Winning in the Age of “Attention Economy”  

Patricia Sherlock

Most originators understand that their job is to influence prospects to buy their products and services. Whether it is targeting a new referral source or a borrower, all sales professionals face the same challenge: To move prospects from “I’m not sure” to “Yes, I want to make a change.”

Influencing is at the center of a successful selling process. Originators who do it best become top producers. Top producers have the pull, clout, and sway to take control of the sales call and help prospects make a decision.

Less successful originators are weak at influencing prospects and feel that their only job is to educate a buyer on their options and the process. These originators haven’t mastered influencing and will struggle in our new “attention economy” where being discovered is now more important than ever. Social media platforms are an important tool for sales professionals to cultivate influence among referrals sources and prospects.

Being discovered and becoming an influencer is not a new phenomenon. The world has always had influencers. In the past, influencers mainly came from the entertainment and sports industries. Movie stars, rock stars and sports figures who were successful in their field often became famous role models for the nation. Their personal impact progressed from their respective skills to include what they said, what they did, and what clothes they wore in private life.

Now, sales professionals must be discovered and be influencers. Being an employee of a large lender isn’t enough to gain the visibility needed to resonate with prospects and capture new business. Staying on the sidelines in selling and operating off the lender’s brand doesn’t work like it once did.

Today, anyone can become an influencer because of social media. To those who want to be successful influencers, social media provides a mechanism to display one’s expertise and share it with people they don’t know. All it takes is effort, commitment and discipline — the foundations of success in life.

Why should this matter to originators? Social selling is no longer something that can be ignored.  Sales professionals must be active on social media and form a community of followers who will market for them if they want to remain relevant among prospective buyers. Social media gives originators an opportunity to establish and steer conversations which is an incredible advantage when a potential buyer is deciding to contact an originator in the real estate lending industry.

In a great New York Times article, “Don’t Scoff at Influencers. They’re Taking Over the World,” author Kevin Roose discusses his recent attendance at VidCon, an annual social media convention. This year’s VidCon conference had panels such as “Curating Your Personal Brand” and “How to Go Viral and Build an Audience.” It is no surprise that these topics are being covered at VidCon, but they also are hot topics for originators.

Roose points out that “influencers have been running the world for years. The ability to stay relevant and attract attention to your work has always been critical. Just as the 20th century groomed a generation of children to be steeped in the ethos of TV culture, the 21st century will produce a generation of business moguls who grew up chasing clout online.”  This shift will impact all salespeople who must adopt to a new selling environment of being known in your territory.

For some originators, this new world of selling is a bridge too far for them. They don’t believe that it is their responsibility to create a personal brand. Instead, selling for them is limited to pricing. Hence, lower pricing is the answer to their production woes. Unfortunately, they are similar to the Slowskys, the famous turtle family in the Comcast commercial who believe that the fax machine is state-of-the-art technology. While the fax machine was cutting edge at one time, it is not now. Likewise, as landlines begin to be phased out, cold calling is no longer effective at getting prospects’ attention. Becoming recognized as an expert with valuable content is what makes an originator a star in their own community. There is no excuse: social media platforms are free. It is more about committing a part of the day to establish your personal brand by using these sales tools. Don’t be a Slowsky!

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