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KEY BEHIND THE SUCCESS OF BEING A RELATIONSHIP BUILDER BEFORE A SALESPERSON

When I was first offered a sales position 29 years ago, I had never sold anything in my life. That’s ok they told me because your knowledge of mortgage banking and your ability to establish relationships, along with just being an all-around good person will be the backbone of your success. My back is a little tired these days but –  those words still hold true. It’s a very good day when someone calls me and asks – Do you remember this? What do you know about that? or How can I fix this? Using my knowledge to create or find solutions – what’s better than that?

The old adage about never burning bridges you may need to cross again is so important in the world of mortgage banking. As loans are transferred, acquisitions merge companies and simply companies go out of business, the people always stay the sameThey either rotate from company to company or get promoted thru the ranks. Newcomers bring fresh ideas and fast technology to an old industry but they never replace the foundational structures that built it in the first place. Those new faces become welcomed into the team of mortgage professions whose core members have survived at least as long as my 35 years in this business. It wasn’t until now at with retirement age coming into play for many industry veterans that I wonder – can they really leave? The good news is that I have had the opportunity to work with the children of some of the same folks I have worked with for so long. I can honestly say I sent baby gifts when they were born and now they are part of my most important life network.  This industry can seem mechanical but it also has much heart and soul if you take the time to see it.

The mortgage industry has so much history that only a veteran can share. That knowledge behind all of the major milestones and events shapes our professional lives It enables great leadership that keeps at the forefront the mistakes and solutions that just did not work along with the ones that did. Moving from servicing & operations to a service provider, I have found that this knowledge is even more important and proves to be critical to our success. All too often, we have seen competitors enter when the market is good and leave when the going gets tough. As with NTC, we focus on what we do and what we do shifts with the market. I am not saying I haven’t experienced ups and downs but at least we know we won’t be sunsetted by our parent because of a bad year.

Challenge Accepted’  I said when third-party oversight entered the ring and the days of bringing your clientele with you based on your relationship was a thing of the past. The foundation of the decision is now based on the reputation, accountability, and transparency of the company you represent. Not yours that has always been there, but the company itself. Getting through the financial crisis not only tested the leadership strength and commitment but also the purse-strings as well. We saw many competitors exit the market mainly because the controls, checks and balances of their delivery were too far off the goal. I knew I was with the right company then and now because our ‘recovery’ was a bump in the road just because we were already ahead of the game. We listened to the needs and wants of our customers and created solutions way before they were a requirement. Based on the relationships established, our clients became our partners and because of our beforehand positioning; they remain our partners today. It’s hard to believe but our average tenure of our clients remains the same of our leadership team. The first time I looked at this statistic; I was amazed to learn it was 10 years and that was years ago. What an accomplishment to be a part of – ~all because someone believed in me.

Keeping up with the times just makes life better and better. Social media, video calls, and simple on-line exchange of information open opportunities to connect two maybe three-fold. Marketing and conferences used to be number one to networking as well as resource knowledge. Now you can navigate social media, keep your present/relevant, and using all online resources available to stay current. I spend time every week to stay current on new positions and promotions and taking the time to check on my friends – new and old. The confidence of my relationships lets me help those in need and ask for more when I need it. I had one client say – you were the first person to check on me when I lost my job and for that, I will be forever grateful. I didn’t do it because of the latter but because I was genuinely concerned about my friend. More food for thought – who would have thought that in a year with no in-person meetings; I would have closed two major opportunities based on relationships and company reputation alone. You can pivot all you want but staying true to your core values is what wins every time and by wins – I mean everybody wins!

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Debbie Lastoria is the Vice President of National Sales, where she brings over 35 plus years’ experience in the industry to the organization since she began her career with NTC over 10 years ago. In 2015, she was one of the women who made HousingWire’s “Women of Influence” list; in 2016, she made the list as a ”Leading Lady” in the MReport’s Women in Housing magazine; and, in 2019, she was awarded a Bronze for ‘Woman of the Year’ in Sales by the Stevie Awards, where they recognize women for their achievements in Sales.

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