Right now, the market is very, very, very crazy, and I think the problem that we need to address is a problem that is not just driven by the current market. It is certainly amplified by the current market, but it’s also a discipline that 99% of loan originators don’t do, and that is what we refer to as Partnership Planning.
What are Strategic Partners?
Years and years ago, I was talking with a loan originator, and he said to me, to a question I had asked, he said, “I think I have about 13 strategic partners.”
And so I paused and I looked at him in the eyes, and I said, “So when you talk about strategic partners, these are people that you have partnerships with, which you have created a strategy on how you’re going to succeed together. Am I understanding it right?” And he goes, “Well, I don’t have the strategy like that. They’re strategic partners because they’re giving me business, but I’m not sure I understand fully what ‘Strategic’ means.” And I said, “So you don’t have strategic partnerships. You may not even have anything other than just partnerships based on performance confidence, right?”
And there’s nothing wrong with that, but what I know for sure is that most loan professionals suck at following up and adding value to their “Partners,” right? And it would be interesting, because if a partnership’s going to work, you’ve got to invest in the partnership, and whether it’s a marriage partnership, or whether it’s a business partnership, you’ve got to invest in the partnerships to make them work, and you have to help people win in order for them to remain sticky to you.
So, this video and blog post is going to unpack for you one thing that you can begin to do that 99% of your competition doesn’t do, and it’s going to involve three specific steps. This one strategy is going to unleash an increase in referrals from your partners, because of the, quote, “Strategy” I’m about to share with you, okay? So let’s unpack it.
Following Up After a High Trust Conversation
The first thing that most loan originators don’t do, besides targeting, sitting down, and having a high-trust conversation with an agent to engage a business partnership, is they don’t follow up with that agent after that conversation in a strategic way.
I remember early in my origination career, I had a top realtor look at me, and we had a beautiful conversation. I felt that we had connected in a deep, deep way, and when I asked her for a business commitment, she indicated to me that she would send me a couple of her next borrowers, and I thought that I had won, I thought that was great. She committed to sending me some borrowers, and I was fired up about that.
A day later, I was wondering when that first call might come in. A day after that, I was wondering why the first call didn’t come in. A week after that, I still hadn’t received a call, and at that stage of my career, I started talking to myself about maybe she was just kidding, maybe she’s not doing as much business as I thought, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and I created my own self-doubt, and I did not follow up like I needed to follow up.
And so when she finally called me two and a half weeks later, she said “I have a buyer I’d like you to work with,” and I asked her, I said, “So just out of curiosity, I’m super grateful, I’m excited about this, but what took two weeks?” And she goes, “I just hadn’t pulled the trigger to give you one yet, I gave all my buyers to my current lender because I’ve done business with him for seven years and… But I just felt maybe this was the right person and the right time.” And it dawned on me right then and there that I probably should’ve had a different follow-up program, okay? And so the first thing is you never, ever, ever leave an appointment without discussing and committing to when something is going to happen. So what that led to was this idea of Partnership Planning.
What is Partnership Planning?
My first use of Partnership Planning was a strategy I developed as a 28-year-old loan originator where I would call my agent partners every single week, and I would ask them three questions. The first question I would ask them is, “How are we doing together, your team, my team, and the product that we’re producing for your buyers?” And I always wanted to evaluate that, because if there was ever any input from an agent on what we could do better, it was so cool to know that every seven days, they had an outlet for that, and pretty soon there wasn’t anything that we could do to get better, because we were in sync together.
The second question I would ask every week, which never went away, was “What can we do to produce more volume this week, volume for you, volume for me, and what are we doing strategically in the area of referral management? What are we doing in terms of generating more conversations with sellers and buyers? What am I doing to inculcate you into my database and the sphere of influence that your family tree is building?” I always wanted to ask that question, because if we’re not dialoguing about that, then we’re not growing intentionally. In the perfect world, these would be called weekly business reviews. We refer to them as partnership planning sessions, but we’re simply reviewing the business, right?
The third question that I asked every week, and I got to tell you, in very short order, the question didn’t have any more answers, because we were paying attention to the answers from previous weeks and months. So the third question is, “What needs do you have or anticipate having in the next several months, or even year, that my team and I need to start coming up with a solution for, for you?” And it was so beautiful, because I never wanted a need to go undiscovered. And so when you do that, and you begin to understand the power of that, then all of a sudden, you’ve got people that are not going to leave you. They’re going to stick with you because you’re giving them more value than anybody else that they’ve ever done business with, because you’re connecting with them weekly and you’re coming up with decisions that advance the depth and the confidence and the trust of the partnership. So that’s the first thing you have to do.
