Keys to Honing the Negotiation Skills of Mortgage Sales Professionals

Today’s selling environment presents mortgage sales professionals with many challenges. For most of us, our entire day is spent influencing, persuading, leading, and negotiating to move another person from a state of indecision to one of decision. Mortgage is a high trust transaction. Anything we say to a potential client who doesn’t trust us, is met with resistance. When what we do is help borrowers make choices that are in their best interests and for which, without our knowledge and influence, they would not have the ability to make on their own, we must learn the skill of quickly building trust. If we can’t connect, we can’t convince.

In today’s environment, borrowers have more sources of information, there are more people involved in the loan transaction, and there is a more structured process—all of which make obtaining a mortgage loan a complex and often chaotic endeavor. Borrowers used to value loan officers for our availability, as well as for our ability to provide program options and quote pricing, but borrowers today are looking for something they can’t get online, from automated systems, or from uninformed salespeople.

Negotiation begins long before the average person thinks it does. Interests are the motivators and drivers that underlie positions in a negotiation. When we negotiate from the very beginning of the sales process, we uncover the borrower’s interests, we learn the criteria on which his interests are based, and we discover the deal-breakers—the non-negotiable’s. We can’t eliminate the objections when we don’t know what they are. The key is to maintain a problem-solving attitude rather than a “you vs. me” mindset. By adopting a joint-venture approach we are conveying that we are committed to providing value and earning the client’s business. Otherwise, we will be hard-pressed to convince someone we have a solution when they know we don’t understand their problem.

A sales professional’s ability to provide perspective— which is the polar opposite of a scripted, canned pitch—is the differentiator. A loan officer with perspective makes sure the person they are working with has thought through all of the dependencies that will give the proposal a greater chance of success. When we sell with perspective, we are bringing our expertise in the field to bear on every opportunity. Excellence in mortgage is never an accident. It is the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution.

Three keys to unlocking your ability to provide perspective:

Understand the borrower: This means understanding the client’s concept of what they want to accomplish, or what specifically they want to avoid. As sales professionals we need to target our messages to the customer’s concept and stage in the buying cycle. Savvy customers have probably already visited your website and armed themselves with the basics of your value proposition. Consequently, if you rehash what the buyer already knows, you will fall flat in the sales process.

Deliver a clear, meaningful analysis of the situation: An originator must be able to articulate what success looks like based on the customer’s unique situation. Providing perspective requires mastery of your loan products and programs, but more importantly, the ability to apply them in the context of the customer’s world. Borrowers will be receptive to listening to your point of view when you proceed from a fact-based standpoint. Providing them with data specific to program options not only proves the case you are proposing, but allows them to predict their results going forward.

Provide valuable advice and new ways of thinking that lead to solutions: Simply put, an originator can’t simply present on the one loan program the borrower inquires about, the originator must present solutions that make whatever the client wants to happen—to fix, accomplish, or avoid—well, happen. Borrowers want to deal with an originator who focuses beyond the sale and all the way through to the results the borrower is out to achieve. By providing targeted solutions and by bringing the lessons learned and experiences from other borrowers, originators can help new clients avoid unintended consequences.

Make no mistake: While perspective selling sounds basic to all of us, it is a big differentiator in the marketplace. The discerning mortgage professional would do well to put it into practice.

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