Carly Fiorina shared a significant lesson with our industry during the last Republican primary debate. Of all of the candidates on the stage, Fiorina stood out as the only one who seemed to realize that sometimes, when you're trying to communicate important ideas, less is more. In our industry, we need to learn the same thing.
There are noteworthy stories behind the decisions your borrowers are making. Talking less about things they don't really care about, while letting them talk more about the emotions they do care about, puts the loan officer in a very powerful position.
Fiorina demonstrated this principle in the best example we can take from the most recent debate. In an interview prior to the debate, Donald Trump made some churlish comments about Fiorina's appearance, and the CNN moderator asked her to comment on Trump's remarks. She was given 90 seconds to rebut.
Most of us would have taken that 90 seconds and filled it, especially with a dozen other suits onstage utilizing every single second. Not Fiorina. I quote: "I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said." Her silence and refusal to engage spoke volumes.
This is an excellent lesson for us, especially in the sales arena. We often forget that just because a well-trained loan officer can say a great deal about available loan products and possible borrower solutions doesn't mean they should. How often have we had a potential borrower come up to us and say, "I'm buying a home. What type of mortgages do you have?" Too many salespeople shift into verbal diarrhea mode and begin to rap the entire rate sheet.
Remember Fiorina. Less is more. The proper response when a prospect tells you they are considering the purchase of a home is, "Wow! That's great. Tell me about it." It's a simple question that gets the prospect talking. It's surrendering your time at the debate podium, just as Fiorina did, and letting your customer give you the information required to close themselves.
Salespeople perform better when they ask instead of tell. Very often, consumers will tell you what you need to build a new relationship, nurture it and ultimately close the sale — but only if you ask. When we ask our borrowers, we learn that there is a great deal of emotion tied up in these transactions. We need to respond to that.
For example, if a prospect tells you that they're looking to relocate, moving from one part of country to another, you can bet that this is going to be a very emotional experience for them. This is something you can talk to them about. Ask them, "How do you feel about this move? Are you excited about it?"
If they tell you that this is their first time buying a home, you can bet they're going to be concerned about the down payment. And they might be worried about how they're going to furnish their new home after they buy it. Worrying about whether they have enough cash to close is going to be a concern. These are all much more important topics of discussion than the many loan products you have available on the current rate sheet.
The same is true if they tell you that they are moving down, selling a bigger house and buying a smaller home. That's a very emotional time in life, as any empty nester will tell you. (In fact, I am currently on Empty Nest Tour 3, coming to a city near you.)
In my last two articles, I wrote about what I've taken out of the experience of the Republicans' race for a presidential nomination so far. I've had some fun at Trump's expense, and pointed out that polling people constantly might be a great approach for the mortgage industry as well.
(As usual, this column should not be construed as an endorsement for any particular candidate as the right political candidate will likely always be a subject for intense debate.)
Now, in a future column, I am going to discuss another aspect of the Fiorina story: her experience while head of Hewlett-Packard Co. This future column will be about culture, how to build one and how to destroy one. You see, Fiorina demonstrated at the debates that she could be a good salesperson, but that does not mean she is a good executive. Sort of like some mortgage people I know.
Garth Graham is a partner with Stratmor Group and has more than 25 years of mortgage experience.