The other day, I was meeting with one of our loan originators to discuss some pricing options and a consumer presentation. During our meeting, an interesting subject came up and it’s something I’ve thought about myself for the last several years I’ve originated loans. The topic was around what in today’s world would be considered “selling” as a mortgage professional? Are we still defined as “salespeople” in our industry? Are we viewed by others as being in “sales?” He did not feel as though he was a salesperson based off the transparent options and full disclosure offered to consumers, but rather, just in a position to educate them on their options and potential benefits. While the definition of the word “sales” would suggest that we are, in fact, “salespeople,” the new era of our residential lending world may not.
Each of us may have our own view and opinion of what a salesperson looks like, but I personally consider us to be “persistent educators” rather than salespeople in the mortgage industry. While we are ultimately offering a product and service to consumers in a competitive market, a prerequisite to acquiring this product or new liability would be confirming that it results in some kind of benefit to the consumer. For example, one would hope that we would counsel a new buyer on their budget and what they should comfortably qualify for on a new purchase rather than extending them or “selling” them into something that they cannot afford. The same would apply for refinancing and making sure there is a tangible benefit in improving an existing rate or term, as also required in underwriting.
“Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it.”—Peter Drucker
Our newer industry regulations implement and force ethical protections against bad players or those who were steering or up-selling for financial gain. The ability to “sell” someone into a program or situation that is not beneficial to them is extremely difficult if not impossible. Our industry requires a level of integrity in each one of us, along with the requirement to educate consumers on their options through presentation and supporting documentation. Many of us feel that things should have always been done this way, but unfortunately, were not as we know too well. We are now witnessing the “salesman” slowly leaving our industry and being replaced with a more professional service provider.
Selling yourself and selling your brand is part of the process. Selling a product is somewhat different when it comes to a mortgage. A mortgage loan is a large—possibly the largest—liability on a consumers balance sheet. Education is the key and professional services and comparison is our responsibility as mortgage professionals. Selling someone into a mortgage product, rather than advising them on the product, provides no benefit to the originator or to the consumer. Providing excellent service and persistent education, however, provides benefits to both.
Persistent education and excellent service with multiple options will also help offset the challenges that come to those facing rate shoppers. You can eliminate becoming a commodity in a somewhat fixed-pricing world by separating yourself from those stuck in that model of selling. If you replace the idea of selling with service, you will find that consumers will lean more toward the sincere mortgage professional, rather than the commission-focused salesman.
Tip of the month …
Always remember to thank someone immediately for a referral. Don’t put it off or you may forget, and no matter how many times they may refer you, thank them by acknowledging the name of the person and sincere thanks that they sent them to you.
Andy W. Harris, CRMS is president and owner of Lake Oswego, Ore.-based Vantage Mortgage Group Inc. and 2010-2011 president of the Oregon Association of Mortgage Professionals. He may be reached by phone at (877) 496-0431 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit AndyHarrisMortgage.com.