I have been working with a young man who we will call Jack. Jack has been in the Mortgage business for over 10 years, but worked only in the operations area. Jack decided that becoming a commissioned based Mortgage Loan Originator would be good career move. The first move Jack made was a smart one.
First he decided he knew very little about connecting with people and convincing them to apply and work with him. He did however know what a good loan file looks like. So once he had a prospect, he could put together a quality loan that would be complete 95% of the time. He knew his challenge would be making the right connections to make applications happen. So admitting he didn’t have the right contacts and didn’t know how to build them was the first smart move.
The second thing he did was to hire a coach. He knew if he were to succeed on straight commission, focus would be critical, but focusing on the right things would be even more critical. That would mean not focusing on the things you naturally gravitate to, but focusing on the things that will drive the most and best connections with prospects. So as his coach, here are the things we laid out to get Jack on the right track:
10 STEPS TO BUILD THE PIPELINE
- Make as many internal connections as possible to start building a referral source. This included branches, consumer and commercial lenders, and call center staff. His commitment was to be available, keep his partners informed of what was happening to their referrals, and following through on things in a timely manner. In addition, he offered to be in the branches to show them how to uncover referral opportunities and then ask for the commitment to proceed. This started to immediately build Jack’s loan pipeline.
- Jack announced to the market that he was there to help clients obtain financing for their home. He asked his bank advertise his presence in the local a surrounding markets to let people know he was there and would provide advice on purchasing or refinancing their home. He started to see a few inquiries from this that began to result in applications.
- Jack knew he wouldn’t be able to survive on this alone while he is virtually unknown, but also knew that connecting with local realtors and builders and getting to know the key players that direct financing for the purchase market is a critical part of his long-term strategy. Jack asked these influencers what their biggest challenges were in working with Mortgage Lenders and took that feedback back to his bank to develop personal strategies that would overcome these challenges.
- Jack began sourcing a couple of new programs that others were not offering that would help differentiate him in the market place. He also started to develop regular educational programs for his target influencers.
- In addition, we began working on standardizing Jack’s communications with clients, prospects, referral sources, realtors, etc. Standardizing consistent communications in order to make staying in touch and simple as possible was the goal. We did this knowing the key reason deals fall apart is lack of communication, and the most significant reason clients become fans is because Jack would know their needs before they did.
- We worked with Jack’s internal support team. His processor and underwriter. Our goal was to equip and empower them to communicate directly with the applicant on Jack’s behalf, leveraging the communication standards we put in place. Our goal being to cut out the middle man (Jack) and make the requests for additional information and/or updates to the client as direct and efficient as possible.
- We categorized and prioritized Jack’s weekly call list. The goal of this initiative was to focus Jack’s attention on making outbound calls that were most likely to result in an applications. HIGH = Internal purchase referrals – make the call immediately today. Timing for these are critical. MEDIUM = Internal refinance referrals – Jack will need to do some homework and analysis on these and can expect an application from every 2 to 3 phone calls. LOW = Internal marking lists of potential refinance opportunities – Jack will need to do a bunch of pre-work to work through numbers and ensure he has identified real opportunities for these prospects prior to making the call. The most unique thing about these calls is the prospect is not expecting a call while in both HIGH and MEDIUM the prospect is expecting a call from Jack. The effort in these is significantly higher and the likelihood of making the right connection with an interested prospect falls significantly. However, when High and Medium leads run out, making these calls is still necessary to keep building the application pipeline. Jacks weekly goal is to make 50 contacts every week, regardless of his pipeline. That’s contacts, not calls. Talking to someone is the only thing that counts towards building a steady pipeline of new applications.
- We dedicated Tuesday afternoons to communicate progress to his applicants. Following a weekly pipeline meeting with his processor, Jack proceeds to update every prospect on the status of their loan request and pursue additional information needed to keep applications moving. He and his processor coordinate these updates.
- He assembles thank you notes and emails from satisfied clients to memorialize his ultimate accomplishments and to remind himself on those difficult and challenging days that what he does and the way he does it matters. It is that extra motivation to pick up the phone and make that call to help someone to purchase or refinance the home of their dreams.
- Finally, he measures the critical activities that drive results :
- 50 contacts
- 10 applications
- 5 approvable applications that result in a closing.
So how has Jack done? Well, Jack closed 2 loans his first month, but began building a really nice pipeline. He learned through trial and error that prioritizing and making the calls was the key to keeping the pipeline flowing – missing a few weeks of calls due to closings or feeling of success last month can negatively impact your results next month. The second month Jack closed 7 loans for just under $1.0 Million earning the equivalent of his previous salary. Month number 3 finished at approximately $1.2 Million, and month number 4 is looking at in excess of $1.5 Million and 35% more than his salary. So far, Jack’s commission based income trumps his previous salary. With the number of satisfied clients in just 3 short months, Jack is on target to build a quality reputation as a Mortgage Loan Officer and improve his personal financial picture substantially.
If you asked Jack the key’s to his early success he would say: Focus on the right things and maintain the discipline of doing them every day. Sounds easy, but is quite hard without someone helping to coach you out of doing what comes natural to you or what you like to do and into doing the activities that really matter. It is not an easy transition, but it is worth doing. I couldn’t have done it on my own.
If you are in the sales or relationship business and struggling to meet the target or have a team that is not performing to your expectations, give me a call to see how we can help you make Visible Progress.