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Is There Life After Refi?

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May/June 2001 - Volumne 80, Number 3

by Darryl Turner

Zig Ziglar once said that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing today that we did yesterday and to somehow expect different results. Based on that one statement alone, it is apparent that we all have moments, hours, and even days of insanity.

In the past few weeks, I have spoken to more than two hundred escrow closers and salespeople. The one thing they have in common is they are so busy closing refinance-driven transactions that they struggle to keep their head above water.

When we get busy, we are magnetically pulled to the side of business that can be very detrimental, the side of reactivity. There are two categories of operation and two types of issues we work on, the things that are important and the things that are urgent. First, let’s look at the difference.

When it comes to important things, it is imperative that we not make a common mistake. It is critical that we don’t look at urgent things and classify them as important. Important things are primarily based on future growth. They are based on real estate agent-driven business. Important things require us to be proactive in order to accomplish them.

While speaking to a group last week, I asked them to give me a list of important things that they do every day. They proceeded to do something that was entirely predictable, give me a list of the urgent things they do. The items listed were reactionary and not proactive. The list included tasks such as returning phone calls, returning e-mails, and so on. Although necessary, these are reacting to a request from the client. Future business will be attained by our ability to keep the clients updated proactively and not just in how well we react to their call.

Many people get confused when it comes to this method. They feel that what a client wants is a timely returned phone call when they leave a message. In essence, what they are looking for is a title company that communicates with them first and updates them so they don’t need to call.

While the important things are growth and future-oriented, the urgent things are survival and today-oriented. They cause us to forget about our solid business and go crazy with our unstable business. That is the nature of the business and also the nature of people.

When it comes to doing things in a different manner, we must first understand the difference between nature and discipline. Our nature causes us to do things for "today" and causes us to maintain a "fire fighting" mindset. We are so busy putting out fires, we don’t take the time to make sure that no additional fires get started.

Discipline, on the other hand, is the single most important trait to have. It is the common thread between all successful people. Recently I asked a group to define discipline for me. Someone in the front row gave me a great answer. He said that it is to do the things that you don’t want to do. That almost summed it up. To complete the definition we must add something. It is to be proactive and to do the important things that we don’t want to do.

I once heard the results of a study where a group of CEOs got together to determine the single most common trait in people who are the most likely to be promoted. They concluded that it is not just one trait, but two traits, the ability to prioritize or to know what is important, and the ability to complete those tasks.

When business goes up, such as what is happening with this current refinance boom, our pro-activity goes down to almost nothing because we are spending our time putting out fires.

The other side of that coin is what happens when business goes down, such as when, not if, this current refinance market ends. That is when our behavior becomes reactive. We scramble to obtain agent business, or any other kind we can to stay profitable or, for some, to stay in business.

The important thing to notice in this example is that pro-activity is not an act driven by our nature. It is only driven by discipline and that comes from focus. Here are three rules to live by when it comes to building a strong stable business and developing and maintaining high levels of discipline.

Break the Law of Tradition

Understanding how the industry currently builds business is the law of tradition. This law says that we should be prospecting, and it is correct in that regard. However, it says that we should "target" and "pursue" real estate agents that currently have business and are not directing that business to our title company.

In most situations, this looks like a good approach to use. The only problem is when we work with salespeople who operate this way, we find over and over again how this system does not work. Salespeople find themselves calling on agents multiple times while obtaining little or no new business from them. Why? The answer is simple, the lack of value!

Develop the Law of Value

Recently I received a call from a sales manager of a large title company. He was getting ready to have a sales meeting with his team. He posed the question, "How many calls does it take to get your first order from a prospect?" My answer was 47 or 1. I told him that the more your value goes up, the less calls you have to make before receiving your first order. On the other hand, the lower the value delivered by the salesperson, the higher the number of sales calls needed to obtain business. With that in mind, many salespeople will never receive that first order from certain prospects.

Since value is the key, what is value? Everyone thinks they know, but most do not. It is important to know the value rules.

Rule #1: "Value is only that which exceeds the prospect’s expectations."

Once we understand rule number one, we must apply it with rule number two.

Rule #2: "It is impossible to deliver value without first understanding the prospect’s expectations!"

This should make it clear what salespeople need to be doing if they want to earn new business by delivering value. They must first discover and then understand the expectations of their prospects.

The two key words for a system of sales that revolves around value would be "identify" and "deliver." First, we must identify prospects that are in the best position to deliver value to and then deliver it.

Live the Law of Accountability

Studies have shown that only four percent of the people who attend a seminar actually do something with what they hear. That means that 96% do nothing. To make things much worse, it is also known that only .8% do two or more things.

There was once a time when I was primarily a speaker. I did 50-75 seminars for title companies all over the nation each year. When we learned about the statistics noted above, we quickly changed what we did for title companies. We immediately began making joint sales calls with every person on each title companies’ sales team to assist them with implementation. That reversed the statistics. Now 96% of the people we work with implement our systems instead of the other way around. Why did they begin implementing? Accountability! For the first time ever, salespeople received assistance where they really needed it, in implementation, not just information.

As we addressed earlier in this article, value is the only thing that will work. However, we did not address who your best prospect is. One of the reasons that we must break the law of tradition is because it uses the "target" and "pursue" mentality. When we target someone who is not involved in a current transaction with us on either end, they become our worst prospect. That means the difference between our worst prospect and our best prospect is determined by timing alone.

The quality of your service is assumed by prospects when they are on the non-directing end of a transaction. They actually think you treat all your clients the way you treated them on the other end. If they want to know what is going on, they either have to call the directing agent or you, but never do we proactively communicate with them. That is what the non-directing client calls average-to-poor service. This makes the quality of their last experience with your company the primary thing in their mind when your salesperson calls on them. The only thing your salesperson has to use as a sales approach is words. Since actions (past poor experiences) speak louder than words (a sales presentation) that prospect is the worst because of the seed planted in their mind.

If you use this last thought in reverse order, you will see who your best prospect is. They are the ones on the non-directing end of your resale transactions. This is your opportunity to out service the company that they normally use. This will make them a great candidate to become a client. In this situation, your sales approach is based on actions and actions will remove any words or presentations that other title companies are currently using to lure that prospect away from you.

Here is a question to live by: "What would happen if the non-directing real estate agents in your transactions were to receive better service while on the other end with you and your company than they do on the directing end with their title company of choice?" That question really doesn’t need an answer, does it?

So I ask you, "Is there life after refi?" Yes, if you do the right things, deliver value and maintain high levels of discipline to be proactive and work on the important things and not just the urgent.

Darryl Turner is the CEO of National Business Development, a growth strategies company exclusively for the title industry. He can be reached at 1-800-348-SELL, ext. 208, or visit his Web site at

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