Creating a strong personal brand is critical to the long-term success of any mortgage originator. Top producers know that personal branding begins with the realization that loans are not the centerpiece of what you sell. Rather, it is your knowledge, advice and personal service that deliver the most value to clients by creating an excellent lending experience. Staying focused and committed to these value drivers guarantees that you will build long-term equity in your personal brand.
What are the actions that create an excellent lending experience? Ask the client about his or her overall financial picture, and patiently answer every question. Stay calm and solutions-oriented in the face of problems, solve them quickly, and keep the client informed every step of the way. Be prompt, follow through on your promises, and show the client that you sincerely care about them.
The most successful originators generate an enormous percentage of their volume from clients who give them repeat business and new customer referrals. Managing your personal brand so that every client receives a high value experience is the secret to ensuring a steady expansion of your market share and income.
A successful mortgage lending career can become a sustainable, long-term annuity if you have the foresight to “brand” your name and reputation in such a way that you are instantly recognizable in your market area. Easier said than done? Not if you discipline yourself to bypass the immediate gratification of quick but poorly-handled deals and resolve to be in this business for the long haul.
You’ll begin the journey when you realize the fundamental truth that you are not selling loans. What you “sell” is your knowledge, experience, guidance and advice about successfully financing real estate. People choose to take advantage of your expertise in the field when they believe you’re honest, skilled and reliable, and practice business ethics they expect and need.
Past clients will choose to use your services again if their experience of working with you the first time was successful--and that doesn’t mean the transaction had to be problem-free; it means you were calm and solution-oriented under fire, and solved whatever problems arose smoothly. Clients in turn send their family and friends to you if and when they believe you will treat them in a similar manner. Bottom line, they refer others to you when they believe you’ll do right by the people they care about.
Your personal brand--your highly-regarded reputation--can only be built on a core of credibility. Trust is ultimately the most important element in your relationships with peers, clients, and affiliates. Your customers and co-workers must be able to trust and rely on you to do what you say you’ll do--when you say you’ll do it. Consider excellent credibility your ultimate business-building tool.
Five basic behaviors will help create your personal brand by establishing credibility. These simple habits may seem obvious, but failure to demonstrate them can cause a major loss of trust in your relationships with others.
1. Do what you say you are going to do.
People in this world have less and less grasp of the concept that they are their word. In fact, finding someone who actually does what they say they’re going to do is becoming rare, so your credibility will soar when you “under” promise and “over” deliver. Resolve to finish--in a timely manner--whatever you’ve committed yourself to doing.
When you don’t value my time, you don’t value me, because time is the most valuable commodity I have. Show me that I can count on you to be there when you say you will, and I will begin to trust you.
We’ve made it clear that credibility requires that you successfully complete whatever you start--but what will really set you apart from the competition is consistent follow-up. Check in with clients, affiliates, and peers to be sure the tasks you were responsible for were successful from their point of view, and they are satisfied with the results. Your credibility depends on it.
Common courtesy has become uncommon--take it one step farther by showing sincere appreciation for people. The simple act of sending a handwritten thank-you card or phone call will increase others’ willingness to work with you--and send you referrals. Sincere caring and respect will serve you well and win the loyalty of others.
A graduate degree in problem-solving is the ultimate mortgage lending skill, and an absolute must for a successful career in this business. Let’s face it: obstacle-free transactions are few and far between. So when a problem does arise, put on a smile and tackle it head-on by 1) avoiding the blame game (after all, regardless of who created the problem, you’ll be a hero when you solve it), and 2) viewing a problem as the ultimate opportunity to practice creating solutions. Get creative!