Residential Magazine

Rally Your Sales Force During This Difficult Stretch

Earn your team’s respect while helping to separate yourselves from the competition

By Dennis Black

Professional managers in the mortgage industry must lead by example in this challenging year. These leaders also must offer support and guidance for their loan originators. This will be a critical component of success today for individual originators and mortgage companies. The purpose of management is to help people achieve success. To do this, mortgage industry leaders need to have a basic management philosophy and stay the course with this ethos even during the most difficult times. There also are some crucial tasks that mortgage industry managers can do right now and throughout the year to increase their team’s loan production.

Leaders put themselves in front of staff to give them direction and purpose when facing difficulties. The mortgage industry experienced a lot of challenges in 2022, yet there is reason to be optimistic that the tide is turning ever so slightly in the opening months of 2023.

“Leadership is a privilege and since you desire this position, earn your team’s respect with consistency in your management style.”

Management’s role in facilitating growth and skills is crucial for retail mortgage originators this calendar year. It will likely be the difference between success and failure. Managers should review key sales tips and, if they’re a producing manager, lead by example in fielding calls with Realtors or builders.

Managers who fail to lead by example will leave their people to their own peril without proper direction. Training is vital to getting originators in the proper frame of mind to sell, but just as important is to follow up. Without consistent check-ins, people revert to their old habits, and they fail to use the new skills that will make them and their company successful.

This is a time when more people are competing for fewer available dollars. A manager’s role is not to be a friend to their loan officers. Instead, truly be the person who can consistently help them learn the industry and understand how to separate themselves from the competition.

Developing staff

In assessing your organization, one of the first crucial tasks a manager needs to determine are the skills they need to provide so their team can overcome market challenges. This could mean bringing in an outside training consultant to help establish a strategy, or it could involve utilizing their personal experience as a seasoned manager to run coaching scenarios with tips and tools.

The first obstacle in doing it yourself is understanding whether you have the time to commit to the true development of your staff. If you are still producing loans and calling on Realtors or builders, time may be stretched thin, and you may not be able to devote the necessary time to truly develop your organization with sales tools and techniques. Having a mentor on your team who can be a team lead or sales group supervisor will help in spreading the workload. This person should be capable of leading by example with salespeople in the field as they work with referral partners.

As a leader for your team, look to focus on specific areas to develop your staff. These include prospecting skills; appointment-setting skills; conducting a professional interview; handling the personality attributes of a Realtor or builder; managing the anti-buying attitudes of some clients; and following up to secure consistent referral relationships. By providing tips and tools in each of these areas, you lay the foundation for a quality purchase loan environment for your team, and your production will correspondingly grow.

Ask your individual originators about their current relationships with referral partners. Who has sent them a buyer in the past 90 days? How do your originators maintain their relationships with these business partners? When seeking an appointment with a Realtor or builder, never ask for more than 15 minutes of time. A good sales call is done within 10 to 20 minutes, depending on whether it is a new relationship or an existing one that needs to be reactivated.

On the call, always use “needs-based selling” to understand why a Realtor should work with you before sharing what you have to offer them. Without need, there is no sale. Learn other techniques by looking to outside trainers or reviewing trade publications. Realize that no sale is ever made on the first call.

Team accountability

Once you have established techniques, the next step is to hold your team accountable for the necessary field activities that will yield the results you expect in a purchase-oriented market. This requires a disciplined follow-up plan for a manager to make sure their staff is doing what is expected to attract valued referral partners in 2023.

Mortgage originators, with the help of their managers, should aim for a strong mix of maintenance activities and business- development calls when it comes to reaching Realtors. This goal of maintaining past relationships and developing new ones can help your sales team land the leads they will need in this environment. The aim is to build a base of approximately 15 agents who work with you on a rotational basis by the end of first-quarter 2023.

Without accountability on these activities, there will be little to no change in sales staff production. Consequently, you, your reports and your company will struggle to meet goals for the year. The key is to have a high number of calls early in the year — certainly before the home purchase season picks up.

Sales managers should do a semimonthly review with each originator. Around the mid-month mark, look at what they’ve done during the first two weeks of the month. The second review at month’s end should focus on the activities each originator has completed in growing their Realtor footprint. Maintaining this focus earlier in the year offers the best chance for originators to be in the right place from April through October, the period that historically is the busiest time of the year for real estate purchase transactions.

Consistent approach

In the mortgage business, you drive a sales force through two clear methods: compensation and accountability. Compensation is a worthy topic to discuss another time, but accountability is proven and true. When salespeople make a minimum of two business-development calls per week to grow their pipeline and do the necessary follow-up with existing Realtor relationships, their volume will naturally grow due to the increased activity level.

Leadership is a privilege and since you desire this position, earn your team’s respect with consistency in your management style. Do not be on one month and off the next. Drive their high level of activities and guide them through their one-on-one accountability sessions twice a month, and you will see them implement your strategy for success.

Quality managers drive their people to achieve their potential. Poor managers leave their reports alone, which can lead to their demise. If you embrace what you do and do it at a high level in the early stages of 2023, you and your team will reap the rewards of your management approach during a challenging time in the industry. ●


  • 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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