If You're Not a Resource, You're Just Another Salesperson…
Words to live by spoken by my great friend Frank I. in a “real life” commercial for the Wall St. Journal.
Though I love music, I used to listen to AM radio on my way into the office each morning to catch the business news on 1010 WINS. I almost drove off the road the first time my good buddy’s voice came booming through my speakers. It’s a little surreal when you’re accustomed to hearing that same voice emanating from the passenger seat instead.
This became a pretty regular event as the commercial was in regular rotation and once getting past the novelty, the words really began to stick. Soon, I was asking myself this question every day “am I a resource to my customers or am I just another salesperson?” Being in the mortgage business, and part of the perpetual stream of loan officers streaming in and out of Realtor’s offices, it really struck me that differentiation could be a key to success.
The questions grew, “am I just a commodity or do I truly bring value”, “at closing, the borrower ends up with the same amount of money, what makes mine better?” “If I had a choice to do business with the teacher or the student, which would I pick?”
The commercials were compelling, but I was already reading the Journal everyday from front page to back. It was my advanced education. I learned about economics, the markets, predictive analysis, etc., by absorbing every word and warring view points. In time, I learned to paraphrase what I sponged into more generally palatable tidbits that anyone could chew and swallow with ease.
Every other loan officer was distributing “rate sheets” to their agents. In those days, coffee, donuts and APR’s were how business was done. Yet I would watch the process of printing sheets in the morning, to driving them around and seeing them spill from mail box or desktop straight into the circular bin. Yesterday’s news, who needs it? This is when the epiphany struck and I stopped adding to the overflow and started talking about where things were heading instead. Soon, I was sought out for my viewpoints rather than my ”rate & points” and I’ve never looked back.
Things are very different now, those days are long gone and technology has arrived. Yet it’s still about differentiation, content, delivery, education, advice and execution. Our business, too often focuses just on sales and your referral partners still have an in-box stuffed with junk. Today I ask the question, “am I delivering value or am I just another quickly deleted annoyance?”
Being the “educator” or the true resource is a great way to achieve your goals. If you’re focused on making smart decision making easy for your customers by sharing and explaining information and real insight, you transcend from just the commodity to the “must have” accessory and the best part is that it makes doing business better. There’s genuine thanks involved and you sleep well at night knowing that you made a difference.
More recently, the education I provide to my clients and referral partners focuses on true market trends. Given all the dire and in some areas actual devastating news we’ve seen, reminding people that there’s an incipient recovery out there somewhere and that despite the gloom, it’s not the same all over can go a long way to snapping the perma-funk many are stuck in. I am thrilled to now have some of this information delivered automatically each quarter to my database by Top of Mind.
When you “touch” your db with an educational rather than a fluffy sales piece like all the other ones they receive and the responses are like this one “Brian, I think I would like to speak with you about possibly refinancing. I will give you a call over the weekend” it’s a great feeling and direct validation of the practice!
Actual email and response:
Alas, my work is not done yet as after almost 20 years, I still apparently haven’t taught my clients that weekends were made for Michelob, not 1003’s…