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Creative fraud 101

May 16, 2005

Selling mortgages is not rocket science: 10 things an originator must do to become successfulDave Hershmanmarketing strategies, communication, advertising I just returned from speaking at a very large sales and marketing event for loan officers. There were more than 600 in attendanceso, I would define that as very large. I would like to thank my friend Brian Sacks for hosting this event. There were a variety of speakers selling various marketing systems and giving marketing advice. While the advice and systems were all very good, I gave a slightly different message. Okay, perhaps it was radically different. I would like to clarify this message here: Do not expect a marketing system to work if you don't do the basic things necessary to become successful. As a matter of fact, if you do these things correctly, you will need to spend much less money and energy on marketing. Why? Because marketing is not something you doit is the way you think. Those who are very successful take care of the basics. I invite you to see if you have taken care of the following 10 things. If you haven't, do not spend another dollar on marketing or advertising until you have. 1. Communicate, communicate, communicate How many times have you heard that you must call or e-mail people back? You are probably sick of hearing it. Yet, this is still the number one customer and real estate agent complaint. People ask how I did almost 600 loans in my first 18 months on the street. Well, it wasn't because of experience or relationships at that point. I simply called the clients back faster than anyone else did. To this day, I live by that standard. If you have a sales manager, trainer or coach who tells you to do this and does not set a great example by doing this themselvesfire them! 2. Identify your sphere of influence Those who go through my school are introduced to an exercise that is designed to triple the size of the typical originator's database (I usually pick one with five years of experience as a guinea pig and then demonstrate on a rookie as well). If you do not have a database that correctly identifies your sphere of influence, why in the world would you be marketing to those you do not know? What sense does that make? None! The alternative promotes cold calling and to me, cold calling is a waste of time. You should have no less than 3,000 to 5,000 people you either know or with whom you have something very important in common. 3. Prioritize your sphere of influence Maximum synergy rule number three states that some targets are more important than others. You cannot market to the world. If you have a sphere of influence of 4,000 people, you can't have lunch with all of them. The sphere should resemble a pyramid, with the most important targets at the top. These would be your three to five potential synergy partners. At the bottom are people you have things in common with but you don't know personally (such as they attend your church or are fellow alumni). Your marketing plan will revolve around this sphere and prioritization is the key. 4. Everyone in your sphere should know what you do for a living and should receive value from you on a regular basis This is exactly why I started writing a value-laden newsletter as a loan officer my third month in the business 25 years ago. It is why I supplied these to my loan officers when I became a head of production. And, it is why I continue to write these newsletters and make them available to the industry. It makes sense that the industry expert is going to provide the most value. 5. Attend your settlements (or signings on the West Coast) Nothing is more important than delivering top-notch customer service. The settlement is a very important event for your customer. If you are not there and questions or problems arise, everything you have done up to that point could be for naught. Even if everything goes smoothly, you are differentiating yourself from your competition in a positive way by showing up when most loan officers do not. And guess what? There are usually real estate agents at the table. Or, would you rather cold call them? 6. Single out one segment of your sphere for a special phone call Call everyone who closes a loan with you one week after settlement and do not ask for a referral. Instead, thank them for the opportunity to serve them, ask if there is anything else you can do for them and finally ask for feedback. They are not expecting follow-up from a salesperson, so you will be exceeding their expectations. Exceeding expectations is another key to a successful business model. 7. When you get negative feedback from a client, do everything in your power to turn it around You can't afford to have customers walk away unhappy. When feedback is positive, use the opportunity to obtain a testimonial in writing. Social proof is a key ingredient of differentiation and if you are not using this tool, you are selling with your hands tied behind your back. You should have a letter or a quote from at least one out of every 10 closings. Some of these quotes can come from your vendors. In addition, dont forget to write testimonials to your real estate agents, other partners and even vendors. 8. When a prospect decides not to do a loan with you, call them a week to 10 days afterwards Do not call to ask if they have changed their mind. You can remind them that you ended the phone call by offering to do what you can to help them, even if you are not doing the loan. Just ask them how it's going and offer your help again. If things are going badly (this will be the case in one out of every three phone calls), you may just recapture the prospect. By the way, one in three have done nothing, so the phone call may result in a chance to convert the prospect more than 50 percent of the time. So, it is a call that can be well worth the effort. 9. Make the words "thank you" part of your marketing plan We don't say these words often enough, we don't say them in the right way and we don't make it part of the plan. Say "thank you" more often. In American, people are just not used to hearing the phrase; doing so will exceed your customers' expectations, differentiate you from your competition and it's free! 10. Become an expert in the industry Stop trying to sell by convincing people to do business with you. You need to stop selling and start advising. This does not happen because you are using scripts and fancy words. It happens because you are an expertand that takes time and a plan. Becoming an expert is true differentiation and the basis for our origination school. We are not interested in helping loan officers fill in forms and become competent. We want to help them understand what it takes to become a leader and expert. Remember, if you do not accomplish the 10 items listed in this article, you have no right to market or advertise. Save your money and energy, and start building your business the right way. It is the only way off the proverbial roller coaster and treadmill. Dave Hershman is a leading author and top speaker for the mortgage industry with six books, including two best sellers for the Mortgage Bankers Association of America. His mortgage school is the only comprehensive advanced curriculum in the industry. For a schedule of classes, free marketing samples, speaking information and articles by Dave, visit or call (800) 581-5678.
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