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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Commercial Edition   |   September 2014

What’s In Your Name?

By building themselves as trusted brands, mortgage professionals inspire confidence and close more deals

What’s In Your Name?

Sometimes the mere mention of a product or company name inspires consumer confidence, yet the name in and of itself has little, if any, significance. For example, a generic product such as facial tissue is better known to many people by the product name Kleenex, or a hot tub is better known by the brand name Jacuzzi.

So what’s the real value of the name? It may be the confidence consumers get from buying something that is touted as socially acceptable or prestigious. Perhaps the dollar amount paid to get the name product is associated with a solid buying decision. It is probably a combination of many factors, but whatever the case, successful commercial mortgage professionals should understand the value of their names and strive to make it one that clients associate with quality and results.

The concept of positive consumer recognition holds true when borrowers hear the names of the best-known mortgage industry professionals. These are the originators who may charge more for their services, but inspire the consumer confidence necessary to command the higher fees. How did these professionals achieve this level of success, and how can you emulate their professional practices to garner the same respect and bottom line?

These professionals didn’t get where they are simply by picking up the phone and being nice to everyone. They know how to find the lenders that satisfy their clients’ requirements, and then they close deals. That’s worth more to borrowers than working with a friendly new broker who hasn’t the faintest idea of what to do with a commercial loan, much less where to find the best pricing and turn times.

These industry giants have paid their dues and done the necessary homework along the way, often enduring a few less-than-stellar closings in the process but wearing the battle scars proudly years later. They exude a confident “been there, done that” attitude that is reflected in stellar performance for their clients.

These big-name brokers may, as a result, have less time or inclination to placate clients than their less-experienced peers, but they produce consistent closings with exemplary terms. Their results reflect the type of “tough love” attitude toward customers whom brokers need to succeed in an industry where many prospective clients are merely rate shopping, with no intention of inking a deal.

Consumer confidence is invaluable and takes years to establish. Your name is your brand; it’s built on your successes and, perhaps surprisingly, your failures as well. When you properly handle and learn from these failures — such as a borrower’s misrepresentation of financials, a credit score drop or other obstacles to a deal — the knowledge gained helps contribute to the foundation of your successful brokerage.

Is the customer always right? Customers are often sure they are, but experienced mortgage professionals will attest to that not always being the case. Thus, more important than always agreeing with your clients is taking care of them. When you do so, even the most difficult client may become one of your strongest supporters in the end.

For example, third-party information or the lack of it may completely skew a deal and send the loan down a slippery slope. When this happens, clients may get upset with the lender, but the real problem was that the third-party source never presented the required information, much less provided it to the originator and/or lender.

By explaining the situation, offering solutions, and coming through for borrowers in instances like these, mortgage professionals help build their name and reputation. When a broker identifies these types of third-party problems and steps in to save the deal, the borrower is likely to become a longtime, repeat client as the result.

Automation and social media

When does automation through technology become a liability instead of an asset? Software and online tools have the potential to be assets in completing the transaction, but they are not a substitute for the human interaction necessary for building your name and brand.

Imagine an automation tool where a broker goes online and with just a few keystrokes, is able to price a deal for the consumer. It’s great in theory, but the reality of the mortgage industry is that a deal is rarely that clean-cut. Loans are often fraught with hurdles that can’t be solved simply by checking boxes — they require the human touch.

Often, interaction with an actual person is necessary for nothing more than, for example, to reassure the broker that the borrower’s five-year-old bankruptcy really won’t affect the pricing. If a deal is not priced correctly because of one misplaced fact that emerged after the initial terms were determined through the automated tool, its rate could accelerate over and above what the borrower is prepared to pay and ultimately leave the broker out of the deal, turning it from an asset to a liability. 

Building your brand means more than marketing for top sales quotas by using technology indiscriminately — it is about building the cornerstone of your success with direct interaction with borrowers.

"Regardless of whether you get a lead through social media, a Realtor or a business associate, pick up the phone and contact every lead personally."

In addition to online and software tools, social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all valuable considerations for virtually any modern business, but when does social media become no longer socially acceptable or manageable? It’s virtually impossible to post all of your successes to the endless stream of available social media sites, much less run a daily blog of available loan terms and products.

Using social media is necessary, given today’s global marketing climate. It has become the darling of the marketing world because it can help turn a fledgling startup into an overnight sensation with a few positive reviews based on responses to social media posting. A strong social media strategy may help produce business leads more easily than in the past, when mortgage professionals counted on Yellow Pages ads and paid for lead generation. Like automation, however, it is not a substitute for building your name and reputation the old-fashioned way, one loan at a time.

The art of conversation

The old-fashioned way is simple: pick up the phone. Don’t depersonalize people by resorting to only e-mailing and texting them. Regardless of whether you get a lead through social media, a Realtor or a business associate, pick up the phone and contact every lead personally. Always answer your calls and don’t send callers to voicemail. It makes a difference.

First, people appreciate it when they speak to a real person. In many cases, people are so used to depersonalized service that they can’t believe a real person is speaking to them about their loan. Second, it can turn a deal around.

Consider the real-life scenario where a client was about to close a deal, but then a subordinated second lien-holder decided not to accept the terms without a cash injection of $200,000. The client, facing foreclosure, was hardly in a position to produce any cash, much less $200,000, in less than five business days. The client and the client’s attorney tried e-mailing the second lien-holder, but got no response. The second lien-holder would not deal with them without getting the requested cash.

With the deal at an impasse, the client’s broker got on the phone with the second lien-holder and her certified public accountant to discuss the borrower’s lackluster payment performance. After letting them vent and listening to their concerns, the broker was able to clear the air and then negotiate a set of terms agreeable to all — without sending a single text or e-mail.

Years ago, this was called the art of conversation. It was called that for a reason — because there was an art to doing it successfully. Now, many people have become so reliant upon automation that they have forgotten how to speak to one another effectively. To become a top producer, one must be fluent in the art of conversation.

Closing

In the end, for mortgage professionals, it’s all about closing the deal. How you get there makes the difference in terms of future referrals and your overall reputation. Remembering and handling the smallest details of your clients’ deals — and by never forgetting to employ the techniques of direct human interaction and the art of conversation — will often add up to more than a one-time commission. It helps build ongoing relationships and establishes your name as one that inspires consumer confidence, producing future successes for years to follow.

• • •

What’s in a name? When it comes to building your brand as a mortgage professional, it’s everything.  


 


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