Maybe time to refresh your softer skills
Smack in the middle of COVID-19, as home working became the norm and people sought a sanctuary of garden space, we decided to pop into a garden office showroom near Telford. Beneath the cavernous building, we sheltered from the torrential rain outside. We admired the hundreds of fabricated garden offices spread across the floors.
One of the sales assistants popped her head around the wall of an exceptionally spacious garden office that we liked and asked if we needed any help. Shelley and I had dozens of questions of a technical nature which we fired at the confident young lady.
She answered our questions perfectly. Not a stutter or a pause for thought; she knew the answers to every question we threw at her. Her technical knowledge was to be respected.
the sales assistant didn’t do any selling at all. She merely answered our questions
“Have I answered all your questions?” she exclaimed. “Yes, thank you so much; you’ve been most helpful”, we replied in unison. We wandered the floor some more, then agreed that we would continue our research online and left to return home.
Nothing weird about the story; it was true. On the drive home, I mentioned to Shelley that the sales assistant didn’t do any selling at all. She merely answered our questions. Brilliantly might I add. But no:
- Qualifying our situation
- Probing to find out more about us
- Seeking a little commitment from us
- Obtaining some form of budget
- Asking what our motivation to buy a garden office was
- Asking how committed we were to buy
- Laying a sense of urgency in our minds.
- Giving a compelling reason to act now in her store.
And she didn’t even take down our details, which we would have been glad to provide.
Nothing at all apart from answering our questions.
The parallels for those involved in the mortgage business are pretty stark. Most mortgage brokers and advisers have been order-takers from the back end of 2020 until the tail end of 2022. So much business to be had by all we endeavoured merely to soak up demand and place mortgage cases. It was long, arduous work but rewarding financially and emotionally, helping all those people achieve their dreams and raise finance.
These two years witnessed thousands of people buy home offices for their gardens. Glorified sheds that allowed them to work from home in peace and efficiency. There were just a few places you could buy one within a half-decent time frame, so purveyors didn’t have to work too hard. Just take orders from customers. That’s probably what motored my sales assistant friend in Telford. She didn’t need to work too hard and just hoovered orders.
But times change. Her industry has taken a hammering. Many workers have flocked back to offices driven by varying cultures and demanding bosses. People’s challenge with disposable income has threatened any purchase of an expensive home office—an unnecessary luxury.
In the same manner, our sector has changed. We can’t survive merely taking orders from mortgage customers or relying on the phone ringing and the email inbox pinging.
We will have to start working just a little bit differently. Not harder. Merely peddling faster against the current won’t cut it. We have to be more innovative in 2023. We need to learn to sell, which, by the way, is not a dirty word. Sell in Norwegian is selge, meaning “serve a customer” who wants to buy.