As I travel throughout the country and conduct live presentations, one of the questions I always ask my loan officer audiences, is: “What do you do for a living?”

The most common responses I will receive are “Loan officer, “Mortgage professional,” “Financing expert,” “MLO,” and “I make housing dreams come true.”

Believe it or not, these responses are in line with how most loan officers perceive their profession. However, it is this belief about what they do for a living that often creates limits in their ability to earn a significant income.

Being a licensed or registered mortgage loan originator allows you to engage with consumers in discussion regarding mortgage programs, loan rates, and a consumer’s ability to qualify for a home loan. The reality of the situation is that unless you have a prospect to speak with, you cannot engage in the activities in which you are licensed or registered. Unless you have referral partners, you most likely have a very limited supply of leads. Even if you consistently purchase or generate leads through online sources, you must still have the skills to convert these leads into loans.

The point that I am trying to make is that before you can be a loan officer or mortgage professional, you must first be a marketing and sales professional. What I mean by this is that you have to know how to first generate leads of either home purchasers or existing homeowners for potential refinancing. Unless you have leads to work with, you can’t engage with anyone regarding programs or rates. Also, if you are an outside loan officer, you need to have the ability to develop relationships with potential referral partners so you will have a consistent supply of leads coming to you.

What all of this means is that you must be a “marketer” and “sales professional” before you can ever be a “loan officer” or “mortgage originator.” What is very interesting is that often, when I present this concept, an audience member will say something regarding once that a lead has been generated; they can start speaking about program rates and the items that are covered under their licensing. Although this is true, this brings us to an entirely different challenge that exists and limits loan officer productivity.

I have established that the first thing an originator must be is a marketer. Once there is an abundance of leads, then the odds of an originator being highly successful increases. However, unless you are focused on being a great sales professional and influencer, then once again, a lot of money will be left on the table.

Before I go any further, let me clarify one thing. I have used the terms “sales,” “sales professional,” and “influencer.” Time and time again, I find that many mortgage professionals struggle with the word “sales” or anything that implies selling for that matter. When I refer to these words, my perspective is that you are meeting the need of a customer. I do not advocate in any way that you will convince or influence a borrower to accept financing that is not in their best interest. Selling products and services is what makes the world go ’round.

My belief is simply that if someone needs mortgage financing and they are going to obtain funding for a purchase or refinance, then why shouldn’t it be you who assists them in meeting their needs? As long as you are providing a service that is in the customer’s best interests and helps them accomplish the goals they seek, then as a “sales professional,” it is your job to influence them to recognize that you are the best choice.

Many mortgage professionals have never studied the art of ethical influence. What they do is rely upon being friendly and going through the qualifying process with a prospect. The challenge with this approach is that there is a very high chance that the prospect will speak with more than one very nice loan officer. Essentially, what is happening here is those loan officers who engage in attempting to win business through this method end up commoditizing their product and service.

To better explain what I mean, imagine you are a consumer shopping for a product or service. If you speak with three different companies, and they all treat you relatively the same way, your ability to differentiate them will ultimately be determined by whoever has the best price.
How this translates into the mortgage industry is that borrowers will be rate shoppers until you can demonstrate that there is more to getting a mortgage than just qualifying.

As we all know, there are many nuances to getting loans approved and closed smoothly. If you do not engage in conversation that uncovers a prospect’s concerns and emotional needs related to the financing they are looking for, then you are not connecting with them on a different level than your competitors. This will default the prospect to making their decision based upon price, and less upon perceived value.

So when you read through what I have written here, and you see that I reference influencing and selling, all I am referring to is assisting a prospect in recognizing that you bring more to the table in meeting their needs than anyone else.

In the final analysis, to succeed at the highest possible level as a mortgage professional, first, you want to become a master marketer to generate an abundance of leads. Second, become a master influencer to get more people wanting to do business with you. Third, qualifying prospects to see if they are eligible to do business with you.

Remember, once you have quoted a rate to a prospect, if you have not yet gotten them to want to do business with you because of who you are and how you work, getting them to recognize your value after you already quoted a rate is challenging.

The rate you offer becomes less critical if you have addressed the emotional needs that they have about obtaining financing.

As human beings, we typically purchase emotionally and then justify our decision to buy with logic. When you qualify a prospect without an emotional connection, then you are bypassing the most critical part of the consumer’s decision-making process.