The mortgage is a hard business and it will continue to be hard. You need to condition your brain and be prepared for it. Jen Du Plessis talks with today’s guest Shashank Shekhar about being committed and shifting your mindset to succeed in the mortgage business. Shashank is a regular on the speaking circuit, with frequent keynote talks at mortgage, real estate, and small business events. In this episode, he talks about niche marketing, understanding your audience, and keeping the long game that will keep sustainability. Most importantly, he shares his secret in personal development. It’s not a tool or a strategy or a technique, but a fundamental shift in your mindset. He dives deep into this and helps us understand how we can create value while being our truest selves.
Looking for some help? Jen is seeking individuals who would like to be featured as a panelist on the show for her Mortgage Lending Mastery Mastermind Series. Email Support@KineticSparkConsulting.com to get scheduled!
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Shifting Your Mindset For Better Perspective And Growth With Shashank Shekhar
I am so excited. Once in a while, I have a fun guest that I can’t wait to interview. I’m waiting with bated breath to have this conversation. Our guest is that person Shashank Shekhar. I will tell you Shashank, you have such a beautiful history with your business and you have such an inspiring story. You and I are going to have to talk in the green room afterward because I may have you as a guest on my new TV show. I want to talk to you a little bit deeper about that.
Before we get started, let me take this opportunity to introduce you. I cannot read everything about you but safe to say that you are in the top five loan officers in the country. You will correct me on all these numbers. You have been in the business since 2008, which is incredible coming into the business at a time. It was so difficult for most people when they were exiting and how you have expanded and exploded in years into this business. I can’t wait to talk to you about that. I know your company has been named in the Inc. 500. My son was named in Inc. 500, so I know the work that goes on behind that. As is what’s important, you are a number one bestselling author.
You have been featured in lots of magazines and, of course, been on lots of shows and been in the Top 40 Under 40 and top 200 loan officers in the country. I’m excited to have this opportunity to talk to you about your business. One of the things that I know that is so important to you, and this is where we are going to start, are about customer service and education. Not about doing loans. Many loan officers are in the business to do deals and loans. We forget that we are in an industry that serves people first and loans have to be the mechanism. There’s not an industry that I know of that focuses so much on the widget that they are using. I want to talk about all of that stuff.
Let me get started with this. We know you were in the industry in 2008 and you have come up through the ranks to be this powerful originator. What was your tipping point? You had those months where you were closing 2, 4 or 5. All of a sudden, there was a tipping point where this is going to be huge. I don’t imagine that this was a progressive move for you going from 5 to 7 to maybe 10 to 12, then now I’m doing 18. It was probably propelled. What was the tipping point for you? When was it and what was it?
First of all, thank you for having me on the show. It’s an honor. Thanks for the introduction. The first year I was in the business and some of the people in the audience may know my story but 2008 wasn’t just one of the hardest years for financial markets across the globe but also, for me personally, I was new to the country. I was eighteen months in the country, had $1,900 in savings and have a small kid. My daughter was not even one year old at that point. I’m getting into the business in the year 2008 when no one was buying to refinancing. It was a stupid move, looking back at it.
Why did you do it? What was your reason behind it?
I went to business school in India. One of the things that I always told my friend is that I’m at business school because I want to start my business one day. I want to be an entrepreneur. My corporate career was going well. In fact, the company that I was transferred from India, I was the Head of business for them here in Silicon Valley, where I am now. They were in the financial services business.
That’s when the 2008 crash hit. We were a VC-funded company back then, so it was fairly well-funded with founders who had sold the companies before. It is fairly well-backed and all of that stuff but we all know what happened in 2008 and how it impacted every company across the globe. That’s where the business shuts down.
They had a small play in the mortgage space back then. I knew a little bit about mortgages. In fact, I even got my DRE license in California. When they shut down, I was like, “The only thing that I know a little bit about in this country is mortgages.” I have my license and at that time, I thought, “I have an MBA. I understand how marketing works and all of that. This should be something I should be able to handle,” plus, I always wanted to start my own business. I thought, if I did not do it this now if I went back to Corporate America, I don’t think I will ever have the guts.
With my kids being older, the obligations being more. Maybe a house by then, so I have a mortgage to pay all of that stuff. I will probably never be able to quit my corporate career and start a business. I saw it as an opportunity. I saw something that I could look into, and then 65% of people were leaving the industry back then. I thought, “Maybe in the short run, I will struggle but if I do well, this is a great opportunity to take some market share in the local market where I was in.” It was a little bit of craziness but there was a method to the madness so to say. From where I come from, I have thrived in chaos all my life. It was like, “Let’s give it one more shot.” Worst case, you can always go back and find yourself a job.
That’s how I’ve got into it but I quickly realized that all the degrees, being Head of business, and all of that meant nothing in the mortgage business when you start from scratch. It’s because I knew no one there. I was new to the country. I knew three people in the entire country back then. Those three people were ex-coworkers from the company that shut down.
