Skip to main content

Ten Things An Originator Must Do In Order To Succeed

Those who are very successful know to take care of the basics

Dave Hershman headshot
Dave Hershman
Chasing goals

A recent headline had mortgage applications down to their lowest in the past 22 years. Spoiler alert — the party is over. Those who survive will have to do something different to be successful. For many of us, that will mean returning to the basics we followed 10 to 20 years ago. For those newer, it means learning a new way of doing business. I am finding that managers across the country are at a loss as to how to direct these originators. I say — just go back to basics. So, I returned to an article I wrote 25 years ago, updated it and it turned out to be pretty much right on point. If you don’t have time to coach, email it to your loan officers who need this message.

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 do — it 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 these following ten things. And if you have not — do not spend another dollar on marketing or advertising until you have taken care of them. I think most of these items are very, very simple. Of course, simple does not always mean easy to implement.

So here is the Top 10:

1. Communicate, communicate and communicate.

How many times have you heard that you must call/email people back? You are probably sick of hearing it. Yet this is still the number one customer and real estate agent complaint. So, you are still not doing it as an industry. People ask how I did almost 600 in loans my FIRST 18 months in the industry. Well, it wasn’t because of experience or relationships at that point. I called them back quicker than anyone. And I don’t just mean call or email or text them back — but be proactive in your communication, which means communicate when you don’t have to and when it is not expected.

2. Identify your sphere of influence.

Those who follow my teachings are introduced to an exercise that is designed to triple the size of the database of the typical originator. If you do not have a database that comprehensively identifies your sphere, why in the world would you be marketing to those you do not know? What sense does that make? None in my mind. The alternative promotes cold calling and to me — COLD CALLING IS STUPID. You should have no less than 3,000 to 5,000 people you either know or with which you have something very important in common.

3. Prioritize your sphere of influence.

From my book of the same name, maximum synergy rule number three that some targets are more important than others. You cannot market 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 (such as they attend your church or are fellow alumni)—but you don’t know personally. 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 35 years ago. It is why I supplied these to my loan officers when I became a head of production. It makes sense that the industry expert is going to provide the most value. That is exactly why my newsletters have never included recipes and handy homeowner hints.

5. Attend your settlements (or signings on the West Coast).

Nothing is more important than delivering top-notch customer service. This is a very important event for your customer. If you are not there and questions/problems arise, everything you have done up to that point can be for naught. Even if everything is smooth, 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 not to 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 feedback from them and it is negative, do everything in your power to turn it around.

You can’t afford to have customers walk away unhappy. And when it is positive, use the opportunity to obtain a testimonial in writing. Social proof is a key of differentiation and if you are not using this tool you are selling with your hand tied behind your back. You should have a a quote from at least five-in-ten closings. And some of these quotes can come from your vendors. In addition, don’t forget to write testimonials to your real estate agents and other partners and even vendors.

8. When a prospect decides not to do a loan with you, call them one week to ten 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 is going and offer your help again. If things are going badly (this will be the case one in three times), 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 over fifty percent of the time. So, it is a phone call that can be well worth the effort. And even if they don’t close with you –this extra effort can turn them into a referral partner in the long run.

9. Make the words “thank you” part of your marketing plan.

We don’t say these words often enough, we don’t say it in the right way, and we don’t make it part of the plan. Stop learning cheap closes and say thank you more often. In America, people are just not used to hearing that and doing so will exceed your customers’ expectations and differentiate yourself from your competition. AND IT IS 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. That does not happen because you are using scripts and fancy words. It happens because you are an expert — and that takes a plan and time. If you are interested in an article of what it takes to become an expert in this industry — email me at [email protected]

Remember, if you do not go back and accomplish each of these, your marketing will not be as effective. Save your money and your energy and start building your business the right way. It is the ONLY WAY off the proverbial roller coaster and treadmill.

This article was originally published in the NMP Magazine September 2022 issue.
Dave Hershman headshot
Dave Hershman

Dave Hershman is an author for the mortgage industry with eight books and several hundred articles to his credit. He is also senior vice president of sales for Weichert Financial Services, head of OriginationPro Mortgage School and a top industry speaker.

Published on
Aug 31, 2022
More from NMP Magazine
So, You’ve Been Professionally Ghosted

This unsavory practice is starting to permeate into the professional world as well

Erica LaCentra
Risky Business

Financial system needs to be more resilient in face of disasters

Lew Sichelman
Key Stats To Watch In A Changing Real Estate Market

Keep an eye on listing price reductions to predict prices

Mike Simonsen


How to Win with Non-Delegated Correspondent - Key Insights on the Model and Fulfillment Solutions

Are you a fully delegated correspondent exploring non-delegated options? Are you a broker planning to transiti...

Sep 29, 2022
Investor Confidence in Today’s Non-QM And Why Originators Are Paying Attention... A Virtual Town Hall

We host Angel Oak Mortgage Solutions for a special 2021 edition of their virtual town hall series they ran fro...

Apr 08, 2021
How to Help Real Estate Pros in a Post-Refi World

Hear from Melissa Merriman, REALTOR® with The Melissa Merriman Team at Keller Williams, on what real estate pr...

Mar 18, 2021
Finance of America Plans To Sell Retail Unit, Close Forward Wholesale Channel

Company has posted 3 straight quarterly losses, reduced its workforce by 20% in 2022.

Mortgage Rates Spike For 6th Straight Week

Freddie Mac survey finds 30-year fixed-rate mortgages now average 6.7%, more than double the rate at this point last year.

Analysis and Data
Angel Oak Mortgage Shakes Up Leadership

Sreeni Prabhu replaces Robert Williams as CEO and president after two quarters of losses.

Connect with your local mortgage community.

Meet your your colleagues, both national and local, by attending an event in your area.