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7 Strategies for Loan Officers to Guarantee an Awesome 2006

Written by: Joe Pahl

Many analysts are predicting a very gloomy forecast for loan officers and real estate agents for 2006.

So what are you going to when interest rates rise and the real estate market falls?

If you follow my seven strategies, you will have a fantastic 2006!

1. Goals and planning. This seems obvious, but I would say that 95% of loan originators don't have written goals and plans to attain those goals. This one step is THE most critical step in this area. How do you expect to succeed if you don't know where to go and how you will get there?

Take a sheet of paper, and at the top of it write "In the next 12 months, I want to earn $XXX,XXX in commissions."

Next, break down that number into months. Then you divide the desired monthly commission amount by the average you make per transaction. This will tell you how many transactions a month you need to aim for.

The next part is to list at least 10 actions that will help you reach that number, and you do this for every month. Taking this one step of goal setting and action planning will put you ahead of 95% of the other loan officers out there, so go do it.

2. Use technology effectively. The true power of technology is its ability to automate your business, thus allowing you to focus on other business building activities.

Do you know what an autoresponder is? It is a simple email program managed by a third party company like GetResponse (www.Get-Response.com) that will automatically respond with a message of your choice whenever an email is sent to it.

Here is one way you can use it to get more leads automatically. You place a classified ad in the newspaper promoting a free report called "7 Mistakes First Time Home Buyers Make When Choosing a Lender." All you ask is that the prospect sends a blank email to freereport@abcmortgage.com.

Here is where the magic happens. When the prospect sends them email, the autoresponder automatically sends them the report. You can then set up the autoresponder to send them a series of follow up emails a day later, 5 days later, 2 weeks later, heck, even a year later.

And this is all done automatically, whether you received two responses or two thousand responses.

With an autoresponder, it will automatically contact them, and keep you fresh in their mind. With the low cost of autoresponder services, it is a true wonder to me why more loan officers don't use them.

Along with autoresponders, there are websites, automatic greeting card mailings, 1-800 hotlines, virtual tours, business card CD-Roms, etc.

3. Maximizing the potential of your database. It is amazing to me to see how much time the average loan officer spends in getting new business, and how little attention he gives his database of past customers.

What most of them fail to realize is that their database of past customers is their goose that lays golden eggs. It has been proven over and over again that it takes more time, effort and money to get business from a new prospect than it does to get business from a previous customer.

Successful loan officers see their databases as an asset. Sure, they too are actively marketing to find new prospects, but they spend a much greater time tending to their databases then the average loan officer.

Using a quality contact management software like Act! (www.Act.com) can make caring for your database a breeze.

4. Develop two new referral sources each month. Loan officers have enjoyed the amount of refinance business in recent years. However, the steady rise in rates has shifted the focus back to finding purchase and new construction business.

All you need to do is find two quality referral sources a month. At the end of twelve months, you will have 24 referral sources, and that should provide you with a decent amount of new business leads.

The best referral sources I have found for originators are: real estate agents, builders and contractors, attorneys, financial planners, insurance agents, and human resource managers.

Each month, research and pick out 10 potential referral sources. Send each one a letter of introduction, and let them know that you will give them a call to follow up. Whatever you do, DON'T ASK FOR REFERRALS. Not yet.

Tell them you are looking for professionals to send YOUR referrals to.

If you do all of this, out of your original ten potential referral sources, you should end up with 2-4 to choose from. Repeat this process each month and you will have a steady stream of business coming from these referral sources.

5. Perform three direct mail marketing campaigns. With the advent of email and websites, fewer and fewer mortgage professionals are doing any sort of mail campaigns. I recommend doing 3 campaigns, two focused at your previous customers and one at farming for new prospects.

You should be connecting with your database throughout the year, but these two mail campaigns should be directly focused at asking for new business from them.

The previous customer campaigns usually consist of a letter thanking them for their past support and asking them to help grow my business with referrals.

Sometimes I include a survey or referral form and self-address prepaid return envelope. Usually as an incentive, I offer a gift certificate as my way of saying thank you.

The response rate is higher than normal, and results in leads and immediate business.

I referred to the third letter as "farming for new prospects." I don't mean a geographical farm which most salespeople direct their marketing campaigns at.

You can purchase a mailing list for any type of potential customer that you want. Let say that you want your ideal customer to be between the ages of 35-50 years old, have a household annual income above $100,000, have a loan-to-value on their current residence less than 70% and have a credit score over 675.

Did you know that there are mailing companies that can get you a list of names and addresses that fit the criteria of your ideal customer? It's unbelievable.

This allows you to tailor your mail piece to that exact prospect. So much so that you would be able to relate to him at a deeper level them the average business letter getting to him.

6. Start or join a business network. A business network is a group of professionals in related but non-competing industries that meet regularly to exchange ideas and referrals. The most famous business network organization in the world is Business Network International (www.BNI.com).

So I recommend that you either find a local chapter of BNI in your city, or start a business network group yourself.

Most groups contain a real estate agent, an insurance agent, a loan officer, a financial planner, an attorney, a home inspector, an appraiser, etc.

This group is a perfect environment to share ideas and leads because of the crossover of needs and services.

For example, a couple comes in to talk to their financial planner. Their youngest child just moved out of the home, and they are looking to sell their house and move into a smaller condominium.

At the next business network meeting, the financial planner brings up his customers' situation. This results in a lead for the real estate agent (to sell their home and help purchase the condo), the loan officer (who can help with the financial of their condo purchase), the home inspector and the appraiser.

All these leads from this one couple. Do you now see the power of being involved with business network groups?

7. Create publicity once a year. Local newspapers, radio and television stations love reporting about what I call "feel-good" news stories.

As a loan officer, you have the fortune of helping people who need it on a daily basis. And if you do happen to get some media exposure, you will get instant but temporary fame that will give you an immediate increase in business.

Finding a way to help and getting the local media to notice it and report it is challenge, but the possible upside would be remarkable. Some things you can do: help poor credit customers, volunteer at Habitat for Humanity, help those who don't speak English, give out free pumpkins at Halloween, give out free turkeys at Thanksgiving, hold a fundraiser dinner to benefit the homeless, etc.

Before the event, be sure to tell every media outlet in your area so that they can plan to attend.

No matter what happens to the market, you can confidently predict your success by following the seven strategies that I have presented.

Ultimately, you have total control over the amount of business you can generate, even if the gloom and doom industry analysts are correct with their predictions.

About the author:

Joe Pahl is a marketing consultant and co-creator of the Loan Maker Gold System for Loan Officers. To learn more marketing strategies targeted at loan officers and orginators, please visit www.LoanMakerGold.com.

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