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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   January 2013

Focus on Interaction and Education

Keep these must-have tips in mind for finding success in the new year

As 2013 begins, many mortgage professionals are focused on creating paths to becoming more successful. For some, 2012 was a frustrating year. It always felt as though the economy was taking one step forward and half a step back. The industry seemingly is heading in the right direction, but for many people, it’s not moving fast enough. Regardless of how much success you’ve had this past year, everyone probably is hoping for a little more in the months to come. It takes more than hope or simply hard work to achieve that success, however.

The mortgage professional’s job is getting both easier and more difficult all the time. Innovative technologies streamline processes just as new regulations slow things down. At the same time, it’s arguably harder to be successful in the mortgage industry today because the industry has become more homogenized in terms of its services. Although it’s true that many mortgage brokers and originators have access to the same products, it’s not access to products alone that makes an originator successful.

The most successful people in the mortgage industry tend to do well regardless of the company they work for. Whether the market has jumped to recent highs or is falling to record-breaking lows, consumers always will buy homes, and brokers always will need lenders for funding. So, what separates the continually successful people in the mortgage industry from those who just tread water?

The real keys to success involve making the time to focus on interaction and education in the world around you. As you make plans for success in the coming year, keep the following points in mind.

Prime your pipeline

Public interaction is one of the most important things that people in sales-driven positions should master if they want to achieve success. Homeowners and lenders have favorite brokers with whom they do business, as well as those with whom they’d like to do business in the future. For some mortgage professionals, the pipeline seems to be ever flowing. It’s easy to say that those professionals are doing well because of the companies they work for, although their success also is due to the interactions they conduct on a daily basis.

"When you spend time getting to know your clients and colleagues, you have to be sincere and attentive."  

Many major players have either left or substantially changed their roles in the industry in the past few years, a circumstance that’s produced some exciting opportunities for those who want to move on them. Although you never want to seem opportunistic or predatory in the face of others’ misfortunes, the smart professionals still in this industry realize that these changes are signals to call their customers and offer assistance. This is just one example of how interaction comes into play, however. The truly successful individuals in this industry go beyond the obvious, thinking past their clients’ immediate needs so that they can better serve those customers while also bringing in new ones.

Simply put, when industry news breaks, reach out to the clients and partners with whom you already work or with whom you want to work. Set aside time to revisit and connect with clients and industry partners alike. Don’t focus on simply filling holes left by another professional or company who has exited the channel. Instead, mention ideas and ways that you can work with a given individual by using the specific products at your disposal.

Pay attention

Hopefully, over the years, you’ve taken the time to get to know a little about the lives of your clients, potential clients and industry partners. Although it’s certainly not necessary to take every individual you work with golfing or invite your clients to frequent lunches, you should spend some time getting to know them somehow.
When you spend time getting to know your clients and colleagues, you have to be sincere and attentive. Perhaps someone’s favorite baseball team just won an important game, or perhaps there’s a new shopping mall being built near someone’s home that’s causing a stir. Displaying interest in the lives of your customers and colleagues — beyond mere business matters — could lead to them having a positive effect on your life in the future.

Use social media

It’s important to make good use of social media — and to use it sincerely. It’s a mistake to think that you should only network with those you consider to be potential clients or colleagues. Take the time to interact with those around you, not just those directly in the industry. Your neighbor could be just one person removed from a great lead.

If, for example, you have a Twitter account, try to mention things that are relevant in your local area — not just your industry. Most likely, only people who are looking for a loan or are otherwise involved in lending from a professional standpoint are searching for mortgage-related posts, but it’s a safe bet that a lot of people are searching for news on their favorite sports teams or golf courses.

In short, don’t neglect the world around you, online or on your block. Instead, let the opportunities to discuss your job arise organically.

Educate yourself

Mortgage professionals can learn as much from other people as those people can learn from them, so when the time is right, share what you know and the ways that you can help your clients and colleagues. Never force a conversation, but allow your interactions to naturally lead to educational opportunities.

Depending on your exact job in the mortgage industry, you may not be in a position to directly assist your neighbor’s cousin in securing a loan. Nevertheless, if you’re working in the mortgage industry in any respect, you undoubtedly know more than most of your non-industry friends about mortgage processes and developments.

With that in mind, be enthusiastic about offering people advice. Post Facebook updates when rates are low. If your company has a public newsletter, forward it around. When people seem interested or ask for advice, refer them to someone that you trust, even if you can’t specifically help them. Perhaps most important, do so without asking for anything in return, keeping in mind that the homebuyer or colleague you’re dealing with may have additional opportunities for you to be a part of in the future.

Make the effort

As a professional, a self-marketer and hopefully an expert on the products your company provides, you must help educate your clients and partners about how you can fulfill their various needs. This is especially true for individuals who may not be familiar with your company or the specialty products it may offer.

When you’re reaching out to clients, for instance, don’t just sell them on what they already know; tell them about other products to which you have access. If they’re interested in undertaking certain renovations or repairs, for instance, refresh their memories about Federal Housing Administration 203(k) loan solutions. Sell the idea, not just the product. With a little extra effort and strong attention to detail, this kind of approach can make all the difference to your business.

If you want to be more successful in this industry, it’s definitely going to take some extra effort. Ultimately, you must educate your customers and partners about how you can help them be more successful. Do you have Realtor partners working in an area with a high concentration of military veterans? Make sure to bring up interest-rate reduction refinancing loans (IRRRLs). If you can’t offer 203(k)s or IRRRLs, think of what you can offer that differentiates you from others in the industry. Perhaps your best point of differentiation is your own attention to detail or your company’s exceptional turn times. Focus on what you can offer and make sure your clients know how you can help them.

Educating yourself is something that’s incredibly important as well. Always keep learning. Read trade publications and keep track of what’s being said about the mortgage industry in the mainstream media. Sign up for webinars, which are often free. Newsletters and blogs about lending are plentiful, and although you won’t have the time to read them all, find a few to try out. Better yet, interact with other professionals who you feel excel at their jobs and see what they’re reading on a regular basis.

Go face-to-face

Social media and e-mail are great tools for building business, but the connections that can be made from phone calls or face-to-face meetings should not be underestimated. Although you may not be able to travel to see every person in your client and referral bases, you should still get out from behind your desk and see the ones you can.

With that in mind, attend networking events and keep your mind open as to which ones you choose. Connections in this industry can come from almost anywhere. Local and state bankers associations can expose you to new people and ideas on a regular basis. Join a networking group and put effort toward being a real participant, and if those efforts happen to fizzle, then learn from that and move on.

Similarly, learn from your colleagues, too. There will always be successful people in this industry who do well regardless of what company they’re working for, and it can be helpful to pay attention to these individuals in particular. Learn how you can build on their ideas and strategies with your own business.

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Remember, whatever the numbers may or may not be this year, people will buy and refinance homes. In the current economy, the mortgage industry is no longer giving out passing grades just for showing up. If your personal production levels are not where you want them to be, it’s going to take strong participation on your end — not just showing up to the office. Get out there, interact with those around you and educate them on what you can do. 


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