Residential Magazine

Under a Charm

Control the sales conversation to increase your capture rate this year

By Dennis Black

One of the most fascinating aspects of sales is watching what many salespeople say to themselves when a client chooses to go in another direction: “They just had too many objections to do business with me.” In reality, it’s usually not an objection, it’s an attitude.

There are three primary reasons why a client will choose not to do business with you, or what can be labeled as a “nonbuying attitude” on the part of the borrower. These are indifference, skepticism and a valid objection. 

No matter how good of a salesperson you believe you are, effectively handling these difficult attitudes determines more often than not the outcome of the mortgage sales call. If you are looking to improve your capture rate this year, these skills will help you achieve that goal. Let’s take a look at each of these obstacles.

Defeat indifference

Indifference is the No. 1 enemy of a salesperson because it is intangible. In mortgage sales, the definition of indifference is a perceived level of satisfaction a client has with their current lender or broker that causes them to not see a need for change.

So, how does a mortgage originator approach this problem and change the client’s perception? The process requires a multipronged strategy to defeat this most challenging of attitudes. To do this, you have to dive a bit deeper into why borrowers can be indifferent.

Borrowers can be indifferent because they believe all lenders are the same. The borrower also might take the approach that they’ll use the same mortgage company as last time and resist changing. Or the originator can breed indifference during a sales call by telling the prospect more than they ask for. 

The strategy to overcome indifference comes from the definition of indifference: It is perception, not reality, that they may not find a better solution for their lending needs. You have to create that need with narrow, leading questions. These types of questions are focused on your personal and company strengths, and their purpose is to uncover an unrealized need the borrower may have. By filling this need, you change the borrower’s perception. 

To battle this attitude, you must have in your mind at all times three primary reasons that a borrower should work with you and your company. These are the keys to driving an effective and narrow leading-question plan to change the borrower’s perception. 

Create value

For example, if you believe your knowledge and experience are one of the three reasons, then your question has to be able to generate a positive response from the client in this regard. A sample question to pose that may uncover an unrealized need: “Today the lending industry has a lot of complexity and challenges with new laws and regulations. Working with an originator who has years of experience may be beneficial when you pick a lender, wouldn’t you agree?” Then tie in your experience. 

Another example for a digital platform lender: “Would you say that having an easy loan process is important to you, so you can track the progress of your loan and easily upload key documents to expedite your lending experience?” Once the borrower says “yes” to this type of question, you tie in your appropriate strengths. This gives them an alternative and makes them think of you as an asset who can meet their needs.

Once you get the prospective borrower to think you may be a viable alternative, they also realize that all lenders are not the same. If you do not change this mindset, however, then price will become the determining factor in their decisionmaking process. 

Borrowers constantly ask, “What is your rate?” because industry professionals allow this to occur without trying to change the perception that rate is the only factor that matters. By using effective narrow questions to create need, you can demonstrate to the borrower that other factors also are important. 

Many borrowers believe they want to use the same process as before when they secured a mortgage. Originators, however, know this is a constantly changing target and borrower education regarding any new regulatory requirements is an important element to being a top-flight loan originator in 2021. This will handle the second reason why borrowers are indifferent — a need for education and knowledge.

The third reason for indifference is an originator’s sales approach of telling more than asking, which allows an attitude of indifference to hang over the call. When you do not engage your prospect, you allow them to feel that they haven’t had much input. Therefore, if an originator only discusses themselves versus listening to the client’s issues and concerns, then it becomes a commodity sale and price once again becomes the key component in their decisionmaking thought process. 

To handle the third reason, have this as a constant sales mantra: question first, statement second. This can help you avoid the dangerous trap on a sales call of being your own worst enemy. Never forget that success is based on uncovering or creating need, and you cannot do that without having the proper mindset on every call.

Overcome skepticism

Borrower skepticism is an attitude that’s a bit easier to overcome than indifference. There are four reasons why a borrower may be skeptical.

First, it’s human nature to resist a new idea. Second, a borrower may be skeptical after a bad lending experience in the past. Third, a rumor may have been planted by another originator or even a Realtor. The last reason is lack of brand awareness, such as when the borrower asks, “Who are you guys?”

To be an effective loan originator, you need to alleviate the borrower’s skepticism with what is known as a proof source. This is a reference document you can produce that validates you as a credible financial source and includes a testimonial of your company’s ability to deliver a quality lending experience. You can get these through services such as Rate Your Lender, Zillow or LinkedIn recommendations. 

By gathering these, you create what is called a “hero file” that can be delivered to a potential borrower via email link while you’re on the phone. By offering immediate proof of your abilities, this eliminates any doubt the prospect may have had.

Remember the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” To handle skepticism, it is critical to understand that you have to be able to validate what you’ve said. The best way to do that is with a visual proof source.

Offer choice

The final nonbuying attitude involves a valid reason or valid objection, which can either be price or product based. Whether a borrower feels they need a particular product you do not offer, or they can get a more competitive rate through another lender on a particular product you do offer, the strategy is the same to handle this particular issue. 

You need to have asked some questions prior to getting to the rate- and product-recommendation part of your conversation. This allows you to switch the product offering based on the borrower’s input and their long-term goals. There are two questions you should always ask to be able to accomplish this strategy: “How long do you see yourself staying in this property? Is cash flow or equity buildup the most important factor in choosing your loan product?”

Once you can determine the best loan option for an individual, you can effectively offer an alternative and switch to a product you are more competitive with based on their responses. Without borrower input, however, you cannot accomplish this strategy. Once again, be deliberate and patient with your questions before rushing to pricing or product recommendations too early in the conversation. 

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Your ability to cement in the borrower’s mind why you should be their originator of choice will be increasingly determined by the quality of your sales skills. If you can truly differentiate who you are rather than simply being one of many lenders vying for a borrower’s business, you stand a better chance to win the loan. 

Skill matters and it is a primary point of emphasis when there are many people competing for the same transaction. By understanding how to handle the most difficult part of a call — the borrower’s nonbuying attitude — and by using the right techniques, you’ll win more business.●


  • Dennis Black

    Dennis Black is the CEO of Dennis Black and Associates, a training organization devoted exclusively to the development of sales and management professionals within the lending industry. Dennis Black and Associates has trained more than 120,000 mortgage professionals throughout the United States, Canada and Australia. Black speaks at conferences sponsored by the Mortgage Bankers Association and NAMB - The Association of Mortgage Professionals about selling strategies and is a frequent speaker at state conferences.

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