Confessions of a Top MLO – Interview by Brian Stevens
Top producing MLO, Monica Jones, shares her secrets to success ($49.8 million in volume, to be exact) in this detailed interview originally featured on NREP. She’s a master at imposing structure to her week so she can call, call, call. Watch, listen, and take notes because she provides some killer takeaways.
If reading is more your style, have at it:
Brian: Okay. Brian Stevens here, with The National Real Estate Post. I have Monica Jones from Cross Country Mortgage who is sitting in for Frank for today. Listen, we’re always trying to bring value to our realtor and lender partners who watch our show. One of the greatest ways for you to increase your production is to emulate those who are very successful. We have a top producer with us right now and let’s just talk about some of the things that you’re doing. So, Monica, thanks for being here.
Monica: Thank you for having me.
Brian: Okay, so first of all, tell us your volume. What did you do last year?
Monica: 49.8 million.
Brian: 49.8 million. What’d you do the year before?
Monica: 49.89 million.
Brian: So, this quite diminutive young lady over here is doing 50 million a year in volume. That’s a pretty big number! So, let’s get right to it. What are you doing different than your competition?
Monica: Maybe a couple things. So, one of the things that I always do is I follow a plan. I believe in structure. I believe that we’re our own CEOs of our business. So, we have to have a game plan. We have to monitor our business, we have to measure. So, I track everything in my business.
Brian Stevens: How do you do, how do you do that though? What do you do? How do you track it?
Monica: I track my leads, so I track what leads I’m getting, I’m tracking the type of lead I’m getting. If it’s a refinance referral, if it’s a purchase lead, where is it coming from? What group is it coming from? A financial planner? Is that coming from a realtor, a past client, a current client? So that I know, you know where my business is coming from and then I’ll track the name of the individual who referred me, the business so I can then track how many leads am I getting from these different groups, these different people. How am I converting? Am I converting at a higher percentage with realtors over our past clients or current clients?
Brian: What do you, what are you getting most of your business from past clients or realtors?
Monica: Right now it’s about 65% realtors.
Monica: And the rest is past client.
Brian: Okay. Okay. So now you’re tracking everybody. Are you using software and what is it called?
Monica: So, I use Jungo. Like Salesforce for mortgage people.
Brian: And how long have you been using it for?
Monica: A few years.
Brian: Okay. Now you put everybody in there, but how are you reaching out to your real estate agents? Do you time block when you’re calling them or what do you do?
Monica: Absolutely. So I time block to call my realtors every Monday. I’m calling my top 40 realtors that I’m targeting and prospecting and working with that I’m in a relationship with. On Tuesdays I’m calling all the buyer’s agents and listing agents as well as the borrowers that I am in contract with at the moment, giving them updates. I also will call on Mondays, I’ll alternate either realtors I’m in a relationship with or realtors that I’m prospecting too. So different Mondays have different themes for me, but always focused on realtors.
Brian: And we didn’t rehearse any of this, so I don’t know what you’re going to say. So what I’m hearing you say right now is call, call, call, call, call. So when you’re calling your time blocking, how many calls per day or are you making?
Monica: At least 40 and I’m using Phone Burner to help me with that.
Brian: Okay, so you’re using Phone Burner?
Monica Jones: Yeah.
Integrating Phone Burner and Jungo for Optimal Efficiency
Brian: Okay. So, and what that does, is it going to auto dial people who are on a list for you?
Monica: It auto dials the people on the list, but it allows me to still have a live conversation. So it’s not like sly dial where I’m going directly to voicemail. So it allows me to have a live conversation, but I’ve prerecorded my voicemail so it’s easy. So if, let’s say I get someone’s voicemail, I don’t have to listen to their outgoing message and then wait to leave my message and keep repeating that process so I can then, if I call them and I get their voicemail, I just click voicemail, it’ll dump my message and start dialing the next person allows me to have a live conversation if they answer, if they don’t, I just dump my voicemail.
Brian: That is totally cool.
Monica: So, you can speed up your calls.
Brian: How many real estate agents are you working with?
Monica: I’ve got about 60 agents that I’m working with.
Brian: Okay. And you call these agents once a week?
Monica: I will call them usually once every other week. So the agents that I’m working with, I’ll call once every other week. And then the agents I’m prospecting too. I’ll alternate on Mondays who I’m calling.
Past Client Outreach
Brian: But what about your past clients?
