Everyone loves attending a fun event, but planning them can be exhausting, expensive, and time consuming. Even planning is an industry in and of itself; who can manage adding them to the relentless pace of mortgage origination?
Events, however, could very well be the key to adding $250,000 to your income within a year.
At Mastermind 2019, summit founder Steven Marshall provided the outline of an event plan that includes more events and more face-to-face connections with agent partners. First, he says, make a list the top 100 realtors in your marketplace, as well as an expanded list of the top 1000 agents. The easiest way to build a good relationship with agents is to give them a referral. The second way to generate business together, and the third strategy is to become the number two lender for the top agents in your marketplace in the event that a loan gets denied, or when their preferred lender is on vacation, otherwise unavailable, or retires.
“Don’t be a secret originator,” Marshall said. “The top one hundred, top thousand buyers’ agents in your market need to know your name.”
But it’s nearly impossible to build the build the bridge between name recognition and a real relationship without getting in front of people. In order to do this, Marshall recommends hosting two agent events each month.
Events don’t have to be large or costly elaborate affairs. Marshall outlined just a few possibilities where originators could shine, based on their capacity and personality:
Happy hours are easy to plan and easy to implement. They’re successful whether anywhere from two people to 40 people attend. Start by inviting two agents that are already great business partners and ask them to invite others, and then invite every other top agent in town to come to the next one. Attendees will never know how many people were invited, so there’s no pressure, and there’s no failure. “If a few of them show up, great; if you get really good at marketing and you start having big blow out happy hours that are the best networking event in your town with all the top agents attending, even better,” Marshall said.
Agent CE courses
Originators can either get approved to teach their own CE courses or hire an instructor to teach the CE course. It doesn’t really matter, Marshall says, because the point is to get people in the room and connect with them there. This is another event whose success doesn’t depend on the number of people who attend. Agents need the courses, you can provide it for them and make connections as well.
These events could come in a number of forms, but the point is to gather a group of agents together for an educational event. If you’re not sure what you’re can discuss with a room full of agents for any period of time, Marshall recommends going into a number of markets and inviting the top producers to be on a panel. That way, they become the draw, and all you have to do is emcee and come up with a handful of questions for them to discuss. Even if the top producers contacted don’t want to speak, they are likely to be interested in the event based on the other speakers. Don’t be afraid to name drop once people agree to be on the panel, either.
“Inviting the top agents is a Trojan horse strategy. I’m always looking for what I call a professional excuse to call a top agent,” Marshall said. “It’s hard to call a King Kong agent and say, ‘I just want your next deal.’ It’s easier to call a top agent and say ‘hey, I’m doing an agent Mastermind next week, I know you’re one of the top agents in town, I want you to be one of my guest speakers.’”
Select four favorite charities and attend each of their annual fundraising events, if they have one. It can be anything from buying a couple of extra tickets and bringing two people with you, buying a table at a gala, or even creating your own charity. Most top producers have a soft spot for one charitable organization or another, and/or will respect your dedication for supporting one of your own.
This might seem like a big undertaking, but Marshall says to start by calling a local radio station and buying an hour on a Saturday once a quarter. Instead of hosting one agent on a one-hour show, host several agents per show, give them each 10 minutes, and then keep them all on a panel afterwards for a lightening round. He calls it the ultimate Trojan horse, because it’s pitched to top agents and financial planners as not an advertisement, but as an opportunity for local experts to add value to the program. As the host, offer to come talk about the show and help them prepare, and after the show is recorded, take them to lunch. There’s a lot of networking time built in, and this can be ramped up to include more shows if it takes off in popularity.
This can be anything from a lunch and learn for 40 agents to a “power lunch” where a top agent you know and love invites some of their colleagues in their office. When you’re at the lunch, don’t directly sell them anything—talk about their goals and focus on business planning and development ideas, Marshall said. “The key is to create value and wow them. The other agents are thinking, their lender doesn’t do this. They don’t help me generate business.”
The list of event possibilities is endless: get a suite or split season tickets for local sporting events; private wine tastings; golf tournaments; family-themed events at a park with fun games and kid-friendly activities, etc. Have enough of a variety that will speak to a wide range of interests, because you never know what will resonate with agents and suit schedules. You’ll find that some people are more likely to attend on weekends, others prefer weekdays; some people will likely attend smaller events with set times, while others like loosely-arranged larger affairs that where they can come and go. Having something for everyone increased the chances of reaching everyone on that target list.
Another crucial step with events is to follow up with attendees after the event to set up a one-on-one appointment. Whether the events are large or small, originators who commit to two per month could end up with more business than they could handle, Marshall said.
The idea of prospecting is a bit of a grind, and while there’s a time and a place for a grind, engaging with prospect through events is a much more fun way to foster connections.