Helping clients succeed Tim BassettSales, Mortgage originators
P> The concept of selling carries plenty of negative baggage.
Sales is frequently called the second oldest profession, though it
is often confused with the first! Some people experience selling as
knocking on 100 doors and having 99 slammed in their face,
resulting in one positive response, which doesn't qualify or
appraise half of the time.
We have dressed up what we call mortgage salespeople. We are now
senior loan officers, mortgage consultants and business developers.
Regardless of what you call it, the net result is that person A is
doing something for person B and charging money for it. (Sometimes,
clients fear they are having it done to them rather than with
The reality is that people are cautious, and buying and selling
relationships are often fear-based. In the mortgage business, these
feeling are often amplified because the stakes are high and the
business is operationally complex. There are numerous parties and
steps along the process. The information flow is not perfect. A
fear exists that within the information gaps lies a trap where the
homeowner is ensnared. We have all heard the horror stories.
It is no wonder that homeowners have their guard up. Clearly,
this is not true for everyone, as numerous loan arrangers have
transcended this dysfunctional process by genuinely helping their
clients achieve what they truly want and enabling them to enjoy
tremendous personal and financial rewards.
A Downward Cycle
Homeowners don't always know the truth, and sometimes they may even
misrepresent it. Loan officers are sometimes overly optimistic on
floating rates, appraised values and scheduling closings. Whether
intentional or not, imperfect communications excite suspicions and
cause people to "hedge" or protect themselves, and the
dysfunctional cycle continues.
What to do about it? Gandhi said, "You must be the change you
wish to see in the world." Change is a choice individuals need to
make for themselves. The model of selling must change, and luckily,
it is! If people have a better model, they will experience better
results, and the cycle will continue and improve. The new premise
of "helping your clients succeed will ultimately help each
practicing mortgage originator succeed.
How will you go about it? Have you ever heard that more than 70
percent of human communication is non-verbal? The expression "trust
your gut" is deeply rooted in the human psychic lexicon. The only
way to experience deeply held trust as a true confidant is to
operate from the position that your goals are congruent with your
clients' goals. You want the client to succeed, so find the best
deal for their individual circumstance! Sure, this takes more work
explaining the options, calculations and processes, but if you
invest the time, you can gain a customer for life, even if you
think this is your only loan together.
Think You're Too Busy?
Who wants to take the time to educate a bunch of rate shoppers? The
real deal is that in order to end dysfunctional selling practices
(in your life anyway), you have to authentically open your belief
system and embrace this fundamental concept. The answer is not
"getting more intricate selling techniques." We can feel when
someone is working a technique on us. I know I don't like it.
Rule Number One: Intent counts more than technique! Customers
will know the difference.
Face it, you will not have a perfect solution for every person you
meet, or your personalities might clash. In spite of the breadth of
mortgage products, from A-to-Z credit to all kinds of expanded
criteria, there will be mortgagors who will not be a good fit for
you. The scope for a misfit ranges from a client's propensity to
"walk for a better deal," to miscommunication of expectations on
either side. The time to recognize this is now. Remember, if you
and the client share mutual self-interests, only a mortgage
solution that truly meets their needs can assure the best possible
Let's take this apart for a minute: If your solutions do not
meet enough clients' needs, they go elsewhere, and you go out of
business. So, your mortgage solutions need to fit enough clients
situations in order to attain your business objectives. Certainly,
having a broad array of products and pricing alternatives is
important. At the other end, if you force-fit your mortgage
solutions on the client, regardless of whether they meet the
client's needs, then over time, you are going to have a number of
dissatisfied customers. We've all seen the statistics on how many
happy customers it takes to overcome an unhappy one. You will
struggle in business or spend all of your profits continuously
rebuilding. Doing business with integrity from the start with the
client's success in mind is simply a good business strategy.
If we both want the same thing, then why doesn't everyone operate
with these principals? If we can create a win-win situation, why
don't we? To gain some insight, let's look at some of the
unproductive behaviors that can derail a mutually beneficial
What do clients say about mortgage
*They don't listen;
*They make faulty assumptions;
*Originators force-fit their preconceptions;
*They need to make a loan;
*They exaggerate or tell partial truths;
*Originators rush the explanation process until the papers are
signed, then drag it out; and
*They eliminate or gloss over important details.
