Now that you have your strategies in place, you might be wondering how you’ll find customers. Our advice to you is to think like a spider.
What do we mean by this? A spider will get the thing it desires by catching it in its web. According to Alicia Ault of the Smithsonian Magazine, “The typical orb weaver spider (the group that’s most familiar to Americans) will build a planar orb web, suspended by seven guy lines attached to leaves, twigs, rocks, telephone poles or other surfaces. Hanging from a leaf or some other object, the spider must get its silk from that point to the other surfaces.”
With that image in mind, let’s dig into where you’ll focus your time to create a web of influence to help you find customers.
Building Your Web
As you might have guessed from the orb weaver description above, you’ll find customers by catching them in your “web.” So, do as the orb weaver does and create a web of influence by finding multiple distinct groups of focus or sources of customers that you can reach. Obvious areas of focus are friends and family, attorneys and financial planners, builders, and social media.
You’re probably listing a bunch of potential contacts in your brain as you’re reading this. To make sure you remember them all, download this exercise sheet and write down all those people you’re thinking about (Exercises 1 & 2). We’ll refer back to this sheet a couple of times during this post.
Apart from the obvious focus areas, here are two other sources to add to your list.
Community Organizations and Charity Events
The first source for finding customers is getting involved with some community or charity event. By associating with a community or charity event:
- You will be introduced to an entire new group of people
- These new people will see you in the light of the community or charity event, not as a salesperson
- You will be helping others
- You will feel good about yourself
Being involved in a community or charity event is good for you professionally and personally.
Real Estate Agents
Real estate agents are another obvious source to help you find customers, but you need a strategy in place when you’re first starting out. As a new loan originator, it can be intimidating to go solicit business and referrals from a successful veteran agent.
Do you have any friends or family who are real estate agents? Talk to them first as it is always easiest to go after a friendly audience. Also, think about your network. Do you know any attorneys, financial planners, or home improvement professionals? Ask them to refer you to a real estate agent. A warm introduction is easier than a cold call.
As you start researching and identifying real estate agents to make a connection with, try to determine two things:
- How much volume do they do?
- How difficult are they to work with?
You might not be able to determine these criteria until you actually try working with the individual.
As you get to know these contacts, you’ll want to add them to a four-blocker chart (Exercises 3 & 4 in the sheet) that breaks your real estate agent connections into four buckets. For illustrative purposes, let’s think about these buckets like trees.
- Low Volume | Difficult to Work With – The Strategize Group
This the tree that demands constant care and bears no fruit.
At first, you may want to work with those agents in this group as you are hungry for business. However, keep a diligent watch on this group. If after 6 months you’ve received few to no referrals from this group and yet they demand a significant amount of your time, you may need to strategize how to pass them off to someone else. This sounds odd as you are just starting out, but some referral sources may be too much of a drain and can prevent you from seeking worthwhile business. Always track your existing and potential referral sources to ensure that you receive benefit from that source.
- High Volume | Difficult to Work With – The Improve Group
This is the tree that demands constant care and bears fruit.
If you can improve the process, improve the communications, improve the relationship with this referral source, there is volume to be had. While this source is a high-volume producer, they can be over-demanding and difficult to work with. By finding ways of improvement, it will not only make the lender’s life and job easier, but it will be more satisfying for the referral source.
- Low Volume | Easy to Work With – The Grow Group
This is a beautiful tree that does not know how to bear fruit.
If you help this agent grow and find new customers, they should, in return, convert those customers into referrals for you. This group tends to be loyal as you took interest in their business and assisted them in finding success. If you’re wondering how to help them grow their business, everything we have been discussing in this workbook to grow your business applies to them.
- High Volume | Easy to Work With – The Protect Group
This is a magnificent tree. Unfortunately, the fruit is high, and the tree is on someone else’s property.
While this group is obviously the most sought after, it’s the group where you will find the greatest amount of competition. Typically, these sources are veterans in the industry and already have established relationships and bonds which are difficult to overcome. And those that they currently have relationships will be vigorous in protecting that relationship. While you should attempt to break into a protected source, temper your expectations. Most new originators have greater success growing or improving a referral source into a protected source.
Lastly, remember the day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit. These are relationships you’re cultivating, and they will take time, patience, and nurturing. But when nurtured properly, you’ll find you have a reliable web to help you find customers.