Written by By Christopher Russow, as originally published in The Reverse Review.

The reverse mortgage loan is a complex financial tool and educating seniors about how it works has always been an intricate task. But as time passes, our target market has become more educated about the product and the negative stereotypes of the program are slowly becoming a thing of the past. In this day and age, seniors as a whole are more willing to listen as we explain how this amazing product can play a role in helping to change their lives.

In the traditional kitchen-table model, the loan officer has a wide variety of tools available to help move clients forward in the sales process. Eye contact, body language and physical presence are all an essential part of an effective and persuasive sales pitch. Unfortunately, when you’re selling a reverse mortgage over the phone, the majority of these tools are unavailable and we have to look to other methods to increase the effectiveness of our approach. To that end, this article will focus on the four most critical aspects of the phone sales process and will provide you with examples of how to incorporate these techniques into your sale. The “Four Cs” that I will discuss encompass the main parts of the sales process, and when combined they provide the loan officer with a powerful suite of tools to help achieve a greater level of success.

The first “C” that I want to discuss, Control, is a crucial part of your future relationship with your client and should start on your very first call. In the first 10 seconds of any new client contact, I always take the opportunity to request something from the person I am speaking to. For example, “Mrs. Client, do you have a pen and paper handy? Please write down my name and phone number in case you need to reach me in the future.” This statement, though simple and relatively unassuming, sets the stage for all future interactions between you and your client. Congratulations! You have just laid the first stone in the foundation of your relationship. From this point forward, you must always remember that when things get off track, asking your client to perform a simple task (verifying information, etc.) can bring you back on track. You must control the conversation to ensure that you’re getting the most from each interaction.

Once you have established Control, you need to uncover your client’s fundamental need. To do this, ask questions, learn about their situation (financial and otherwise) and make sure that you dig deep to determine what really drove them to want more information about the product. In order to build a relationship with your client and encourage them to open up to you over the phone, you need to engage the second “C,” Congruency, to make sure that you can build the trust necessary for them to continue the process with you. When I say Congruency, what I mean is that your tone of voice, your enthusiasm and what you say must be aligned. If your personality is mellow and you try to act enthusiastic over the phone, the client will be able to tell that you’re not being yourself. If you’re very energetic but you’re reading slowly from a script, your words and energy will not match. The best chance you have of winning over your client is by being yourself, genuinely caring about what is best for them and listening to everything they have to say. Remember, you have two ears and one mouth, so you should be listening twice

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as much as you’re speaking.

Once you have uncovered your client’s needs and really understand their specific situation, the next step in the process is to explain how much money they qualify for and which loan product is going to be best for their particular situation. This brings us to the next “C”: Consideration. You started the sales process by asking your client for something: specifically, to take down your information. Now it’s their turn to ask you for specific loan details. However, before you can provide this, you must receive consideration from the client to ensure that they are equally invested in the process. This consideration comes in the form of a firm appointment time to review the specifics of their loan. For example, your client might say, “Can you send me a loan proposal so I can see how much I qualify for?” They have asked you for something, and that means that they must provide some consideration in return. To ensure that they do, you reply, “Of course, I would be happy to set up a time to go through the specifics of your loan with you. Let me hang up and do some research into your specific situation and let’s set a time when I can call you back to go through all the figures with you.” The Consideration being exchanged is their FIRM commitment to be by the phone when you call, as well as your commitment to deliver them a proposal that outlines the best loan product for their situation and answers any questions they might have.

In the popular 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin’s character famously says that you should “always be closing.” Asking for the business, he says, is a crucial part of this process. Closing, our fourth and final “C,” is the last and most important part of the sale. In the traditional sense, many people think of closing as some kind of mysterious voodoo moment in the sales process where a couple quick tricks and catchphrases will catapult your client forward into processing. Sadly, there is no such thing as the “voodoo close.” However, there are ways to simplify the act of “asking for the business” that can help you achieve a higher level of success. Working with a consistent process will allow you to move forward in a way that is so fluid that the client will have no reason to object.

My favorite analogy for this is a visit to the doctor’s office. If I wake up with a sore throat and call the doctor, they will tell me when I can schedule an appointment. When I go to see the doctor, I sign in, wait in the waiting room and eventually get moved to an exam room, where I will wait some more. Eventually, I will see the doctor, who will ask me basic questions, shine a light down my throat, make me say “ahhh” and eventually send me on my way with some antibiotics and a plan to get better. We in the reverse mortgage business are just like physicians. Our clients have a problem, they come to see us looking for a solution and our job as professional loan officers is to write them a “prescription” to get them healthy. We don’t often question the doctor because they are the expert in their field. Showing your client that YOU are the expert eliminates the need for the “voodoo close.” When it comes time to move forward with an application, you can simply say, “The next step in the process is to get your loan into processing and to do this, I need to verify a few pieces of information.” All of a sudden, you’re taking an application and you never even had to “close” the client, because you both know that moving forward is the logical next step.