Our industry is at a crossroads. As our most experienced mortgage professionals enter into retirement, who will fill in the gap? The time has come to hire new talent. If the mortgage industry is to move forward, it will be because new professionals step into the roles that a retiring salesforce are leaving vacant.
However, taking a chance on a “rookie” loan officer can be risky. Today’s great loan officers have extensive industry knowledge, excellent customer relationships, and a predictable pipeline of business. These are attributes that a new originator won’t fully possess their first day on the job. If new loan officers are to have successful careers and achieve incredible production, managers and leaders must empower them to reach their full potential.
For our industry to enter into the next era, we need an intentionally developed salesforce. The future of the mortgage business will be built with new sales professionals that are properly trained and effectively assimilated into the market.
Train to be a top producer from day one
New loan officers come into the business with very little knowledge of the industry or a limited understand of what the job requires. If they are going to succeed, there must be a development plan that gives them the necessary base of knowledge and a strategy for how to implement it.
Excellent plans for development consist of three different phases: mastering essential mortgage knowledge, putting the knowledge into practice and building a pipeline of business.
1. Master essential knowledge. Starting out, new loan officers need to learn the language of the industry in terms of understanding mortgage terminology and mortgage math, loan products and the steps for pre-qualifying borrowers. And of course, they will need to have a comprehensive knowledge of regulations, guidelines, and compliance standards.
2. Put it in practice. Once a loan officer has mastered these essentials, they need practical training on how to confidently speak with customers, understand deal structure, and take complete loan applications.
This includes knowing how to comfortably handle objections and profile their borrowers so they can develop a more effective relationship. This is the phase in which they should be able to take the core knowledge they learned as their foundation and apply it to real world case studies and scenarios. Essentially, they need to know the day-to-day fundamental practices of being a loan officer.
3. Build a pipeline. Lastly comes the actual implementation of everything they have learned so far. In this learning phase, new loan officers should begin building their customer pipelines. In order to do this quickly and effectively, they should be exposed to a wide variety of business development strategies, such as maximizing leads from networking events, building a database, leveraging social media, utilizing sales scripts, and creating an initial business plan.
A successful new loan officer should know how to comfortably develop referral partners, overcome personal call reluctance, and develop the discipline to prospect daily.
Set clear expectations
If you want your new loan officers to start rapidly building their pipeline, establish clear expectations for performance. Managers can set a minimum goal for the number of meetings new originators should attend and calls they should make. An example would be setting an expectation of five face-to-face appointments each week and 10 prospecting calls each day.
The first 90 days of production are the most critical in determining a new loan officer’s success. The more success they experience upfront, the higher the chance of them having a prosperous mortgage career. During these first 90 days of production, loan officers and managers need to set a goal together to meet daily in order to provide guidance and accountability to the loan officer. This ensures that new originators are receiving what they need to train for success, and it gives managers the chance to see that they are doing what is necessary to complete their training.
After the initial 90 days, move the meetings from daily to weekly. Even though they are gaining experience, new loan officers will still need assistance, and they still need to be held accountable.
This weekly meeting should continue for a year. This may seem like a long assimilation time, but the more time a leader pours into their new loan officer, the better their results will be. And leaders build loyalty when a loan officer knows their manager is making a serious investment in them.
Failing to properly assimilate a loan officer can lead to a lack of productivity or even to the loan officer leaving the organization for another one with better training and development. Put in the work to cultivate a strong salesperson who will stay with your company for years to come.
The power of a mentor
Every phase of training a new loan officer must be supplemented with mentoring and accountability from experienced professionals. Training will be more effective when a seasoned mortgage professional is with them every step of the way, demonstrating how to put each concept into action. When a mentor and new loan officer combine their efforts, the results can be truly incredible.
Shorten the runway to success with ride-alongs
One of the most effective ways managers can integrate themselves into their new loan officers’ training process is the ride-along. When new originators begin to go out of the office to have face-to-face meetings with referral sources or customers, the manager should accompany them on those calls. The presence of an experienced professional who has an existing relationship with the client will give them an easier introduction.
In addition, the leader will have the chance to see your their rookie in action. The ride-along shortens the learning runway by providing immediate feedback and establishing good habits from the start.
As new loan officers will be entering business conversations, managers should make sure their rookies have the confidence to articulate a compelling message, one that is in line with the vision of their company. Equipping them with the right script gives them a starting place for building a positive relationship. By providing them the best resources ahead of time, leaders set them up for a successful meeting and a successful career!
As someone who has been developing top producing mortgage professionals for over 30 years, I have seen firsthand the importance of training, developing, and assimilating your new originators. You are investing in both their future and the future of your business.
Instill in them the knowledge, strategies, and work ethic they need to come out of the gate as producing members of your salesforce. Make it your mission to avoid contributing to our industry’s high rookie dropout rate. Instead, set your new loan officers on the journey to become the next generation of top producers.