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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Commercial Edition   |   July 2006

There is Glory in Being No. 2

Consider becoming the broker to whom lenders refer their turned-down borrowers

In her Abraham Lincoln biography Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, author Doris Kearns Goodwin writes of how advisers in his first presidential campaign worked hard to make him No. 2 in delegations where the top spot was out of reach. In turn, many delegates doubted their first choices, and Lincoln won the presidential nomination.

Mortgage professionals with insight on successfully marketing their businesses could learn from Lincoln’s political advisers. Carving yourself out as the No. 1 source to go to when a borrower needs a commercial loan may always not be necessary.

Being No. 1 can be impossible. Marketing yourself as such can be costly, time-consuming and can create many external pressures. Competition, changing scenarios and unforeseen events in the loan process mean that you can’t guarantee you can offer the lowest rate, the fastest process or the easiest loan. Investing energy to this end will merely cause you to blend in with everyone who’s doing the same.

Instead, consider aligning yourself with lenders who are more successful at actually being No. 1. They typically have large advertising budgets and marketing campaigns and are prominent in your targeted markets.

Further, today’s commercial market is thriving. A recent Mortgage Bankers Association report showed that 2005 was a record year for commercial-loan-origination volume, with a 48 percent increase over 2004. And recent data by a financial-services firm shows that commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) conduits have more than $148 billion in commercial loans that must be refinanced between now and 2010.

As a result, traditional commercial lenders now can afford to be selective about approving projects. They no longer have to make exceptions or massage as many deals to meet their lending quotas.

What does this mean to you? If you are a capable and competent broker, it means job security. These lenders will see a surge of “undesirables.” But the loans they turn down are not necessarily the bottom-of-the-barrel quality. In fact, they may be exactly the deals you seek.

Position yourself as the first person the lenders think of when they reject a loan. This will not only provide you with credible referrals but also will enable you to ride the coattails of their marketing campaigns. Take advantage of these ideal circumstances and market yourself to the lenders. You’ll get a better return on your time and money than if you tried to find customers from scratch.

To make yourself memorable to these financial institutions, market yourself differently from other brokers. Answer four key questions to be valuable to your targeted prospect.

  1. What problem can you solve for the bank and its customers? 
  2. How does solving the problem benefit the bank?  
  3. How are you qualified to solve it? 
  4. Why should action be taken now? 

Put your “Columbo skills” to work and target the right people who are authorized to refer business to you. Find out their needs. Then provide them with the solutions and answers to their problems.

Being second place relieves some of the pressure from you in your loan process and approvals. The customers didn’t come to you for the best rate. At this point, they have already been “tenderized” by the previous lender. As a result, they can be more accommodating.

You can, therefore, conduct the loan process your way, in a system that works specifically for you and your business. This will allow you to shine in performing a work you do best rather than trying to mirror another lender.

Being your own best self and your own best company will garner you a greater amount of respect and business than trying to be someone else. Again, remember Lincoln’s race: All other nominees presented themselves as the best candidate. His presented him as the best alternative.


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