handled by professional coaching that delves into their personal history and resets this behavior. A sales training program alone will not change this issue.

On the other hand, failure to ask for the business can be a sales knowledge issue where originators aren’t sure when or how to ask. This is something that can be corrected by a sales training program that is customized to individual producers using the latest selling techniques. With adult learners, an effective sales training program requires the full participation by the salesperson. This means that real-world tactical problems that the salesperson faces every day must be at the center of the program. Passive programs where participants are told what to do without an opportunity to ask questions and practice new selling behaviors will not change their results. Also, hiring motivational speakers might be entertaining but will do nothing to improve selling skills when there is a sales knowledge issue.

In simple terms, the best time to ask for the business always depends on the quality of questions that an originator has asked the potential client in their conversations. The quality of questions conveys to prospects that they can trust the originator to help them. It goes without saying that the best originators are always working on their question sequence because it is critical in setting the stage to ask prospects for their business.

Remember, ask quality questions first, then ask for the business.

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