Subscribe to the Podcast now on Apple Podcasts!
Become a member of the elite Institute for Excellence in Sales and attend the February 7 “Build Your Story Playbook: The Catalyst to Explosive Sales Growth” program with storytelling expert Matthew Pollard.
EPISODE 206: Quicken Loans Sales Star Justin Lee Shares How Even When Tons of Leads Come Flying In, Smart and Effective Sales Techniques are Still Critical
JUSTIN’S FINAL TIP TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “It ties back into the power of attitude, and belief in yourself and assuming the sale will happen. I always tell my team members I don’t care what sales business you’re in, be assumptive and get to the close. If you don’t go for the close it’s never going to happen. If you get over the fear of rejection by making sure you’re going for the close you’re going to find success.”
We’re doing today’s show in Downtown Detroit, Michigan with Justin Lee. He’s the Regional Vice President of Client Service for Rock Connections.
Rock Connections is part of the Quicken Loans family of companies.
Check out our previous show with Adam Stalmack from Rock Connections.
Justin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fred Diamond: Why don’t you tell us a little more about you that we need to know?
Justin Lee: Thank you for having me, Fred. A little bit about me, my name is Justin Lee. I always joke I’ve been in sales my whole life and I think constantly we’re always selling, but really since I graduated college – Michigan State, I’ve always had a sales role, kind of built off that. Passionate about sales, working with people, developing people and that’s what just works with being with Rock Connections because that’s what we’re all about here.
Fred Diamond: I said in the beginning of the show that your title is Director of Communications, but it’s more of a sales role is what you do. (Since this show aired, Justin was promoted to RVP).
Justin Lee: Absolutely, with my position at Rock Connections it’s kind of funny, I feel like everyone knows Quicken Loans. Rock Connections is part of the family of companies but we do our own thing. Interesting fact, we’ve been in business just over 7 years and we’re actually the fastest growing business in Detroit in the last 7 years. That catches a lot of people off guard, but what we do in the campaign I work for is we’re essentially the first responders. We call clients looking to refinance and purchase and we’re having those first conversations to convince them why it’s in their best interest to talk to a banker at Quicken Loans.
Fred Diamond: Again, we have listeners around the globe but everyone’s seen the Quicken Loans commercials, you have so many different campaigns going on so you must get tons of leads. Your team follows up with them as a first call, is what you said?
Justin Lee: Yes, I always call us the first responders but we’re the first contact people have with our client, Quicken Loans. Mortgages is typically the biggest financial decision someone makes in their lifetime, there’s a lot of hesitancy that goes along with that. We’re taught, trained and coached into influence and persuasion and why it’s in their best interest to reach out and speak to one of our mortgage bankers at Quicken Loans.
Fred Diamond: You told us what you sell but what excites you about that?
Justin Lee: Everything, dealing with people. I always say I think one of the worst things in life is to be complacent or feel stuck and that’s what I really do love about the sales role because everyone is different. Every single day you come in, every person that you talk with, you may get the same objection, you may get the same pushback but at the end of the day it’s a different person so it’s never the same thing day after day.
Fred Diamond: Tell us how you got here, tell us about how you first got into sales. I know you said you always thought that you were in sales but how did you first get into the career of sales?
Justin Lee: It started when I was a teenager when I had to convince my parents to go out – no, I’m kidding. Really what happened for me when I graduated college, I think like most people, I graduated with an economics degree and didn’t really know what I wanted to do, didn’t know how that really played out in my life. My dad needed help with his business at the time and he used to be self-employed, commercial real estate, specifically gas station properties. I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I figured if my dad needs help, I’m going to go help him and that was really my first experience when it came to sales and from day 1, I’m always growing, I’m always learning but I had no idea of what to expect. Since that day, that excitement, that adrenaline, it’s like a puzzle.
I’m kind of a nerd when it comes to those regards but everyone you deal with, I feel like if you’re relating to them the right way there are certain things to make that person feel more comfortable and more confident in you. That’s what I like about sales, just growing, being able to read people, identify, speak with people and convince them, “Hey, this is in your best interest to do this.”
Fred Diamond: I want to ask you a question about that. Again, as I mentioned in the beginning, Quicken Loans does so many advertisements, Rickie Fowler, the golfer and you have so many commercials that are going on, you’re all over the internet as well. People have to do something to become a lead, so what happens then? When your team calls these people is everybody ready to refi or to get a mortgage or do you still have to sell them? Give us a little peak into the background, if you will.
