Rule Number One: They Already Have a Loan OfficerBlair Hansonloan officers, loan originators, training classes, prospecting, leads Can you guess what the number one objection loan originators hear when approaching an agent for the first time? That's right ... I am already working with a loan officer. Have you heard this one yet? I thought so. You can't even say hello to most agents without activating this basic defense mechanism. They'll spit it out so fast that many of them won't even be aware they said it. And they fully expect it to work the same way on you as it has on all the other weaklings before you. They know that the very phrase will stop you in your tracks and send you scurrying off to the next prospect. Through training classes and personal experience, I have found that this is the single most intimidating objection that an agent can raise. It scares the newbies to their core, and even some of the more gifted sales reps have trouble with this one. If you feel you are being shut down by this statement, you need to find a way to work around it, or forget about ever getting business from anyone worth a pound of salt. Keep in mind that an agent who doesn't have a loan officer is an agent who isn't selling homes. Before you can understand the workaround, you must first understand why an agent says it. There are two possible reasons: Possibility Number 1: It's true. They do have someone they work with and are happy with their current level of service. Possibility Number 2: They're lying, and they just don't want to talk to you. When this objection raises it's ugly head, the majority of originators are taught to say one of the following: 1. I know, but [insert name here] works for a bank/broker, and because I am a bank/broker, I have products/rates/service that they cannot offer. Tell me, if this is the same thing that the last person before you said, and the same thing the next loan officer will say, what makes you think it will work any better for you? From experience, I can tell you right nowyou are wasting your breath. 2. Well ... why don't you let me take a crack at the next one [insert name here] can't do? I would love the chance to show you what I can accomplish! PLEASE! Don't ever say that. First of all, let's give the existing loan officer a little credit. If they're good enough that this agent will remain loyal, they probably know a dead deal when they see one. Secondly, you'll forever sleep in the bed you make for yourself today. If you want to get the reputation as the office "pooper-scooper," be my guest. You'll have a steady stream of impossible deals filling your pipeline and wasting your valuable time. Believe me, you'll end up doing plenty of tough deals with agents over time. That's the nature of the business. But, wouldn't you rather be the number one choice? Third, and hardest to swallow: They won't appreciate it. But, don't take my word for it. Ask any veteran loan officer about this issue, and they'll likely have a horror story to scare the curl out of your hair. Of course, it does look good on paper. Take an impossible deal, put your heart and soul into it, turn a credit criminal into a homeowner, and create a commission check out of thin air for an agent who's sure to reward you with gratitude and a pipeline full of deals. The problem is ... it seldom works that way. Tell me, how smoothly do those really tough deals usually go? Remember the old saying: You never get a second chance to make a first impression. So there you are, proudly presenting the agent with a previously non-existent commission check, and I promise that you won't even be back in your car before they're complaining to anyone who'll listen about how difficult it was to work with you. There are exceptions to this rule, however, and some agents will undoubtedly appreciate your efforts. But most of them will not understand what really happened behind the scenes. From my experience, every agent assumes that every deal will close, regardless of the circumstancesas soon as the purchase contract is signed, the borrowers credit score will magically increase to 799. In any case, I promise you that they've already spent the commission money in their mind. Don't put yourself in a position where success can still mean failure. And don't ever give anyone the impression that you are willing to be the second choice. There is a better way. You don't have to clean up anyone's dirty laundry. Forget about loyalty. Agents aren't loyal, and you shouldn't be. If you screw up a deal or two, you, rightfully so, will be fired. If you let your agent down, you've broken their trust and cost them income. Don't concern yourself with being the exclusive rep. That will come with time, after you've earned their trust. Instead, be prepared to compete.If competition scares you, put down this newspaper right now, because I cannot help you. Competition is the basic tenet of capitalism, and every company in the world has some competition somewhere. Those who succeed, learn to beat the competition at their own game. This is what you must learn to do, and when you do it, your business will grow. The next time an agent reverts to their basic instincts, try asking for the opportunity to compete. I've found that this works extremely well: But Blair, I already have someone I work with," says Suzy. "Of course you do Suzy, that's why I'm here! I knew you were selling homes, and any agent selling homes needs a loan officer whom they can trust." Says Blair, with a smile. "I have an ideawhy don't we let the customer decide? From now on, instead of handing out just one card, why not hand out two?" Holds out a stack of cards for her to take. "That way, you'll give the customer the benefit of a choice, and since the cream always rises to the top, eventually you'll realize which one of us is having the greatest impact on your success. And when that happens, your choice will be easy, won't it?" Holds out those cards until she takes them! You see what we've done? Instead of running and hiding, we've professionally asked for the business in a way that puts us in a position to succeed. By asking her: "And when that happens, your choice will be easy, won't it?" we've used an old sales technique called "change the base." By already agreeing that her choice will be easy, she's implied that she'll hand out your cards! Simple and effective. Now for the bad news. It won't work every time, and unfortunately, it won't even work most of the time. But, it will work better than what 99 percent of loan officers say all of the time. And it's certainly better than turning tail and running. Since there is no magic bullet and no way to guarantee that any system will work every time, my goal here has been to provide you with a tool that you can use to increase your batting average. But you must step up to the plate! Call on your agents regularly and professionally, and believe me, success will come. Blair Hanson is northwest district wholesale manager at Downey Savings. He may be reached by phone at (206) 571-5777, e-mail at [email protected] or visit www.blairhanson.com.