Business Development Planning for Loan Officers

New Employee Retention Strategy - Re-recruiting your team

We talk about how important to recruit new talent for managers to meet their goals, it is just as important to focus on re-recruiting your existing employees.

Top Talent is in high demand! Whether your organization is experiencing new growth or even seeing a decrease in headcount, your most critical asset is still your existing team. Another year is here and gone, implementing a Re-recruitment strategy to retain your best talent is paramount. This is an excellent opportunity to review your team's previous year, plus start the new year with a bang.

Today Sales Managers must take the time to provide direction and create a Business Plan for each of their Loan Officers to get their year on track.

Historically, the first quarter is a time when Loan Officers, at all levels start to look around. Their loan activity is usually starting to grow, and it is reflected in their pipelines'. These once "Happy where I am" prospects are now active candidates, looking for opportunities that can take their production to a new level in their year ahead.

Growing your organization and recruiting becomes a whole lot easier when you are not losing your best talent out the back door to your competition.

As a sales leader, you must walk the proverbial walk and have your own business development plan in place. But don’t stop there!

To ensure you hit your numbers, you must ensure your team members are hitting their numbers. To do this effectively, you should assist everyone on the team to create their own New Business Development Planner for the year ahead.

There is still time in the fourth quarter to keep your Loan Officers engaged, get their business on track, and formulating a Business Development Plan for the year ahead.

With the slowdown in refinance application, many Loan Officers fell short of their Sales Goals and are searching for a new home (employer) to ensure they meet their goals for next year.

In general, Loan Officers spend their time meeting clients, solving problems, and putting deals together. These activities are necessary characteristics to be successful, but the thought of sitting behind a desk and planning their business is the last thing on their mind.

Far too often, Loan Officers are guilty of going about their business directed by the credo of "Ready, Shoot... then Aim". This unfocused approach is ineffective. Loan Officers must be focused and thoughtful about every activity to drive business. Activity without foresight and planning is a waste of valuable time and energy.

One of the major reasons' Loan Officers struggle at hitting their targets is that they lack organization and the discipline to stick to a system for business development.

Rather than a hit-or-miss selling strategy, what’s required is a self-induced discipline to create a Business Development Plan and stay focused on the key activities that drive new business.

Self-discipline may be hard for Loan Officers to develop on their own. If they are committed to achieving their targets, all that is really required is a thoughtful and disciplined approach to new business development activities in their marketplace. This is going to require a little assistance from “You” their “Sales Leader."

The same concept from your Recruiting Plan applies to the new Business Development Plan. Looking at the year ahead is an opportunity to evaluate your team’s previous year and devise a successful Business Plan for the year ahead that ensures your team achieves their goals.

Where many Sales Leaders and Loan Officers fall short, however, is in planning and then executing the plan.

A professional salesperson works off of a calendar and has time blocked for such activities as Realtor calls, new client meetings, loan closing, training, etc. The problem is that most of their schedule is usually empty. The intention is that at some point they will prospect for new referral partners, send out mailers or call a past perspective borrower to fill in the empty spaces. However, somehow the hours set aside for prospecting never happened. The reason is simple, due to a lack of planning.

The chances of salespeople penetrating new markets without a plan go back to the “Ready, Shoot, Aim” strategy and are bound to result in frustration and ultimately, failure in achieving their goals.

Evaluate existing business development activities

Before you create the plan and factor in any new products or economic trend, first look at the Loan Officer’s level of sales from last year. Do they have customers who may consider refinancing or move-up loans in their existing database? They must also factor in customers that may move out of the area.

In the case of referral partners who account for a significant number of sales, you may want to ask the Loan Officer if they plan to target new purchase production channels (referral partners) and what is their plan to attract new partners.

