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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   September 2011

5 Ways to Thrive

Separate yourself from the competition and ensure your future survival

Today's mortgage environment is different than it was in 2006, but when I travel the country training thousands of mortgage professionals, I see a failure to adapt to the new mortgage environment. This problem is particularly prevalent among more-veteran loan officers and managers.

The air is thick with feelings of entitlement. Too many people want to make the money they used to make for the number of loans they used to close and with the shortcuts they used to take and still maintain the freedoms they used to enjoy. Continuing to do the same old things is a sure-fire formula for failure in the midst of today's massive regulatory and economic changes. Today, we have to work harder and smarter if we want to succeed.

"Establish your credibility and prove to your customers that you are there to help them and are watching out for their best interests." 

So what will it take to succeed in this changing and evolving market? There are five strategies you can implement now to thrive today and survive in the future.

1. Diversify your marketing

We have been blessed with historically low rates for several years now. Rates will increase, however, and when they do, the first thing that will be affected is lead volume. There will be an immediate drop in the number of marketing sources you currently rely on, and the higher the rate increase, the bigger the impact.

To succeed, you need to have additional sources of lead generation already established. These include:

  • Aggregator leads: Purchasing leads from aggregator sources allows you to maintain a steady flow of leads by buying them on an as-needed basis.
  • Repeat and referral leads: Implement an effective and consistent marketing campaign by phone, mail and/or e-mail with your previous client base. Re-establish relationships with every client you have ever made a loan to and solicit each one for refinances and referrals. Try to average three referrals per client, as three referral applications will typically get you one new closed loan.
  • Outbound leads: Develop a daily strategy for soliciting prior cancellations and denials. There is a wealth of business that might have been missed the first time but can be sold the second time. 

Third-party leads: Cultivate third-party referrals and affinity relationships with sources like Realtors, financial planners, certified public accountants, and real estate and divorce attorneys. You can no longer rely on just inside lead generation such as Internet leads, direct mail and rate tables. You have to use third-party sales, too. This can be done face to face or via phone or e-mail. If you are predominantly or solely a refinance lender, you should build a purchase strategy immediately.

Networking leads: Look for opportunities everywhere you go. Ask everyone you meet if they are homeowners and interested in saving money or if they would like to become a homeowner if they currently are not one.

2. Quit selling rate

The biggest mistake that salespeople fall into is selling rate upfront. When you do this, you not only become just another loan officer, but you actually increase your competition.

When you quote rates upfront, you give borrowers offers they can use as a bargaining chip with competitors. Additionally, you are not telling the truth because you won't know the borrowers' rate until you know more about them.

Even if your rate is a little higher, that doesn't mean a competitor's loan is better. Rate only affects payments in a mortgage. What is most important to the borrower is not what they pay, but what they get. It's value — the benefits of the mortgage — that matters most.

3. Build relationships

The media's attacks on the mortgage industry and the sour economic climate make today's borrowers particularly worried and distrusting. Consequently, earning their trust has never before been more important.

Establish your credibility and prove to your customers that you are there to help them and are watching out for their best interests. You do this by demonstrating your integrity and by developing relationships with them. Become knowledgeable about their family, financial goals and concerns.

4. Make a difference

Great loan officers understand that their only goal is to positively impact their borrowers' lives. Become the loan officer they can rely on for the rest of their lives. A mortgage is the largest, most personal and most important financial decision many people ever make. It's not a decision they want to make with a stranger, but with a competent and trusted adviser.

That means not just meeting their short-term needs, but also helping them achieve their long-term goals. Truly separate yourself from the competition by helping them build cash reserves, maximize and protect their equity, maximize tax benefits, and get out of debt quicker.  When you can help your borrowers manage all their finances, you become a valuable asset. 

5. Focus on today 

You inhibit your ability to close high volume units when you dwell too much on your past successes or on the future. You can achieve double-digit loan production by simply focusing on making a sale today.

When you focus on your past sales or pipelines, you create a negative thought process and stop focusing on selling. When you focus on just one lead, one sale and one day at a time, however, you will never have a bad month. By making just one sale each day, you effectively put 20 or 21 deals in your pipeline each month. Whether your conversion from sale to close is 70 percent or 50 percent, you are still guaranteed at least 10 loans per month.


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