Life is complex because relationships are complicated. Simplify relationships and you simplify your life. Here are three strategies to do just that.
1. Simplify your message and create a solid foundation
If you want to simplify your relationships, you need to first examine the way you bring clients and referral partners in the door. If your initial message is focused on the wrong thing(s), you will end up having the wrong types of conversations with the wrong types of prospects.
For instance, if your marketing messages to borrowers and referral partners focus on how you offer great mortgage deals, then you will attract rate shoppers and people who are very focused on price. A borrower would be more likely to drop you or give you a hard time if the competition offers a lower price in the middle of the loan process, because the very reason the borrower is using you in the first place is no longer valid. This complicates the relationship. Remember, complicated relationships complicate your life. You don’t want that.
On the other hand, what if you changed your initial message and built the relationship on a foundation that is not focused on price? For example, here are three unique messages that are not focused on price:
►Your unique message to Realtors: I am a housing and mortgage strategist, and I specialize in helping Realtors differentiate their listings, attract more buyers and sellers, and avoid buyer fallout.
►Your unique message to borrowers: I am a mortgage and cash flow strategist, and I specialize in helping borrowers like yourself improve cash flow, get out of debt sooner, and avoid the dangerous pitfalls of today’s mortgage market.
►Your unique message to CPAs and financial advisors: I am a financial strategist and I specialize in helping financial advisors finance Roth IRA conversions and other unique strategies, and also solve the negative equity problem that many homeowners are facing right now.
Your initial message needs to reach into your target audience’s world, strike a chord, and set up the expectations upon which they can judge your performance and the relationship. If the initial message is about price, it will reach into the world of price-conscious shoppers, and they will judge the success of the relationship based on your ability to deliver a low price. If your initial message is about value, it will reach into the world of value-conscious individuals, and they will judge the success of the relationship based on your ability to deliver value.
Also, your message shouldn’t be about you and what you can do for people. It needs to be about people and what they need from you. It cannot be long, general and all over the place. It needs to be short, specific and focused on just one or two areas. In order to simplify your message, you should find out the one unique value that you provide to your target audience that no one else provides. Then, you should communicate that one unique value in a way that sets up future conversations and the future relationship for success.
2. Discipline your conversations and focus on the real issues
Why do people want to save money on closing costs and get a low interest rate on their mortgage? Because they would rather do something else with that money! Your mission is figure out what else would they rather do, and then help them do it. You see, people are not motivated by dollars and cents. They are motivated by what those dollars and cents mean to their life.
For example, if someone is saving $200 per month by refinancing or using Loan Strategy A vs. Loan Strategy B, what does that $200 per month mean to their life? Are they struggling with starting a college fund for little Suzy and Johnny? If so, that $200 per month could spell the difference between sending their kids to college and telling their kids that they cannot afford to help them with college expenses. What if the client is struggling with mom and dad’s aging issues? Perhaps the $200 per month can be used to help fund an assisted living arrangement.
You will simplify the decision for clients and simplify your relationship with them if you focus on these types life issues during the client conversation. Some procrastinating borrowers might want to complicate your relationship by talking about $100 in closing costs here or an eighth of a point in interest rate there. You, on the other hand, can simplify the relationship and make the mortgage decision crystal clear and very easy for the borrower by always taking the conversation back to the root issue: How your unique mortgage strategy helps the borrower live the life that they want to live.
3. Systemize your follow-up with an easy-to-follow process
The importance of the systematic follow-up can be illustrated by a recent event involving Warren Buffet. The world was shocked when he announced recently that Todd Combs, an obscure money manager from Florida, won the job to be next in line for leadership of Buffett's $100 billion Berkshire Hathaway empire. Here are three lessons mortgage originators can learn from Mr. Combs:
1. Show up. Mr. Combs replied to a "help wanted" request that Mr. Buffett made in 2007. Most people would have been too intimidated to apply for the job to begin with. After all, Warren Buffett is one of the world's wealthiest men. Why would he give the top job to someone he'd never even met or heard of before? Yet, Mr. Combs showed up.
2. Follow up. Recently (three years later), Mr. Combs followed up with Berkshire Vice Chairman Charles Munger to schedule a meeting. Most people would have given up after three years of no results. Yet, Mr. Combs followed up.
3. Be unique. Mr. Combs evidently had something unique to offer the Berkshire Hathaway team. According to a Wall Street Journal interview, Mr. Munger said that he gets "hundreds" of meeting requests each year, but "something in [Mr. Combs'] request piqued my interest."
Mr. Combs became the successor and right hand man to America's wealthiest individual by showing up, following up and being unique. As a mortgage originator, you can take inspiration from Mr. Combs and use his very simple three step system to do business with the top-producing Realtors and financial professionals in your market. All you need to do is show up, follow up and be unique.
Be sure to offer some unique value with no strings attached whenever you follow up with borrowers and referral partners. Nobody wants to be hounded by a pest. That complicates relationships and turns people off. On the other hand, most people would welcome some type of value-added article or update that is relevant to their life and situation. This simplifies the prospect’s decision to like you and trust you because you are giving value without asking for anything in return.
Remember, complicated relationships complicate your life. Simplify your relationships in 2011, and you will simplify your life.
Gibran Nicholas is the founder and chairman of the CMPS Institute (CMPSInstitute.org—NMLS Provider ID# 1400384). The CMPS Institute administers the Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist (CMPS) designation and has enrolled more than 5,500 members since 2005. Through CMPS, Gibran empowers mortgage professionals with confidence, unique knowledge, and dynamic marketing resources to simplify compliance, increase their competitive advantage, and generate more business. Visit Gibran’s blog and Web site at http://gibrannicholas.com.