Literally, I knew no one where I can go and say, “Jen, can you give me some business? I’ve just got into this mortgage business.” I had no college friends to go to, high school friends, neighbors or relatives. For the first twelve months, I did seven loans. You were saying 3, 4 or 5 loans a month. I have half a loan a month, so it wasn’t bad but you are right about the tipping point. For the first 2 to 3 years, there was a slow progression. It went from half loan, 2 loans to about 3 loans a month.
I was doing a ton of things during those 3 to 4 years. It was the fourth year when I could see that everything that I had been doing so far suddenly started and converged into one point where I suddenly shut up that year in terms of you use the word exploded. That’s what I could see. Suddenly, now I’m doing 10, 12, 15 deals a month at the end of the year. That was the first year in my 4th or 5th year in the business that I made the Top 200 Originator List on Scotsman Guide. That was fairly quick for someone like me who had no connections and no capital to start with.
The tipping point for me was I had started blogging in 2009. I had started database management. Some people talk about the fact that you can only do database management when you have a big database. The first seven people that I closed in the very first year, each one of them is worth probably over $250,000 for me by now because they referred someone who referred someone. I was doing database management from the very first loan I did. I had an Excel sheet.If you're doing minor things from time to time, you can get results tomorrow. Click To Tweet
Of course, I did not have a fancy CRM or something but I did that. You talked about tools and that’s true. For a very long time, I ran the business on Excel and Google Sheets. I remembered in 2016, I did $118 million. My entire pipeline was still on Google Sheets back then. It was easier to share it with my processor and everyone. Tools are important but messaging is way more important. What you do is way more important. That’s when the tipping point came in. That 4th year is when everything that I was doing all converged into one big space.
I know lots of loan officers that have been in the business for 4 or 5 years and they haven’t achieved their tipping point. I’m sure there were some things or maybe not because you only know a handful of people. Maybe you did it your way. Some of the issues that others have are this copycat syndrome, where, “I’m going to do what they did because that’s what I should do because someone told me I should do that.”
I can tell you in my practice when I was in the top 200 too, I did it my way. I was authentically me. I was different than others. I went counter-intuitive to a lot of people and didn’t succumb to the shiny object syndrome. Was there a time when you first started that you did what everybody else did because you probably looked online and like, “They are doing that. I should do that?” If you did, what were those? If you didn’t, what did you do that was different from the gift that you have that is so simple to you while everyone else is struggling, praying for, and wishing for all day long?
That’s a great question and one that I don’t think I have ever been asked in dozens of interviews I have done. It’s very critical because you are right. You have people who start with a much better scenario than I did. Hopefully, a lot of people went to college here, went to school here, they have neighbors, friends, relatives so you start with that. Maybe they had more than $1,900 than I had when I started the business. They probably had more of an advantage going in the business.
One of the things that most loan officers and like you, I speak all over the country, so I get to interact with thousands of people. Not only 4 or 5 years. As you know, you would come across people for 25 years, you can consistently close 3 or 4 loans a month and they still struggle to do that. It’s great to experiment because, again, you are a business owner and you have to experiment with different ideas but at the end of the day, you have to figure out what works for you.
In my case, the first 12 to 18 months, I was copying everybody else. If I saw people go to realtor networking events, and then they asked for business I will say, “That’s probably the way to get business,” because I had no way of knowing how to get clients, so I would go there. I would look like a fool. You are new to the business. Twenty other loan officers are in the queue before you, most likely, and you really don’t have a value proposition where you are saying, “I could do this better than somebody else.”
After about twelve months of struggling and doing seven loans in those twelve months, I realized that I had to reboot, either do it very differently than any other loan officer in the country back then or quit and do something where I could make my six figures, which I was doing as an employee somewhere else. That’s when I went back to the basics of marketing, which is, “Where are your consumers?”
In 2009 I was in Silicon Valley and I would see more people like me. We are going to the web to consume more information. They were reading blogs. Some videos were probably not that big back then but blogs were. I saw a lot of people in Silicon Valley who were immigrants, people buying their first home here in the country. They were on work Visas working for big tech companies back then. I saw a right fit between the fact that where are they consuming information and what audience it is. That’s Marketing 101.
You have to see what kind of customers you want to work with. You have to specialize in that customer. You then have to figure out where they are getting their information from. One of the things that a lot of marketers talk about is social media all the time. You could be in a small little place, a rural marketplace in Alabama or somewhere where people read local newspapers all the time. If that’s the case, then you could be on Facebook all day long and nobody is listening to you. Understanding the medium and the message, both of that is important. If you haven’t got the great message but you are on the wrong platform or if you are on the great platform with the wrong message, then either of those is not going to work.
