Relationship Marketing

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We have all heard of “Relationship Selling.” Relationship Selling is important if we want to keep life-long customers. This is a powerful way to get and retain customers over long periods of time. So, how can we apply increased relationships in other areas? How about “Relationship Managing?” The Wall Street Journal recently did a survey of the top CEOs in the United States. They found that 70 percent of the decisions that CEOs make are based on their relationships with friends. Their business decisions are based on input from their friends because of the relationship they have together. You don’t always seek advice from a business associate, colleague, partner, customers, boss, or peers…you go to friends. We have all heard the old axiom, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” I believe that in order to survive in today’s competitive environment, it is both—what you know and who you know!

How many of you have ever had a loan processor quit because he or she was offered more money from another company? How many have ever had a loan originator quit for the same reason? My next question is; “What must we do to keep this from happening or at least minimize it?”

Relationship management is increasingly important in today’s mortgage banking environment. Look at relationship management as insurance. If you invest some extra time-building relationships with your team, the chance of them being recruited diminishes. This is an essential tool that you can use to add some security to your business.

When I hear managers talk about loan originators, it is usually in the negative. I hear managers say; “Those loan officers only care about themselves. Those loan originators will leave you for the slightest thing. Every loan originator is greedy. They will leave you for more money every time. Loan originators are all high ego sales people who only care about themselves.” Do some of these comments sound familiar? All of these statements have been true at one time or another, but it is definitely not like this all the time. In fact, many managers tend to contribute to the problem of the “us and them” syndrome. Let’s stop all this madness. Let me give you some key concepts on how we can improve our relationships and reputations with loan originators.

First, we must understand that all employees (not just loan originators) listen to radio station WII-FM (“What’s in it for me?”). In fact, all human beings listen to this radio station most of the time. By realizing this simple fact, we can adjust the way we think about this issue. If we understand that all people are this way to a certain degree, it is easier to understand that one loan originator on our mind. Why shouldn’t we ask our loan originators, “What’s in it for you?” When we’re recruiting loan originators, we always ask this. But as soon as we hire them, we find ourselves talking negative about them at our first manager’s meeting.

Think about it—if our ongoing goal is to help them “be all they can be,” we can’t lose! Sure, a few bad apples might stab you in the back, but if you treat them right, it is rare. The bottom line is that most people will want to help you if they feel you really care. So let’s start by refraining from saying negative things about loan originators and how they tend to be high-maintenance individuals who only care about themselves. Let’s practice being positive more often. I don’t care how smart a manager is, if you can’t say something nice about your own people, don’t say anything at all.

Let’s look at WII-FM as a positive and see how far we get. Zig Ziglar said it best, “If you help enough other people get what they want, then you’ll get what you want.”

Besides listening to WII-FM, it is also important to motivate your loan originators. Your ability to motivate other people will depend on how you answer these two questions. Can you motivate others? What environment are you creating? Let me give you the answers will help view this concept.

Can you motivate other people? The correct answer is no! You can’t motivate others because they have to motivate themselves. Have you ever been to a motivational seminar? Were you motivated and how long did the motivation last? Even if you went to see Zig Ziglar, one of the greatest motivational speakers of all time, the lesson probably did not last very long. It doesn’t last because someone else (other than you) is doing the motivating and it never works that way. You must learn what consistently motivates you. This is the only way to stay motivated over long periods of time. We can’t motivate other people, but we can learn what motivates them, and then help support that. This is the secret. This is a way that you can assist people in motivating themselves. Another reason for the difficulty in motivating others is that everyone is different. What motivates you may not motivate me at all. It is important for you to understand your loan originators. Find out what motivates each one of them, and then help to support that motivation.

What environment are you creating? I consult for many mortgage banking firms; every time I walk into a mortgage office, I can tell how successful it is. If they have cheap furniture, I look around and say, “Wow, you must be profitable.” But seriously, the successful branches have energy and life. The branches that are less successful don’t have as much energy and life. When people go to work everyday, they go to “an environment.” Some environments are negative and some are positive. What environment do you walk into everyday? What can you do to improve your work environment? It all starts with the manager. As you go, so goes your team! Do you have energy? Do you walk and talk with purpose? Do you support your personal message with the way the office is decorated and furnished? Do you have positive affirmations posted around the office? Is your personal drive and focus to help you, or to help your loan originators? These are empowering questions that you can ask yourself. Then you can find ways to improve on the answer to every question.

Another way to improve your relationship with your originators is to praise and appreciate them. Ken Blanchard, author of The One-Minute Manager, found that appreciation is the number one tool any manager could use for effectiveness. In fact, in all of the surveys that I’ve read, the number one reason as to why people work is always “appreciation and contribution.” Both of these come before money. As they say, if you are only working for a paycheck that is all you’ll ever get. All people want and need appreciation. Thank them for doing a good job, even though it is just their job. In other words, thank them for doing their job, and reward them for going above and beyond. Dr. Steven Covey (author of Seven Habits for Highly Effective People) says that our relationships with others are like a bank account. If you make deposits in your bank account, you can make a withdrawal occasionally. Like relationships, if you make positive emotional deposits (like praise) in other people, you can afford a withdrawal. But if you never make positive deposits, you bankrupt the account or the relationship. In marriage, we call that divorce. Moreover, we do not want to go there if we can help it, and we can!

When you praise loan originators for doing a good job, follow these guidelines:

1. Tell them what they did right and be specific.

2. Tell them how you feel about it.

3. Encourage more of the same and be sincere.

If you praise them in this way, you will be making a large, positive emotional deposit for your future success.

Finally, take the time to be with your loan originators. Look at them as people first, originators second. Always remember that people work for people first, and causes second! Have them over for dinner. Do activities outside the workplace with them. Be proactive in building a solid relationship with them. A survey was recently conducted at a local middle school. The speaker asked the students, “How many of you have friends?” Ninety-five percent of the students raised their hands. Then he asked, “How many of you have good friends?” Only 75 percent of the students raised their hand. Then he asked, “How many of you have best friends?” Only 25 percent of the students raised their hand. Then he asked, “Is there anything better than a best friend?” Three girls in the back raised their hands and responded, “yes there is!” The girls said that a “true” friend is better than a “best” friend because no matter what secrets you tell a “true” friend, they will not repeat it to anyone else. Then the speaker asked, “How long does it take to build a “true” friend?” The three girls responded by saying that they were best friends with each other and they spent about six hours a day together. The point is that an investment of time is necessary for improving your relationships with your loan originators. One of the best investments you can make in your mortgage future is to take the time and make the time, and you will be helping someone else. It is a wonderful thing to be able to help someone with his or her career and make a friend in the process.

I am not giving you a “Pollyanna” approach to your business and I am not saying you should go out and try to be best friends with all of your employees. What I am saying is to go out and deliberately find ways to improve your relationships with the people you work with. In addition to being good for your health, good relationships can have a profound effect on your business.

In summary, remember to manage effectively by finding ways to improve your relationship with your employees, always speak positively when referring to your loan originators, give them effective praise often, and make the time to get to know your loan originators better. If you help them get what they want, you will get what you want.

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