Doug Mathlin explores how avoiding common missteps can boost your sales and energise your business
Short-term needs analysis and providing short-term solutions
The average rate of Client Advocacy is low in many industries and the mortgage broking industry is no different. Borrowers regularly realise in the first few years that their loan structure is not right for them in the long-term (or their situation changes). Unfortunately, this can create doubt about the value/worth of the original broker and many clients ‘walk’ as a consequence. Brokers should understand the short and long-term goals of each client to ensure that they can provide the best structure at the outset and for the future. They should also ensure that the client understands that if their circumstances change, they should meet with their broker to discuss new borrowing strategies.
Not educating clients that they’re selling relationships and advice – rather than transactions
Most clients contact brokers because they’ve decided they need to borrow or restructure their debts. Brokers don’t really need to ‘sell loans’, the client has already bought into that. Borrowers will often only focus on the loan that they need now and not think about what brokers really do. The brokers’ job is to fully understand their clients’ needs, provide advice where appropriate and educate their client how they will assist them with borrowing for the long-term. I hear some brokers tell their clients that they are their ‘personal banker’ when it comes to debts and wealth creation – which hopefully mean that the client will turn to the broker first when they next want to borrow.
Only meeting client needs rather than exceeding them
Experienced brokers are often guilty of just doing enough to complete the transaction and not finding a way to do the 1% extras. Client satisfaction comes from needs being met; client loyalty begins when client expectations are exceeded. Top performers will often check to make sure that they over-deliver to every client.
Expecting the prospect/client to do the work for you
Sending a detailed needs analysis to a prospect who doesn’t know you and expecting them to complete it is not a good way to engage with clients. Firstly, some people will not be willing to complete it do to the personal nature of the questions and others won’t have the information required at their disposal. Most brokers’ value propositions are about saving clients time and money. Brokers should make it easy for clients to do business with them. Have someone help the client complete the fact find and you will more likely have a very please client who is willing to recommend your services.
Sending a high-level fact find to identify the client and to ensure that the client is a serious buyer is fine – but not a 10+ page questionnaire.
Not having a system or process to follow at the point of sale or beyond it
‘Winging it’ is never a good presentation plan. Sales people need to be professional communicators who can articulate their message clearly. Many brokers turn up to client appointments and ask ‘how can I help?’ and make it up from there. Take control of future meetings by setting the agenda and keep clients on track with what you are doing. You are the one being paid for this meeting, therefore you should control it.
Great sales people have anecdotes to back up their experience and to sell their knowledge. Top performing sales people have a sales presentation plan and structure that they follow and have the ability to adjust it to the differing personality styles of their prospects.
Keep a record of the questions that you need to ask each client. Prepare to deliver your key messages (eg. your value proposition, your personal experience, your referral program) and anticipate any un-asked questions.
No urgency to perform
One of the things that brokers can do to outperform the competition, is provide a truly personal service to each client and referrer. The energy and enthusiasm of the sales person are the things that the client will remember well beyond the interest rate and the application to settlement process. Quickly reacting to client needs (and anticipating them) is a great way to demonstrate your care and commitment to client needs.
Set yourself a benchmark to respond to client enquiries in less than an hour on average. Answer all inbound calls where possible. These are the details that clients will remember.
Not managing client expectations
One of the things that clients get annoyed/frustrated or confused about is ‘not knowing what’s happening with their loan’. Brokers write and settle loans all of the time whereas clients do this a few times in their life (some only take out 1 or 2 loans). As this is a really important decision for the client and a stressful time, the least the broker can do is keep them informed about what is happening.
It’s important to provide clients with a flow chart on the application to post-settlement process. It’s also important to stay in contact with the client directly (by phone or email). In the early stages, it will pay to call the client almost every day to let them know what is happening, explain the next steps and ask this question ‘when would you like to hear from me again?’
The inability to sell themselves and their referral program
If you rely on repeat and referral business from clients, it is critical that you tell your clients about this. I’m always staggered by the number of brokers who ‘hope’ for referrals and recommendations rather than be direct about it. Tell your clients why you are going to do the best you can for them and tell them how you generate business (ie. client referrals). Don’t ask for specific names of people that you can call but make sure they know how to repay you for your great service!