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Don’t Answer Your Customer’s Questions!

Douglas Arnett
Dec 03, 2012

Sounds deceptive, doesn’t it? But it conveys a basic sales concept: The person asking the question controls the conversation. For example, how many times have customers asked you a series of questions and then hung up to continue “dialing for dollars?” They got the information they wanted while you got nothing. Perhaps, you are telling a real estate agent the benefits of your outstanding firm. You are smack-dab in the middle of your presentation when the agent asks, “Can you do an FHA 203k?” Many loan originators simply answer “yes” and continue with their pitch. Basic sales discipline As you know, we are moving into a housing recovery, and rates are hovering at record lows. In this economic climate, you can easily forget basic sales principles in the midst of the chaos. But you can practice a standard sales discipline every day. When customers ask you a question, respond by asking them to clarify or to understand why. You can visualize this principle with the following adages: ►Someone throws a porcupine in your lap, what do you do? Throw it back, of course! ►You have two ears and one mouth, listen twice as much as you speak. Open-ended questions So let’s go back to the customer “dialing for dollars” who asks, “What is your best 30-year fixed rate?” Many originators quote the lowest rate possible to undercut the competition. Instead, you should regain control of the conversation by responding, “Well, let me ask you, what rates have you been quoted?” You want to get the customer talking by asking an open-ended question beginning with who, what, when, where, why or how. By getting customers to talk, you find out what they know and what drives their buying decisions. Close-ended questions Subsequently, you can hone in on your benefits by asking a series of close-ended questions to focus on specific ways you can beat the competition. So, let’s say the customer replies, “One of your competitors quoted me three percent and no points.” Now, you might ask, “What fees did they quote you? Did they volunteer their overall turnaround time to process your transaction? Did you ask about the experience level of their originators? Did they provide references of their service?” Thus, you move from general open-ended questions to specific ones in order to highlight your strengths and steer away from a sole comparison of rate versus rate. Getting the sale Back to the real estate agent who asks you, “Can you do an FHA 203k loan?” Respond with easy open-ended questions such as: “Why do you ask?” “Are you working with a customer who needs a 203k loan on a specific property?” If they say “yes,” you can ask for the details. You have taken back control and are focused on a specific transaction. Therefore, treat every question from a client as an opportunity to gain more information and increase your odds of getting the sale. Douglas Arnett is regional sales director for Guaranteed Home Mortgage Company, a licensed mortgage investment and banking firm comprised of more than 300 mortgage professionals lending in 28 states. He may be reached by phone at (914) 696-3400 or e-mail
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