The second thing you have to do is in order to make any partnership planning begin with a new partner, you cannot let them tell you they’ll give you their next borrower, or they’ll give you their next referral. At the very least, you could have some fun with this and look them in the eye and say, “So when do you think that’s going to happen?” And now all of a sudden you can see that they’re going to go, “Well…” You know? And when you say, “When do you think that’s going to happen?” That’s a way to let them know that you’re ready to go right now. But backing up from that is a more strategic way, because we don’t want to make them feel bad or embarrassed, but we do want to make sure that we get this thing off the ground.
Setting Up Partnership Planning Sessions
So here’s what I do, and this is an innovation around just an element of time blocking, it’s an innovation around really follow-up. It’s also a differentiation tool, because most people don’t do this. So what I would do is if an agent says, “Yeah, I’m ready to do business.” I would go into my calendar and I would enter “Partnership planning session, PPS, with Debbie,” okay? I would hit “People,” I would put her email in, I would look at her and I would ask her, “I do partnership planning on Fridays, between one and four. Right now, I’ve got a two o’clock slot and I’ve got a 2:40 slot and I have a 3:45 slot, which one works best?” She’s going to tell me the time, I’m going to go in and put it in my calendar on the spot.
And then I’m going to go back to the scheduling tool, and now I’ve got her email, I know the day of the week we’re going to do this, I know the timeframe we’re going to do it, and what I’m going to do on repeat or recurring is I’m going to hit “Weekly.” And when I hit “Weekly,” and all of a sudden now I’ve got a start date, which is a week from now, I’ve got an end date, which is 12 weeks from now, and I’ve got a reminder tagged for 15 minutes before the event. I’m recurring it weekly, and I’m going to end it on a particular date. Right there, in his or her presence, I send the invite. So what have I done right now? I’ve done what 99% of LOs don’t do. I’m scheduling three months of follow-up with an agent today, before I leave our appointment, if they have said “Yes” to doing business together.
In addition to partnership planning, on a previous video, entitled The Lost Leads Conversation, I gave you two questions on that video to watch. You need to go back and watch that video to see how all this fits in, but if I’m calling you every week and I’m going to ask you, “How can we be more efficient together? How can we be more productive together? What needs do you anticipate having an hour in the future that I need to meet or meet better?” And then I go into, “Who have you met in the last seven days that you’re not sure they’re going to use you to buy or sell or both? I want to reach out to them on your behalf and bring them back into the fold. Who are you showing property to in the next seven days that I’ve not had yet a pre-qualification conversation with? Because in today’s market, we need to send buyers into the marketplace approved and ready to go. Who are you showing property to that I haven’t had a conversation with yet?”
Those are the two questions you can ask every week in addition to the three partnership planning questions, and here’s what’s going to happen.
How Does Partnership Planning Affect Your Bottom Line?
If you’ve got 10 agents and they’ve talked to 20 people each, that’s 200 people a week that you can talk to. Reach out on their behalf, and you can cross-sell that potential buyer back to that agent, and you can also do high-trust magic on that borrower and secure them into a consultation for home ownership and a mortgage plan, and just doing that is going to separate you from any of your competitors that they might be talking to.
And of course, if you were to only bring back one per person per month, you’re adding $144,000 a year in income to each of those 10 agents. That’s a million four, and we get that number simply by realizing that the commission per side, 12,000 bucks, do one a month. You talk to maybe an extra 200 people, you’re building your database. We use awesome tools in the marketplace that help sellers and buyers evaluate ownership and equity and appraisal value and things like that, it’s just lights out, lights out kind of conversation.
So your next step is to perfect this process. If I were in your shoes today, I would initiate a sit-down face-to-face business review session with every real estate agent that you want a partnership with, and I would sit down and go through the partnership planning the first time, I would do the lost leads conversation, and then I would schedule the 12 weeks of follow-up. It is a purchase market right now, refis are gone, except for cashout, and rates are going up, and it doesn’t matter if they go up or go down, this is a discipline you use all the time, but man, get your relationships secured, and really next time somebody asks you to describe what a strategic partnership looks like, tell them the strategy you use, which I just laid out for you.