What do mortgage originators say about
*They don't know and/or can't articulate what they need or
*Clients cannot evaluate a good deal when they see it;
*They submit bad or incomplete information;
*They are unrealistic about rates, appraisals and closing
*Clients cannot decide what they want; and
*They have heard of a better deal and continue shopping until it
Awareness and Choice
It is important to help homeowners achieve what they want and feel
good about it. This also marks a shift in the selling paradigm that
begins with the awareness of the possible polarity in perceptions
and the choice to correct the behavior patterns, hopefully
achieving mutual understanding. It is often too easy to tell a
client what they want to hear so you obtain the deal, instead of
telling them what they need to know. Then you keep your fingers
crossed that Lady Luck will find a way to push the loan
Remember that intent counts more than technique, and every
person is wired with a "trust alarm." The harder you push, the
louder the trust alarm rings, diminishing your chances for a
If you and your client want to succeed, you have an obligation to
understand the core elements of their situations and objectives. Do
not guess about what the best program is or how the client will
measure a successful transaction. Ask them specifically and probe
for clarification. You say, "Ms. Jones, you want the lowest fixed
rate and you are also planning on selling the house in a year or
two. Have you examined this transaction from a total-cost
perspective?" The client will confirm her reasoning or open an
opportunity for you to share your expertise. Do not assume that
they have all of the answers. If you discover they do, then this is
a price check, a market scan, and when do you want to know that
this is a rate shop? As soon as possible! Failure is not agreeing
not to do business; failure is taking too long to learn there is
not a fit. Trust your instincts and then use your brain, politely
of course. If you feel it, verbalize it!
Rule Number Two: No guessing!
Slow Down for Yellow Lights
The universal aphorism for accelerating seems to be a yellow
traffic light. We do it when we drive, and we do it when we sell.
As soon as something gives a cautionary signal, we salespeople seem
to talk faster and try to overcome perceived objections without
asking what they are, firing away with features hoping one of them
hits the mark. The fear is that the yellow light will turn red,
thus equating a red light with failure. A red light is not failure.
Failure is making a red light needlessly more time-intensive. A red
light is an opportunity to deal with a fundamental "make or break"
issue. When you are quoting a real estate agent who happens to have
a mortgage company in their office, the tendency of some people is
to ignore it. Get real! Have the courage to ask the uncomfortable
questions. "Look Joe, I don't mind offering a price check against
your in-house loan officer, but what would you have to see for me
to earn your business? Is it your decision on who to go with, or is
there a company mandate? What are the hurdles for external
lenders?" Give the yellow light back to the client. Often, they
will have a less stringent requirement for turning it green than we
imagine. Besides, if it is going to be a final stoplight, when do
you want to know it? Sooner rather than later!
Rule Number Three: Slow down for yellow lights.
State the Obvious
When you are listening carefully, your client will let you know
when you have hit a yellow light. You can sense when there is
incongruity between what they say and the way they say it (remember
the non-verbal thing?). Politely call them out on it. Be valiant,
address the issues! This will set you apart from the pack. Remember
awareness and choice? Be aware of what is really going on at all
levels. Choose to break the cycle of dysfunctional selling by
addressing the issues directly, and get clarity! Clarity leads to
understanding and then to a better-proposed solution.
Rule Number Four: Politely state the obvious and find
Check Your Ego at the Door
You may have experiences, thoughts and belief systems that will
challenge your adoption of these principles. Our ego lets us focus
on meeting our own needs first. We live in an egocentric world.
Another paradigm shift: Recognize that the best way to meet your
needs is to meet the needs of others first. When you find yourself
defending your brilliance, seeking approval or talking over the
client, you are likely serving the needs of your ego before your
client's needs. Remember our premise: Helping clients succeed helps
Rule Number Five: Check your ego at the door!
We have scratched the surface of some dysfunctions in the
mortgage industry and identified a few effective response
strategies. We cannot possibly solve all challenges in 1,500 words
or less. However, if this article can inspire you to be become
aware and recognize choice, which will hopefully have a positive
impact on your next loan origination, it will have been well worth
my time writing and your time reading.
Tim Bassett, MBA, Ph.D. is vice president of business
development at Mortgage & Investments. He may be reached at
(877) 791-4132 or e-mail [email protected]