I studied that and I realized, “Blogging is my way to go and I’m going to focus on first-time homebuyers.” I specialize in first-time homebuyers so much that even real estate agents who would otherwise not refer me deals if they’ve got a first-time homebuyer would say, “Send it to Shashank. He understands how to do first-time homebuyer deals.” Blogging was hard. It’s not as if I have a Writing degree or had done writing in the past or something. In fact, some of the first few blog posts were so cringy even now to read but I still kept it there on my blog to go back and see how bad it was. Also, for other people to see that how bad of a writer I was, to begin with.
That’s vulnerable and attractive, so you don’t have to cheat. You can attract that.
I totally get that. For six months, I wrote two blog posts every single week, and then I’ve got my first call. Somebody called and said, “I read your blog post online.” You can see that any major thing that requires time to get traction. If you are doing minor things here and there that will have no long-term viability for your business, you can get results tomorrow, you can buy leads, call them and probably you will close 1 out of 100. That does not have a long-term liability for your business. That’s not a long-term plan that you can work on but anything that can propel your business to a very different level and keep it at that level if not growing for a very long time will require work and will require a long commitment. That’s what I did.
Thankfully, I did that with blogging. After that, I’ve got called by Yahoo! News because they were covering something from other legendary. You talked about the fact that now I get featured on pretty much every major media there is Washington Post, Bankrate, Inc, Forbes, and any media that you can think of. I get quoted on it but that did not happen yesterday. That happened when I was starting blogging for six months with nobody calling me. It takes a lot of work. Also, understanding where your audience is, what message are they looking for and what niche you can get into. Again, we try to be generalistic.
The newer the loan officer you are, you try to be more general because you are like, “I want all kinds of business. I want to refinance business. I’m an investor. I want non-QM. I want this and that.” It’s because you don’t have a business. You would be surprised if you went the other way. If you are a little bit counter-intuitive, you are saying, “I specialize only in this,” and then you can expand once you have built your market share in that specific niche. That’s what I did for the first 3 to 4 years. I was known in the local market as the first-time homebuyer specialist.
I want to piggyback on a couple of things that you said. Niching is super important. I have interviewed many people that are in the Top 200 and Top 100 Loan Officers in the country. I myself did the same thing. Niching is powerful. I see niching as the long game and experimentation is what you can do as you are trying to get the business in the front game. I say, long game, not that it takes a marathon to get it but that it is the long game that will keep the sustainability so that when refi boom goes away, you are still that expert in that world. People are afraid of the niche. They are afraid they are going to miss an opportunity but you are missing a ton of opportunities with the generalization that you are speaking about.Succeeding in the mortgage business takes a lot of work. Click To Tweet
I know that you are a first-time homebuyer and I knew this by doing some research on you. First-time homebuyers are still what you blog about. This insatiable appetite for social media. I’m a Baby Boomer, so people are going to think that I’m not into social media but I am. My husband calls me, “Millennial, come here. Show me how to do this,” because I’m always on. This was the specific question I wanted to ask you. Social media versus blogging or vlogging versus relationships.
There’s a place for all of them, I believe. Where does the average loan officer go wrong in those arenas? They are trying to do social or some video stuff, maybe. They might consider it the same. They might try to do some relationships or do something else. This probably is going to go back to where their passion is of what they like. Tell me, where are they going wrong in your perspective?
They are going wrong in spreading themselves too thin. That comes from a position of struggle. When you are struggling, you think you need to do everything, and then you are not an expert at anything. That’s the same when you talk about niching, which product, demographic, and audience to cater to, the same niching is also about marketing. You need to specialize in something before you expand your reach. Let’s say blogging is your tool. You can be good as a podcaster. You are good with audio platforms and you think, “Let’s work with podcasts.” You think you are visually great. You are somebody who looks great on camera and you can handle yourself, video could be a platform. I wrote an article on housing buyers on how to pick the tool that works best for you.
In some cases, you can get completely wrong. You probably thought podcasts were your way and you ended up being a video person. What I’m saying is that you can’t be posting on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and also creating one video content every three months because now you don’t have time because you are there and you are also driving a relationship. The relationship is the key irrespective. That’s not an or option. It’s not, “I will do Facebook or relationship.” The relationship is database management. Database management is not just about sending automated emails or automated phone calls. That’s relationship management.
In tech terms, we call database management. In our business, that’s relationship management, whether you manage the relationship. Real estate agents manage the relationship with your buyers, financial planners, CPAs. That’s given. That’s not an or option, so you have to do that. In terms of marketing, you have to figure out where you are good at but don’t spread yourself too thin.
For me, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter for almost 7 to 8 years, in the beginning, was all about business. Of course, I will throw in personal stuff because people relate with you but it was with a goal that this is a business platform for me. Even personal stuff was meant to be for people to look at me as who I am as a person that I’m an amiable person, I have kids and all that stuff but the focus was very clear. That’s what it is for.
If I’m writing a blog post, I’m posting on Facebook, I’m amplifying my audience. I’m syndicating my blog into different platforms. It’s very important because people listen to different speakers. If you go to a conference, the problem is that you have fifteen speakers who specialize in fifteen different things. Now you come out of the event thinking all fifteen things are important.
