We Walk You Home Purpose, production and the power of the consumer conduit By Rick Roque
WISCONSIN MORTGAGE PROFESSIONAL MAGAZINE
I’ve never closed a loan, but I get hundreds of loans closed. I don’t focus on individual units as I identify, attain and oversee a process that closes hundreds of units on a monthly basis. Do I knock on the doors of real estate agents? No. Do I cold-call consumers? No. In fact, the first generation of mortgage origination—let’s call this “Sales 1.0,” was point to point—rather, a Realtor-based relationship that was built on a local, trusted business arrangement built over time. This, I believe, is a dying breed or at least not a scalable and secure model for the future. I’m not suggesting that there are not arrangements that work where individual loan officers work closely with individual real estate agents to produce a consistent flow of business. But this isn’t the future of mortgage lending. The foundation for this is sociological, something that has happened over the last 10 years in how people relate, communicate and perceive one another … an evolution so to speak. Point to point relationships lack social value; there is no social dimension. One-tomany relationships are what drive businesses today. This article is not about social media, but it is about your stated purpose as a mortgage company and your ability to grow your production and capitalize on “mortgage conduits” to benefit from this evolution. Allow me to explain. The ability to structure your business to reach, monitor, communicate and sell your mortgage products to a target group (one to many) people is the key to future growth and success. It is not, however, as simple as broadcasting your message, that was Sales 2.0 and thrived with the dawn of the Internet, static Web pages and blogs. This was one-to-many communication, but it lacked a dynamic connection with the readers, there was no ability to measure the experience of the consumer, and lastly, there was no captured audience of people that you can retain, sustain and service over a period of time. That captured audience is the power of the consumer conduit and this is Sales 3.0 for mortgage lenders. There are three characteristics of Sales 3.0: Passion, Production and the Power of the consumer conduit. These
are all interrelated in that in order to grow your production, the passion behind your operation must be used to attract prospects from within your consumer conduits. A major obstacle to adoption of Sales 3.0 is that mortgage companies still don’t know who they are and what they do. It’s not as simple as saying they close and fund mortgages. Mortgage companies change lives, empower people, open new doors (literally and figuratively) and serve borrowers throughout the mortgage process. Some call this the “We Walk You Home” philosophy whereby a mortgage lender walks them through a vision and process that culminates in the emotional reality for consumers that they can enjoy the comforts of owning their own home. The key to success and retention of client relationships is in tapping into this basic human need through the comforts associated with homeownership. It is the downsizing family who sells a “home” through a short sale and seeks to find a smaller, more affordable home; it is a relocating family who needs to get settled into a new home so kids can get registered for school; it is the first-time homebuyer moving into their first home after renting and living a fairly transient lifestyle—in all of these cases, the process and emotional comfort associated with purchasing, moving and settling into a new home is immeasurably powerful. Your ability to provide the process and vision to a borrower, letting them know what to expect, how the mortgage process can be accomplished and what may be needed as they work toward the day they move in, is proportionate to your success. Your company needs that “We Walk You Home” philosophy, and it must be built into your company’s core vision and mission statement. So, does having this passion for helping people attain homeownership automatically give you the production you need? No. What it does do is give you something to sell. But to sell to whom? To achieve maximum success, you’ll sell this to conduits of consumers. What is remarkable about human beings, especially Americans, is that we are phenomenally social. We live in groups that form our identity. We are bound together by associations that tie people together because of their occupation, personal interests and even their race or ethnicity. This is the premise behind social networks, Facebook
Friends and Google Plus Circles; we no longer live in “networks” but we live in multi-dimensional “mesh-works” that reflect a three-dimensional component to our relationships, not just the nodal, “point-to-point” type relationships that the Internet was originally based upon. These tools have allowed us to create connection like never before. It is far easier today to discover the common interests and values we share with other people. These overlapping relationships and powerful associations are the basis for new consumer conduits that can become powerful sources of production once you connect your company’s stated mission or purpose to the similar values held by the members of a particular consumer conduit. Allow me to illustrate this further. My grandfather was superintendent of schools in Chicopee, Mass. He was heralded as one of the top superintendents in Massachusetts, having been a pioneer in distance education, labor relations, home schooling, racial integration and financial management of schools. Having served for 20 years (1945-1965) and built most of the schools that are still in operation, his presence is felt everywhere in the community of Chicopee, Mass. Even having passed away nearly 18 years ago and retired from the job nearly 50 years, “the great John L. Fitzpatrick” is still mentioned often in the halls of the schools and referenced in meetings in the central office of the superintendent. What does this have to do with mortgages and consumer conduits? If you are asking this question, you are stuck in Mortgage Sales 2.0 and you need to read on. The legacy of John L. Fitzpatrick—his passion for public schools, commitment to public school teachers and his ability to relate to all constituencies, especially parents’ committees and teachers unions, are all connected to my passion, why I am in the business and how I can serve these aforementioned consumer conduits. I am finishing my doctorate in education finance at American International College (AIC) and my ability to speak, work and support public education is part of my family heritage and central to my personal passion. As a result, I want to support public school teachers; I want to work with school unions; I want to support parents and I want to work closely with administrators, but as a mortgage professional who understands their profession and their needs.
“Your ability to provide the process and vision to a borrower, letting them know what to expect, how the mortgage process can be accomplished and what may be needed as they work toward the day they move in, is proportionate to your success.”
The ability for a mortgage firm to establish joint ventures with public schools, unions and districts is real and it represents a substantive opportunity to grow your business in a purposeful way that builds loyalty. For me, and many like me, this grows organically out of who I am, both individually and in terms of the company I am building. I’ve built relationships similar to this between mortgage firms and other consumer conduits, public education is just one of them. Before you start making phone calls to your school superintendent, you should realize that it doesn’t start there; it starts with your passion and purpose as a company. Each firm must state its purpose clearly and break down its mission into specific organizational outcomes in order to sustain a consistent consumer experience across all marketing and sales efforts. It is important to develop a new class of mortgage leadership from within your firm to articulate this with passion. Without this, any outreach will be hollow and of limited value. Your firm will be frustrated by the bureaucracy and the conduit—a school district in this case—will become suspicious of your intentions. Consumer groups don’t speak our language and they don’t trust us. Our reputation and brand as a profession has been wounded by the negative publicity in the media, much of it well-deserved due to the extent to which many people who worked in the industry took advantage of the system to drive production. We walk you home is an answer to that. So, what will define you is not what you are, but what you believe, and it is this sense of purpose that will drive your success with consumer conduits, and your production overall. Rick Roque is senior vice president of growth and strategy for PrimeSource Mortgage, the wholly-owned lending subsidiary of PSM Holdings Inc. He may be reached by phone at (408) 914-5895 or email Rroque@WeWalkYouHome.com.