This is reinforced by the number of brokers in the industry reaching saturation, combined with a market that’s demonstrating softening demand. With 53 per cent of businesses being sole operators or two-broker businesses, the pressure is on to stand out from the crowd. There are obviously many ways to achieve this, with marketing usually jumping to front of mind. What’s often not prioritised to the same extent is how to be more effective in sales.
A recent paper by Harvard Business Review provides some insights into the attributes of high-performing sales leaders, compared to their less successful counterparts. A key finding was that the best sales leaders have a "target fixation" — meaning that they are target and deadline-driven. They are motivated by revenue goals, they block out distractions and they compartmentalise negative news that may cause distraction. This corresponds with being self-disciplined, success-driven and priority-focused. In addition, high-performing sales managers consistently measure performance and accountability (and thus eliminate complacency).
The question, therefore, becomes — how to implement proven strategies while also being realistic, authentic and sympathetic to both the broking industry and corresponding customer expectations. Or to rephrase: as a broker, how do you become better at sales? Here are some suggestions on where to start:
1. Identify (and stick to) your ideal buyer persona. Clearly define who your customer is (i.e., exactly whom you’re selling to and why). Sticking to this profile provides direction and clarity, and removes the temptation of a scattergun approach — the antithesis of effective prospecting.
2. Don’t wing it. An effective salesperson prepares before a customer engagement, whether it’s a meeting or a call. Do your research on your client, identify the corresponding challenges and pain points, and come in with a solution based on their specific circumstances.
3. Measure performance. Make sure the lead generation process is measurable and repeatable. Break down the sales process and pinpoint the weak points in order to identify where exactly the process can be improved.
4. Know your trade. To state the obvious: know your product. And make sure you know where to go should it not be an area that you’re familiar with (i.e., asset finance, specialist lending, etc.).
5. Challenge the status quo. Don’t veer away from tough topics or difficult questions. Being a "yes" person won’t earn respect. To the contrary, it can make clients feel that you’re incompetent. Don't be afraid to probe into your prospects' answers and challenge them when they say something that doesn't add up.
6. Think from the customer’s perspective. Become an ally and a solution provider to your customers, rather than a salesperson.
7. Listen! Speaking is easier than listening, but understanding will always yield greater returns.
8. Believe in what you’re selling. It’s easier to be passionate about — and sell — a product when you genuinely believe in it. The most effective salespeople believe in their product's value.
9. Be purpose-driven. Purpose is arguably the most powerful motivator. A great salesperson understands that the product or service they’re selling has the power to positively affect people’s lives, and this knowledge gives them a deep sense of purpose.
10. A customer’s win is your win. View your customer’s success as your own. Top salespeople don’t stop working as soon as the deal is done. Instead, they touch base frequently with their customers to seek feedback and provide tactical suggestions. Which takes us to the next recommendation...
11. Follow up. It’s easy to be lured by the prospect of the next shiny opportunity, though many salespeople neglect to nurture (or don’t fully nurture) existing leads. Use a CRM to help you streamline this process. And when you follow up, be considerate and personal versus adopting a one-size-fits-all mentality.
12. Be organised. Top reps are extremely organised. Set a plan of what your goals are, at a micro and macro level. With a clear strategy in hand, you’ll be amazed at how quickly and purposefully you can conduct your day.
13. Stay balanced. Salespeople experience extreme highs and lows. Successful reps need to stay centred and learn how to manage their emotions to maintain a middle ground.
Nick Young is a results-driven specialist who has more than 20 years’ experience in the mortgage broking industry. He heads Trail Homes, Australia’s most established and longest-serving trail book purchaser.