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peter ellis blog

First diagnose then treat

peter ellis blog
Peter Ellis 4 minute read

Brokers need to act like a doctor when they deal with specialist lending. Some, though, make the mistake of acting like a salesman.

Think about what happens when we visit our GP. When you sit down, the doctor doesn’t launch straight in and say: “Good to see you. Take this medication twice a day for the next six weeks.” Instead, they will ask lots of questions so they understand what is going on – and only then if appropriate recommend a treatment.

After all, how can the doctor possibly know whether you need medication or surgery or some other remedy if they haven’t taken the time to understand your symptoms, your lifestyle and your medical history?

That’s why doctors first diagnose and only then prescribe – which is exactly what brokers who work in specialist lending should do.

We’re all busy and we all want to write loans, so it can be tempting to meet a client and quickly diagnose – debt consolidation or refinance – because the moment we do that, we can roll out a quick lending solution and get paid.


The problem with that approach, though, is that many borrowers know they have symptoms but don’t know what the solution is. So, advertising that you do debt consolidation doesn’t actually speak to what they are experiencing, such as cash flow problems or difficulty keeping up with multiple repayments.

Many borrowers have unusual financial situations that defy pigeonholing. In other words, those “medications” might not be suitable or maybe not just yet.

Not only is a one-size-fits-all approach bad for specialist lending borrowers, it can be bad for converting specialist business. It can actually be the reason that they go elsewhere to get another opinion and we lose the deal to someone who gives them individualised tailored help and involves them in the solution.

When I meet a new client, I do a lot of listening. Sure, I ask useful questions to guide the conversation, but I let the client do most of the talking so I can really understand what is going on for them – their symptoms.

That achieves two things. First, it shows the client that I really care; that I’m a trustworthy doctor, not a salesman. Second, it means I can provide much better service, which ultimately leads to referrals and repeat business.

By gaining an understanding of the client’s unique circumstances, I am then in the best position to provide them with a number of options – not just one. I can explain each one and outline the pros and cons, and then we discuss what their future will look like if they choose that particular option. By doing this, the borrower is involved in the process and understands what the options will mean for them.

Of course, when you really dig deeper, you might discover that what you offer may not be the right solution for them. You have to be willing to turn business away and refer clients to more appropriate service providers. Alternatively, you might discover that the client isn’t ready to get finance just yet. In this case, you take on the role of a trusted adviser and keep in touch until the timing is right. It may not result in business right now, and this is where it is different.

It sounds obvious, but especially with specialist lending, brokers need to focus on what is best for the borrower and put their own needs second.

What I have found in my business is that when I have helped people who are most in need, they are the ones that appreciate it the most. They are not likely to forget you and will be the first to tell others.

Specialist lending provides that opportunity for your business. That’s how you become a trusted adviser; that’s how you build a reputation; that’s how you score valuable testimonials and referral business.

Remember, your brand is what people say about you behind your back. Do you want to be known as a pushy salesman who flogs “medications”, or a trusted doctor who improves people’s lives? The answer should be obvious.

First diagnose then treat
peter ellis blog
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peter ellis blog


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