Residential Magazine

Staring at the Phone Won’t Win You Any Business

The best way to generate leads is to make inroads with real estate agents

By Carl White

Almost every successful mortgage company closes most of its loans through real estate agent referrals. That’s not really breaking news. It’s common knowledge that agents are a vital source for producing leads in this business.

Too many loan originators spend too little time effectively working on this strategy. Oh sure, originators will set up an email drip campaign or some social media efforts, but it’s also well known that making outbound calls is what the vast majority of top producers do to keep their pipelines full. In many cases, this results in closing dozens of loans per month.

“The smallest businesses — forced to do what it takes to survive and unburdened by the expectations of stakeholders or large investors — are being forced to get creative.”

What holds most originators back from the very thing they know will produce the most amount of closed loans? Call reluctance. Yep, that little culprit has forced droves of sales professionals to leave their mortgage careers over the past couple of years.

Originators can’t simply blame their lower production numbers on the market. Many experienced originators are still closing dozens upon dozens of loans each month. And many newcomers to the business are doing quite well. Call reluctance is the elephant in the room that needs to be outed.

Proper perspective

Always keep in mind that the top-producing real estate agents you are calling likely became top producers by making calls of their own. So, when you call them, they recognize what you’re doing is the very thing that got them to where they are.

The problem is that many originators aren’t consistent with their prospecting. You have to accept that the first call is not likely to generate a referral. Expect to take until the fifth or sixth weekly call — and a coffee appointment to boot — to get your first referral from a real estate agent. (Some will take more calls, others less.)

“It makes a lot of sense, then, to forecast that the next wave of success stories in the mortgage industry will involve those who develop, improve or deploy innovative technologies and business models.”

Those who give up after the first or second call — or more likely, don’t make a substantial number of prospecting calls at all — are likely having a hard time these days. It’s that dreaded fear of rejection that is the stealer of dreams. But here’s the thing with rejection: Always keep in mind that they aren’t rejecting you; they’re rejecting your offer.

Imagine you’re having dinner with your spouse at your favorite restaurant and being served by your favorite waiter. The fish dinner is amazing, as is the service. At the end of the meal, the waiter asks if you want to order a piece of the delicious key lime pie for dessert. Because you are both already full, you say no. You didn’t say no because the food or the service was bad. You just didn’t want any pie.

When an agent doesn’t give you a referral, they aren’t saying they don’t like you or that you’re a bad salesperson. They are simply saying they are full now. They have a current relationship with an originator that is working well for them.

Systematic approach

Keep things in perspective when you tell yourself that phone calls are hard. After all, you are sitting in a comfortable chair, a glass of cool water sitting beside you, in an air-conditioned or heated room, making some very simple phone calls that can result in an income you could’ve only dreamed about in the past. There are a lot tougher jobs out there.

There are a couple of tricks. First, have a regularly scheduled time to make these calls. For instance, try 9 to 11 a.m. Monday through Thursday. Instead of waiting until you’re ready, just have it as a set appointment on your calendar. It also helps to have it be your very first task of the workday.

Make the easy calls at first. For instance, on Tuesdays, call the two agents involved in each purchase loan you’re working on. Give them an update on how the file is progressing, and let them know that you’re still on track for an on-time and flawless closing. At the end of the call, simply ask if there’s anyone else in their pipeline who needs help getting to the closing table.

These are the easiest calls of all, since one of the biggest complaints from real estate agents is that originators don’t give them weekly updates. You can close a significant number of loans each month from the referrals you get on these super easy update calls.

Another successful and easy-to-do activity is to hold a Zoom meeting with other originators where you make your calls together. Spend the first 10 minutes discussing your success stories after the previous session to get enthused. Go over your scripts and rebuttals. Then make the calls.

Turn on your cameras so you can see each other, kind of like “The Brady Bunch,” then turn off the sound so you don’t hear each other. You can even be in different states while making calls together. The power and confidence you’ll get by seeing other originators making their calls, and knowing that they’re watching you, is absolute magic.

Confidence builder

The worn-out phrases “begging for business” and “chasing real estate agents” are made-up stuff from someone trying to sell you something you don’t need. This never happens. You won’t see a real estate agent running down the hallway to get away from an originator. These lines are simply recycled by unsuccessful salespeople.

Asking for business is just called “sales.” You’ll find that as you make more calls, it gets easier over time. The thing is, you can’t wait until you’re ready. The confidence only happens after you do something, not before. Everybody feels fear. It’s just that successful people feel the fear and do it anyway.

Realize that the vast majority of real estate agents will not send their leads to you on an ongoing basis. But also realize you can make a seven-figure income if only a fraction of these agents send their homebuyers to you.

So, block out your calendar for two hours per workday at least four days a week. Grab a list of a few hundred agents who have closed at least eight buyer-side deals in the past 12 months, get a proven script from somebody who is already successful and start dialing.

There’s nothing in this business that compares to good old-fashioned phone work. You’ve got this. ●


  • Carl White

    Carl White is founder and CEO of Mortgage Marketing Animals, a successful mortgage marketing training program. White is also a branch manager at one of the top mortgage branches in America and the host of the No. 1 podcast for loan officers, Mortgage Marketing Animals teaches the strategies that originators in White’s own branch use today to close more loans in less time. Learn more by visiting

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