The Inside Track for Mortgage Professionals by Cindy Douglas
Have you ever had a meeting that seemed so awesome you knew you had nailed it? Then for some unknown reason your calls were left unreturned only to be lost in the world of voicemail/email abyss? Sadly the main reason this happens is sales people often talk them selves right out of the sale. To ensure this does not happen it is important to understand the power of utilizing one’s listening skills.
Regardless of the business model, the transitioning of taking someone from prospect stage to engaged client status takes finesse and artistry. I had witnessed my mentor Patricia Drain who works with many high level business owners accomplish this task with mastery time and time again.
Although I had a track record, as a loan originator, of converting 90% of my borrowers, the percentage was definitely lower AND the cycle was longer with professional partners. As my business model morphed from that of originator to consultant it became abundantly clear I needed to strengthen this skill set.
At the time I started my new enterprise the majority of my database was comprised of borrowers, and the real estate agents that referred them. In my new line of work I am helping to facilitate business growth and sustainability. My offering was completely different than the product I sold before. This meant I was starting from scratch.
I have since slightly tweaked the formula Patricia was kind enough to share with me, to work with my own conversational style. The system below works extremely well for professional partners such as Realtors®, Financial Planners, and CPA’s. This format produces results; often only requiring a single appointment before obtaining a commitment to work together.
The questions below are in the order in which you should ask them. I’ve included the rationale behind each question and the answers you’re specifically looking to obtain. The key to success with this system is putting on your fanatical listening hat. After the initial introductions have been completed your ready to begin:
“I appreciate the opportunity to get to know you. In order to be an effective resource for you I would like to take a few minutes to learn about you and the vision you have. Help me to understand:
I have found most folks are looking for affirmation that they are on the right track. Often their vision feels grandiose and unattainable. Once they have finished articulating their thoughts authentically acknowledge what you have heard concisely — Simply say something to the effect of: “That sounds amazing!” Then transition into the second question. Do not make this a long diatribe.
The answer to this question defines the gap of where the person is now and where they want to be. It also brings any dissatisfaction, frustration and pain they may have may have buried. If they have not indicated what their greatest struggle is, it is important to ask them what this is. Similarly if they have not indicated what works well in their business, or in some cases, when appropriate, what makes them happy, it is essential to dig deeper. The questions could be posed as:
“What do find to be your greatest struggle or biggest challenge to attaining what you desire?”
What is the one thing if performed with consistent regularity causes incremental, sustainable growth in your business??
Once they have answered or supplied their achievements, take a moment to indicate that: “I am really proud or WOW that is so cool that you have been able to….”
This gap analysis is what drives the pain points they are encountering home. It is appropriate to delve deeper with questions, and provide a couple of sincere recommendations. Keep it short. The goal is to let them do 80% to 90% of the talking throughout your session together.
This is the perfect time to talk about the possibilities they have not thought about. As they are sharing information I recommend placing cliff notes next to the key points you are recording. Originally I did this to paper only, but now I ask permission before we get started to record our conversation — This enables me to revisit our discussion before our next step whether that be a follow-up call or our official start date. Warning, just because you are recording, does not give you permission to turn off your brain and drift.
Surprisingly most folks do not have a plan “B.” For those that do they often have discredited this plan as being second rate. Even though they may not realize it at a conscious level the person you are talking to has recognized they need you to reach the pinnacle they have set for themselves.
They have already begun to discount the objections they previously harbored. Remember the key is to let them do all the talking; results will be dramatically reduced if you do not follow this discipline.
It is time to recap what you have heard. Before offering the solutions you have in mind, consider asking how the person wants the information disseminated. For example:
“Before we get started would you prefer an overview on how I can be of service to you, or would you prefer I go into the nitty-gritty details?”
I have found that big picture thinkers start to drift if they are given all the details. Let them ask for the facts if they need them. These types aren’t shy. However, if you start out in depth and all they want is cliff note, they will tune out.
If on the other hand, the customer prefers detailed explanations and those are not forthcoming, they may believe they are not getting all the facts. This can frustrate them. It can also diminish the bonds built over the last thirty minutes.
Do not interrupt the person who is talking. This is very important. Your job here is to be the fanatical listener. If the meeting is over the phone, I suggest placing the call on mute. It is perfectly fine to have a silent pause. This lets you know that the individual has completed their thoughts.
Allow them to get into their head and heart. This is what creates a very strong bond between you and the client.