You have worked on all fifteen things because, “Jen, she did so well doing this, and look at Shashank, he is doing good with this. I should do this and that because that’s what’s important.” Thankfully, I never went into that rat race of saying, “I’m good with everything.” I knew I was in trouble, to begin with. Networking was not my thing and I figured that out very quickly. That’s what you should do as well. By you, I mean the audience. You should figure out where your strengths lay. You should figure out where your audiences are and whatever in the Venn diagram that we used to do. There’s a common fare that comes in between where what’s the common point? That’s what you focus on.
If you spread yourself too thin, you will never be considered an expert at anything at all. You will never attract an audience and influence. Work on one thing and get good at it. Increase your influence and get to the second thing once you get comfortable. There’s nothing wrong with expanding your reach, your tool or your message but start with one thing first.
I always say master what’s in front of you first, before you start looking away. If it’s not a good fit and you experiment with it, that’s fine but you can’t master it just because you did it. I’m strong on relationships. Everything for me was relationships. I didn’t do blogs. I had a show but I didn’t consider that. That was a vehicle to answer questions to people because I didn’t have enough time to answer questions.
One of the things that you will hear all the time is, “What’s your number one tip for getting more clients? Do you go to social media? Do you do videos, blogs, etc.?” My first question always is that, “What are you doing with the people you have done business with in the past?”
I’m glad you are asking that because I was going to ask you this. I was going to talk to you about this because I want to go back into nurturing a little bit. I always say, “Are you nurturing or neglecting your community?” Now I call it a community because I don’t look at it as a bunch of numbers and its database, a CRM or whatever. For me, it’s my community. It is the bread and butter of my business and where I’ve got the line of share of my business as you were saying that you used in the beginning.
I call it the Heisman Trophy method, which is, I’m sending them stuff. I don’t talk to them. For those of you that are reading, I’m acting like the Heisman Trophy. I’m pushing things away from myself. I send stuff to them but that’s not engagement. That’s just sending stuff to them and that’s fine but you have to follow up with engagement.
Here’s where I want to go with that. I’m big on high conversion ratios as well. A lot of times, people have their binoculars on. They are constantly looking for new and that’s fine when you are ready to expand but what about the acres of diamonds that are under your feet? These loans have fallen from heaven like stars over the last year. Now they are acres of diamonds underneath you. We are walking, cracking, and crunching them rather than picking them up and say, “Look how beautiful this is.”Niching is super important and powerful. Click To Tweet
Take us back to, and then also talk now, to those days when you did seven whole loans and you manifested more loans from those seven. There are a lot of loan officers who have not contacted the past clients that they closed. I call them alumni clients. Alumni come back. They donate money to us. They don’t contact their alumni clients, even the ones that closed a month ago, because they don’t know what to say.
Certainly, they haven’t contacted them for seven years because they are afraid like, “They are not going to remember me. I don’t know what to say. I’m going to sound salesy.” I have always felt like we are in a service industry. It’s a service call. Not a sales call. How dare you not call them and provide them with your expertise to make their life better? I want your take on, what would you do when you make the call?
It’s a perfect segue to what we were talking about before. The learning from what you said is that’s a must even if you just did that. If you never went on social media, ever. Never created one video app or never wrote one blog ever. If you only did that one piece because that’s something which I considered completely non-negotiable, you will never be in a position where you will say that, “I can’t even close 3 or 4 loans consistently.” If you have been in the business for 3 to 4 years, that’s enough database to live a life of decent lifestyle for the rest of your life, even if you didn’t do anything at all. In terms of options, you first understand that that’s given.
That’s something that you need to work on. In terms of how you need to work on the database could be very different. Jen worked on it probably differently than I worked on it. At the very earliest stage, I used to do a five-year touch campaign. I used to CRM called Surefire where 60 points of 60 touches will do over five years. I used to throw in a lot of education in between. In my education, anytime I would write a blog post, I will send it to my entire email list, which at one point in time was only seven people. Of course, it grew from there.
For me, in the beginning, in fact, content creation wasn’t so much about attracting new business from Google or somewhere else. It was about serving the current database that I have. It was about whatever I’m writing in terms of content, let me send it to my own database. They should see that one, I’m an expert at this, talking about this. Two, they should see that he is constantly in this business of educating us.
You spoke about this in the beginning but my business was built on the fundamentals that we are in the customer service and education business. We happen to do mortgages because the mortgage is a tool for that. I always had a 6-monthly check-in and a 12-monthly check-in. We always had that after six months because the EPO gets over at six months. That’s when you are engaging in a conversation saying, “What’s your interest rate looks like? What’s the future looks like?” You do that again at the twelve-month mark and again at six-month. You keep repeating it every six months, so to say. That’s a conversation that you have.
