All too often, loan advisors get caught up on the “sales” side of their business. Believe me, I get it. If your loan doesn’t close, you don’t make any money. That’s fair enough, but look at it from your client’s point of view. If their loan doesn’t close, they don’t get to __________. Fill in the blank. Buy a home. Secure their financial future. Make a long-term investment. Give their children their own room, a backyard for the dog to play or a home office for their spouse.
Get where I’m going with this? Each loan may be a commission for you, but it’s someone else’s life and dream. So stop selling. Quit pitching. In fact, close your mouth. Instead, open your ears and get ready for your borrowers to do most of the work for you. When they feel comfortable talking, they can fill you in on exactly what they want, their financial situation and any fears/red flags they may have.
Ready to improve your listening? Here’s how to do that in five easy steps.
- Understand Why You’re Listening
Many people listen so they can be more efficient, avoid conflict, be entertained, or gain attention or support. Those are all self-driven motives, so let’s take a step back. Before you start a conversation, think about the goals of that encounter and how listening can get you there faster.
Then begin to forge an honest connection by providing your knowledge and expertise, utilizing your analytical skills and empathizing with the emotions involved in such a large financial investment.
- Recognize How You Typically Listen
We all have a style. Are you consistently supportive, efficient, articulate or funny? Chances are, those are all responses to your listening style. They can be great mechanisms in some situations, but may also fall short in others.
For example, a potential borrower telling you about their credit woes may be doing just that – looking to air their concerns and fears. They may not want to be met with a task-oriented to-do list, but rather a sympathetic ear. Don’t miss opportunities to connect emotionally because you’re too focused on your own goals. Determine what the borrower needs, then proceed down that path. I promise there will be a time when you can give them that to-do list, but it’s all about choosing the right time and approach.
- Be Cognizant of the Focal Point
Spoiler alert: the focal point is the borrower. It’s natural to want to relate to others through anecdotes and shared experiences, but remain aware that this conversation should serve the borrower. So be conscientious of too many “me” stories that steer the conversation away from them.
Of course, you’re going to share some stories when appropriate. Just be sure you bring the topic back to the borrower by saying something like, “but enough about me,” or “I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.” Knowing you need to reverse the conversation also prevents you from going too far down the rabbit hole on everyone’s favorite subject: ourselves.
- Adapt Your Listening Style
Staying focused on the borrower means adapting with their needs. When they’re talking goals, you’re being supportive and providing a few scenarios that may help them achieve them. When they’re discussing concerns, you’re offering up reassurance and asking what scares them the most so you can try to alleviate those fears. When they’re not ready to buy a home but just want some information on what the process looks like, you’re outlining the steps and letting them know you’re there without a pushy sales pitch.
- Ask Questions
Remember that you don’t know everything. You may be a mortgage pro, but you’re not a pro at their story. Try to fill in holes, gaps in what they say or any ambiguous statements by asking questions. Ask if there’s anything more they’d like to tell you. If they have any more questions. If you’ve missed anything. Ask away and continue asking until they seem satisfied that they’ve given all they want to give.
Inviting more details is always a sound strategy over providing unrequested solutions.
You really get to know your borrowers when your mouth closes and your two ears open. Make it a habit to talk less and listen more, and you’ll find you achieve better results not only with borrowers, but with everyone you interact with.