Top producers are a big draw. They’re successful, they’re often charismatic, and they command the attention of audiences nationwide. As much as they say their success is due to hard work and strong relationships, there has to be something—some strategy, some tip, some insight—than can transform the loan originator who only closes a handful of loans a month into a top producer who closes more than $50 million a year. Right?
Maybe so, but many originators are going about the advice all wrong, according to Karen Deis, a mortgage industry veteran who runs a training and coaching company.
Many originators will go to an event and hear great ideas and strategies from top producers. They’re excited to get back to work and implement those ideas, but are disappointed time and time again when those ideas fail to immediately bring in business. Deis says that originators don’t always realize that there’s work on the other side of the process, restructuring those ideas based on their own personality, their consumers, their agents, and their personal business model.
“When loan officers realize that they’ve got to incorporate it into their passion and their beliefs, that’s when it’ll work for them,” Deis said. “What tends to happen is, they’ll spend six months on a strategy that they learned about at an event, and then they’ve wasted six months of their time because it didn’t work.”
Most top producers have their own processes that have given them the capacity to close an ever-increasing number of loans and scale in volume. There are many different ways to get the job done, and while there any number of similarities between origination styles, there are plenty of differences as well. Whether the strategy pertains to meeting realtors, targeting buyers, or converting leads, the best top producers know what works for them, not what works for the other top producer down the road.
Personalization is one part of strategic implementation, and another part of implementation is knowing what a top producer’s advice looks like on the ground. Something may sound great on a stage or in an interview, but the reality of it may look different altogether. Deis says that if an originator is drawn to a particular strategy or advice from a top producer, then take that opportunity to dig deeper. There doesn’t need to be a mentorship or formal arrangement involved, but having an in-depth conversation about their business model or even shadowing them for a day or two can be a real difference-maker.
“If you really feel passionate about something, what key components are you missing from that top producer’s strategies and systems? Most of the time, the top producers do have systems, so you want to find out what that system is and if you can duplicate it, or [if] you have to modify it based on your team,” Deis said.
There are a number of regional differences to consider as well; some borrowers don’t like working with team members, for example, and prefer the originator to personally hold their hand throughout the entire process. Others couldn’t care less. Being able to identify those differences is the first step in developing a way to work around them.
Mortgage originators tend to be very driven, and are constantly striving to do more business with more partners. The ultimate goal for most is to become a top producer and stay there for the rest of their career, but are surprised when they realize what it takes to get to that level of production.
Deis advises originators to take the time to physically write down what they think it is going to take to become a top producer, and recognize what that means to them personally, instead of viewing it through the lens of their company. Is it all about volume? Units? Take-home pay? Public recognition? These answers are different for each originator, and formulating them will help identify a long-term goal.
Next, Deis says, take a calendar and cement priorities. What comes first: is it daily time with family? Vacations? Hobbies? Physically write down the amount of time ideally spent on each priority item. Then, see how much time remains to work on the business—and how much of that time and start plugging in the gaps with events, seminars, and open houses, making sure to allocate time afterward for follow ups. Don’t lose sight of the bottom line: how many deals are coming from each strategy that has been implemented?
When people try to implement too many strategies at once, Deis said, things get off track and originators don’t know exactly where they went wrong. Instead, take one strategy, perfect it, and then go on to the next, so there’s a constant building upon that first strategy.
“They just try to do everything at once and nothing is successful and therefore they’re paralyzed and they do nothing,” Deis said. “[It’s] working backwards and [building] one strategy at a time. They don’t want to spend the time doing that because it takes up time, not realizing that when you spend the time to really hone in on exactly what you want to do, it’ll come back to you tenfold. And once you have the system down pat, it is a matter of tweaking it, not just recreating it over and over again.”
Even if an originator is planning to go all-in on a coaching system or training program, keep in mind that as targeted as that system or program is, it’s not going to work for everyone as it is. If it were that easy, everyone would be a top producer. Instead, keep in mind that modification will probably be necessary to make a smooth transition to an individual model.