Automating a part of it and personally being involved with say sending birthday messages, even though the card is going out. I was so big on videos but texts or calls are something that you have to do. For my clients, what they found the most useful was the 6-month and the 12-month call because that’s when I was helping out do something that they did not even think.
Sometimes, I will bring their 3215, saving them $100,000 in interest over the life of the loan or I would say, “You have saved so much. Are you thinking of investing? You can get in with 20%, 25% down maybe not in the Bay Area, maybe in Dallas or somewhere else where the home prices are low.” I was coming in from more of a financial advisor, financial planner, even tax planners so to say. I was doing the closing keynote originator connect. A good loan officer is an accountant and a financial planner.
I had a psychiatrist throw it in there. There is so much because the clients look for you for all of that stuff. If you are a real estate agent, you can probably get away with understanding the neighborhood, understanding the markets and that’s all there is. If you are a loan officer, you are planning for a $200 to $2 million loan amount for someone, then you need to come up with all of that.
Thankfully, they could see that I had all of that interest in mind and I could advise them on all of that stuff. That’s the best way. Again, everybody else’s finds their own best way but you have to automate a part of it. You cannot be in touch with them every single week or every single month. You have to be personally involved for the other half.
Some of those calls, to be clear on this for people reading because now they are taking notes going, “I’m going to call it six months. I’m going to call it twelve. I’m going to refinance and I’m going to do this.” That may not be the case. Sometimes it’s simply that you are touching base with them and seeing how they are doing and you let it go. That’s the case and the reticular activator sets in. Maybe you ask for a connection to something that isn’t a referral or a connection to somebody else. You have to feel it out. Every single call is a little different. I know that I have experienced, “Do you have a script when you call?” Honestly, I don’t have a script when I call because it’s coming from my heart.
I never had a script for any calls.
It’s the same thing because I’m doing that service call, not the sales call. If it finds its way into sales, then that’s fantastic. As a certified mortgage planner, mortgage advisor, whatever the case is, you are there to serve, whatever their needs are, so you can’t go in with an agenda.
Even if you haven’t called a client for seven years or whatever, I would still not go in with an agenda or I still not script it out. I will simply say and maybe you have something that you want to use as an icebreaker, to begin with, “We announced this or something.”
“I bet you didn’t expect to hear from me.”
Something like that but there’s no reason for you to script it out because I have seen so many scripts about clients we have not touched in the past but I have never used a script for any of my calls because you are right. You need to be genuine. I have talked about anything from where the kids are to, where are they heading to, and they have talked about stuff like, “Where do you think I should send my kids for school or call,” Sometimes I will tell them, “I’m not an expert at this.”We give ourselves too much praise when things go right and we give external factors too much blame when something goes wrong. Click To Tweet
“I need a dentist. Do you have a dentist?” It’s because you become that resourceful person. Thank you. I don’t want to beat a dead horse on that because we could have a whole show about how to do that. I want to talk about a couple of other things and that is, what is surprising to you about loan officers? For those that are reading, we are so sorry. We are here to help you. You know this comes from my heart. I have been doing this for many years. What is the most surprising thing? The thing that you are like, “I don’t get it.” The most surprising thing that loan officers do is that if you could take and show them that one thing, you know they would be more successful. What’s so surprising to you it’s like, “I’m still surprised that loan officers, what?”
We talked a lot about some of the things, which are given to you, and pretty much everything that we talked about is super simple to implement. We did not talk about anything that was extremely complicated. That’s not rocket science. One of the things that are very important and that’s not a tool, a strategy or a technique is the mindset. One of the biggest problems that happen almost from the day a loan officer enters the industry is that, somehow, we came into the industry. I wasn’t one of those but we came because we saw a friend, a cousin, even a brother, sister or somebody who was making good money out of in this industry.
We taught in our subconscious brain is that it’s an easy industry to make money. We came with that mindset and that’s probably the biggest mistake anyone does in this industry. It’s an extremely competitive and hard industry to be in. If you get your fundamentals right, you will be in the top 1% or 2% and you will do very well.
The rest of us struggle because we came in with this mindset and we stayed with this mindset but there has to be an easy way to do this. We can get away by doing easy things. We can get away by being distracted by shiny objects all the time. We can get away by giving two months into this technique and two months into that and wait for a refi boom because that happens every 2 to 3 years.
It’s not an easy thing to work on but I would say that anytime I get into a project or anything new that I’m working on, my first thing is conditioning my brain to say, “This is going to be very hard and you need to be prepared for it. You need to be disciplined and tenacious about it. You will have rough and crappy days but you need to wake up the next day and still handle it.” For me, if there’s one thing that I could change, it’s not so much about teaching them tools, techniques, strategies, planning and all of that.
There’s a handful of stuff out there to do all of them. Most of them probably already know all of that stuff but if I could change one thing, it will be the mindset with which they approach all of this. You talked about my tipping point and most of the tipping point wasn’t about the strategies and tools. They ended to the beginning, which I had, which was starting with a mindset.