Monica: For my past clients, I call one letter of the week. So when alphabet letter of the week. So this week if it’s going to be my C clients, I will call all of my past clients that are my Cs, and the next week I’ll call my Ds the week after call my Es. So if you do that, you’ll end up calling your database twice a month or twice a year.
Brian: 26 letters in the alphabet.
Monica: So 52 weeks a year.
Brian: Every single day?
Monica Jones: Every week. Once a week.
Brian: Once a week. You’re doing this?
Monica: Yup. Once a week. You’re calling one letter a week.
Brian: And so, which is great because we have those clients who we don’t necessarily want to call for some reason, but now you have to do it because it’s on your list.
Monica: It’s on my list. And if I’m calling in Phone Burner, the nice thing is, I’ll dump all my lists, all my call lists get dumped in my phone burner account and phone burner will actually sync with Jungo. So it makes it really easy to always have your list refreshed and updated. But phone burner doesn’t allow you to skip a call. So even if there’s someone you want to chicken out on, no, it’s going to, you got to go through it. You got to do it.
Brian: What do you say to these people when you’re calling though? I mean, what do you say? Are there certain points that you’re constantly hitting on?
Monica: Yes, if it’s a past client, it’s always, how are you, depending on the time of the year, happy holidays, happy new year. How’s your house? You know, how are things with your house? What’d you do to your house? You know, to find out what they’re doing, what they’re up to, how they’re doing. And then I’ll always ask, is there anything I can do for you? Anything you need regarding financing, referrals for your home. If they’re talking about a project, I might ask, do you have a contractor? Do you need anything? So I’m always trying to see if I can help. And then something that I will touch on at the end of the conversation after I’ve asked if I can help is, hey, do you know of anyone who is looking to purchase or refinance, or who I may be able to help. You know, so always asking for a referral as well.
Brian: This is really rudimentary stuff. I mean this is, this is basic, but we both know the devil’s in the details. You actually have to do this stuff.
Brian: And it’s not as easy as you think to really establish consistent behavior. Here’s what I want to ask you. When you’re calling your past clients, so you’re doing this on a weekly basis, how often do you get a referral from a past client and how often do you close a deal from that activity?
Monica Jones: We are converting, so my past client referrals convert at a super high level.
Past client referrals convert at a super high level.
Brian: Did you hear that? Hold on. Your past clients converted at a super high level. You’re calling them consistently every week. Tell me about this and I don’t know what the answer is. Let’s hear it.
Monica: Yeah, so I think because it’s a warm referral and because they’ve had a great experience with you and they’re telling their friends or family, it’s not like it’s a realtor who maybe people think has skin in the game as to why they’re referring us. Right? So it’s their friend, their family, their coworker. So it’s just a lot warmer of a lead and it does definitely convert at a higher level.
Brian: What are we talking about? Are you closing a deal a month as a result of this activity? More or less?
Monica: At least one to two deals a month from past clients.
Breaking 100 Annual Transactions
Brian: How many transactions did you close last year?
Brian: 101 so you’re closing up to nine transactions per month consistently?
Monica Jones: Yes.
Brian: And how many would and 35% did you say from past clients?
Monica: About 30. Yup.
Brian: So, basically you’ve got 30 transactions last year from calling your past client database. So you close two and a half deals per month just from calling your past client database. Do you ever have a past client who just thinks you’re an asshole and says like, “I don’t want to talk to you”?
Monica: Not usually, not usually.
Brian: Does it happen?
Monica: No, I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen for someone that I’ve called. If someone’s like, I don’t care for them as a client or you know, I decided I don’t want to continue to work with them. I will mark them on my list as not to go into my call list.
Brian: Is it ever okay to fire? Is it ever okay to fire a referral partner, a real estate agent?
Monica Jones: Yes.
Brian: Have you done it?
Monica: I’ve done it once.
Brian: Okay. What was the circumstance like? Let me ask you this. When is it okay to fire a referral partner or how much, how much should you take before you fire that person?
Monica: I think it’s just about setting boundaries and if they’re doing something that you’re not comfortable with or they’re not being respectful of your time or they’re being disrespectful for your team, which is what came up for me with this one particular realtor, it’s just having the conversation to let them know, hey, that’s, you know, it’s not cool. It’s not working for me. I’m letting them know that that behavior doesn’t work and if they’re apologetic or if they say, you know what, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done it. Won’t do that again. All right, let’s give it another go. But if they continue to have abusive behavior, then I don’t think I’m the right lender for you.
