Residential Magazine

The Winning Pitch

For the perfect delivery, follow these steps during the sales conversation

By Dennis Black

With the challenges posed by a volatile interest rate market, mortgage originators must understand the psyche of today’s borrower. To do so, every originator needs to take control of the sales conversation. Every borrower is different and so are their needs. If you open each conversation with a plan, the borrower will give you what you need to win their business most of the time. There’s a systematic strategy to selling. If you truly want to succeed, practice and consistency will separate your approach from the competition.

Here’s the sequence of a good sales conversation: who, what, where, why and when. It’s the basics of Journalism 101, although you’ll provide the how. Diving into the rationale behind this sequence, you will realize how effective it can be to win with today’s challenging, rate-sensitive borrower.

“Motivation drives every decision a borrower makes. Understand the ‘why’ and you can achieve success on almost every call with a prospect.”

Initial details

Today in the mortgage industry, you get leads from a variety of sources. It could be the consumer who is calling you directly. A lead may have come from an inquiry on your website. You could be calling your past database of clients. Many times, a Realtor will reach out to let you know that a prospect needs financing.

Your first and most essential job is to remember with whom you are interacting. If the borrower starts the conversation by asking about rates or programs, and did not provide their name, your job is to immediately seek three key pieces of information: the borrower’s name and what they prefer to be called, their phone number in case the call drops, and an e-mail address to reach them with a follow-up of the discussion.

This may be housekeeping, but it’s important housekeeping. Phone calls drop. Borrowers may confuse you with another loan officer. By writing down their name and obtaining a couple of ways to reach them, you’ve already started the sales call on the right foot.

Now that you know with whom you are interacting, use their name three times during your conversation to personalize the call. Do it at the beginning, the middle and the end as you summarize the call to secure the business.

Basic intent

The “what” portion of the conversation is extremely important. Ask the borrower about their intent behind the inquiry: Is it to purchase a new property? Is it to refinance and consolidate bills? This is extremely relevant early in a new year when people have overloaded their credit cards with extra debt due to the holidays.

What are they trying to accomplish by pursuing this mortgage? For many borrowers, they may not know all that a new mortgage can do for them. It is your job to educate them to the possibilities of what debt restructuring really means.

It often makes sense to consolidate not only credit card debt but other expenses such as car payments or medical bills. The new mortgage may have a higher rate than the old mortgage, but the borrower may be eliminating debt on credit cards or other bills that charge a double-digit interest rate.

Whenever you do a cost analysis, the X factor is their current debt with the mortgage and all bills compared to the Y factor with the new payment under a single mortgage. If the differential is to your advantage as a lender that can consolidate their debt, request that they act immediately. If the new mortgage payment is close to the current one, plus all outstanding bills, having only one payment is many times seen as advantageous. It prevents the debt from rising on high-cost credit cards and other bills.

Useful observations

Now you’ll start to analyze the “where.” You’ll want to look at the property that the borrower is looking to purchase, or you’ll evaluate their current property on a refinance transaction to restructure debt. With the address, you can pull up the property on your search engine of choice and look at the home while you are speaking with the borrower. This gives you instant credibility in the borrower’s mind that you are using quality technology as well as offering your evaluation.

When you can actually see the property, you can praise the homeowner for the pending purchase or discuss the neighborhood where they wish to move. You can also make observations regarding their current property to make the borrower feel good about their home.

In addition, if you see the property has room for improvement, such as a pool or a backyard entertainment area, share that observation. You can show the borrower how they may utilize their extra funds on a refinance to enhance the value of their home. This is where you stand out from other originators. You’re having a discussion with the borrower and showing them options they may not have considered.

Motivating factor

The next step is by far the most critical part of the discussion with the borrower. Understanding why someone wants to transact is the key to a successful phone conversation. Nobody makes the effort to call a lender or inquire online without a reason why.

If they are purchasing a property, find out if their family is growing and they need more space. Maybe their kids have gone away to college and they are downsizing. They could be transferring to a job in a new area. Combine that with the “where” and you now start to develop a picture in your mind about why they want to buy a particular property or why they’re seeking to improve their current residence.

The “why” reveals a critical element to be used in your conversation summary: motivation. You will control the call if you understand the borrower’s motivation.

If someone is consolidating debt to eliminate bills and a higher interest rate, you’ll understand their reasoning. You may be offering a mortgage with a 2% higher interest rate than what they have now, but they’ll save money overall if they are, for instance, eliminating volatile interest rates on credit card payments. If the motivation is to pay off a car or buy a new car for a family member, use that example when you summarize and close. Focus on the motivation rather than the rate or the product.

Many originators fail to understand the borrower’s motivation. You are empathizing with the borrower and gaining clarity on their purpose. Motivation drives every decision a borrower makes. Understand the “why” and you can achieve success on almost every call with a prospect.

Essential timing

The final portion of the discussion is based on the concept of when they want to make the decision. On a purchase transaction, your job is to understand when they want to get a preapproval prior to making an offer and, equally important, when they want to move into the property.

Timing is an essential factor to separate why a borrower should use you versus a competitor that may not be able to deliver in the time frame the borrower seeks. Once you understand the timing, you can also develop trust with the Realtor by delivering financing on time.

On a refinance, understand when the borrower needs the funds and why they need it in that time frame. By understanding these components, you can summarize and close.

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During this conversation, take careful notes. Now all you need to do is tell the borrower, “Let’s go ahead and review our discussion and let me show you why I should be your loan officer for this transaction.” At this stage, your goal is to recap their situation.

Create a sense of urgency to act. Rates are volatile. Borrowers are anxious. Every day is uncertain. If you follow this conversational sequence and ask the right questions, you’ll understand your borrower and their reasoning, giving you an advantage in securing the transaction. ●


  • 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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