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Mortgage Sales: A Modern Day Art and Science

I was walking up the steps of the Modern Mortgage Unlimited Co. in London, Ontario. With camera equipment in tow, we were ready for a day of filming new content for Mortgage Magnates and walked right into Andrew Young, owner of Modern Mortgage. Andrew is and continues to be a leading mortgage broker in the local industry. I was not surprised to see him there so early on a Friday and was grateful for the opportunity to spend some time talking prior to getting the shoot started, shortly afterward.

Andrew is in the throws of building his team of agents, and has been building sales teams in the mortgage industry for many years. He has seen major changes in both the industry itself and in the expectations of clients. This past year or two, I am sure, was no exception. When the government continued to change the rules for borrowers, it meant Andrew and team were again facing the instability that comes with significant regulation change.

That kind of change can be a tremendous challenge for any client-facing/client-service organization in such a competitive industry. But behind Andrew’s leadership the Modern Mortgage Unlimited team has passed the test with flying colours so far, and today, the team is extremely well-positioned to continue to grow.

It was a privilege to share the early part of the day with such a passionate, purpose-driven leader like Andrew and also Spencer Murray, who is quickly following in Andrew’s footsteps as a sophomore agent (his new video, detailing how he went from newbie to producer launches on M|M University next Wednesday) . Listening to Andrew speak, even between takes, I was able to pick up a few golden nuggets of sales leadership and insight before he headed off to his weekend, dining out and promoting, supporting and participating local business and building relationships that will set his business apart for years to come.

There has been big change in the mortgage broker/professional role

The sales role in general, has evolved a lot. Nowadays, it’s all about relationships and how to utilize data and develop and obtain deep knowledge of your subject-matter expertise, in this case, mortgages. Data and technology have become much more scientific than perhaps it used to be. There seems to be such a thing as the science of selling, and for years now we have all tried to educate our mortgage salespeople on how to develop those skills to be the best client advocate they can be.

It’s all about consultative selling, and the only way you can do that is if you understand your clients own knowledge, needs, wants, dreams and home financing end game as well as meeting them where they are. To do that you have to educate yourself, and that’s why we spend a lot of time and resources on professional development at Mortgage Magnates, asking top brokers to share their very best strategies and wins with the rest of the industry.

The mortgage business has had a rocky couple of decades, but most of the top brokers have stuck with the industry. How did the magnates of the industry make it through?

2008 was a tough time and there have been tough times since, but what we are quickly learning is that the top brokers in the industry knew what was ahead and that they were going to do everything they could to bring their agents and brokerages through to the other side. It appears the main thing they were focused on all the way through was keeping client relationships. The thought was clearly, “How do we help everyone navigate this so we come out the other side intact and come back stronger than ever?” Which is exactly what they did. The industry is strong and continues to get better every day.

How do you keep people motivated during industry headwinds and tougher times?

The key to the best brokerages and the ones with the best leadership appears to be giving people very specific goals. To some extent it is about being a cheerleader in the brokerage on top of doing your own business. Andrew Young appears to have perfected this model: He wants his agents to know and believe they are working with with the best brokerage out there. That kind of cheerleading and working in the trenches is often exactly what keeps commission sales people including brokers and agents going, persevering through the leaner times. Showing “we have faith in you, and I’m going to apply my time and resources” is absolutely vital to keep the brokerage motivated and passionate about what they are doing. There are too many operations out there that get to 100, 200 agents but provide little to no support from their leadership, causing too much agent churn and therefore, a shaky brand in their markets.

People in sales take a huge financial hit when they don’t get the proper support and development. Hens the reason we exist at M|M University, to help curb that trend in an ever busier and evolving mortgage market. But the best broker owners try to support their teams as best they can. The message being emphasized is that ‘we’re still part of an incredible company, and that no matter what the brokerage faces, we’re going to come through anything stronger and better than ever… together.’

A lot of it is also simply being visible. One of top brokers’ mantras is, visibility. It’s not just being visible with the clients of the brokerage; it’s being visible with and for your brokers, agents and team. You have to instill some degree of faith and confidence in them, in the same way you do with your clients, that this is the brokerage to be and do business.

So What about the future? How do brokers and agents need to prepare now?

What did they say about Wayne Gretzky? That, he always knew where the puck was going to be.

That’s the rub — how do we think about up-and-coming trends and get ahead of that curve and get ready for it all while serving today’s mortgage client with today’s resources and technology? How is the model going to change? How is the industry going to change? How do we deal with making homeownership affordable? How is technology going to change? All those things are around the corner, and brokers and agents need to think about how to prepare for that, while succeeding today.

My 4 kids are 5 to 14 years of age, and they will buy a house differently than I ever did. I don’t know if any one of them will ever know even what a bank teller is. So the question is, how do we structure ourselves as an industry and develop sales strategies and products and services to meet their needs — while not forgetting about the needs of folks like me.

Our lenders have to adapt. The lending community has to adapt because they’re going to sell differently to millennials, Gen Z and beyond and we have to be prepared for that. Especially with the ever evolving products and services that banks offer millennials and the technology budgets they throw behind that.

We have to find a way to align with that. M|M University is one way we are doing that with you. Provide the technology for everyone to access, but on it, provide the know how and classic success strategies of generations before them. It is not about replacing, it is about evolving, there is a big difference.

Have changing client expectations also shifted the way brokerages should recruit?

It’s still a relationship business. Relationships are hugely important. I just think that they’re developed and fostered differently than they were years ago, even a year ago.

We’re constantly trying to think of ways to bring in talent that can relate with the millennial population as brokers. I saw that in Andrew’s team, which is an ideal mix of generations, meaning they can cater to anyone. When bringing on brokers and agents, we have to consider how well they understand technology. How well do they use social media? All of that stuff goes into the mix nowadays. We also have to have platforms to teach and develop that.

Some of our super star brokers and agents, regardless of their age, really know how to use social media. They’re all over LinkedIn, they’re all over Facebook, they’re all over communicating with their customers in that way versus the old-fashioned way of calling them on the telephone. The key thing we must enforce though, is relationships.

Relationships are still the most important element of selling — but where and how we develop those relationships has dramatically shifted. Whether you’re selling mortgages, NBA Basketball or technology solutions, the old rules no longer apply.

Today’s top performers constantly experiment, and are simply more prepared to meet clients where they are, even if that’s Facetime. It’s always worth considering: How can I get closer to my client? The relationship can begin on social media but in the end it is still relationship selling. To keep clients and get referrals you have to build relationships and trust in today’s market as well.

Are you ready for the future art and science of mortgage brokering?


Chris Baker is President and CEO of Mortgage Magnates and host of ‘Case of the Mondays’ podcast (found here). Mortgage Magnates and M|M University are streaming service for mortgage brokers, by mortgage brokers. Start your 7 Day Free Trial and access all content HERE. New videos and content added every month!

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