In addition to developing dialogue that assists in profiling borrowers and leads to the best mortgage program for them, good listening skills can build rapport. Good listening takes practice, and there are techniques one can use to become a good listener.
A critical skill needed to become a top originator is that of listening. And while originators may not be born with exceptional listening abilities, there are steps they can take to improve.
The genius of selling today may be the ability to listen, according to the sales training book, Stop Telling, Start Selling (How to Use Customer Focused Dialogue to Close Sales).
Top performers interviewed for the book consistently said they are good listeners and that it is through listening that the best questions are born and dialogue is created.
The book's author, Linda Richardson, says eye contact is one way to keep alert. "If you frequently find yourself drifting away during sales calls, try doing what good listeners do: look at your customer," she says. "Most important, don't forget to look at your customer as you take notes."
Body language is an important technique to learn as well. Body language experts agree that a significant amount of information communicated person to person is nonverbal, the book states. Fingertips touching in a steeple-like manner may indicate that the customer is an authority on the subject; covering the mouth may mean they are not being forthright; or slapping a hand down/pounding a fist would show conviction.
Laser listening, the book says, is a way to go deeper, to question. Instead of agreeing or disagreeing with a statement the borrower might say, a good listener would ask why the borrower felt that way. For example, if the borrower said, "I don't like ARMs," the average listener might respond with, "I do" or "I don't," but the laser listener might say, "I'd like to know why you feel that way."
Listening for key words or "neon words" can help a good loan originator evaluate the borrower's needs. Find out what is behind those words that light up the customer's eyes and voice when in conversation.
Try to keep the conversation with the borrower on a 50/50 level. Listen for half of the time.
One of the most serious listening crimes an originator can commit is interrupting. Richardson says, "Far from interrupting your customers, whenever you sense that your customer wants to speak, stop talking and listen."
Knowing when to be silent is another aspect of the art of selling.
Mirroring is the practice of matching up with your customer's body language, voice, manner of speech, and words. Mirroring can be useful, the book says, to help the borrower feel comfortable.
Checking is another technique good listeners use to ensure the borrower has not drifted off or become confused by the information given. "It is helpful to check the customer's familiarity with jargon," Richardson explains. "Use jargon only when you are absolutely certain the customer understands it."
The book reminds that good listening can include taking notes. "Taking notes helps ensure that you will keep your promises," the author writes. "It reassures and flatters the customer. And it helps you develop ideas and proposals that reflect customer needs."
The Fifth Element
Abandoning a sales script and addressing the specific needs of prospective borrowers is a key factor promoted by one leading sales training book.