We talk a lot about generating business. It’s the name of the game. We want more and strategize for more. We think of everything from what are the right tactics, how many do we need, how do we implement them, who are the right referral sources, where do you find them, when you find them, how do you get them to actually want to meet you, how do you develop a relationship that actually generates referrals. We talk, we train, we plan and we prospect, but we may have left out one really, really important component … who is our competition?
You can be the best of the best, but unless you know your competition, you have no idea what you are up against and tactically speaking, that puts you at a huge disadvantage. As of the moment, the playing field is pretty level. I mean seriously, we’re down to Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, the Govies (FHA and VA) and a few other select scattered programs. It certainly is not the smorgasbord from years prior. So, with that being the case, it’s easy to see, the draw for customers is not the company and what they can offer, the draw is you.
You and umpteen hundred other loan officers are vying for the same business. And the playing field we just discussed not only refers to mortgages, but also to loan officers. We certainly have reduced the ranks over the last several years and weeded out those who were riding the coattails of our industry to make a healthy living. Those of us who stayed the course are thriving in a refinance market and trying to focus on the purchases yet to come. We market, prospect, call, e-mail and use every tactic we’ve relied on over the years to generate business. We do the same thing; we play on the same field … but that’s about to change.
The title of this article asks if you know your competition for a very specific reason. You may know who it is today, but I want to give you some insight into who your competition is going to be and what they are going to do, so you can prepare yourself now. Prepare yourself to get ahead and hopefully stay there.
As lenders strive to replenish the ranks and plan for the future, they will, out of necessity, draw from the Gen Y’ers. This generation will be your direct competition and you need to know a few things about them, and in learning about them, you may learn a few things from them.
This generation uses technology like it was a natural appendage. They’ve grown up with it. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Mobile apps, Pinterest … you name it, they know it and know how to use it. In a report by Patricia Martin titled ‘Tipping the Culture: How Engaging Millennials Will Change Things,” her research shows this generation is more networked than any other and will thereby wield influence and power sufficient to determine the future success of an organization. If they can do that, they can certainly influence customers significantly. With that as a glimpse of your competition, the question becomes, are you ready to compete with them? Step into the ring, fight the fight and emerge the victor for the elusive prize of market share. To do so, you must be prepared to compete on their turf. Are you?
Training to win is about knowing the tactics your opponent will use. We encourage loan officers to be masters of their profession, but we discuss little of being master marketers. Mortgage veterans may scoff at the social media frenzy saying this will always be a relationship-based business, and on that point, they are absolutely correct. Yet, the Gen Y’ers are brilliant at creating relationships at the stroke of a keyboard. If you are not absolutely comfortable, confident and skilled in this media, you have some work to do. Consider the following:
►LinkedIn is fairly easy to use and is a great professional site to display your expertise. You can connect with business professionals from related industries to orthodontia. It is imperative you create a professional profile and learn to ask for connections and referrals on this site.
►Facebook is more casual, but if you’re of the mindset to woo real estate agents, you will find them on this site more than LinkedIn. You will also learn a lot of personal trivia to aide you in personalizing your marketing to them. Remember though, you are using this for business, so keep your comments and pictures appropriate.
►Pinterest is fairly new to most of us, although it launched over two years ago. Since then, it has taken the social media world by storm. Conduct a Google search on Pinterest and the stats are evenly reported among many sources that Pinterest drives more referral traffic than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn. Take note, almost every real estate agent has every listing “Pinned.” You cannot afford to ignore this site.
►Twitter is used every day by millions of people who want to share ideas or get information from others. It’s easier than it seems and for only minutes a day, you can connect, get feedback, market and brand yourself.
Loan officers live (or should live) in the land of prospecting. Over the years, my research and experience has shown that to keep your business thriving, you must prospect a minimum of 10 hours a week. Consider a 50 hour work week and realize that 20 percent of the time will generate 80 percent of your business. That may seem like an enormous task with the current state of affairs in our industry. Get away from your desk and the mounds of files, and get to the keyboard of social media and the car for face-to-face prospecting. While I am still a strong advocate of face-to-face and being seen in public, I also believe you need to be seen virtually. Be purposeful … learn social media tactics, devote valuable sales time to online prospecting and watch your business evolve with the next generation. It’s the way to go, it’s the way of the future, and it’s what your competition will be doing.
Casey Cunningham is president of XINNIX, a provider of mortgage sales and leadership development programs. She may be reached by phone at (678) 325-3501 or e-mail [email protected]