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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   May 2013

Build Business Through Storytelling

Four types of stories can engender trust and attract more borrowers

Build Business Through Storytelling

For many, this is the age of social media, a time when consumers turn not to the television and newspaper for their information, but rather look to friends — real and virtual — in their online social circles. When they reach out to these trusted connections for information about products and services, they’re not only looking for facts, but they also want to hear the stories behind those products and services.

Although consumers may need facts to make good decisions, few people process raw facts effectively. Instead, they look for context and meaning in the way that facts are presented. They listen to the stories that their trusted agents tell them, and based on the way the stories are delivered, they assign meaning to the facts.

Today, borrowers use social media websites like Facebook and LinkedIn to share stories about products and services with other consumers in their networks, but it’s really not that different than a group of people sitting around a campfire and listening to the stories of their peers. The only difference seems to be that anyone with a story to tell is able to share that story with a potentially large audience.

The mortgage industry finally has begun to embrace social media, with many loan originators participating on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media websites. To become truly trusted advisers to their networks, however, mortgage professionals must be skilled at sharing stories with their audiences. In this respect, there are four types of stories that are most effective in converting loan prospects into applicants — and ultimately into borrowers.

Who you are

A person’s background can have a big influence on the stories being told and the facts being delivered. Most people know it’s dangerous, for instance, to trust someone who has a vested interest in a certain outcome. The mortgage industry has been beaten repeatedly with that club recently, especially when it comes to issues like appraiser independence and loan-officer compensation. Won’t people who know you are a mortgage broker or loan originator question the information you provide?

You may be a mortgage professional, but you’re also likely a homeowner. Further, you’re certainly a business professional who has helped other borrowers through the homebuying process. You’re also a member of your community and probably a keen observer of the country’s financial health. In short, you are much more than just a loan originator out to close another deal.

The stories you tell about yourself will reinforce this. If every story you tell is about how great a mortgage originator you are, people will lose confidence in you as a trusted source. But if 75 percent or more of the stories you tell on social networks are about issues that are important to any homeowner or prospective homeowner in your community, you’ll be giving your network a reason to accept what you say, and even share it with their own extended networks.

What you do

If three-quarters of the stories you tell are about issues that don’t relate directly to your work, the other quarter should be about how your work impacts others. Part of the reason people participate in online social networks is to advance their careers, and certainly, there’s nothing wrong with that. Like anything else that comes up in conversation, however, the most engaging parts of stories always seem to have to do with the listener.

People in your social networks may care about you — they may even be friends or family members — but that won’t keep most folks from focusing primarily on what impacts their own lives. It’s that old notion of “what’s in it for me,” a concept that’s central to anyone’s career as a salesperson. All of your stories about what you do have to carry with them the promise of making your readers’ lives better in some way.

Your Realtor partners have been playing in these waters longer than most loan originators — and you probably won’t have to review too many of their status updates to find some missed opportunities. People don’t especially care about giving a certain Realtor their listing out of loyalty; they either want to quickly sell their homes for the highest price, or they want to find a home quickly for the lowest price.

Broadly, mortgage brokers and originators strive to achieve the same thing: They try to improve their customers’ lives by securing the best source of funding for their specific situations. In other words, it’s all about the consumer. Tell them stories about making their lives better.

Success stories

There’s no greater promise of the good things that can come than those that are carried in the stories about other people who have succeeded. When you hear the story about how quickly neighbors secured their loan or how easy their loan originator was to work with, you know that you could enjoy the same results.

Stories about the successes you’ve enjoyed — from your customers’ perspective, that is — are some of the most important stories you can tell to prospective clients. Helping others clearly see how they also could enjoy certain benefits is a great way to engage them and move them one step closer to working with you.

In the mortgage industry, it’s important to remember that stories about the successes customers have enjoyed are rarely, if ever, about loans. Consider the fact that, in many people’s eyes, what they’re shopping for isn’t really a loan in the first place — they’re shopping for whatever that loan allows them to purchase, whether it’s a new home, a lower interest rate on their current mortgage or something they’ve bought with their home’s equity.

Stories told about you

Perhaps the most powerful stories that your prospective clients can hear about working with you are the stories that others tell about you. This is true whether that story is good or bad, so it’s absolutely crucial for mortgage professionals to be aware of how others perceive them.

"Stories about the successes you’ve enjoyed are some of the most important stories you can tell." 

Social media monitoring is important today because you must be aware of all of the stories that people are telling about you. First and foremost, you should respond to negative stories, solving problems where you can and reframing the story with your own context where you cannot. At the same time, however, you also will want to fully capitalize on the good stories that people are telling about you.

The most successful people in any industry are those who know how to solicit and amplify the stories that others tell about them. Learning to do this for your own business is a critical skill that you should invest in developing.

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All four types of these stories are important if you want to get people who have not worked with you in the past to trust you enough to work with you in the future. Using social media and your own website to give easy access to those stories will help you shorten the sales cycle and put more applicants into your pipeline.


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