I realized after the first twelve months that, “I’m new to this place. I don’t have any money. I don’t have any connections. I have done 7 loans in the last 12 months. It is a hard business and it will continue to be hard.” Even after all these years, when I closed $360 million in 2020, I still approach every day with the fact that it’s going to be hard, be prepared for it. That’s one thing that I will change.
I really want to honor that mindset because as a coach, this is what I teach. It’s mindset plus mechanics is where the magic begins. It’s the mindset and mechanics. We all came into this industry. I came in knowing that rates were 18.5%. I said, “What’s percent?” It was that bad because I came in off of being an Engineering degree and Architecture. I couldn’t find a job so I went to a job interview. I didn’t know anybody. Mine was just percent. It was so funny because I struggled so hard with what is 5/8, 7/8, 3/8? I had this little cheat sheet. I remember I had it taped up and I typed it on a typewriter. It’s 0.375 equals 3/8 but I have struggled with the basics.
I had studied fractions and decimals all my life, so when I came here like, “What is 7/8 anyway?”
I guess you are in the whole metrics. I never speak to my clients that way. I always speak in 0.375 terms because I don’t want them to feel bad. I haven’t talked about that in a long time but that was a funny little struggle. I remember that little sticky. We all can learn the mechanics. The mechanics are inconsequential to the mindset of getting on there first, then you need the mechanics. They are both important. That’s why I say this plus that is where the magic begins. It’s where the momentum begins is understanding that.
It’s something that I spend an exorbitant amount of time teaching my students. I do retreats that are all about mindset, breaking down barriers and looking at yourself differently. That is so powerful. I want to recognize and honor that you said that. Most people aren’t going to see that. What you are saying is the most important attribute is your mindset every single day.
I want to switch gears a little bit. We finished this big refi boom. In my opinion, it’s not finished but that’s because I’m nurturing. This big refi boom happened. Everybody had the biggest year they have ever had and the market handed it to them. It was by default, not by design. I want to get people to the point of the design. Let’s talk about 2022. Your expansion for others.
Obviously, they need to be looking at their database in their community because there are people that still haven’t refinanced. Thank God, they called you if they did because you weren’t calling them. There are even more people who refinanced to have life events that you can create more refinance opportunities. Tell us what you are going to be doing in 2022 with your database. What else do you think is on the horizon for the loan officers to be successful and stay in business so we don’t have a mass exodus in 2022?
To give the nod to what you said, we give ourselves too much credit when we have a good year like 2020. I haven’t done a survey but if you went around the town and surveyed every loan officer, I can tell you that almost 80% to 90% will say that the best year was because of them. Partly because of the market but mostly because of them. When you get in a bad year as I went in 2008 and 2009, everybody was saying it’s the economy. “I can’t do anything. No one is buying a refinancing. What do you expect me to do?” That’s the thing.
We give ourselves too much praise when things go right and we give external factors too much blame when something goes wrong. Again, that’s a mindset thing. That’s the first thing. Don’t take too much credit for what happened in 2020. Let’s go back to 2019 levels. Take that as your benchmark and then plan for 2020. That’s one thing. Two is, you are right. Refinanced boom might be over but there are tons of refinances still there.Information is overrated. Understanding is overrated. It's action that gets you results. Click To Tweet
One of the things that I talk about in database management or relationship management is that, sell them something that they didn’t think they wanted to be sold, which means that if I’m a homeowner and I have 2.875%, 30-year fixed, if the rates go to 3.388% tomorrow, then I will be like, “I have no refinanced opportunities sitting there.” It’s because I do an apple-to-apple comparison. The rates are here, which means there is no refinance opportunity. That’s where you come in.
You sell them something that they didn’t even think that they needed to be sold. You will come and say, “Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner, what did you think about shortening the term? You have paid off so much debt over the last 10 to 15 years we have had a relationship with. Your equity has gone up by 10% to 40%, depending on the market you are in. What did you think about shortening the term to a twenty-year fixed? Your payment wouldn’t change too much. Your income has gone up all these years.”
All the extra equity you can take cash out. What I’m saying, people would have gone into say, two years back when the home prices were whatever and they had gone into an FHA loan or with a PMI. With equity being so much higher across the country, now that gives an opportunity to move FHA to conventional or remove that PMI. Only about 60% of the loans are refinanced with a rate reduction. The other 40% are different reasons like I’m too fixed.
It’s a situation or life event like got a divorce or had a baby.
All of that stuff and that’s where relationship management comes in. It’s because if you are just looking at the numbers on your Excel or CRM, you will not find those opportunities but if you pick up the phone and talk to them, “How are you doing this?” they say, “By the way, this is what’s happening,” and that’s where you come in. If that does not happen, that’s fine. You still build that relationship much stronger now for your next call.
For the next call, it’s much easier to make and you can ask for connections. You can get them off the hook if you don’t want it. If you are not comfortable saying, “By the way, who do you know, yada-yada?”
You don’t have to do that all the time. That’s so stupid.