Justin Lee: We call these ‘warm leads’ but every lead that we dial, they at least put in 7 pieces of information for us to be calling them so it’s not like we’re just going through the white pages being like, “Do you want a mortgage, do you want to refinance?” No, we know there’s some interest with every client that we’re speaking to. Saying that, though, 90% of our calls – that’s a number that I’m just making up but I feel like that’s pretty accurate – there are some kind of objections or hesitancy with it just because maybe they’re going online just looking for answers but they didn’t expect a phone call.
Or maybe they’re upside down on their mortgage, they’re looking for help but it’s hard to admit that you need help sometimes so we’re reaching out to these clients and there’s a lot of hesitations with the phone calls that we have. Again, we have a brief amount of time to really convince the client why it’s in their best interest that they’re doing the right thing by looking at their options, you’re speaking to the right mortgage lender in Quicken Loans – we are the largest mortgage lender in the country – we have your back, we’re here to answer any questions you may have and make sure that you’re set up for success.
Fred Diamond: Even though the people did something to become a warm lead, are they happy to get your call? Tell us a little bit about when that engagement happens.
Justin Lee: I wish. Sometimes they’re frustrated and I always tell the team that I run there’s three reasons why we get objections on the phone, I boil it down to three. One is just they’re frustrated with life meaning they have stuff going on, they want a better situation for them and their families so they’re looking to purchase or they’re potentially losing their home and they’re trying to save some money or keep their home with a refinance. It’s not on us, but they’re just frustrated with where their life is at right now. The other frustration, the second part is just phone calls, it can be overwhelming, we all have our day to day lives, we have our own stresses outside of work, outside of family, we have stuff we’re going through. Not only are we calling but there’s other lenders calling as well so you’re getting about 3 or 4 calls from about 15, 20 different lenders a day.
It is frustrating and then the last thing is just hesitancy, people are scared when it comes to mortgages because it’s a big financial decision, especially with the financial crisis back in the late 2000s, a lot of people are still hesitant with that so the talk about a mortgage is just intimidating and there’s a lot of hesitancy. That’s some things we have to push by or push past every single day when we’re dealing with our clients.
Fred Diamond: What are some of the key lessons you learned when you first came into this career of sales?
Justin Lee: First lessons? Especially just coming into sales is just the power of attitude and then one thing is what you put in your mind or what you surround yourself with. Power of attitude, I think a common sales phrase is ‘assume to sale’, easier said than done. When I first started the hardest thing about sales is you’re going for the close, you’re going for the business and most often than not, we get a no. It takes a lot of courage, it takes a lot of self-belief attitude that, “Okay, you said no, let’s backtrack, let’s understand where you’re coming from, let’s give you a reason why you need to do this” and then to go back to that exact same thing that you just got a no on, you have to go forward again.
You have to have the right attitude with that, and then another thing, I preach this to my team all day long is mindset, especially for our business. You can have the most skill in the world – and this is any sales position in my opinion – but let’s say we’re calling out on these leads and no one’s answering. If no one’s answering or if you’re in a car lot selling cars and no one’s coming on the lot, you can have the most skill but if no one’s there it doesn’t reflect on your ability to do the job, but you have to have a strong mindset. I thought that was an interesting fact, I’m really into listening to podcasts, Fred, one of yours. I try to surround myself or put in my mind good thoughts but I went to church last weekend and they talked about what we put in our mind and how it plays out in our lives and I thought that was an interesting step. On average, do you have many thoughts a day, Fred?
Fred Diamond: Billions?
Justin Lee: Billions, right? The average person has 60 thousand thoughts a day and that can range from anything like, “I’m tired”, “What am I going to do for lunch”, “I can’t wait to go home”, stuff like that. 95% of those thoughts are repeating thoughts daily and I’m putting it in terms – I might be off with the math here, but that’s roughly 57 thousand thoughts that are repeating every single day. 80% of those on average are negative thoughts and I think it’s easy, especially in a sales role because you’re faced with constant rejection, “No, no, no, no”, to get that one yes. It’s easy to have your mindset off kilter.
Fred Diamond: Power of attitude. How do you keep a positive attitude? What are some things that you do to maintain that positive attitude?
Justin Lee: That’s a great question, I’m human like everyone else so I fail at times, for sure. What you put in your mind, really and who you surround yourself with. I think it’s hard sometimes in a leadership role because a lot of people come to you looking for answers or when they’re having a bad day, they go to their leader. I hope they feel comfortable enough coming to me and it’s a lot of people, I’m surrounded every single day with frustrations or complaints.
How do you deal with that? How do you balance it? For me personally, listening to podcast or motivational videos. I do a lot of leadership readings, I’m a big fan of Simon Sinek and his work and then also for me it’s my faith, church, bible, I believe that is truth and it puts my mind in the right place.
Fred Diamond: Justin, tell us a little more about you, tell us what you’re an expert in. Tell us a little more about your area of brilliance.
