In a recent conversation with a veteran mortgage banking trainer, he commented that invariably in every class, there are adopters of the new selling techniques and those who plainly reject what is being taught. In my consulting practice I’ve seen this time and again. I find that top originators are more than willing to learn new selling techniques because they are continually looking for ways to improve their sales models. On the other hand, “resisters” are easy to spot because they fight tooth and nail to even attend training sessions. Most of the time, they don’t even show up.
The most interesting group in my view that the trainer did not mention are what I call the “training fakers” because they are enthusiastic in class, but never implement any of the training. They are a more pleasant type of resister. Certainly, they can come up with a myriad of excuses of why they haven’t taken action. These originators typically produce two or three units a month. They might have been successful in the past but aren’t now. For an instructor and their manager, this is the most frustrating group to work with because these originators may have sales talent but are not willing to go outside of their comfort zone.
Training fakers tend to be experienced originators who are happy with their income and have made the decision to not learn anything new. They view learning new selling techniques as something that they don’t want to bother with because they feel they are successful which can be a false assumption considering their current production. They often claim blame the company for their lack of production. A sure sign of a training faker is someone who says at the start of a class, “you don’t understand, my market is different, or my company’s pricing is bad.” These individuals will attend the training because the company or manager mandates that they do so but they do not apply anything that is being taught.
Learning at its heart is all about trying something new and adjusting the new practices to an originator’s selling situation. With fakers, their unwillingness to learn something new can be hidden but according to psychologists, the core issue is fear of failure. Failing can be embarrassing and frustrating. It requires a level of self-confidence that these producers don’t have at this point in their career. For these individuals, training that provides great information isn’t enough to change their sales performance. A better approach is to recognize that low performers with sales talent have different training needs than other producers. Training must be personalized and address the specific issue that is holding them back. Once the underlying issue is corrected, they can change their sales performance.
All of this means that managers should look more closely at their originators and identify which producers will adopt and implement sales training and which originators will require a more customized track.
Some managers believe that an originator’s sales improvement is up to the sales professional. They view the company’s job as providing operational function not skill set improvement. Many rationalize this by saying, “well it’s a commission job and the originators are responsible for their own performance.” Others think that they will provide the technology that will compensate for the originator’s selling failures. And still others bring in motivational speakers hoping that will fix sales performance problems. None of these efforts will move the sales needle for fakers who need a more individualized training approach to succeed.
Training like so much else in business today is changing dramatically. For best results, training should be customized to meet individual originator’s needs. One-size-fits-all training misses the mark and ends up being a poor investment that does not change sales results.
The reality is that training for top performers should be different than what training fakers receive. The resisters are individuals who clearly should be moved out since they are outright refusing any improvement efforts. The fakers need help in the form of a more customized approach that addresses their fear issue first and then moves to new learning to help them sell more effectively.