Here are the benefits of Creating a Sales-Forecasting or Business Development Plan for each Loan Officer:

  • You realize what truly motivates each team member, both personally and professionally.
  • A plan defines an agreement between you and the Loan Officer. It provides the foundation for communication throughout the year and prevents any miscommunication or ambiguity.
  • Both parties take an ownership stake in achieving the goals within the plan.
  • The plan can be used as a compass to help guide and keep them on the right track throughout the year.
  • A plan defines performance goals and is easy to manage on a month-to-month basis.
  • By accurately forecasting the sales for each Loan Officer and creating their Business Development Plan to drive new business.

A Business Development Plan will ensure you avoid any unforeseen revenue issue throughout the year, assist in managing your loan production, seasonal staffing needs and help you to be more effective in running your business.

Sales-forecasting is an essential strategy for managing both your business and the team. This month-to-month plan forecasts the level of sales you expect to achieve and how many Loan Officers it will take for you to meet your own Sales Goals. This information helps you identify potential problems, opportunities, and performance on a per salesperson basis.

While it's always wise to expect the unexpected, a well-constructed Business Development Plan with accurate sales forecasting targets, allows you to spend more time developing your business rather than reacting to the day-to-day developments in sales production.

New Business Development sales-forecasting

Sales-forecasting for your team enables you to manage their business more effectively. Before you begin, there are a few questions that may help clarify your Loan Officer's current business:

  • How many new customers do you gain each year from (Referral Partners, Self-promotion, Lead purchase, Past customer referrals, Personal referrals...)
  • How many customers do you lose each year to the servicing company, moving out of the area or to a competitor?
  • What is the average number of sales they made to each customer?
  • Are there particular months where they acquire or lose more customers than usual?
  • What methods have worked best and worst?
  • What is the cost (time and dollars) per lead?
  • What is their closing percentage (leads-to-loans closed)?
  • How much time do they spend in cultivating new referral partners?
  • What is their closing percentage with referral partners?

These are just a few examples, you will definitely want to get more granular, once you sit with each Loan Officer one-on-one. You will find they usually have no idea of their metrics and will appreciate their manager’s assistance in creating a fresh Business Development Plan to get them and keep them on track.

Leadership Lessons from Who Moved My Cheese?

During the Mortgage Meltdown, I read a powerful little book full of leadership lessonsWho Moved My Cheese? written by Dr Spencer Johnson. It is a great lesson that has two mice and two people who are in a maze and struggling to find enough cheese to survive.

Of course, cheese is not just cheese is this story. Rather, in this book, cheese represented anything someone aspires for in their life. This includes career, success, money, love, etc. Essentially, anything that you need to survive.

The essence of Who Moved My Cheese? is about how people handle (or do not handle) change. Change is a part of life. Knowing how to cope with it is a necessity in life.

The key to a successful sales leader is realizing that change is inevitable and actually a good thing. Employees come and go, clients come and go, and projects will continue to come and go. The only way to ensure that you survive as a leader is to adhere to a clearly formulated and consistent vision. It is very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, but it is crucial to ensure that your team members are moving towards their long-term goal – no matter what change is thrown at them.

Identify New Target Market

There is no doubt that technology and social media have impacted the ways that many buyers engage mortgage lenders. These new resources have caused many Loan Officers to rethink how they develop new business and maintain client relationships. While they may a plan to develop new business, they may benefit from "tweaking" the approach of their sourcing activities to ensure they survive any economic twist or turn.

Many think about their world of potential clients too broadly, narrow the market to increase your team's effectiveness in their business development efforts. The goal is to identify new referral partners or a new audience of borrowers.

Developing new business relationships is based on assumptions of the market conditions, research, and good judgment. Every year is going to be different, so you must anticipate changes in each market segment's circumstances and trends that could significantly affect your team's sales.

These factors are known as assumptions and will form the basis of their forecasting.

Wherever possible, put a figure against the change (as shown in the examples below). The Loan Officer can then get a feel for the impact of how each activity will have on their business.

Here are some examples of assumptions:


  • Market share will grow by 2%.
  • Loan volume will shrink by 40%, due to a decrease in refinance applications or a loss in referral partners.

