In June of 2012 we discussed the topic of competition titled “Compete like an Olympian” in which I want to expand on this month. If you haven’t noticed, our industry is getting increasingly competitive in recruiting originators and originators recruiting customers and referral partners. This trend will certainly continue during the last quarter of 2013 and into 2014 with rising rates, falling revenues and increased regulatory burdens. Preparing for change and adapting to an environment with shrinking prospects is critical if your goal is to grow your business in the future.
Customers and referral partners expect more out of those they choose to work with. These demands and expectations will continue to grow with the sharpened skills of producing originators and those trying to take a piece of the market share. New homebuyers entering the mortgage marketplace are also beginning to do more research on their options and rates to better understand what might be available to them. It’s always important to remember that client objections or mentioning a competitor is not bad. This is a sign of a prospect confirming interest, but they just have more questions. The two most common behavioral responses from those facing competition is either by being defensive or seeing opportunity.
The defensive behavior
The defensive approach can cause problems that will likely lose prospects or potential clients. Many times, a defensive response can cause ones behavior to become less attractive to the person they are interacting with. Right or wrong, defensive behavior doesn’t help anyone in a position of sales or providing a service as it deteriorates the professionalism during the interaction. So what are some signs that someone might be acting defensive?
►Bashing a competitor: This one seems to be common in our industry. A loan originator hears the name of a competitor from the prospect and immediately goes on the attack (many of us can get caught in this trap). Unfortunately, this behavior doesn’t help your mission in gaining that client.
►Coming across unprofessional: If you’re acting defensive, it is hard to remain professional. Usually one can seem stressed out or more intense to the opposing party with a heightened voice and feeling of being threatened.
►Responding too quickly to e-mails or statements that perceive criticism: Jumping on a response, making assumptions, or using text that you might not have considered when sending to the reader can spell trouble.
►Talking too much: Not listening and talking too much or over someone in response to questions or concerns can cause problems in many areas of life, including business.
►Poor body or verbal language: If you’ve ever met with someone when in the market to buy or hire and they use bad language or choice in body positioning, it can be a very negative experience.
Seeing the opportunity strategy
►Address your competitor: If a prospect brings up a competitor, this is an opportunity to shine. Rather than bashing or using negative comments, embrace that they are shopping and why that is important. Then use that as an opportunity to discuss your strengths, experience and share client testimonials and feedback to support your brand and suggest they also consider doing that with any other company they are researching. Find ways to put the focus back on your strengths and their options so that they feel like they are shopping these options with you.
►Remain professional at all times: Be relaxed and educate, and focus on the customer’s goals and what is important to them in a new loan. Never get distracted by competition or put the focus back on a competitor. Never act desperate or feel threatened. Calm and cool will help you provide more precise education for the clients benefit.
►Take your time when responding to criticism or concerns: Whether a prospect or a business partner, this can be important. Think of things from both perspectives and make sure you’re relaxed when responding in person, by phone or e-mail.
►Listen more than you talk: The more you listen, the greater your chances will be that you gain that client over competition. Understand their personality and needs and focus on letting them talk and responding with related solutions. Confirm with them what they have told you and what is important to them.
►Smile and sit up straight: If you are meeting in person, body language is vital. Smile and stay engaged and never use foul language or unprofessional words or jargon. Smiling on the phone can also make a difference. Get up and move around when on the phone also as this helps with listening and thinking.
Competition can make you better at what you do. We need the motivation and we need a reason to continue to sharpen skills and experience. Use a competitor as your advantage to stand out and really shine and build those client references.
P.S. … I would love to hear from readers! If you have enjoyed The Elite Performer over the years, please send any feedback and future topics you would like to see covered to [email protected]
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, e-mail [email protected]
or visit AndyWHarris.com.