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Industry Commentary

Using Closings to Improve Originations

Synergy increases sales

October 17, 2005


photo of Dave Hershman

In no place within mortgage originations sales do I find Woody Allen's adage, '90% of life is just showing up' -- more relevant than visits to the settlement table (or signing table, if you are in the western part of the country).

In my schools and speaking keynotes, I regularly survey to discover how often originators attend settlement on a regular basis. The average 10-15%.

Bear in mind the fact that almost all of them feel that it would be a good idea with regard to their marketing efforts. Loan agents don't accomplish the task more often because they don't have the time.

What I would like to focus upon in this article is not the 85% that are doing it wrong by not showing up, but the 15% that are doing it right by showing up. Woody Allen's adage applies to those who show up at the settlement table as well. Originators have been told that going to settlement is a good idea. They then show up. The problem occurs with the methods utilized to garner additional business through their efforts.

The following is a sample of typical comments:

  • "I try to arrive at the beginning so that I don't have to stay long."
  • "I just make sure that there are no problems with the papers."
  • "I hand out business cards and ask for referrals."

This is not to say that showing up and being a troubleshooter is unimportant. Originators have no idea how many relationships they have lost because a problem cropped up at settlement and the participants pointed the blame at the only actor not present (which is truly human nature). One of the rules of maximum synergy marketing is that every action can have two objectives. Going to settlement and looking responsible is one thing. Garnering additional business/relationships is another. Just being there differentiates yourself from your competition in a positive way because Realtors are not used to their loan officers "showing up."

What is wrong with handing out business cards and asking for referrals? All our sales life we have been told to ask for the business and specifically more referrals from present and previous customers. Under the rule, two objectives for every action, handing out cards seems to make sense.

Yet, there is another rule of marketing synergy: some targets, tools and actions are more effective than others. Giving everyone business cards is easy and can result in additional loans once in a while. It hardly constitutes a specific and definitive marketing and referral system.

"I make my living off of referrals," is a statement that often accompanies this action. Do you really think that your customers are interested in such a "me" statement? They are interested in how you can help them and help those that they refer to you. This is demonstrated through the delivery of value and invoking the law of reciprocity.

What of value can we deliver at settlement that will enable us to make this statement: "Do you know anyone else who can benefit from this __________."

More often than not, originators will let me know that they do provide a gift at settlement. Typically the gift is a house plant, flowers, or champagne. Are these of value? Absolutely! Can we deliver more value with this gift? Absolutely!

The third rule of maximum synergy marketing we will introduce today is: Every action can be made more effective by adding additional synergy. Let us now see how this rule can apply as we deliver our flowers to settlement.

You are purchasing the flowers with your own money. You have used your most precious resource (time) to make the purchase and deliver the gift. Why not say that the gift is from the Realtor (or settlement agent if a refinance)? Does this take any more time or effort? You have added a second objective to the same action: giving value to a partner who is likely to be more effective within your marketing system than your present customer.

Now, lets take at look the gift. We will stay away from the question whether the gift could be something of greater value (not necessarily of greater cost) that will help use invoke a stronger reciprocity statement. It would be easy to uncover gifts that are more substantive from the point of view of homeownership. Instead we will focus on who sold us the gifts.

We are not against florists or liquor store owners. It is just the fact that you have spent good money purchasing something. Why not purchase it from someone who could deliver additional benefits to you? Do you expect to get referrals from those who hang out at the liquor store or from Walmart? Try uncovering a value related item that might be delivered by a party whose long term relationship would be part of your marketing objectives. Is there something that you could purchase from a financial planner, accountant, insurance agent, etc.,? Perhaps you could put together a homeowners kit of products from a store that is part of a large corporation you are targeting for a corporate affinity program.

In keeping with our long-term goal of adding as many synergy partners as possible, the gift might come from that player as well as yourself and the Realtor. In your search for value delivery systems you might actually uncover a settlement gift that costs nothing from a monetary standpoint but delivers better long term value to your clients and much better long term relationships to you.

And don't forget synergy rule number three -- some targets are more effective than others. While everyone is important at the table, there is one long-term target more effective than any other.

Show up at settlement to solve a few problems? Sorry, Woody. Ninety percent of life is what you do when you get there! You have precious little time to effect your marketing actions. Why not make every action as effective as possible through maximum marketing synergy?

Dave Hershman is a mortgage industry author and speaker -- with 8 books and hundreds of articles to his credit. He also heads OriginationPro.com Mortgage School. You can email Dave at [email protected].

click here for more articles by Dave Hershman

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