In my training classes, there is often a lot of discussion about who is responsible for establishing a differentiation strategy in an originator’s territory. Most producers believe that differentiation has to do with their lender’s branding and marketing and not about them personally. Industry research proves otherwise. At the point of sale, customers are deciding whether the loan officer is credible and someone with whom they should do business. Building a trustworthy relationship with prospects and borrowers requires originators to “wow” the customer at every touchpoint in the home loan process.
The Importance of Personal Branding
While a company’s marketing efforts drive brand awareness, it is an originator’s job to deliver a stellar customer experience — the promise behind the brand. This is why lenders hire sales professionals in the first place: to connect with prospects and customers face-to-face, present relevant solutions to potential borrowers and stand out from the competition.
Originators who believe their personal brand doesn’t matter and that lending is all about price will only be able to survive when interest rates are declining. These originators are valuable during a refinance market because they know how to structure a loan. However, when the lending environment becomes more challenging, they don’t have the skills to generate loan demand and require lender support to find new business.
No marketing department can answer the most fundamental question every originator must ask themselves: What differentiates them from other producers in their territory?
Originators are tasked with identifying and articulating their unique value proposition for referral sources and borrowers. Some originators position themselves as personal wealth advisors while others promise to return phone calls within a certain time frame. The choices are endless but only the individual originator can determine what their selling sweet spot is and what type of customers value what they are personally offering.
In a great book, “Sales Differentiation,” author Lee Salz noted the distinction between differentiation in sales and marketing: “Sales differentiation involves a two-directional communication with an individual or prospective buyer, while marketing differentiation offers one-directional communication. In two-directional communications, a buyer answers questions; the information they share helps to provide the salesperson with the necessary tools for a sales differentiation strategy.”
As the mortgage market moves to a more traditional environment where purchase money dominates, originators will need to engage earlier in the selling process with a clear definition of why prospects and referral sources should do business with them vs. other originators.
With more than 300,000 originators selling mortgage services, consumers are faced with overwhelming choices on whom to rely on for their home financing needs. This is an excellent opportunity for originators to find prospects and deliver a unique personalized selling experience based on mutual value systems and interests.
While establishing a sales differentiation strategy requires analysis, research and reflection, the results are well worth the effort. It’s time to find your sales tribe!