The biggest mistake loan officers are making today is they’ve become transactional in their sales efforts. Many of them focus on price and product, which are indistinguishable in a marketplace commoditized amid low interest rates that have endured for nearly a decade.
This approach exacerbates a “race to the bottom” mentality. Sales success requires a new, relational mindset — especially now with interest rates starting to climb. Those rate increases invariably will send lead volume on a downward trajectory. Major changes in both the refinance and purchase arenas are just beginning.
A clear path to relationship building exists and was the focus of a recent web seminar hosted by National Mortgage News and sponsored by Velocify. Experts Chris Backe, Velocify director of business development, and Jeff Douglas, Wyndham Capital CEO, discuss how to prepare for this changing market in the context of “The three Ss to Success” as defined by professional speaker and coach Dale Vermillion, CEO of Vermillion Consulting.
Check out the on-demand recording if you missed it, or catch the recap below! Without further ado, here are the three Ss to selling success:
S1: Streamline for Success
Wyndham Capital’s white-glove service revolves around speed-to-close. “Like any evolutionary company, we’ve had our highs and lows in our operations, including late last year when we got way too much volume and we were a 52-day turnaround,” shares Douglas. “Through purchases and refinances, we’re at an average of 25 days right now from locking that loan to closing that loan. So being able to help a borrower understand and differentiate those factors has been a huge deal for us.”
According to Vermillion, lenders must streamline their programs, their processes, and their operations in today’s marketplace. Speed-to-close is one of the most important capacities.
“If you’re getting customers to see the value proposition, there’s a high level of trust and loyalty, and you’re providing better advice than anybody else, you’re going to get the sale,” Vermillion says. “But now you’ve got to deliver on the back side. That’s where streamlining all your operations becomes powerful to create that speed-to-close.”
From a technology standpoint, Backe says that Velocify focuses heavily on CRM to enable loan officers to better engage with their consumers and referral partners as well as the back office to streamline the process. While the term “digital mortgage” can mean different things to different people, at Velocify, the term includes CRM, the loan-origination system and the point of sale as components.
“We automate redundant tasks so loan officers can spend more time in front of their customers,” Backe says. Velocify also partners with other vendors to provide technology that helps loan officers engage with consumers in a meaningful way and helps them provide advice, not just product and price.
Vermillion cautions that many consumers are accustomed to a much faster process and a lot less documentation, disclosures, and requirements. “Loan officers are notoriously bad about explaining the process well to consumers to make sure they understand that we’re in a new world where there is a lot more requirements,” he says. “The more you can streamline that through technology, through your sales process, through your operational structure, then the better you’re going to be.”
“No matter how much technology you throw at your customers, without a great sales force to back that technology up, you’re not going to succeed,” Vermillion says. “Technology is a tool to complement the sales effort. It is not designed to replace the sales effort.”
S2: Specialize for Success
The second S for success is specialization.
“Every successful mortgage company that I’ve ever worked with has the same basic mentality,” says Vermillion. “It’s a factory mentality. You need to build your business in a way that you’ve got specialists who do their job very well.” That means sales people sell, processors process, underwriters underwrite, closers close, funders fund, managers manage. Crossover creates duplication, slowdown, confusion, and miscommunication, he says.
“Let them out of their lanes, they’re going to crash,” he warns. “And you’re not going to have the results you’re looking for.” Wyndham Capital Mortgage creates several layers of specialization within processing, underwriting, closing, and post-closing. Its systems support the overall structure, facilitating communication across all areas.
“The idea is to keep the LOs always selling and basically put the accountability factor into the processor’s hands and specifically bringing in services,” Douglas says. “Moving into processing and helping those people communicate clearly with borrowers and connect with borrowers, basically moving toward delighting the borrowers through communication, not just the technology.”
“From a technology perspective, keeping your roles within the technology where they live is important,” Backe says. “And then allowing those technologies to communicate to each other seamlessly supports that effort.” Backe describes that process: If you have your processors working in the LOS all day, that’s where they live, they should be able to communicate with the LO in the medium where they live.
Velocify is the place where the LO does their business, where they live, they need to be able to consume that information from the processor in that environment. And on the reverse side, anything that the loan officers need to communicate back to the processors in the situation has to be done through a seamless connection to those technologies. Going back to the consumer experience, the LO and the processor need to be able to communicate with that consumer within that consumer experience that they’re used to.
S3: Solutions for Success
“This ties back to what I started with, the triangle for success,” Vermillion says. “We’ve talked about building a value proposition that creates an advocacy mentality for your customers. You’ve got to be innovative, not imitative.”
Vermillion encourages sales forces to quit thinking about selling mortgages, selling products, and communicating pricing, and instead think about how we affect the consumers we work with every day.
“The way you do that is advocate,” he says.
“Don’t sell. When you sit down with the customer and say, ‘Look, this is a financial transaction that’s the biggest transaction you’re probably going to make in your lifetime and it’s an important one for you and your family. We want to help you make the right decision. Let me understand what you’re trying to accomplish and then from that really advocate in a powerful way.’”
The three Ss — streamline, specialize, solutions — lead to success, Vermillion reiterates. The ultimate goal is sustainability of success. “The average consumer is going to go through about nine mortgage transactions in a lifetime,” he explains. “I want to get them all. You only do that by establishing a relationship based on trust and loyalty where you ‘wow’ that customer, where you delight them beyond what they expected. When you do that and you stay in contact through your technologies and your sales efforts, you build that customer-for-life mindset.” Wyndham Capital subscribes to that approach, aiming to delight the customer throughout the process. But Douglas believes that technology can delight your workforce as well so that they’re working more of a common, systematic process.
“What we’re focusing on this year is truly trying to have a workforce that is supported so that loan officers and processors can work an eight hour day the way they want,” he says. “We truly cater to the next generation coming into our workplace, the Millennials, to strengthen it so we can make this a much better industry through technology.”
“Technology is best when it’s operating in the background,” Backe says. “The star of the show should be the people and the relationships. That should be your goal as you’re thinking about your investments going forward, not to take the place of people but to simply facilitate those people.”
Vermillion agrees. “The key is building those together — having your marketing, your technology, and your operations and sales all working in one way so that they complement each other,” he concludes.
Guest authored by National Mortgage News.