Maybe you say, “I’m looking to expand to work with more financial planners who might you know that you could connect me with?” Those are opportunities too because instead of going out and being an island and saying, “I need to cold call all these people. Let’s start utilizing our team,” because I consider them my team. I was going to say something to you that I thought was pretty interesting. It’s amazing how, as loan officers, we can’t stand it when someone calls us in is comparing our rate.
We don’t like the rate call, yet we do the same thing when we are looking at our database and we are looking at this rate versus that rate. Should I refinance? We are doing the exact same thing that we don’t like. We are saying, “Their rates are 2%, 7% and 8%, and nowadays’s the market is 3% and 8% so I won’t call them.” We are making that same judgment call and it drives me crazy.
I used to have a technique I wanted to share. I have shared it on this show but when people would call and say, “What’s your rate?” I say, “Let me ask you some questions. Has anyone talked to you about the super saver 25?” They are like, “No. Everyone else is quoting 30, right?” I’m going, “Yes, let me tell you about the super saver 25.”
It is simply a 25-year loan. It has the same exact rate, for God’s sake but it’s presenting something different. Something that they didn’t expect and it’s not enough to just present it but to explain and why. Here’s why this might be better, you might want to refinance, take cash out, pay off this debt and go to a shorter term, and here’s why. We are speaking from the same language about this. You are a loan officer and this will be one of my last questions. I’m always a believer that your future is a series of now’s. What you are doing now, especially in this industry, will reveal itself in 90-days.
As we are heading into October 2021, I have always run my practice from a marketing perspective on a fiscal year, not a calendar year. My marketing starts in October, so by January, I’m already funding loans. I’m not waiting until January. “I should write that I want to make $100,000 on a piece of paper.” That’s not a marketing plan or business plan. If you are a loan officer now, we are speaking to loan officers that are closing 4 or 5 loans a month in this context. They have been in the business for a year and they used to close ten because they’ve got in good time. They have been in for twenty years and can’t figure it out. What do they need to do now as they finish this show?
By the way, a great point about planning at least 90 days in advance. We are not in credit card sales. We can make plans now or get someone on the call tomorrow morning and sell something that quickly. The mortgages industry takes about 90 days of incubation for any plan to start showing results. In my case, it was six months for blogging and we talked about it. At least 90 days, some of the plans could take a little longer than that.
The last quarter is a great time to do educational events because everyone is thinking about the next year already. One of the biggest ways that I built my business on the content creation side was blogging. From the relationship side, I started doing real estate agent events in my local area. I would find 2, 3 or 4 top producers. Nothing that I was paying for speakers like high-flying speakers but top local producers. It works to their ego if you ask them to talk to other real estate agents. I would call them and say, “I’m doing an event,” to a buyer bootcamp or listing bootcamp, depending on the market where you are.
Now, most real estate agents are probably looking for a listing, given the fact that this is a seller’s market. That’s one event that you can do around business planning or how to get more listing. I can guarantee you if you do it well, you will at least have 50 agents in the room, if not 100. What you are doing is that you are doing that event saying, “How to make 2020 your best year or how do you plan your business for 2020? How to get more listings?” You have different speakers who are local top producers for different categories. You get them there and you can do it at a local place or wherever.
The title company, neutral place or community center, I have done that all kinds of places. This is the best time because nobody is thinking about what to do for next year but the moment we get into the last quarter, somehow again, it’s a subconscious thing. We already start thinking about the next year because we have Halloween, Thanksgiving and all of that stuff. We were already thinking about New Year’s. Especially with business, we start thinking about it. Use that trigger that people already have in their brains now and create an event around it.
We already talked a ton about how to do relationship management on the refinance side, where you can bring in so much more refinance next year. From a purchase perspective, that’s what I would do. If I was new to the business or even if twenty years in the business and I have not done that before, or I have not done that consistently before, I did that for five years in a row. Every year, I would do a listing bootcamp and a buyers bootcamp.
It was with such regularity that after a point in time, real estate agents are asking me, “When is the next one that you are doing?” Again, it’s the same thing we talked about before. Don’t do one of everything. Not only Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and do a video, a blog and all of that stuff. Do more of one thing because then people start expecting that from you. If you were to ask me to do one thing in the next months, that’s what I will do.
I swear to God, as we are sitting here, I’ve got two screens. You are on one screen. On the other screen is a PowerPoint presentation that one of my students sent to me because I said, “You need to do an event. Let’s pick a date. Let’s do it,” because this is how I grew my business. I was doing events, classes and education.
I said, “Pick your date. Don’t worry about it.” She called me and she said, “I have to move the date because I’m not ready.” I go, “No. We are going to do it.” She sent me a PowerPoint and said, “Go through it with me. Make sure it’s okay. Are we ready to go?” I love that you are saying that because I literally have her PowerPoint sitting up in front of me. I’m going through it and I’m helping her out.
