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Hard cash

One reality TV programme that may rise above the standard of trailer trash is a new series starting on Sky called Hard Sell. This will follow an as yet unnamed high-profile sales Svengali as he tries to identify cures for underperforming salesforces. Sound familiar?

Well it should. Because despite the fact that 2006 was a record year for the mortgage market, that figure still belies the fact that too many of today’s mortgage practitioners and sales managers are mediocre at best.

Intermediary businesses bemoan the dearth of new entrants but the problem is not one just of quantity but also of quality.

I must know over 300 mortgage practitioners across the UK . Some of these are machines who are shifting over £50m worth of loans a year in their own right. But many are journeymen, operating in a comfort zone. Salary inflation is rampant to the extent that £50k basics for distinctly average consultants is not unknown.

This might be more palatable but for the fact that the sales management of some of these people leaves a lot to be desired.

The regulation of mortgages and the advent of narrower spans of control have redefined the roles of some sales managers. Some now cling to a blanket marked training, competence and compliance. Monthly meetings with consultants have become tick – box affairs in which file checks and compliance issues take precedence over the coaching of a practitioner .

Too many sales managers were yesterday’s failed salespeople . They are the ” Do as I say , not do as I did myself ” brigade .

And last, too many are quite simply box-tickers who have meandered into management because they grew weary of selling. They may well be self -organised individuals but they have hit their career glass ceilings and have no degree of personal inspiration about them. I call this the emotional intelligence void.

I define emotional intelligence as the ability to influence others’ behaviour emphatically and consistently by virtue of their own personality and character. A kind of X factor if you like.

Last year was an annus mirabilis but by 2008 it is going to be tougher. Rising rates coupled with foaming property values and the impact of lender retention strategies may scale the market size back. Most of today’s advisers have never had to perform in a downturning market and, more pointedly , neither have most of their sales managers.

Kevin Duffy is managing director of Hamptons International Mortgages.

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