Kellumâ€™s korner: Back to the futureAnthony O. Kellumproducts, technology
Remember when learning about products meant plodding through
some huge binder labeled "Product 106"? How about when a sales call
really meant calling someone or going to his office? What about
thumbing through those gigantic White Pages to make your own leads?
Well, many of today's mortgage professionals are like kids on the
side of the road, pointing to the hottest rides and saying, "That's
my car." They have the exposure to the finer things in life, but no
clue about how to acquire them through old-fashioned effort. We
have programs like "MTV Cribs" and "VH1's Fabulous Life Of,"
exposing us to lifestyles that appear to have been dropped into
celebrities' laps. But where are the camera crews and voiceovers
during all of the rejections and late nights of practice that made
these overnight successes possible?
Even if we don't have the stars' mega-millions, we can still
have access to their technology. Using Sidekicks, Blackberries and
notebook computers to acquire information at warp speed seems to
lead us to believe we should make money at warp speed, as well.
Unfortunately, our facility with gadgets, content management and
productivity software can create a false sense of progress where
we're misled into thinking that e-mails sent and received equals
the strength of a relationship. Yes, we can now grab detailed
product info at the click of the mouse, but what happens when the
server's down or there's no Wi-Fi access? How well would you know
your product then?
And even with the stellar product offerings and knowledge of
them, we still don't have a monopoly on mortgage financing.
Americans may have greater access to the Internet and material
riches than so-called third-world countries, but if that's the
case, why are so many jobs being routed to these same undeveloped
nations? With our public school systems lagging at the bottom of
the rung and our economic might waning, we can't be smug and
believe that the trend of outsourcing in fields, such as
information technology, can't translate to our industry. Maybe
you've heard about people going overseas to obtain surgeries at
fractions of the prices they'd pay in America. You would think that
American doctors would have a monopoly on surgery - great product
knowledge from all of those years of school, hands-on experience
and a captive market. So when people are willing to go to literally
great lengths to shop for the best bargain, is it unimaginable to
think financing for other major purchases is off limits? Do you
think they can't get conference calls in Bangalore?
Since we're no longer just competing with the guy across town,
but potentially the guy across the Pacific, how do we rise above
mediocrity to ensure our present and continued livelihood? Anyone
can combine flour, butter, sugar and eggs to make a cake, but the
entrepreneurial mindset dictates that it's my own way of combining
the ingredients, the special extras I add and the way I get the
word out about my cake that affect whether you'll buy mine rather
than Phil's across the street. Simply having great cake isn't
enough. Sure, we know we've got products to meet borrowers' needs
at great costs, but that's never been enough to get customers
through our doors. Infomercials, billboards, program sponsorships
and ads are all great ways to get our name out there, but sometimes
we need to get out of our desk chairs to close those deals.
I say we take it back to the old school. A retro mindset means
that we might have to pound the pavement to build our real estate
agent relationships. We might need to read books on those who have
overcome real struggles and apply their methods to our present-day
lives. We might need to make more connections by speaking at
association meetings or churches. While we have the capability and
technology to close transactions without ever leaving our desks,
your smile can literally turn out to be a million-dollar one when
someone sees it in person. And no matter what's new, hot or trendy,
the personal touch is something that never goes out of style.
Anthony Kellum is a past president of the Michigan Mortgage Brokers
Association, as well as a speaker on a variety of topics
regarding the mortgage industry. He may be reached at (248)
866-9292 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.