Imposing Structure On the Week
Brian: I know structure is important for you and I know accountability is important for you. Can you talk about what you do and what that means to you?
Monica: So for structure, it’s knowing who I’m going to call every single day. Having my call list ready I think is the best thing you can do to get ready for 2019 if you don’t already have your call list because you don’t want to show up on Monday and then say, gosh, who should I call today? You want to have the list ready to go.
As far as accountability, I’m in a coaching program and I’m a coaching student. For me, every two weeks I’m competing on a call with two other people across the country and we have our coach on the call. Having the accountability there really helps me not have a bad month. So I may have a bad day, about couple of days at most but I don’t have bad months because I’ve got people there that I can lean on or that are checking in with me that will help pull me back on. And if I’m struggling with something, help me get back on track faster.
Coaching Is For Top Producers?
Brian: Worth pointing out here guys is that you’re a top producer and you believe in coaching. I just again, take note of that. It’s not just for people who are struggling, it’s for those who’ve already attained it. And we see this a lot with coaching. Are you using social media?
Monica: I do, yes.
Brian: What do you use, how was that effective for you or not effective for you?
Monica: You know what, I have not mastered the social media game. I post on Facebook. I have gotten deals from Facebook. I’m on Yelp and I’ve gotten deals from Yelp. I’m on Zillow, I’ve gotten deals from Zillow.
Brian: Do you believe in ratings? Do you have all your people rate you and do you share that?
Monica: I ask for ratings, yes. And I do share it.
Brian: How do you share that on your social media? Is that primarily what you’re doing?
Monica: No, on social media it could just be I’m posting a win, so usually I like to post that we just saved the deal from another maybe big box bank or another bank that couldn’t close and we saved the day and closed in 8 days or 10 days or whatever the case may be. So I’ll post our wins.
Brian: How important is doing what you say? Say what you do, processes and communication and the transaction to your realtor partners.
Monica: It’s a million, million percent, the most important thing. So, knowing I think that’s what helps me build my relationships is that the realtors know, if I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it. If I, if I say I’m going to follow up at this time, it’s going to happen. So I think consistency as boring, and unsexy as that is, it’s the most important thing.
Brian: It’s boring. It’s not unsexy if it’s getting you 50 million year. Okay. So you said at the beginning of this, and we’re going to wrap it up real quick. Two things. First of all, you said you’re hitting up the listing agents. How many listing agents are you picking off and putting into your queue of agents who give you referrals going forward because of your activity?
Monica: Yeah, listing agents. That’s been a really great way for me to build new relationships. So, and we like to make mortgages fun again. We’ve kind of started that. So, even with our listing agents, you know, as soon as we get the contract, we’re sending them a little funny, crazy sock package in the mail with a card from us that says, can’t wait to knock your socks off in this transaction. And I’m calling them when the clients, even before they go into contract, when they’re issuing the pre-approval. When I’m issuing the pre-approval letter, I’m calling the listing agent, introducing myself, letting them know how we work, letting them know that we’re going to communicate every single week.
I have my loan approval package, which I think I can put next to any pre-approval letter out there and mine is, it’s a five page document and it sells why the seller should pick our buyer’s offer, why they should pick our team. Because a lot of times the seller, you know, they’re looking at five pre-approval letters, but they don’t know anything about the lender. They don’t know anything about the strength of the buyer. So I want to make sure I’m proactive and giving them that information when they’re reviewing all the offers.
Brian: We’re closing right now. Is there anything that you could tell a real estate agent or a lender that they should do or something that we’ve missed that you want to get out to everybody?
Monica: I think just focusing on the client experience, focusing on being a resource, being of value, educating your clients. That’s something that I really have focused on. I’m never trying to sell a client or I’m never trying to close a client on anything, but I’m here to educate them. I’m more showing them and teaching them, you know, the benefits of rent versus own. The numbers speak for themselves so I don’t have to sell people on why it makes sense to buy, but I am educating them and giving them information that other lenders and realtors out there are not giving.
Brian: 50 million a hundred transactions sitting right next to me right now. In a bad year, that’s going to get worse. I know 2019 doesn’t scare you. The question is, is it going to scare you? Take some of these changes, apply them to your business because you will be better for it. And believe me, believe Monica here, you know this, you have it in you. It is a choice.
Monica: Yep. Make your market.