As loan officers, we are constantly contacting people and looking to help them with their next home purchase. Sometimes the prospective borrower says yes and sometimes they say no. Every “no” can feel like a punch in the gut. You put a lot of effort into turning a lead into a client and that person says, “No, I’m going with another lender.” Ouch.
Fortunately, there are some simple ways to turn many of these rejections around. To borrow the well-worn cliché, don’t take no for an answer — at least not the final answer.
Keep hope alive
Let’s say you’ve made a call to someone and they say they’re going with another lender. You’ve given your rebuttals to each objection and they’re moving forward with someone else.
Instead of bemoaning the fact that they picked someone else, make the most of it. Share a scripted conversation with them, which puts them at ease and leaves the door open for a possible partnership down the road.
Consider a script like this: “I understand that you’ve got to do what’s right for your family. If your decision is to go with ABC Bank, I completely understand. I’ll follow up with you in about two weeks to see how that transaction is going, because I’m invested in the success of you buying that house.
“Also, if you feel that things are going a bit sideways, feel free to call me and I’ll let you know if there is anything to be concerned about. I wish you well and want to celebrate with you. By the way, do you know anyone else that’s looking to buy, sell or refinance who could use our help?”
This type of conversation immediately opens the opportunity for referrals. It also lets the client know there’s no bad blood and that you’ll be checking in again with them soon.
Referrals and more
Here’s the thing: Loans are sometimes challenging. The chosen lender might be struggling. Maybe they hit some speed bumps and won’t close on time. You’ll never know unless you follow up.
Sometimes people turn you down because they feel strong-armed into going with another lender. But this doesn’t mean they’re going to have a great experience and refer friends and family to that lender. They may well refer people to you instead, if they are impressed by your service or feel bad for not using you as their originator.
Remember, every time you talk to them, you’re asking for referrals — every single time.
It all comes down to letting people know it’s OK that they didn’t choose you. Even if someone says no, they might refer you to someone who will say yes. At the very least, you’re making a warm and fuzzy connection with someone, and that makes you a class act.
In addition to getting referrals, it’s not uncommon for something to go wrong around the two-week mark of the mortgage process. This gives you an opportunity to convert them back and be their originator.
The reason matters
There are varied reasons people say no. One prospect might say, “No, I decided to go with Bank of Frank.” Another one might say, “No, we decided not to buy a house right now.”
If someone decides it’s not the right time to buy or refinance, you can call them again in three months, just like you should contact everyone in your database once per quarter. What does that conversation sound like? It’s simple: “Hello. I know you’d decided to hold off on buying a house. I just wanted to check in and see how everything’s going. Do you want to revisit numbers now that it’s been a few months?”
Even if this follow-up call doesn’t cause them to say yes, you can still open the door to ask for referrals. “Great. Do you know anyone else who’s looking to buy, sell or refinance?”
Consider this mantra: Whoever makes the most offers wins. In other words, whoever asks for the most business is going to close the most loans. Period. Speak to real estate agents, appraisers, attorneys — everyone — and ask them every single time if they have any friends, family or coworkers looking to buy, sell or refinance.
If the word “no” comes from someone who went with another lender, call them back in two weeks. Instead of asking them how it’s going, tell them how it should be going. “Hello. It’s been two weeks since we chatted and I wanted to follow up with you. We figured your appraisal inspection is all done, your loan is in underwriting and you might even have the appraisal report back.”
These are the milestones you’d be covering right now if you were their originator. Either the client will be on track and tell you that, or you’ve planted a seed of doubt in their mind because their lender hasn’t yet completed these steps. Sometimes this can bring the client back into your pipeline because they can see that you deliver.
In your database
Put every “no” in your database and call them two weeks later as if you were their lender. If things are going great for them, ask them when their closing date is, then call them a few days before or after.
Your message should follow this script: “Congratulations! You got the keys to your place. How does it feel? We’re so happy for you! Can we send you a housewarming card to celebrate?” Show them you meant it when you said you were invested in their success.
Send the housewarming card, capture their address for your customer relationship management system, then flag them so that when you call them, you know they didn’t close with you. But you’ll often find, when you check in on them and ask if you can help with anything, they’ve forgotten that you weren’t their lender because you’re the only one reaching out and following up.
They’ll be touched by your thoughtful card, and when you ask for referrals, they’ll often feel a little guilty. Guilt is an underutilized business tool. You want the client to be thinking, “I didn’t use her as my lender, but I could send her my sister’s name.” Remember, every time you talk to them, you’re asking for referrals — every single time.
Here’s the deal, friends. For the past two years, loan officers have been riding bicycles and coasting downhill with a 50-mph wind at our backs. Now the landscape has flattened out and we have to pedal to make our bike go forward. We’ve forgotten what it’s like to have to make an effort at selling loans.
If we want to sell loans, we have to act like a salesperson. We have to ask for more business and look for opportunities. If you don’t have an endless source of money to throw at leads, then calling each “no” back to follow up and ask for referrals is a great use of your time. It will result in additional referrals and closings.
When you follow up with someone who isn’t your client, what does that say to them? It says that you care and you have a system. They can only imagine how impressive your follow-up is with your actual clients.
So often we’re afraid to pick up the phone, afraid to get rejected, afraid to hear the word no. But we don’t have to be afraid. What do we have to lose? You just might get as many referrals from your “no” people as your “yes” people. You won’t know until you try. ●