It would make sense that loan officers should answer their phone to ensure personally their customers and referral partners are happy, right? Wrong.
I’m here to tell you that it creates problems when loan officers have their cell numbers listed on their business cards. It’s not a big deal when you’re closing 0–5 loans a month but when you use the systems we teach in the Mortgage Marketing Animals and Freedom Club, you’re going to close a lot more loans and it’s going to happen fast. We like to think your results will increase ten-fold quickly, so imagine trying to handle 5 – 25 loans a month via your cell phone while growing your business. You just can’t do it.
For example, let’s say you’re meeting with a real estate agent and your phone rings during the meeting. What do you do – take the call or disrespect the person who is helping you feed your family with referrals? By not answering the phone, you disrespect the person who is calling by forcing them to go to your voicemail – that’s never a good thing. Even more, that caller could be one of the real estate clients you’ve been working with or cultivating as a relationship. Ignoring their call is also disrespectful to the real estate agent in front of you too because nobody likes to play second-fiddle to a phone call.
Another issue with using your cellphone is your day is (or should be) filled with calls. But calls coming in every few minutes means you never get into your zone where you can concentrate. That’s a high price to pay to answer a general question. One of your goals is to reduce anything that can cause you to lose time, whether that’s distractions, un-productivity or ‘bumps’ in process. For me, personally, I’m running a multimillion-dollar business – my team and I help thousands of loan officers across the country. It’s literally impossible for me to help each of these people by me answering their calls on my cell phone. While I would love to be able to have all those conversations – you know me, I like a good connection with somebody! – it’s just completely impractical.
The good news is there is a simple solution: get a second number for your cellphone.
Whut? You need another number? Yes. We’ve done this, and I highly recommend it. Just call your current mobile carrier and tell them, “I need a new phone number attached to my current cell number.” They’ll handle it, no problem.
Now, it’s very important never to give that new phone number to anyone other than your close family and best friends. I get you might think, “Well, my Realtors are my friends.” And while that might be true, restrain yourself. This is about helping them have better service, remember? So it’s crucial you NOT give them your new number.
Instead, once you have your new second number, forward your cell phone with the old number to an assistant — or several — in your office. Then, ask your assistant(s) to answer all incoming phone calls.
The beauty of this is many of the people calling have questions regarding appraisals, surveys, or are inquiring if the borrowers sent their documents. Most of my (your) time is spent out in the field getting new business, and I (you) simply don’t have the answers they’re looking for in the moment – but your assistant does. That’s why it’s so critical to have an assistant to keep track what’s happening throughout your business deals and relationships. So now when a client calls your old phone number, they’re directed to the office, and your assistant can attend to them while you’re out in the field generating more business.
One more potential problem – if you’ve only got one old number on one phone, that’s now your new business number, you still can have the issue of people going to voicemail. If you are feeling like you don’t want to risk that, you can also forward your ‘old’ cell number, which is now your ‘new’ business number, through Google Voice to ring your in-office phones. That way you assure there is always somebody live answering calls, even when they’re coming in hot and heavy.
There is a potential hazard that comes from this method that needs to be considered. It happens when someone calls my cell expecting to speak with me directly. So it might be surprising when someone other than you answers your phone. The caller may think, “Wait a minute — I’ve just been pawned off.” To avoid making anyone feel unimportant or neglected, you need to let your agents know what’s going on when you make this switch.
When I upgraded to this more effective way of handling phone calls, I spoke with all my real estate referral partners personally, ideally face-to-face, to let them know what I was doing before they experienced it. It’s okay to do it over the phone, but I recommend an in-person meeting. Plus, touching base from time to time can help you gain referrals.
For me, I was comfortable using a script we like to call the “Radar script.” I’m a fan of the old tv show, M.A.S.H., where Radar was a memorable character with the striking ability to predict future events. The commander would start yelling for something and, within the first three words, Radar would pop up with it already done. That’s the idea here… you want to handle questions and potential objections before they happen by telling upfront what you’re doing.
“I wanted to meet with you and let you know how much I appreciate you and what an honor it is to work with you. You’re helping my kids go through college, and I’m forever grateful to you. I find myself thinking every day, ‘How can I help you even more?’ and answering that question gave me a new way to be even more efficient. I just hired someone in the office named Melissa. She’s a new team member who is nothing short of amazing. She’s always in the office, 9–5 every day, and has an uncanny knack for knowing about issues or problems on a file before it happens. Melissa can identify complications that, in the past, could delay a closing or lead to an unhappy client. She can ‘sense’ these potential issues way before closing, giving us plenty of time to work on them so they never become a problem. Now everyone is happier, and we’re converting more of those leads to closing, which makes you more money. She really is nothing short of amazing. She will be who answers my cell phone now when you or your customers call to ensure faster service.
Why did I do this? Basically, I felt bad. I used to have a quandary when in meetings just like this and get a phone call from one of your clients who’s ready to make an application. The last thing I wanted to do was disrespect you by making that person leave a voicemail and wait for a callback. You and I both know that will only decrease our conversion rate and reduce your income, and I would never, ever do that. You help me, and I want to help you. I want to move all your people to the front of the line. While we’re having coffee, when you have a referral who calls the office, Melissa is going to field that call and move them to the front of the line to get that ball rolling. That way, maybe even before we’ve finished our Danish here, that preapproval letter is sitting in your inbox. That’s how I want to help you because of how much you’re doing for me.”
The agent (and their clients) is going to be willing to work with your “Radar”, because it only benefits them, but you better make darn sure you have that person in your office. You can’t say you have someone to answer important calls and then not have them there. If you’re thinking, “Well, I don’t have anyone in the office to help,” I have a solution for that too. Stay tuned.
For now, think about getting a second number for your business so you can win at the telephone game every time. Any questions on how to make this work for you? Shout out below – let’s get those handled so you can get on with growing your business.
Carl White, Chief Officer of Coolness
Article Originally Posted on LinkedIn
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