Despite all of the books and articles written on building successful business relationships, every author expresses essentially the same message by focusing on seven key characteristics. This article addresses them as they relate to the mortgage industry, but they are found in all successful business relationships.
Of course, no list can claim to be all-encompassing, yet seven clearly distinguishable traits show up again and again, and by enumerating them clearly with complementary action, this article will help you achieve key goals in an easy-to-follow approach. In fact, all of our relationships can be deconstructed into these key characteristics and improved through tangible and simple suggestions.
Business relationships have become more important now than ever before and can be easily cultivated because people are sharing and helping each other during these difficult economic times. In the past three years, the growth of social networking Web sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter have led to more business relationships than during any other time during my 12 years as a mortgage professional.
In addition to social networking, a renewed enthusiasm for traditional networking has emerged, and technology has facilitated the initiation, development and maintenance of many relationships. A renewed energy for interpersonal activity has taken hold in our industry, and, if you are committed, you can build great relationships. With the challenges of increased regulation, mortgage professionals need to cooperate to survive; thus, competition has diminished amid the necessity for professional relationships.
The mortgage industry has been subjected to tremendous change, and the frequency and accuracy of internal communications has grown accordingly. In addition, mortgage professionals often represent the only source for people outside the industry to gain an understanding of relevant procedures and expected outcomes. In fact, professionals of all industries seem more willing than ever before to introduce their clients and business partners to established mortgage professionals.
Commitment undergirds all successful relationships. Developing relationships takes time, energy and dedication. You should schedule follow-ups with others, as well as on your own calendar, and try to maintain weekly communications with your key colleagues and clients. A simple phone call to say hello, dropping a letter in the mail or a quick e-mail will yield significant dividends. You should avoid taking your relationships for granted.
Of course, all relationships will undergo cyclical peaks and valleys, perhaps due to a challenging transaction or a difficult business cycle. However, if you remain vigilant and try to foster mutual commitments, the impact of changing circumstances will be diminished and any stress on your relationships will decrease.
Authenticity provides a key indicator of long-term success for mortgage and any sales professional. You must constantly remind yourself to be real and sincere. Working with people you enjoy helping will result in mutual success. Avoid false friendships and alliances simply to make a quick sale or get what you want. Authentic people will see right through you. Everyone wants to work with authentic people because you always know where you stand and thus a more productive relationship ensues.
3. Add value
Adding value gives people a reason to associate with you. You should always offer to give more than you expect to receive, without any consideration of what you may get in return. Offer your expertise; contribute to someone else’s success. Boost their marketing efforts; write a guest column for their blog or newsletter. Apply to become a guest speaker at their next sales meeting or networking event; share your industry perspective as a subject matter expert without self-promotion.
The more value you provide, the stronger your relationships will become. Your industry knowledge will serve as a valuable resource for business partners and clients alike. Providing leads represents one of the most powerful actions you can take, and by introducing others to people in your network, you can win long-term allies. This strategy has become essential to the success of LinkedIn and can take you a long way. Sometimes, your network may represent your greatest resource.
4. Think long-term
Think long-term; forget about the sale; it will come. If you try to move too fast, you will look desperate. Relationships take time to develop as you need to develop trust and mutual respect. Often, relationships lead to more relationships and a single relationship may open up an entirely new network. You never know how a relationship will impact your business. Remember, ongoing opportunities to offer your services trump achieving a single sale.
Instill a sense of confidence in yourself. Be proud of what you do despite the negative publicity about the mortgage industry. We provide an essential service by helping homeowners and investors reach their goals. Share your industry knowledge with enthusiasm and conviction. Keep current with industry changes; stay sharp: Knowledge and preparedness contribute to your confidence as a professional. You will receive more referrals and introductions if you proceed in a confident manner because your relationships will, in turn, feel more confident about introducing you to their network.
Professionalism and consistency build relationships because they testify to your ability to get the job done. Be considerate of others’ time, interests and needs. Be deliberate; explain exactly how you can help people grow their business and how they can help you grow yours. A mutually-beneficially relationship is the best kind. Be on time and prepared for meetings. Be honest, set realistic expectations and deliver information with integrity. Communicate good news and bad news in a timely manner. Approach conflicts and challenges head on; address pertinent issues and offer simple solutions.
Once you have initiated a relationship, you must nurture it and make it flourish. All relationships require maintenance, and this brings us back full circle to our first item, commitment. You must commit to staying in contact and to constantly add value. Relationships must be refreshed with new ideas and ways to help each other grow. Stay committed to making new introductions to your exiting relationships. Maintenance separates the professional from the amateur. An abundance of technology can help you stay connected. Invest in a CRM tool and use it to maintain contacts and consistent communications. Follow due diligence when investing in technology because complicated tools may generate more work than they save. Try to keep your enthusiasm level high in order to maintain relevance.
Remember, relationships often fail to provide measurable value, but you should consider each relationship an opportunity to practice and improve your relationship-building skills. Sometimes, you must give to receive, and relationships can lead to powerful introductions. Of course, you should always treat everyone with respect, and keep in mind that you will reach your goals when you help others reach theirs.
Relationships will fade if you neglect to stay in touch and can take more time to rebuild than to create if you must repair damage. Relationships require commitment and take time. Always be genuine and deliver value without expecting an immediate payoff.
Surround yourself with professionals, and their success and expertise will continue to enrich your life.
Louis Tesoriero is business development manager for Guaranteed Home Mortgage Company. He may be reached by phone at (914) 696-3400 or e-mail [email protected]