So many times, managers ask me why their loan officers don’t ask for the business enough, or are the loan officers asking for business but asking the wrong way or asking the wrong question. In this case, I believe that the real problem is not what your loan officers are saying, but where they say it. And by location, I am not saying indoors versus outdoors or any other geographical reference. I am actually referring to where in the marketing process they are asking it.
Note that I consider “asking” part of the marketing process, not the sales process. It is the marketing process that helps us develop leads and the sales process that helps us convert the leads. Too many confuse marketing with advertising. Advertising is a form of marketing. It is expensive and not as effective as garnering personal referrals. In other words, the term marketing is much broader than advertising.
Regarding asking for referrals, here are some important points to consider regarding your loan officers:
►The inability to ask is typically a result of call reluctance. Everyone has call reluctance—or in this case I will call the affliction, marketing reluctance.
►Your loan officers can ease this reluctance by getting in a more “comfortable” position to ask. Not by forcing them to do something which is uncomfortable. This is not like working out—no pain, no gain. That is why you so many in sales fail. I believe in finding a better way.
►For example, if your loan officers are not experts and are unsure regarding their ability to help people, then they need to become an expert. That means reading, taking classes and practicing or role-playing. They need to invest the time, money and energy into their career and this includes a veracious appetite for learning! How many of your loan officers have read a book about mortgages?
►Another example of not being in the right position is loan officers not feeling they have delivered enough value to the client. This is why loan officers often wait until the loan closes to ask. Waiting ignores the law of selective perception, which indicates that the best time to ask is actually the earliest possible time in the process because the client is more aware of others who are doing same thing as them (purchasing, refinancing).
►The key to moving up the asking process is delivering value more quickly during the process. This includes not only helping them obtain a loan, but with their overall financial condition. It also includes giving them educational materials to read so they better understand their choices and the process.
►Delivering more value also puts them in position to ask for referrals in a stronger way. Instead of saying, “I make my living off of referrals, do you have someone you know who needs to refinance or purchase?” They can say, “I am glad you felt this was helpful, do you know anyone else who I could help or would find this valuable?”
►With regarding to business-to-business sales, including relationships with real estate agents, delivering value means offering referrals or the ability to help them. This means your loan officers have to be a giver, as well as a taker. Their personal network/sphere is imperative in this regard. They need to build their sphere and not be afraid to leverage it! They need to be always on the lookout within their sphere for referrals to give to others. For example, when they take a loan application, do they ask about the insurance needs of the applicant? From the book, Money on the Table by the founder of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner and Lee Abraham—What other challenges are you facing in your life right now? This question opens up a whole new world of possible referrals for their networking partners.
►Their close personal network is important because they have delivered value to many in their life in the past—and not necessarily with regard to mortgages. Your loan officers have built up green stamps or an emotional bank account, as described by Stephen Covey. For example, in a previous job, did they help someone with their career? They are always in a position to ask, but many do not. Or if they do, they don’t do so effectively.
►What is effective? Telling people how to help them … do not assume they know. And it is not always about badgering them about referring business. Perhaps they can refer a real estate agent, financial planner, CPA or insurance agent. Perhaps their brother or sister is one. It is not only about knocking on your neighbor’s door and seeing if they want to refinance. Everyone is not refinancing today. But everyone has relationships you can leverage.
Again, it is not just about asking the right question. It is about being in position more quickly and being comfortable. Asking is a skill, but the delivery must be personalized for each individual. Your job as a manager is to help everyone get in a comfortable position so they can find their groove.
Dave Hershman is a top author in the mortgage industry with seven books published, including The Complete Mortgage Management Kit. Dave is also director of branch support for McLean Mortgage. He may be reached by e-mail at [email protected]
or visit OriginationPro.com.