Justin Lee: It doesn’t always show sometimes, but I think I have a gift with relating to people. Especially if you’re in sales, you’ve got to be able to connect to people. I don’t care if it’s over the phones, if it’s face to face, people have to be willing to trust you and feel like they have your support, you have their back. I think that’s something I’m an expert in, I’m still learning growing on daily but even if you talk to anyone on my team, I believe they would vouch for it. They know whether it’s inside the workplace, outside the workplace, I’m there for them and that speaks for the culture that we have here at Rock Connections and Quicken Loans. We really do put our team members first and one of the isms, mottos we live by as a company is “every client, every time, no exception, no excuses”. That’s not only with the clients we’re dealing with on the phones but also our very own team members.
Fred Diamond: Obviously to have gotten to a sales leadership level you must have had some mentors who helped you along the way. Why don’t you tell us about a sales mentor or two that have helped you get your career to this level?
Justin Lee: I’ve got to start from the beginning, my dad, because that’s how I first got into sales. Before my time with Quicken Loans and Rock Connections I was selling gas station properties with my dad for about four years. Saying that, I had really no sales experience prior to getting into that and just showing me the ins and outs, going to meetings with him, how to phrase certain things. Again, it’s a little bit different business than I am in now, but going over profit and law statements, how to have the numbers to tell the story, I think that’s in any sales role. You have metrics regarding your business, how you’re looking at those metrics and then how you’re communicating that to clients and your team members, that’s huge and that’s something I think I’ve gotten better with over the years and it’s one of my strengths right now.
Fred Diamond: What are the two biggest challenges you face as a sales leader?
Justin Lee: I think it ties back in to what I said earlier, mindset and then attitude. I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but I think not even in sales but just in life. I always tell my team, “You’re in control of two things every single day: your effort and your mindset.” If you can control those two things, you’re going to find success.
Fred Diamond: Again, you’re working here at Rock Connections. What is the #1 specific sales success or win from your career you’re most proud of?
Justin Lee: It has to be when I first became a leader her at Rock Connections. Like anyone, just trying to figure it out not knowing how I was going to do it, just wanted to make sure, again our culture is put the people first, every client, every time so just making sure I was there for the team. I took over a team that was about 6-7 months experienced and they were consistently at the bottom when it came to rankings and we had at the time about 17 different teams. Taking over a team that’s a bottom producer, you have your work cut out for you, I was ready for the challenge.
One of my finer moments on the team, there’s no titled folks so again, after a certain amount of time if you’re hitting certain production goals you can get promoted and with that, we went from 17 team members with no titled folks to, in 6 months, a top producing team in the company. Then of the 17 team members, 13 of them got promoted in those first 6 months.
Fred Diamond: I’m just curious, before we take a short break and listen to one of our sponsors, again such a high energy environment. We’re doing the Sales Game Changers podcast today in one of your training centers and there’s a lot of energy, there’s bright lights, there’s videos, things along those lines. How do you reward your people? How do they get acknowledged for doing a great job?
Justin Lee: I think sometimes that’s overlooked where it’s just like you’re expected to do a good job, you do it and it goes by the wayside, you don’t compliment them. To keep the energy up for our team I think often it’s overlooked as leadership but you have those conversations during the day. Do it outside of the work hours, and in my shift we work the late night shift, we get off around 9, 10 o’clock every single night but on the drive home I will call team members and just prop them out maybe for a good production day or just, “Hey, I know today wasn’t really a good day from a production standpoint but thank you for helping the team member get through this” or, “Thank you for your effort today.” Things like that where it’s not just at work that you’re complimenting or propping them out or keeping the energy up but also outside of work. It builds that relationship and overall I think it drives better production.
Fred Diamond: Before we take a short break and listen to one of our sponsors, did you ever question being in sales? I know we talked about mindset and attitude but did you ever say to yourself, “It’s too hard, it’s really just not for me”?
Justin Lee: [Laughs] I think anyone that says, “No, I’ve always wanted to be in sales”, for me they’re lying. Again, you’re facing constant rejection, that is the nature of the business that we’re in when it comes to sales. I’ve second-guessed myself at times, definitely have been stressed out at times as well but again, it’s just like anything in life. It’s a challenge, sales is a puzzle, there’s always a solution in my mind, there is always a solution for every problem out there. You just got to readjust how you’re looking at it or figure out a better way to do it and that’s what I love about sales.
Fred Diamond: Justin, what’s the most important thing you want to get across to the junior selling professionals listening around the globe to help them take their career to the next level?
