Find Your True Clients

Plan for success by cultivating and maintaining referral relationships

The housing market is shifting to a pronounced purchase environment, and the ability going forward to identify prospective clients cleanly and clearly as a mortgage originator will be essential to your success. Are you going to thrive in 2017 because of your understanding of this core component to mortgage originations, or will you fight to survive in a rising interest rate environment?

There are actions you can take to effectively plan for your success in the year ahead. These actions will help you understand the dynamics that go into identifying your true clients, and provide you with tools to segment your client base so you can better take advantage of the opportunities they present.

The first step to identifying and understanding your true clients is to define the various builder and Realtor partners you have worked with in the past, those you work with now, and the prospects you want to add to your base of relationships. This approach has a lot of moving parts to it. By separating these diverse groups and putting them into categories, however, you position yourself to create a master plan for success in 2017 and beyond.

Category 1 clients

The first cut from your client base, or Category 1 clients, are your referral partners, such as Realtors, who have sent you a borrower or other deal opportunity within the past 60 days. Your referral partners have trusted you enough to send business opportunities your way, and that is a goal of any business partnership.

Consistency in this referral process is what everyone strives for, and once a referral partner starts sending business your way every month, you have established the basis for a strong relationship. Having a quality base of existing relationships on the referral side is essential to making a quality living in the mortgage business.

How many referral partners should you have in this basket of relationships? That depends on how many you can effectively handle and what your individual earnings goals are for a given period. For a traditional mortgage originator, you should have 10 quality Realtor relationships that refer borrowers to you monthly to discuss financing options.

In addition, just as you work hard to develop these referral relationships, you also must work to protect the network. You cannot take a referral relationship for granted. The first order of business in protecting these relationships is consistent contact. Be sure to stay in touch via drop-by visits; timely, effective e-mails; or by leaving a voicemail at least once a week to let these Category 1 clients know how much they mean to you and to express the value you feel regarding your business partnership with them.

Remember, you worked hard to establish this referral network. Don’t lose it by failing to pay attention to these partners and their needs.

Category 2 clients

A Category 2 client is someone you know and have worked with in the past, but who has not sent you any business in more than 60 days. For whatever reason, the relationship has taken a turn and there is no return for the services you offer.

Possibly you have been busy and may have forgotten the necessary follow-up to keep their interest in you. Maybe the experience they had with you and your company was not a positive one, or a competitor has gotten in there and courted them away from you.

Whatever the reason, here is a positive with a Category 2 client: Whether this is a potential builder or a referral partner, they know you, and because you have worked with them in the past, you have a pre-existing relationship. Your challenge is to reactivate it.

Success in rekindling this relationship will make it possible to set an appointment for a business discussion regarding the client’s plans for 2017 and how you can fit into those plans. Prioritize calls to these individuals to reactivate the relationships and see if they can once again be a part of your true client base in 2017.

Category 3 clients

The final group of clients is the new relationship prospect. Whether this is a Realtor or a builder prospect, clients in this group are your future — or the replacements for lost relationships. The planning and prospecting process takes a bit longer than with Category 2 clients. Therefore, it is harder to arrange meetings with this client type.

The key to getting the initial appointment with a Category 3 client lies in using a referral as the bridge between you and the prospect. Ask someone from your Category 1 client base, for example, to provide you with a referral to a new Category 3 prospect as a way to get in the door and chat about your services. The key to getting an appointment with a Category 3 prospect is the strength of your existing referral sources.

As you set your plans in motion for 2017, the goal should be to establish at least 10 Realtor relationships to maximize your production in the coming home-purchase market. In addition, identify your top five to 10 Category 2 clients from past relationships and enlist them to advance your business-development efforts. Finally, leverage existing clients to cultivate relationships with new Category 3 prospects to position yourself to tap into future business opportunities.

Planning is always important and understanding who your true clients are when you plan is the first step on the path toward success in the mortgage origination business. Good luck and good selling.