What will you say when they ask this question?

The holidays are upon us and this is the time when you will reconnect with many people you haven't seen since last year and some that you are just meeting for the first time.
They are bound to ask you "What do you do?" and how you answer this question will determine if the conversation turns out the way you want it to or if it leads you to just be further frustrated with yet another missed opportunity.

Do you hate rate shoppers? Our industry is more competitive than it has ever been. To compound this fact, consumers now have numerous ways to check rates and programs and also check you out on –line to see your reputation. It's no different than anything we do ourselves when we are shopping. We all want to get the best deal and know that we are working with a legitimate person/company.
In fact, stop right now and see what is being said about you. Go to Google.com and type in your name and see what is being said. Then go do the same for your company. If there is nothing being said about you that is the same as having bad press. I'll cover this whole topic more in a future article but let's get back to our main point about rate shoppers, OK?

Why do people ask you what your rates are?

It pays to take a step back and discover why consumers ask this question to begin with. I call this the "head of lettuce" syndrome and loan officers that have this affliction are doomed to never fully realize their full earnings potential.
Let's assume you are in the market for a head of lettuce. All lettuce costs pretty much the same since it's a commodity. So if you see lettuce at one store for $0.89 and another for $0.99 why not buy at the lower price.
After all lettuce is lettuce.
This is the same way consumers view us. We are offering a commodity and they want to get it at the best price. Now I realize you are probably saying, "But our service is superior, or we can get it done faster, or I am a better originator."

But the truth is that we all must provide great service and be competitive just to earn the chance for this conversation.

Consumers only ask about price because they don't know what else to ask. This whole conversation is especially true now when you are at family gatherings and parties and the question of "How's business" or "What do you do?" comes up.
Letting them know that you give good service or have been a Champion's Club winner, or anything else about you or your company will not change their perception.

So how do you change it? Let's think about what you can do to change this perception and once and for all stop the question that irritates all of us. To begin let's look at our service industries.
There are accountants and then there are tax accountants and corporate accountants. There are attorneys and then there are divorce attorneys, litigators, corporate attorneys, patent law etc. In my area there is now an attorney who specializes in working with fathers who are going thru a divorce and protecting the father's rights.
Of course there is also the medical field. There are general practitioners and then there are specialists in every area of the body.
There are specialties in the mortgage industry. While you may offer numerous programs you could consider specializing in just these types of programs. Before I list them please understand that this does not mean you can't offer all types of loans. It just means that you should find an area to specialize in.  We can start with 203(k) rehab loans; first-time home buyer bond programs; reverse mortgages; super luxury jumbos; new construction loans; 100% financing for doctors and this list can go on and on.

My very own favorite niche is working with buyers who have had a bankruptcy or other credit challenge. There is currently the Federal Housing Administration's Back to Work program that can help 7.3 million borrowers who had a bankruptcy, short sale or foreclosure during the melt down.

This of course is my very own favorite niche.

The following three sentences have been the key to my success and to the success of over 10,000 other originators and company owners that I have shared it with. Grab a pen and paper and write this one down.  Ready?

1. Pick a niche.

2. Become the expert.

3. Let everyone know about it!

Why this works? I realize that this all sounds counter intuitive but stay with me. This works because people go to experts to solve their problems. When you are doing a 70% loan-to-value deal with a borrower who has 10 years on the job, an 810 credit score and three years of payments left after closing – well they deserve low rates and the best terms. They will shop you until their fingers hurt from dialing.

But a buyer who has a challenge wants to work with an expert. It's much less about shopping and much more about knowing you have the expertise and credibility to get them to closing. They rarely ask what your rate is but will sometimes want to know the terms just so they know they can afford it.
Think about a borrower who had a bankruptcy because of a layoff but who is now back on track. Think about a senior who can no longer afford their home but wants to stay. Think of a person purchasing an REO that is in the perfect location and meets all of their needs, including price, but simply can't afford to make the repairs without a renovation loan.

The point here is to think of a niche. Understand that it doesn't have to be unique to you or your company. You just want to become the expert in that one product or program and then let your entire market area know about it.

Here's your template. When I am asked what I do, I will say, "I help buyers who have had a bankruptcy or other credit challenge get into a home with low down payment and attractive rates." Notice I don't say the best rates.

When someone hears this they never ask what the rate is. They only want to know that I am real and can do what I say I can.
To promote your new area of expertise you should:
1. Teach courses at your local Board of Realtors.
2. Be a resource for your local press.
3. Teach courses to home builder associations in your area.
4. Write a short Kindle book.
5. Do webinars for real estate agents and consumers.
6. Partner with referral sources. In my case I often work with bankruptcy attorneys that know my expertise and are confident I will help their clients.
Why I know you won't do this, but I hope I am wrong.
Now I realize what I have just laid out for you is 100% counter to what you have been taught. But please realize that is exactly why this works so well. It's counter intuitive. Most originators fear that picking a niche will force them to miss other opportunities but in truth that is completely wrong.
When you assist a client who has an issue they see you as mortgage originator. These clients will absolutely refer you because they appreciate your help and guidance. 
When you are at parties or gatherings create your own unique selling position and expertise. Instead of saying, "I am a loan officer or mortgage expert, or mortgage planner," try "I help___________ who ____________ ( problem) get into a home with ____________ and ___________( your solutions)."
Give it a try and share your success. I love to hear success stories.

Brian Sacks is a nationally renowned mortgage expert who has career closings of over 5,924 transactions for over $1 billion. He has trained, consulted and coached tens of thousands of loan officers and company owners over the past 29 years on How to Close More Loans – Make More Money – And Still Have A Life. For more information go to http://agentschaseyou.com/