I sat down recently with my friend, Geoff Zimpfer, in Las Vegas. Geoff helps mortgage and real estate professionals transition from the traditional world of sales and marketing to the new modern world where everything is going digital.
He has a new book out called Disrupt or Die: How to Survive and Thrive the Digital Real Estate Shift. He says our old school ways have served us well the past few years, but times are changing. The digital culture is rising. What do we need to do to make sure we don’t get left behind?
Geoff has been using the term “hybrid loan officer,” someone who can succeed in both the old school and new school worlds. He shares five trends we hybrid loan officers have to stay on top of if we want to do this.
Five Trends Driving the Digital Real Estate Shift
In his book, Geoff dedicates a whole chapter to each one of these five trends. They are:
- the rise of the digital culture
- the rise of consumer control
- the rise of mobile
- the rise of social media
- the rise of the real estate disruptors
In a nutshell, the rise of the digital culture means we’re doing everything online these days. Losing our phone causes us to freak out way more than losing our car keys. That wasn’t always the case. The rise of consumer control means that the days are gone when someone needed a real estate agent to get access to property, information, and MLS books.
The rise of mobile means that 60% of people do everything (from looking up information to communicating with others) from their mobile phone. The rise of social media means that, regardless how we feel about it, it’s not going away. And when he talks about real estate disruptors, he’s talking about anything from Opendoor to Zillow to COVID-19.
Loan officers today need to get comfortable with each of these five trends and figure out how to navigate them well.
What One Activity Would Move the Needle the Most for Loan Officers
I asked Geoff what one big-impact activity loan officers need to be doing more of day today if they want to close more loans. He said it’s hard to pick just one, because there is so much we could be doing. But a recurring theme he’s seeing is that loan officers need a better online presence. They need to be showing up online more often, in more places and in more ways.
He’ll do an audit of loan officers on their social profile and see that their pages are like a ghost town. He told me about one loan officer in particular who told him, “I’ve been successful for 15 years without being on Facebook. Why the hell do I need to be on Facebook?”
Geoff told him, “Well, do you want to be successful for another 15 years or not?” Because the days of surviving without an online presence are over. When I go look online for someone, and they’re not there, I doubt they have a real business.
Right after you finish reading this post, make sure your social media profile is updated and accurate. Use a recent photo, not the one from 1986. Make sure your Google “My Business” listing is verified. Google yourself on both your computer and your phone to see what comes up. That’s what people are seeing when they Google you.
Use Social Media to Warm Up the Crowd
For me, the work I do on Facebook and LinkedIn is like pre-doctrination, for lack of a better word. When I warm up the crowd online, before they come to a real-life event like a real estate class or an open house, then they come into that already knowing who I am. This is all part of that hybrid approach and one of those loan officer strategies I swear by. Get to know me online, then you’ll feel good about me when we meet face to face.
Geoff calls this brand perception. What is someone’s brand perception of you before you get to the call, the meeting, or whatever? To what degree can you influence someone before they ever meet you? A very high degree. The more they see you online, the more they’re going to feel like they know you and can trust you. You’re going to have a distinct advantage over someone without an online presence.
It really does take both though—social media and picking up the phone. It’s like chocolate and peanut butter. You can’t be someone who’s only on social media and never connects with people over the phone. And you can’t be someone who only makes calls without warming people up over social media. It’s a true hybrid, and that’s the way it works best.
Virtual Networking at Scale
Geoff has seen loan officers use social media very successfully before the call. You can follow realtors on Instagram and other social media platforms, liking their posts and leaving comments. And when you post your own content, people can engage there as well. You can also hire someone to do a lot of that for you, so you’re not spending all your time on social media.
In a networking room, you can only shake hands with so many people, right? But social media allows you to scale that up and shake virtual hands with so many more people. When you build community with people prior to that call, the wall of resistance is down, and the more likely they are to take your offer. And the more you know where to find people online, the faster you’ll build an incredible network.
Geoff has a podcast called Mortgage Marketing Radio that can teach you, among so many other things, how to leverage social media in your business. Even if you’ve had a long and successful loan officer career without jumping on the digital train, it’s time to make a shift. Old school loan officers can survive—and even continue to thrive—in this new world, but only after making some big, uncomfortable changes. You’ve got this. I believe in you. No matter what they say, it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks.