HTSA Q&A: Mastering the High Trust Interview with Cody Hardridge

After the High Trust Sales Academy, we conducted a series of three Q&A sessions with our Todd Duncan ELITE Coaching Members so recent HTSA graduates can see the longterm impact of what they learned put into action!

The first session was with Denise Donoghue, and the second session was with Wally Elibiary.

In the third and final session, Cody Hardrige held a Q&A session where he covered some of the most pressing questions and topics that top loan originators have, such as:

  • How to get better at the High Trust Interview
  • How to follow up with team members when presenting to a group
  • Differentiate your follow up with the Letter in the Book Approach
  • How to Dig Deeper during the High Trust Interview without being repetitive
  • Altering the High Trust Interview when you already know the person
  • The pre-qualification process for REALTOR referrals
  • How to start building your database of Real Estate Agents
  • How to re-engage with your database
  • Cody’s secret sauce to a sticky client journey
  • Get the High Trust Interview for Free
  • Master High Trust Selling with a Todd Duncan coach

There’s a lot to dig into here, so without further ado, here is how you can master the High Trust Interview with Cody Hardridge.

Q: How can you get better at the High Trust Interview?

I’m just gonna tell you that when I was learning to do a High Trust Interview, I practiced over and over and over. I’d grab another loan officer, my wife, I’d make her act like a realtor, and try to derail me. And I practiced and practiced and practiced until it really just became second nature for me until it was intuitive. And if you can get to that point, then you’re gonna be unstoppable.

It’s literally just learning our lines, and the, one of the biggest examples I like to give, are the Academy Award-winning actors, right? They don’t just show up and wing it on the day that they give their big performance. They work on those lines until they literally become the character. And we’re doing the same thing, guys. We’re practicing these lines until it’s intuitive for us and becomes who we are. And then when we get in front of agents, it’s really hard to say no because we sound so good when we’re in front of them.

Q: When you do your High Trust Sales Interview with a team leader, what is your follow up process with the team members?

One of the most powerful positions of influence is to be in a classroom environment, okay? Like you guys think about Todd up in front of us at High Trust Sales Academy. That is one of the most influential positions a person can be in. So anytime I get an opportunity to talk to a group of agents, I will always take that opportunity. And I, I’ll share a a secret of mine when I get up. I’ve basically taken the High Trust Interview and I’ve adapted it for a group setting where I’m speaking to a group of people. It might sound like me getting in front of this group of people and introducing myself.

Every time I get together with a group of agents like this, I like to ask questions about what matters to them. So let me just ask what’s important about the lender that you work with, right? And then I throw it to the crowd and I start waiting for answers. The realtors will talk, okay? They’re salespeople like us, they’ll talk and we just kind of start this group conversation, right? And once we’re done with that, I hit a presentation about who I am and what I can do for them, just like I would with a regular real estate agent. And I can conclude that little talk or that little speech. I’m not gonna leave there without a list of the agents in the room, okay? And that, that presentation that I did to connect with them on the follow up.

Then I’m gonna individually go after every single agent in that room, just like a sniper picking ’em off one at a time. I’m gonna write a letter that says, “Hey, it was so good meeting you at such and such and event.” I’m gonna tell that I it was great meeting them at this group event and use that as my reason to set up a one-on-one meeting with them to talk about starting a business relationship.

So anytime we’re in a group environment, that should be the excuse to go after each individual agent after that.

Differentiate your Follow Up with the Letter in the Book Approach

The letter in the book approach is a sales system that my originators run. Ee just need an excuse to send somebody a letter in a book. If we’re at an open house and we meet a realtor, boom, they’re getting a letter in a book. If we’re at a realtor event and we meet someone, boom, they’re getting a letter in a book. “Great meeting you and chatting with you at this event. I can tell just based on our conversation that we share a lot of values, we think alike and would love to set up a time to discuss, start a business relationship.”

No lenders are doing that. There’s so little competition because the other loan officers are doing the show up and throw up. That’s how they sell. That’s not how we roll. So just the approach letter and book will differentiate itself.

Q: In practicing the High Trust Interview, I’m trying to dig deeper but the real estate agent will feel that I’m being repetitive, how do I handle that?

I think it’s important to spend time planning your questions that you’re gonna ask the agents, and the conversations are always gonna go kind of the same. So if I ask a realtor, what’s important to you? Nine times outta 10 guys start tracking this, it’s hilarious. Nine times outta 10, the first thing outta their mouth is gonna be something having to do with communication.

It might sound in the beginning, like this:

“I just want someone to take care of my customers.”

“Okay, well, tell me more about that. What does that mean to you?”

“Well, I need someone that’ll communicate at a high level.”

“Okay, totally understand that. On a scale of 1 to 10, how good are most of the loan officers that you deal with? Do you feel that communication is something that’s lacking in the industry?”

You know, just kind of a general question, and they’ll talk about themselves or whatever. And I may pose the next question, like, you know, let me ask you this. “Whenever you do have a bad communicator for a loan officer, how does that impact you? Like, how are you impacted as the professional?” Notice I’m not asking about the client, I’m asking about them, cuz that’s who I really want to know about.

And then they’ll talk about, well, it makes me look bad, you know, I look like an idiot. I don’t know what’s happening, etc. And so I’m only gonna try to go down like one or two layers with them on these questions. The part of the conversation you guys have maybe seen Todd have where he is asking about what’s important about success and what’s behind that, and going deeper on that deal. I’m not doing that in the business part of the conversation, okay? When I’m asking about what’s important about the lender. That’s a very special setup. It happens during the rapport building part of the conversation, and it’s when I’m asking them about their goals, most people don’t have goals, so you’re kind of rare that you have goals.

Why is success important to you? Right?

And they’ll give you some surface answer like, “Hey, I want to do my best.”

And I’m like, “Okay, why do you want to do your best? What’s behind that?”

“I want my children to see me.”

“Why is that important to you?”

“Well, my dad wasn’t around. I didn’t have that when I was a kid.”

That’s where you can get deep with someone, but you have to be careful with that because it’ll sound weird if you don’t have the right rapport with people. So we need to be able to sense when it’s an appropriate time to ask that and when it’s not appropriate, and it’s really gonna depend on, the rapport. You know what it’s like when you get with someone and you’re totally vibing with them and when it’s gonna be okay to have that kind of a conversation. Because you’re probably gonna think alike and talk alike and have the same interests and stuff like that. Just to clarify, when I’m doing the needs analysis and I’m asking about what matters most to the lender, I’m only trying to go down one or two layers there. And the whole purpose of that is a couple of things. It lets them know that I’m actually listening to what they’re saying and synthesizing it into new questions so that I can go deeper with them and have more understanding.

Q: How do you alter the questions in the High Trust Interview if you already know the person?

So the only thing that I’m gonna alter with someone that I’ve known for a while is the rapport building stage of the conversation. I’m not gonna spend a bunch of time asking about their kids and their husbands or wives and what they do for fun. We might just chit chat or whatever, but at some point we’re gonna get down to the business, and the business part of the conversation for me begins with the needs analysis. So if I was sitting down with somebody that I knew from Rotary, and we’re sitting down to have coffee or lunch or whatever, I would get right into it.

We’d chat and then I’d say, like I mentioned on the phone, we’ve known each other forever, but we’ve never had a real business relationship like I have with my other partners. I’m very interested in working with you. I like you, and I think that life’s too short to do business with people that you don’t like. So with that being said, when you refer your clients to a lender, what matters most to you? What’s most important? And then I’m off and running with the High Trust Interview from there. That’s how I’d handle that situation.

Q: When a realtor refers a buyer to you, do you just set up that face-to-face or do you have a pre-qual conversation over the phone with them first?

So there are a million ways to be successful at this part of the process. However, I do believe that there are some common things that happen with the best of the best, okay? And I know this is inside of my organization and outside of my organization, okay? So for me, I’m highly aggressive, like I’m not the loan officer you want to compete against, I promise you that I will take your lunch money every time, okay? And I train my realtors how to talk, I help them with their scripting. Like if you guys hear Eleanor Lee Jenning, you’re gonna hear my language coming out of her mouth because I’ve trained her on my scripting and she knows it works.

She knows she’s gonna sell more houses if she delivers stuff a certain way. I want her to give me a name and a phone number as soon as possible. I don’t want her to cross-sell me. I don’t want her to say anything else, just, “Cody’s gonna give you a call and he’s gonna help bring everything into sharp focus so that I can help you get the right home at the right price.” She’s gonna deliver her script. I’m gonna call myself, or I’ve got a team member that also helps me to take applications. We’re gonna start aggressively calling and sending them text messages, trying to connect. When we get them on the phone, we take an initial application. I don’t push people to a website, because my competition does that. And while they’re waiting for the client to apply online, I’m taking their lunch money.

I’ve already got the application, right? I’ve already got a consultation set and the other guy’s sitting around waiting. So if you’re doing that, I recommend that you not do that. You’re gonna lose out to people like me. So we get an initial application. It’s not a one hour conversation for me, okay? It’s very surface level for that first conversation. And the reason why is that I’m not gonna spend an hour on someone with a 498 FICO score. Okay? Not gonna happen. My time is too valuable to spend with people that don’t qualify. So I’m gonna have a very brief conversation and I’m gonna explain to them that these are the next couple of steps in the process. I’m about to send you this email with a list of things I need to get from you. We’re gonna process this initial application and we’ll be right back in touch to get a time set up for us to go through numbers together. Sound okay?

So from there, I’m checking the credit. We’re doing all the things. I’m still a loan officer. All right? Everybody remember that, and we’re immediately back in touch and we’re trying to schedule a face-to-face or a phone consultation with them. Now, pre-pandemic, we would meet with everybody face-to-face. We almost demanded it. Matter of fact, we did demand it. And the reason we did that is we thought that the face-to-face meeting would stop the rate shopping, okay? That’s what our belief was. What we found out during the pandemic is it wasn’t the face-to-face, okay? It’s the strength of the referral.

That’s what stopped them from shopping, so for Eleanor, it’s because she was saying, this is the guy. This is who I trust my family with, and who this is who we’re gonna be working with. So the way that you’re referred is super important guys. Don’t let your realtors say things like Call Mercy to see if she can get you a better deal. That’s not acceptable, because that sets us up for a situation where we’re in a price war with another lender. Not interested in that. Okay? I’m not interested in working with a realtor that needs to refer me that way. Now I’ll fire them for that.

What I want is for the realtor to say, “Listen, Cody is one of the top mortgage bankers in the state of Oklahoma, and whether you decide to work with him or not, a brief conversation with him could completely change the trajectory of this transaction. It’s the only person I trust, my family and my clients with. He’s the best of the best. I know he is gonna take care of you.” That’s how I wanna be referred.

Q: How do I start building my database of real estate agents?

Most of the real estate agents that we’re going after are individual agents. They’re doing all the work on their own. Okay? They’re making all their sales calls, they’re processing the files, they’re going to the inspections. And so one of the things I pitched to agents is, look, let us become an extension of your sales team. Okay? Now, I’ve got a team of five people that work with me, but even when I was a one man show, I let them know that I have discipline time blocks every day that I’m making prospecting calls, and would love to spend some of that time calling on people that maybe you haven’t been able to get through to or need to follow up with so that I can cross sell you. Okay? That’s, that’s called adding value, right there, guys. Help a realtor to convert a deal and you will win their business.

Q: I’ve been in business for 17 years, got probably 3000 clients. How do you re-engage with your database?

Database is, is such an important part of my business. Early on, my business was 95% from realtor referral, and now it’s 40% realtor referral, 60% database. My database of unique clients is about that same number somewhere in the 3,500 to 4,000 range. And number one, what’s important is that you start and never quit that marketing to your database, ever. Okay? Number two, I wanna know the buying timeline of every customer in my database, okay? I wanna share a secret with everybody on here. Everyone on this call has a goal to buy a home of some sort, okay? Even if you’re in your dream home. Like, I’m in my dream home, but I’ve got a goal to buy all kinds of houses cuz I’m an investor, okay? I’ve got a dream of buying a house in, in St. Thomas, man, right? So even I have some goals out there.

Everybody has a goal to buy home. And it’s our job to know where our clients are on their buying timeline. And when we close a loan for them, they begin the next buying timeline. And if it’s not them, it’s their sphere of influence that’s gonna buy and they’re gonna refer to you. And so I do believe that data basing and marketing to our database is one of the most important disciplines that we can have. And it’s as important as calling on our realtor agents to get referrals. It’s calling our database to check in. And honestly, it’s a much easier sales call. Matter of fact, it’s the easiest sales call you can make, is to your own clients who already know love and trust you, okay?

But if you don’t call, they’re not thinking about you. And so number one is to start never stop, right? Number two is knowing where all of my clients are on their buying timeline. That’s a massive mountain to climb, for you to contact 3,500 or 3000 people and find out where they are. I’m telling you, you will be kicking yourself because here’s what’s gonna happen. You’re gonna start calling. Some people are gonna be like, Hey, I’m never moving. I’m here forever. Right? But then some of the people are gonna say, you know what? Crazy, crazy you called. I’m painting my master bedroom right now, I’m gonna list in two months. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m gonna need all the loans I can get in two months.

So those calls are important. The reason I know that is because I do have a full-time client concierge that works for me, and her whole world is just calling and connecting with my database to tell them, number one, we haven’t forgotten about you. Number two, we care about you. And then number three, we want to talk to the people that you care about.

One of the, one of the scripts that she delivers to every client is, “Is there anybody that’s close to you that could benefit from talking with us?” Okay? Listen to what I just said. “Is there anybody that’s close to you that could benefit from speaking with us” – that sounds and feels a lot different than who do you know that needs to borrow money? Or who do you know that needs to buy a refinance right now? Right? And I’m asking them a specific question. I only want to talk to the people that are close to you that you think could benefit from speaking with me.

And the referrals don’t typically happen on the phone. What we’re doing is we’re strategically placing ourselves in our client’s minds. We’re strategically placing ourselves in the top of mind. So they’re not gonna have someone right then, it’s gonna be a week later when they talk to their cousin’s daughter that’s buying a house. Oh, you need to talk to my guy Cody. Amazing. But if I hadn’t made that call the week before, I wouldn’t have been top of mind. They wouldn’t have thought about me, they wouldn’t have referred me. So those are my three quick ones, is to start, never stop, find out where you are on the buying timeline and make sure that you’re soliciting referrals on every call. Excellent. One last thing. If you don’t ask, you won’t get, okay? We have to tell our people that we want referrals from them, right? And we can be magical about how we phrase it, but we have to let them know that we want referrals from them.

Q: Cody, what’s your secret sauce to a sticky client journey?

Okay. So, like Todd, sometimes we’ll talk about operationalizing trust. So I’ll just share with you some of the things that my client experience team does. Notice that I said I have a client experience team and my organization. I have a client experience team that serves all of my loan officers. We use a CRM called Whiteboard CRM, which is a communication platform. And that CRM tells my client experience team when to do certain things during a transaction. You can do this on a smaller level, I’m talking about doing this for 24 origination teams over three states.

When somebody takes an application for me, they’re gonna get a typed letter that’s hand signed, but it’s not signed by me. My client experience team has mastered my signature with my permission said. So that would be number one.

Once I go under contract with folks, they’re gonna get a little note from me with a Starbucks gift card. Sit back, relax, have some coffee. Let me worry about your mortgage. You’re in good hands, okay? Just a little small something. And I’m gonna tell you guys these steps and then I’m gonna explain the science behind it. Once we get the appraisal, know that the deal’s gonna be good. We have something that we call a congrats pack that goes to the client. It’s totally hokey, the most expensive thing in the box are the gourmet cookies, that we buy to put in there. Everything else is like markers, packing tape, box labels, important phone numbers for wherever they’re moving. Totally hokey, right? It’s a game changer. I can’t tell you how many times it’s impacted the way a client feels about me and my team.

Then once the transaction’s over, we do send a closing gift. PSA essentials is the name of the company. Super cool return address stamps for our clients. Now that’s one layer of the experience. The reason that we’re sending those things is because of something called the Law of Reciprocity, which is Law #7 of Todd Duncan’s High Trust Selling. And there is something that is ingrained in our evolutionary DNA that makes us feel obligated to people when they do something nice for us. And it goes back to the time where we used barter as an economy. If you’re the blacksmith in town and I’m the leather guy, I may come to you and say, “Hey, I know you needed some new leather bags for your tools. Here they are. I created this for you.” And you’re gonna say to me, “Cody, I owe you, I’m indebted to you Cody.”

You’re gonna have a hard time saying no to me because I totally did you a solid, man. Does that make sense? So that’s a big thing. But like when we met with clients face-to-face, we would have a Godiva chocolate in a gift box with the client’s name on it, waiting for them in the conference room at their seat. Tiny, tiny little gift. But it triggered the law of reciprocity. It made it harder for them to say no to me or to see me as a bad guy, or I’m a sales guy or someone that they need to be worried about it impacted the way they feel about me. So the other piece is we communicated a super high level. Now our clients are never wondering what’s going on or what the next step of the process is.

And that’s because we have developed scripting throughout our process, whether it’s me or one of my team members. We deliver the scripting and we tell them the next step of the process is this. So when I’m talking to them and I’m locking the rate or whatever I’m telling ’em, okay, we’ve got that handled. The next step is in the next 24 to 48 hours, you’re gonna be receiving a set of loan disclosures that reflects all of this in much more detail. Now, when you get that, if you have questions and you’d like me to go through it with you, just give us a call. We’ll be happy to walk through that with you. And then from there, my team members will be in touch with their next steps. And so we have it set up.

So my closing coordinator who gets all my loan conditions when we start a new loan, she schedules an intro conversation with that client to introduce herself. And she’s got her scripting that she goes through that ends with, “The next step is that I’m gonna send you this email so that you can send me these three things that we talked about today. Okay? Is there any reason that we can’t get this back maybe tomorrow or the next day?” She gets a commitment, she sets a timer, she knows when to follow up. So it’s a combination. Then the third layer is that I’m really good at doing loans. I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but we’re real good.

I’ll close the in eight days from beginning to end with full appraisal. My average contract time is probably three weeks or less. All the realtors in town know it. They know that if they see my name on an approval letter, that it means a commission check for them. So that’s kind of the third layer if you’re gonna talk about, wow. So when you put all of that together, and we’re really awesome at doing our loans, we don’t make mistakes. We communicate in a world class fashion and I’ve got law of reciprocity gifts going out that are gonna impact the way they feel. When you put all of that together, it turns into this wow experience.

And, and that’s why sometimes I’ll have clients that come to me and they’ll say, listen, I know this may sound weird, but I’ve been referred to you by three people in the last two days. Three different people have given me your name, so apparently I need to talk to you. That’s because my clients remember how I make them feel. That’s the thing that they remember going away from the transaction. I recently had a client call me. I did her original loan 11 years ago, and I had made calls to her. I went and checked my CRM, but she had never responded to me or to my client concierge. But she called me back. And so I was like, “Hey, seriously, it’s been 11 years. What made you come back to me?” She said, “I just remember how you guys made me feel on that last deal and I wanna work with you again.” And if you guys sit and think about it, the clients will forget their rates. They’ll forget their fees. What they will never forget is how he made them feel.

And that comes from a famous quote by Maya Angelou, and her famous quote is,

“People will forget what you said. They will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

And that’s an important part of my business and my client experience is impacting the way the clients feel about me going away from the transaction. That’s why my good friend Linda Davidson says, we never close ugly. Cuz she knows that if you close ugly, that’s what’s gonna get remembered going away from the transaction.

Get the High Trust Interview for Free

In his session, Cody talks a lot about the High Trust Interview. If you haven’t tried this tactic already, it’s Todd Duncan’s signature sales script that forms a deep connection and lasting relationship. Download the High Trust Interview for Mortgage Professionals here.

Master High Trust Selling with a Todd Duncan Coach

Want to truly master High Trust Selling in a meaningful and personalized way? Todd Duncan Coaching helped Cody build, scale, and master his business, it could help you too!

If you’re curious about coaching and want to see if it’s right for you and your needs, simply schedule a Free Coaching Consultation to see if it’s a fit for your needs and goals. Look at what Cody was able to achieve! Start crushing your goals and finding balance today with Todd Duncan Coaching.


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