A large part of what we do for a living revolves around numbers: debt-to-income ratios, interest rates, funds to close, analyzing paystubs and tax returns, etc. Mortgage loan officers must know how to do all the different kinds of math to get their clients prequalified. But this is only one part to the equation when working with a prospective borrower.
Beyond the numbers is the emotional side of financing a home. This is so important, yet often overlooked, that I think many times it affects your production. You may not be getting the number of referrals you want or when you do get referrals, they end up going with another lender. The reason could simply be that you are not connecting emotionally with referral partners or potential clients.
You might be considered an expert at analyzing tax returns or maybe you can calculate a payment in your sleep, but if there isn’t a deeper level of trust and a strong connection then the client will likely choose another loan officer. I want to share my opinion on how you can improve the connection you have with referral partners and clients.
1. Five little words with big impact: "Tell me about your situation." I start almost every new client conversation this way. I want them to share their story with me. This accomplishes a few things. First it lets them know that I care about more than just the numbers. Then, it gives me insight into their fears, their background and potential problems. Lastly, I have time to consider different scenarios that will fit their situation.
2. Realtor referrals are a large part of my business and I can honestly say that I am friends with my Realtor partners, even the ones that I do not know well. If I haven’t seen them for a while, we hug. Friends gotta hug. I care about their business and their personal lives more than I care about the next referral. I want to know how I can help them succeed.
3. Customer service and going the extra mile. I am always looking for ways to add value. From my birthday email reminders to Realtors to the Thanks a Million application gift, I want to be set apart from my competition by the little things. We all have fairly comparable rates and fees. What makes you different?
4. There’s more after no. Unfortunately, we have to say no in this business because of bad credit, income instability, property issues, etc. This is the least-favorite part of my job. But remember that every no is an opportunity to make a positive impression. Sounds a little contradictory, but the way you handle these situations will build or tear down your reputation. I work very hard to find every option possible so clients have choices in these situations. Then, I show empathy and make sure they know that I am available to answer any other questions they have now and in the future. I will often send a handwritten note after I tell someone no, letting them know I care and appreciate the opportunity to help them in the future.
If a borrower is interviewing two loan officers, they are more likely to choose the one they feel the most connected to. This is true even if rates and fees are slightly different. Connection trumps price ALMOST every time. I’ve had prospects choose another lender because of price and then refer friends and family to me because it wasn’t a great experience and they wish they had gone through me. This is another reason to make sure you leave a positive impression even when they go with another lender.
Most loan officers are extremely knowledgeable and talented at doing mortgages. What they need to spend more time on is connecting with referral partners and prospects.