The fourth quarter of 2018 is in full swing, and as the economic news is coming in, many mortgage professionals are starting to prepare for a long, cold winter.
While I’m not going to ignore data and facts, part of my job is to help people find creative solutions that allow them to identify and attack new opportunities. And here’s the really good news: 2019 will be full of great opportunities if you’re willing to “follow the puck” and get back to core sales fundamentals.
Many of our coaching clients are telling me that three major threats exist in their world right now: Rising interest rates, razor thin margins, and new competitors taking market share.
As I look at those very real threats, I like to help clients explore ways they can grow their business using strategies that keep them focused on what they can do best when those threats exist.
Let’s set the frame for 2019; if you’re paid to originate loans, you need to make calls. But let’s get away from just calling real estate agents all week (and getting very little return on your investment of time). The name of the game with each of these 2019 strategies is lead diversification.
I’m dividing these action ideas into two groups, based on where you are in your career.
If you’re a production leader with at least five years of successful results, these sales activities should be in your 2019 business plan:
1. New referral sources — If more than 50% of your referrals come from real estate agents, it’s time to build relationships with other referral partners. Start meeting with attorneys, builders, financial planners, insurance agents, and other small business owners. This is not a new idea, but one I regularly see overlooked by lenders when leads from real estate agents are easy to get. That is not a 2019 narrative, so get ahead of the competition and start networking now!
2. Database gold mining — Call past clients and previous applicants (who didn’t close) and start helping them create a future mortgage plan. Stop limiting your closed clients to refinance consultations, as those opportunities are few and far between. Start helping people prepare for a future sale, purchase and equity redistribution by providing them with meaningful data that they value so you can help them make a great future plan and turn it into their reality.
3. Consumer direct marketing — Most of you are already online using social media (at some level) to stay visible with your networks. But don’t forget that networking with small-to-medium-sized business owners can be a great channel for homebuyer education events. And you can always host your own homebuyer seminars in local communities where you feature real estate agents, insurance agents and even financial planners. Get outside the box!
If you’re an up-and-coming originator with less than five years of experience, these activities are a must in 2019:
1. Pick up the phone — Call everyone you know (clients, friends, family, etc.) and tell them you need to meet new real estate agents, home builders, CPAs, financial planners, insurance agents and attorneys. Ask for an introduction. Remember, personal referrals have a much higher ROI than cold calls, so start with referral introductions and track your calls!
2. Join a networking group — Groups like BNI exist in every community in America. Most have a lender — so don’t be afraid to start your own. Focus on giving referrals to build credibility before you ask. Use your meeting every week to hone your “elevator pitch” and “37-second close” so you grow as you go.
3. Market with social media — Focus on mobility and video as you to build your brand. You want everyone who searches your name to find short, quality content — not a company-branded website. Promote your partners as your build those relationships. And start building your five-star reviews with every agent, borrower and referral partner you have!
Finally, here’s one more action plan for either group: cross-sell with every transaction using a system to call agents, clients, inspectors, insurance agents and title reps. Pick up the phone and update them all every single week on the progress you’re making on every single file.
This last one is such an “empty-net” score for most originators who commit to doing this. It creates accountability for excellence from your team. Put every one of those active names in your database for follow-up after closing — they are your best referral sources because they just saw your value firsthand.
The bottom line — you must have a plan and you must work your plan every day!
As you execute your plan, get away from competing with every loan officer who’s cold-calling real estate agents for coffee and lunch. Do something different.
This is an updated version of an earlier post, originally published Feb. 26, 2015.