She’s nervous as all get out but she’s doing it. She’s going to see the results because she’s taking action. That’s what we want to talk about. Take the action that Shashank is sharing with you. He’s sharing tons of nuggets but make sure they align with you. If you are not a blogger, don’t blog. If you don’t want to teach a class, don’t teach a class but you have to do something. You cannot continue to do what you are doing.
Most of the speakers will tell you whatever they are good at is the thing that you should be doing. I never make that mistake. Something that’s good for me may not be good for you but some fundamentals will work, I can guarantee you for everybody who knows.
What you are receiving, you are all the ingredients. Now, what you want to do is pick the ingredients you want to use to make your cake. You may not want almonds. You may want something else. It’s the ingredients that you are taking. It’s funny this reminds me of this because I was at an event a couple of years ago speaking. It was a NAMMBA event and it was someplace. I flew in and flew out. Before I went in I changed my clothes in the bathroom. I ran into Sue Woodard and she was changing her clothes in the bathroom.
It was funny because they had this panel of realtors up there and they said, “It’s the same old questions. What is the best way to communicate with you?” This is almost like it’s a joke. The first realtor says, “Don’t ever call me. Only text me.” I’m watching from the back of the room and the loan officers are going, “Text?” They go to the next one, “If you text me, I will never respond. The best way to reach me is by phone.” “Phone?” They are writing all this down. They do not even realize that they wrote down all of it. You have to do all of it. It’s such a funny story to watch because I do remember seeing their hands go down.
Shashank, it has been an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for letting me banter back and forth with you. I had a great day, too. I want to highlight you. I want to honor you. I don’t want to be the person who’s injecting but there are so many commonalities in what we are sharing here. My goal in every episode is for someone to leave here and take some action. Every time to take some action, even if it’s reflective action and just to have that action. As we leave here, what one last piece of advice, quote, book or mantra would you like to leave everyone with?
One sentence that I have lived my entire, at least in my professional life is, information is overrated. Understanding is overrated. It’s the action that gets you the results. Everything that we talked about, at the end of the day, you have to execute. I have been an execution ninja all my life, even given the circumstances that I started the business with. That’s something that you need to do. If you have someone like Jen as a coach, you have everything that you possibly need to succeed in this business but you need to execute on your own. She is not going to do that event for you. That’s something that you would have to do on your own.
Isn’t that the funny thing? I struggle about that is, “I wish I could do your work but I can’t.” It’s funny that you said this about implementation. My coach calls me the implementation ninja. Not the execution ninja. He calls me and he goes, “We have the implementation ninja on the call.” Even nowadays, I do that. It’s funny because my book launched.
Originally, the name was going to be Stop Talking, Take Action, Get Results. You do see a lot of that with me. Stop the yick-yacking, take action and you are going to get the results. No more discussion. Dig in. Get it done. I love what you have to say about information. Thank you so much. I look forward to seeing you. Hopefully, we won’t be two ships passing in the night. I was the very first session and you were the last session.
I will have the opportunity to see you another time. If not this 2021 but in 2022, out on the road. Congratulations on all your success. Congratulations on being humble as you are to share all of your gifts with everybody. They are priceless. I hope that everyone who’s reading has gotten something that is priceless out of this as well. Thank you so much for being with us.
Thank you, Jen, for having me.
Everybody, again, thank you so much for taking the time to read. It is always my hope that you have gained some type of knowledge that will move the needle on your business, grow your business, grow your personal life. If that’s what you are looking to do as well, we are happy to be able to be here to serve you. Again, thanks for reading. We will catch you next time.
- Shashank Shekhar
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About Shashank Shekhar
After starting his business in possibly the worst year for financial markets i.e. 2008, Shashank Shekhar has led the company to be one of the fastest-growing mortgage companies in America by helping thousands of families secure better financing for their homes. In 2017, Arcus Lending was named to the Inc 500 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America (aka “Most Exclusive Club in Business”).This dramatic growth has been built on the pillars of legendary customer service and an unrelenting focus on education. Shashank lives and breathes the mantra “We are in the customer service and education business, we just happen to do mortgages.”
Amazon.com’s #1 best-selling author Shashank is widely regarded as “America’s Premier Mortgage Expert”. He is the expert guest of TV and radio show – “Mortgage Matters” and author of widely acclaimed books – “First Time Home Buying 101”, “Real Estate Unleashed” and latest #1 best-seller “My First Home”.
Besides writing one of the top mortgage blogs in the country, Shashank also gets invited to blog on several of the top mortgage and real estate websites. He has been quoted/featured on Yahoo! News, FOX Radio, Washington Post, Bankrate.com, Financial Times (London), and several other media for his expertise. He was interviewed by Emmy Award-winning director Nick Nanton on his TV show.
In September 2020, Shashank led his team to create, Rachel, the world’s first digital human in the mortgage industry. Shashank is also a regular on the speaking circuit with frequent keynote talks at Mortgage, Real Estate, and Small Business events.