Originators will often claim that a niche product, flexible underwriting or the latest mobile app is integral to their sales success. In my view, there is another factor that is often overlooked: Top salespeople have strong referral source and customer networks that they work consistently.
It is probably no surprise that the very best originators devote part of their day to building relationships with past customers and prospects. Average or subpar producers have a litany of excuses for why they aren’t expanding their contacts. When business is good, they are “too busy” and when volume is weak, they blame their lender for poor sales results.
All originators are challenged to increase their sales funnels if they want to have steady personal income. A robust sales funnel evens out the boom and bust of mortgage origination because it provides a cushion of leads regardless of marketplace conditions. While every originator has the opportunity to work their social network, few producers do this on a regular basis.
To create a dynamic sales funnel, originators must market to a combination of former customers, influencers and prospects. Cultivating these relationships and moving these individuals through an originator’s sales process is an effort that requires discipline and daily commitment. While it is understandable that originators must focus on current production, it can’t be 100% of their weekly time.
At its core, building relationships is about sharing the same values, goals and interests; practicing the Golden Rule; and finally, committing time to enhance the relationship. This applies whether it is a personal or business relationship that needs to be improved.
Sales professionals who fail to put in the effort to build deeper relationships with former customers are eliminating the greatest source of referrals they have! Sending out a generic birthday card by a CRM isn’t personal or impactful enough anymore. Ignoring past customers almost guarantees a weak sales pipeline in the future.
In an excellent Harvard Business Review article, “Replacing the Sales Funnel with the Sales Flywheel,” author Brian Halligan states that the biggest new driver of growth is delighted customers. As any sales executive knows, wowing current customers and staying in touch with them is what cements relationships and ultimately, generates referral business. Producers who don’t do this must rely on new prospects for increased volume which is draining and has a lower success rate.
While companies certainly are recognizing that the customer’s experience is more important than ever, the one person who has the greatest impact on the quality of that experience is the originator. Producers must orchestrate the sales journey from capturing the lead and pulling the deal together to shepherding the customer to closing. Now, producers must also mine their social networks on a regular basis.
Today, delighting a consumer is hard work in a world where poor service seems to be a daily occurrence. Every customer has a story to share about a poor experience he or she had with a sales professional. The difference today is that a bad experience can be communicated to others with just a click. Bad news travels faster than the speed of light!
The path to long-term sales success involves connecting with customers during the initial transaction and keeping in contact after the transaction by providing relevant content and insights. Any top producer will tell you the payoff is worth the effort.