Dennis Black is the CEO of Dennis Black and Associates, a
training organization devoted exclusively to the development of sales and management professionals within the
lending industry. Dennis Black and Associates has trained
more than 115,000 mortgage professionals throughout the
United States, Canada and Australia. Black speaks at conferences sponsored by the Mortgage Bankers Association
and NAMB - The Association of Mortgage Professionals
about selling strategies and is a frequent speaker at state
conferences. Visit dennisblack.com. Reach Black at
Find Your True Clients
Plan for success by cultivating and maintaining referral relationships
By Dennis Black
The housing market is shifting to a pro- nounced purchase environment, and the abilitygoingforwardtoidentifyprospective 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
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
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
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.
n n n
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. n
By Dennis Black
View these articles and more at
“What Is Your Niche?”
“Popping the Old Sales Myths,”