There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning, said Jiddu Krishnamurti, an Indian speaker and writer on philosophical and spiritual subjects.
Sharing information is one of the most effective techniques to build and sustain relationships with referral partners. Changes occur constantly in lending, real estate, marketing techniques, and the economy. Becoming the authority and regularly imparting knowledge will increase your business and potential referral sources will seek you out for your expertise.
The highly successful loan officer must continuously “sharpen the saw,” using Stephen Covey’s concept, by developing the habit of learning and then sharing with your referral partners.
Ask yourself, what differentiates you from every other loan officer and do you have a unique selling proposition in your sales approach? Many loan officers use the same old approaches and generate no business.
Ralph’s nephew Peter needed to supplement his income until he got an appointment to the police academy and so he decided to get his real estate license. After intense preparation, Peter passed his state-licensing exam.
Peter contacted a friend, a successful agent at a prominent firm, got an interview, and got hired. New hires had to put in floor time until they proved themselves capable of producing enough business (listings and/or sales) to satisfy the manager.
While at the front desk Peter was approached by no less than seven loan officers from various local lenders. Their approach was so predictable that it became a joke for Peter and Ralph, who was coaching Peter.
“Uncle Ralph, they all say the same thing. They all repeat exactly, almost word for word what the previous guy had said to me just an hour before.
“They all say they have the best rates, the best points and the best programs. They have the ability to close loans faster than anyone else with fewer conditions, less headaches, and more professionalism. I can’t figure out who is who when they come in. They are all alike.”
Does this description fit your approach? We hope not! Ralph suggested that Peter ask these loan officers just one question: did they have any ideas to help grow business such as generating more listings, sales, and customers resulting in more success for Peter and his company?
Peter asked them frequently for about a month. As a result, they all avoided him when they visited his office. We theorize that they stopped coming because they either didn’t understand the question or they had no answers.
Peter realized that any good loan officer would: put the needs of their referral sources before their own; want to help a referral source do more business; and establish a partnership based on mutually beneficial collaboration.
Becoming a highly successful loan officer requires much more than application taking, reviewing financing options and rate locks, clearing stips, and attending closings. (You do attend your closings, right?) You also must acquire and share knowledge as part of your daily routine and develop a habit of lifelong learning.
Learning means studying, listening and involvement beyond the headlines. This includes many phases of activity, not just lending.
Ralph and Kabir both say to referral sources, “I’m not here just to do the financing for your clients. I’m here to help you develop your business plan and help you with ideas to advance the many phases of marketing your business.”
You wouldn’t have the loan without the referral; so supporting the referral partner should hold equal priority to the loan activities. Differentiate yourself from other loan officers by truly investing yourself in your referral partner’s business. Rather than just being buddies, become indispensable to your referral partners by contributing business-building ideas.
A recent study revealed that highly successful loan officers spent fully one-third of their time developing their knowledge, both about the daily changes that affect real estate financing as well as broader business topics. The resources include:
1. Subscribing to a service that tracks and interprets the bond market helps you discuss trends that could affect rates and help borrowers make the lock decision. Make a daily video or audio podcast with your forecast and share it.
2. Web-based knowledge bases such as Mortgage Currentcy and AllRegs, which help you understand guidelines in depth, which in turn helps you get loans done more effectively, and also helps Realtors market properties eligible for special types of financing.
3. Always have a business book on your reading list. Topics should include time and priority management, selling techniques, social media marketing and effective communication. Offer to teach a seminar at a real estate office on one of these.
4. Subscribing to a content provider such as Loan Toolbox.
Talking to potential referral partners about rates, points, fees, programs, and service bores them to death. Ralph and Kabir actually teach their coaching clients to avoid using these five words in any sales conversation except in response to specific questions.
In contrast, ask “Did you know that X percent of buyers start their real estate shopping on the Internet? I just read an article about how to capture more of them—would you like a copy?” Who would say no? By providing new ideas you create a unique selling proposition and differentiate yourself from the crowd.
Add value by sharing knowledge in every encounter with a referral partner or potential referral partner, and, inevitably, they will do business with you.
Kabir Mahadeva and Ralph LoVuolo have over a half century of sales expertise in the mortgage industry. Ralph has coached successful mortgage originators for almost 25 years. Kabir has conducted sales training seminars and coaches financial professionals in marketing and client management.