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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   November 2017

Convert Prospects to Partners

Building relationships with Realtors and builders requires consistency

 

Key Points

How to build business relationships

  • Meet Realtors and builders face to face.
  • Have a plan for your initial meeting.
  • Know what you can offer to help them.
  • Follow up consistently after the initial meeting.
  • Communicate personally as well as electronically.
  • Take advantage of new opportunities.
  • Leverage your company’s marketing support.

Great business partners, like Realtors and builders, are the Holy Grail of loan origination because they can provide a continual source of new borrowers. Whether you’re a new mortgage originator looking to establish yourself or a veteran trying to expand your business, the best way to establish new relationships is to take a methodical approach to marketing yourself.

Successful marketing programs are based on consistency. Some originators expect one marketing effort to build their career. It is important to keep your expectations in check, or you can get discouraged and disappointed with the results. Marketing takes effort, so make it a regular, mandatory part of your business.

Even loan originators who have achieved success from past marketing efforts need to make the effort to stay consistent, especially as they become busy. One good way to maintain consistency is to work with your company’s marketing team, which can help you create — and maintain — a long-term program.

Now that you’re mentally set for the long haul, it’s time to get going.

Human interaction matters

There’s no replacement for face-to-face meetings. In today’s busy world, many originators think connecting electronically is enough. It’s not. You are the most important part of your brand, and you will have to work 10 times harder to distinguish yourself electronically as you will in person. Get out there.

A lot of real estate offices don’t accept drop-ins, however, so you will need another way to meet these prospects. The same often goes for real estate developers and builders.

One of the easiest ways to meet real estate agents is through open houses. Search online to find out when and where to show up. Many agents use social media to share their listings and open houses. In addition to weekend open houses, some markets have brokers’ open houses during the week specifically for the real estate community. Call a local real estate office and ask if your area has brokers’ open houses.

Another way to build rapport with agents is to initiate relationships before they start doing business. Offer your time as a mortgage expert at a local real estate school. You can gather contact info when you make your presentation — or afterward with a text campaign — and provide your presentation materials after students submit their contact info.

Cultivating business relationships builds careers, but marketing yourself to potential prospects is a full-time job. 

Make sure to send a personal note of congratulations to graduates. Ask for a meeting and offer to be a source of experience as they begin their careers. Be the catalyst that helps launch their careers by providing their clients with top-notch mortgage services.

Builders can be more difficult to locate because they don’t often use social media to announce their housing developments. They do, however, host events similar to open houses to showcase model homes. Most new residential developments will have a sign that names the builder. Jot down this info and call the builder to find out when they’re showing their model homes. Another option is to conduct a public records search on new construction and development permits or requested residential zoning changes.

Don’t arrive empty handed

The key to a successful first meeting is planning. Know what you can do for a prospective partner before you show up. Do not simply go in and ask prospects to give you their business. You are there to help them and their customers — your mutual clients.

Help can come in many forms, but be mindful of Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, or RESPA, guidelines and your company’s policies if you plan to bring a gift to a meeting. Don’t give anything too extravagant. Better yet, check with your company before giving anything out.

Some loan originators bring care packages for the Realtor or builder’s representative when they arrive at an open house or model home. This can be a cold bottle of water in the summer, snacks or other amenities like a cell phone charger.

Providing an item or two that ties into the local area is a nice touch. Maybe there’s a shop famous for its chocolate chip cookies, or a local brand of iced tea. Make sure to include a few branded items as well, like a pen or pad of paper with your company’s name. And never forget your business cards.

Many originators like to bring information that is focused more directly on business, such as samples of cobranded flyers or handouts your company has provided to partners in the past. Another great option is your e-guide, which is an online booklet telling your story. Electronic marketing materials make it easy for the Realtor or builder to share your information with clients in a format that isn’t easily lost  or damaged.

Finally, be aware that real estate agents and builders have different motivations for wanting to sell homes. Although both want to generate revenue quickly, builders have their own funds in each home. Every day without a sale is an expense, so speed is going to be their No. 1 priority.

When you talk about your team’s speed, be specific and quantify everything. The difference between saying you’re fast and showing exactly how fast you are can be the difference between winning the relationship and getting brushed off.

Whatever you do, have a plan. Know what you can offer, target your specific audience and don’t show up empty handed.

Follow up more than once

Congratulations. At this point, you should have made some introductions with potential business partners. Make sure to collect business cards at every meeting. When you get back to your office, put the new contact info into your customer relationship management (CRM) software and work with your company’s marketing department to set up follow-up campaigns for each connection.

A good follow-up campaign uses a combination of communication methods, like e-mails, text messages, hand-written notes and phone calls. Many originators neglect the power of personalized prospecting and rely solely on automated electronic communications. Don’t make this mistake. Reach out directly with personal communications, like phone calls, several times a year. Hand-written notes are great because so few people send them, which makes it easy to stand out.

One rule of thumb here is “don’t give up.” Successful originators follow up consistently, regardless of how long it has been since the initial meeting — even if that means years. You don’t need to call every day or week, but maintain personal contact through a note or phone call a few times a year until that person becomes a regular business source. Use your CRM or electronic calendar to set reminders at regular intervals to reach out and build your network.

Watch for new opportunities

One final piece of advice: Part of successfully marketing yourself is thinking outside the box. Stay on the lookout for additional opportunities. When you find them, think of ways to leverage them even further.

Take sponsorships, for example. Many loan originators have great success sponsoring local events and industry meetings, but they often don’t realize how much more they can obtain by simply asking for extra branding and face time. Once you secure the event, take it a step further and leverage the investment to earn media attention. Do a social media push as well.

Cultivating business relationships builds careers, but marketing yourself to potential prospects is a full-time job that requires commitment and consistency. This can be a huge balancing act when you’re already busy originating loans, meeting with clients and prospects, and managing your pipeline.

Do yourself a favor. Engage your company’s or your lender’s marketing department. These experienced professionals are there to help you succeed. Just as you are an expert at originating and closing loans, marketing professionals are experts at helping you get your foot in the door. With this marketing help, you can establish the consistency it takes to build your business with far less effort on your part.


 


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