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The Fifth Element

"Stop Telling, Start Selling" discusses dialogue selling

January 27, 2005

By PAULA PARISOT


Abandoning a sales script and addressing the specific needs of prospective borrowers is a key factor promoted by one leading sales training book.

The book shows how to use "dialogue selling" as a means to differentiate you, your product and "your organization in a hypercompetitive world of look-alike products."

There are six consistent elements in Stop Telling, Start Selling (How to Use Customer-focused Dialogue to Close Sales) that make up the dialogue framework in sales; the opening, customer needs, product positioning, objections, close/action step, and the follow-up. Sales training author Linda Richardson notes the idea that the elements are in a fixed sequence needs to be abandoned, with exception to the opening being at the beginning and the close at the end.

"Recognizing the nonlinear dynamics of selling is the key factor that separates dialogue selling from the traditional, linear selling approach," Richardson wrote. "Sales scripts are not effective because they are linear and don't allow for real dialogue."

The opening element, Richardson noted, consists of seven variable tasks to be accomplished; the greeting and introduction, paying special attention to getting the applicant's name correct; rapport, summary (of qualifications), the purpose/agenda, more about "you and your organization" (if with a prospect), time check (optional), and bridge to needs.

If time seems to be an issue, a time check can be done by simply saying during the opening, "I'd like to check how much time we have." The book advises using this technique only after stating your purpose and creating an interest in your services, such as loan programs.

Establishing customer needs, the second element, is key to fitting the best loan program to the borrower's financial situation. "The best salespeople are as much advisors as salespeople," Richardson wrote. "If you want an edge over your competitors, create one through how much you know about your customers."

The third element in the dialogue framework, product positioning, consists of the clear explanation of features and benefits; tailoring the loan program with fresh and up-to-date information--determining the best program for the borrower.

Objections, the fourth element, can be frustrating for any loan originator. The book offers a model of six critical skills to overcome objections: Maintaining presence, expressing empathy, asking questions to understand the objection, positioning the response, and using checking to get feedback.

The best way to approach the fifth element, the closing, is to recognize that the closing begins before meeting with the borrower when you set the call objective, the author wrote, and continues through feedback from the borrower during the entire process.

The last element, the follow-up, should occur before and after the borrower closes. Follow up during the process shows interest while the follow-up after ensures customer satisfaction and future business.

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Paula Parisot is a freelance writer for MortgageDaily.com. In addition to 4 years' journalism experience at other news publications, Paula has worked in the mortgage industry. Email Paula at: [email protected]


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