Many hardships have occurred due to the down economy, but lucrative opportunities have risen from the rubble of the slump. If you’ve been displaced by job loss, or just feel your current position does not offer the flexibility and upward mobility you desire, consider entering into the commercial finance industry as your next step. The opportunities are endless, but be mindful of these ideas before making the leap.
1. Understand your lenders. Get to know each of your lenders and what they have to offer. What types of loans and transactions are they willing to engage in? By understanding what each lender can offer your customers, you can tailor your presentation and match needs with resources. Understanding a lender’s underwriting guidelines can not only help you close more deals, but it can dramatically increase the effect of your marketing campaign by helping you target your message to the appropriate audience. You’ll be more successful in fulfilling loans and increase the amount of transactions you partake in and ultimately close, increasing your personal income.
2. Act as a consultant..not a broker. The word “broker” tends to have a negative connotation in the financial industry. A recent survey that asked people what they thought of when hearing the word “broker” yielded results like “a person gaining financially at my expense”, or “sleazy salesmen”. These thoughts may be due to brokers, no matter what industry, approaching clients in the wrong manner. As a commercial finance broker, you are essentially a solution for a widespread problem for businesses: access to capital. So in essence, you are a gateway to capital for businesses. When talking to new clients in need of financing, it is best to act as a consultant to their problem rather then just giving them applications to complete and a 15 min conversation. You should speak with a client for at least an hour. Find out how their business works, what problems do they currently have, and outline a plan of how you can help them. By doing this, you will not only win the trust of your client or borrower, but also lay the ground work for repeat business for future financing needs that they may have.
3. Know how to market. There are a plethora of marketing tactics to use to “get the word out” about your commercial finance business. You need to find the right tools to spread your message. Think about what customers you are targeting – where do they spend most of their time? Use tactics that pinpoint your audience. Maintain sharp, easily read marketing collateral and websites that get right down to the message of your business. Regardless of what kind of marketing you use, always, always focus on the “benefits” of your products, not the features. How will your service or product help your target audience? What are the benefits that your target audience will receive by buying what you’re selling? This will help you create an effective marketing campaign.
4. Operating with the right agreements. Numerous legal documents are necessary for successfully operating a commercial finance business. This fact is often overlooked by most brokers today. One must have the proper fee agreement in place with a client that protects the broker and ensure he or she is properly paid for successfully closing a transaction. Poorly worded fee agreements only give rise to problems down the road when working on a transaction that can ultimately cost a broker their commission. It is also good to have Non Disclosure / Non Compete agreements for your business as certain situations might require these, such as a client needing capital for the development of a proprietary product or service. By having sound agreements in place to handle any given situation with a client, your finance business will always be protected from common issues that arise in this industry.
5. Stay on top of industry news. Finally, when considering being a commercial finance broker, be aware of new finance and lending updates. In the commercial finance industry, things change all the time so you have to be up to speed on what those changes are and how it affects your potential customers. For instance the world of SBA lending has changed dramatically in the last 2 years and is changing month by month these days. If you’re involved in brokering SBA loans you have to know what each of these changes are and how it affects your clients. You are responsible for learning new techniques and methods. Stay abreast of opportunities and be proactive in pursuing them. What you know is up to you. By staying informed, you will prove to your customers and lenders you are competent and able to meet their needs. Also by identifying changes in the economy you can go after niche markets that might need a particular financial product due to that change. Rely on sources like leading finance magazines, industry newspapers, and well-known blogs and RSS feeds to get real-time knowledge on lending.