New Targets and Resources

  • Double your referral partners from six Realtors to twelve Realtors.
  • Spend ten hours per week marketing to past customers.
  • Target new clients (first-time home buyers and/or rehab buyers)
  • Expand into new geographical radius markets (neighboring county) from 20 miles to 50 miles.
  • New products to launch of new product lines (203K or Non-QM) to market to existing client/referral base.

Networking for new business

Many people are turned off by a misconception about what networking is not: self-promotion. Networking is not about handing out business cards and reciting as much as you can about your practice in the first 30 seconds of meeting someone. Rather, it is about getting to know the other person"s problems or needs and helping them find solutions.

We have all received a phone call or an e-mail from someone we have not talked to in years who is looking for something from us: business, a referral, introductions or favors. It is the kind of contact you do not want to ignore, yet it is often put at the bottom of the list of urgent items. Earning the top position on someone"s list is easier than you may think – it is a matter of reaping what you have sown.

Networking is about investing in people you know, creating the ability to collect with each other – if and when needed. This means doing such things as connecting people in your network to others who may benefit from knowing them. Look at your network and identify complementary relationships that can benefit from a new relationship. You will begin to connect relationships that are potentially new relationships that require your services. Introductions are a perfect excuse to stay in front of your most important clients and business relationships.

Goal-Setting Meetings - Make Things Happen Sessions

Even though you and your team create a plan, do not just sit back, expecting they will execute and follow the plan. A good Sales Leader checks in periodically with each team member, in goal-setting meetings. It is best to do on a monthly basis (once they start to meet their goals/targets, then quarterly); in a one-on-one meeting, it’s also a chance to review performance from the previous month targets being met.

Create a plan for the upcoming month and gain a commitment to the game plan. What is important in the meeting is that you keep the Loan Officer accountable for their goals.

Here are just a few examples of the One-On-One sessions:

  • Keep the lines of communication open between you and salespeople by providing an opportunity for both parties to voice any concerns in a private setting.
  • Evaluate the previously agreed-upon priorities and make certain the daily/weekly activities are in line with business development objectives.
  • Provide dedicated time for training on new activities.
  • Identify the salesperson’s strengths and weaknesses. And commit to assisting in their weak areas.
  • Allow enough time to motivate and inspire each salesperson individually.

Be sure not to set the goals too high or low. The objective is to set attainable “Reach Goals” that motivates the Loan Officer to push a little harder. Goals that set are too low will not allow the Loan Officer an opportunity to reach their full potential, and many Loan Officers will then set their business on “Auto-Pilot”. Be cautious of this, any negative changes in the market can have a drastic effect on their business and attitude.

The best solution is, to mutually agree upon a set of objectives in writing and with a signature from both parties. Goals should be based on past performance that can be measured.

The next twelve months of new business starts now!

The most difficult aspect of planning is not just the creation of a plan but developing disciplines that have a measurable impact on business.

Of course, the only way to make a Business Development Plan worth the effort is through execution. Yet, many of us put marketing at the bottom of the to-do-list. Successful sales professionals realize that a Business Plan is a systematic process, not an event.

Often times, business plans are created at the beginning of the year and not revisited until it is time to create a new plan for the next year. The plan must be a “visible tool” and used to execute and track new activities on a monthly basis.

Make sure that you document all of your activities in your planner and measure success (and failures) against the goals of the plan. If you attempt to plan by merely scribbling down a few notes on a piece of paper or a general conversation with your team members, without a call to action, it will be impossible to follow-up effectively and hold the Loan Officer or yourself accountable to the plan.

Remember these two phrases: “if it’s not in writing, it doesn’t exist.” And “you cannot manage what you cannot measure."

The information in this article is part of The PlayBook Mortgage Recruiting e-Learning series. Join the Month Mortgage Recruiter Coach Lesson to learn more about Winning the Elusive Candidate and watch the entire series of recent webinars covering topics from; list building to recruiting, closing, and on-boarding talent.

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