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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   December 2015

Go on the Offensive

Too many loan originators lose business by staying passive and defensive

Go on the Offensive

The simple strategy for winning a football game is to score more points than your opponent. The key to scoring points is to remain on offense. The more offense you play, the more points you score. The more points you score, the more games you win.

The same is true with mortgage loan originators (MLOs). Although many MLOs are happy to employ a passive, defensive business strategy, those who enjoy the most success are those who go on the offensive, giving them more opportunities to find more clients. And that’s a winning game plan.

An MLO’s day is much like a football game, with time spent on offense and defense. Reading e-mails, chasing down documents, clearing conditions, returning phone calls and solving a problem on a loan file are all defensive plays. Those responsibilities are part of the job of any originator, are important and have to be done.

On the other side of the loan-origination field are offensive plays —  primarily those where you are prospecting for new business. A sales visit with a real estate agent is an offensive play, as is following up on a lead and making an outbound phone call to a potential buyer. You are on offense when you socialize at a networking event, deliver a homebuyer seminar and market your database for referrals. Spending more time at these tasks typically puts you in “scoring position” to find another customer and write another loan.

If it’s easier to score more business and write more loans when on offense, why do so many originators play so little offense? Why do they spend the vast majority of their time every day on defense, doing things that do not create any new opportunities?

Selling problems

Some MLOs do not see themselves as salespeople. They look at their role largely as a loan technician, and as such, their focus and activities are centered around the paperwork-and-processing parts of the job — things like loan files, documents and disclosures. How you view your job determines how you do your job. If you see your role first and foremost as someone who manages loan files, deals with problems and puts out fires, it is likely that is where you will spend most of your time.

Some originators are hindered by a handicap called sales-call reluctance, or a self-imposed fear of prospecting. They don’t like making sales contacts, developing referral relationships, attending industry events or asking their clients for referrals. These activities are outside of their personal comfort zones. The fear of being rejected, looking desperate or seeming pushy haunts them. They figure life is easier and safer on defense, so that’s where they remain.

Additionally, many MLOs have never been taught how to sell. They have never attended a professional selling-skills course, bought a book on the topic, hired a sales coach or taken the time to study and master the game of sales.

Selling is a skill, and as such, must be learned. If you’ve never been taught the right way to sell, it’s only natural that making contacts, conducting sales calls on Realtors and developing strategic referral relationships would be uncomfortable for you. And once again, you are back on defense.

In short: Sell first, service second. That's how you grow your business.

A new game plan

Are any of these barriers holding you back from finding more customers, closing more loans and making more money? If you are serious about playing more offense in the months ahead, there are major steps you can take.

First, focus on originating  loans. You do what you think about. If you come to work every day thinking about your loans in process, that’s where you will focus your time and energy. If you come to work focused on finding another borrower, you’ll direct that same time and energy toward finding another borrower. Don’t ignore your e-mails, file issues and conditions that need clearing. Just don’t think you always have to work on them first.

In short: Sell first, service second. That’s how you grow your business.

Next, join things. Join a local networking club, a business circle or a community group. Become an active member of your area’s association of Realtors, homebuilders association and association of mortgage lenders. You’ll be invited to breakfasts, lunches and special events on a weekly basis. That gets you out of the office — and on offense — away from your computer and loan files and in front of more people, more prospects and more new opportunities.

If you haven’t done so yet, learn to sell. Many companies provide frequent sales-training workshops and resources. If your company offers these resources, take advantage of them. If not, that’s no excuse to avoid honing your craft.

There are learning events throughout the year specific to the mortgage industry and other programs available to you outside the industry. You can also read good books on selling, attend webinars, subscribe to sales-themed magazines and online publications, and purchase various tools (such as CDs and DVDs) that will teach you effective, proven and contemporary ways to sell to your customers.

To ensure you get out of the office and stay on offense, set appointments. Don’t leave meetings with your referral partners up to happenstance. Pick up the phone and call them, asking for a coffee, lunch or office appointment. Get those meetings on your calendar, because that way you’re sure to keep them. Hoping you can get out every week and see people is a poor offensive strategy — it’s just not going to happen. If you have appointments set, you’ll keep them no matter how busy you think you are. That way, you’ll get and stay in front of your customers more often.

Finally, get organized. Loan originators who are disorganized typically have to spend a lot of time on defense. They have no plan, no daily to-do list and no systematic way of running their businesses. They are not using the technology and tools available to them to manage their loans, their client communications and their priorities. As a result, they take more time than they should on practically everything.

Perhaps it’s time for you to start getting your day more organized and your routine better orchestrated. Remember, defense is about reacting to what’s happening. Offense is about making things happen. Which sounds better to you?

•  •  •

There’s no argument that the business is out there. Thousands of borrowers are applying for new mortgage loans every day. If you are stuck on defense, those loans will go to someone else. If you are out there playing offense — talking to people, making contacts and asking for opportunities — more of that business will come to you. 


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