Justin Lee: It ties back into the power of attitude, but belief in yourself and assume the sale. I always tell my team members I don’t care what sales business you’re in, being assumptive and getting to the close. What I mean by that in sales, so many times like if you’re going out the grocery store and you’re checking out and they ask for an email address, typically what I hear is, “Can I get a good email address for you?” seeking permission. In sales, we’re the ones that are supposed to be leading the conversation.
There’s always going to be rejection, you can’t bypass that but just rephrasing that “Can I get an email address for you?” The way we phrase it could be assumptive like we’re the ones leading the conversation and we’re taking charge. We call it ‘the pivot’ here but I know Alec Baldwin, ‘always be closing’, the ABCs of sales, right? Make sure you’re going for the sale, you can give the best responses in the world and you can make the best connection to a person but at the end of the day, if you don’t go for the close it’s never going to happen. Getting over the fear of rejection by making sure you’re going for the close you’re going to find success.
Fred Diamond: Tell us about one of your selling habits that has led to your continued success.
Justin Lee: For me it’s consistently trying to improve myself. What I mean by that, I read a bunch of sales leadership books, sales in general, podcasts, motivational videos. I believe it was Socrates that said, “The wisest man is the man that admits he knows nothing.” I think especially in sales it’s always an adapting role, that’s why I think Quicken Loans has really taken over that #1 spot. We are never satisfied and the speed of the game is crazy, and I always compare it to our competitors, they’re like a freight boat where try to make a change and it takes them a while to make that turn. Quicken Loans, Rock Connections, the family of companies, we’re like a speed boat. If we find a better way to do something, we make it very quickly. We’re able to turn and adjust very quickly and that’s what separates us from our competitors.
Fred Diamond: On today’s Sales Game Changers podcast – by the way, it’s probably the fastest podcast we’ve ever done.
Justin Lee: [Laughs] good.
Fred Diamond: Good for you, Justin and I also need to say you’re the second Sales Game Changer that we’ve ever interviewed who actually did a Socratic reference.
Fred Diamond: [Laughs] we actually put ‘Socrates’ in the title. Before we ask you for your final thoughts, tell us about a major initiative you’re working on today to ensure your continued success.
Justin Lee: For me and for my own success but also for the team’s success, I think so many times in sales it is a production role but at the end of the day you’re dealing with people and you’ve got to support the people. Our company does a great job with that, but something that I’ve really taken initiative of and I’m working on myself with the team, though, so many times we set goals in life where there’s like in the next three years, five years, typical interview questions, “Where do you see yourself in the next five years?” How many times do we set short goals for ourselves, realistic goals? I know with the team and myself, we set a 45 day challenge, goals we want to accomplish in the next 45 days. That way we’re holding each other accountable and also looking to grow ourselves so setting small goals is something I’m really working on with myself and with the team to overall not only increase our production but who we are and develop us as people.
Fred Diamond: Before I ask you for your final thought, one last question. Why have you continued? Tell us what is it about sales as a career that has kept you going. Again, you’ve always been in sales, you said but you’re relatively new in professional sales leadership and obviously you’re off to a great start, good for you.
Justin Lee: Thank you.
Fred Diamond: But why have you continued? What is it about sales that keeps you going?
Justin Lee: One, for the company I work for, what we do. I’m not saying we’re perfect, no one’s perfect but we really do put our client’s best interest at heart. I believe that every time I talk to a client, every single objection that I get, I am talking to them for a reason. I really believe that it is in their best interest and just from having a conversation with a banker maybe we find out and we’ll be the first to let you know you’re in a good financial spot. “Keep doing what you’re doing, actually there’s no better deal out there for you right now.” We will give you that piece of mind and let you know.
Every client that speaks to someone at Quicken Loans, they’re in a better position because of it and I believe that full-heartedly but why I love sales, it’s always something, Fred, it differs. I’m talking to you right now, you gave me an objection, I handle it a certain way, I can get that same objection from someone else, the next person I talk to and it’s a completely different interaction. That’s what I love about sales because it’s never the same thing again and again. Every single day it’s different, you’re dealing with people which people are emotional creatures, it’s always something different so I’m never stagnant, I’m never complacent, it’s always something to learn and grow from.
Fred Diamond: Again, we have Sales Game Changers listening around the globe. Why don’t you give us a final thought to inspire them today?
Justin Lee: I always laugh when people are like, “I’m not made for sales” and I agree, sales is not for everyone, it takes a strong mindset to do it. At the end of the day, though like anything, anyone can be in sales, it’s just what you put your mind to. I think there is no bigger challenge but no bigger reward than it is in the sales position. I will say all these great companies that we have in the world, you can have the greatest product in the world but if you have no one to sell it or convince people or let people understand why they need this product, the product goes by the wayside. There is always a huge demand and we’ll always be a huge demand for sales and if you can master that, the sky is the limit for you.