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How to Play the Long Game in Mortgage Originations

October has long been my favorite month, partly because it’s the season of apple-picking, pumpkin spiced donuts and trick-or-treating. But even more than that, it’s the time of year when baseball gets really fun to watch, with both the intensity of playoff games and the potential for records to be broken reaching a fever pitch. One such record fell this month with Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees lofting his 62nd home run of the season into the cheap seats and breaking Roger Maris’ 61-year-old American League record of hitting 61 home runs, set in (coincidentally) 1961. What makes the story particularly remarkable is that few would have predicted this outcome early in the season. Our question this month: What can Aaron Judge’s incredible 2022 season teach mortgage originators about how to play the “long game?”

What Baseball’s Aaron Judge Can Teach Mortgage Originators About How to Play the Long Game

Thirteen games into the 2022 Major League Baseball season, Aaron Judge was not grabbing many headlines. At the time, he had just one home run to his name, putting him on pace for a lackluster 12 home runs for the season. So how did he go from underperformance to chasing and ultimately overtaking Roger Maris’ long-standing American League home run record? The answer is that he played the long game. He knew that there are 165 games in a baseball season, and he committed to giving his best effort day-in and day-out, consistently showing up, putting in the hard work, and always looking for ways to improve. At the beginning, like any slugger going through a slump, he had to believe that the statistics would eventually work themselves out.

In his own words:

“I think that is one thing I’ve picked up: follow a routine, be consistent and everything is [eventually] going to fall in place.”

There is a big lesson in this for mortgage originators in the current market. There is no magic marketing email or campaign that’s going to launch another revenue windfall the likes of 2021. It’s going to take hard work, day-in and day-out, for loan originators (LOs) to pull out of the current slump. With consistent focus on growing partner relationships and improving the customer experience, originators can have confidence that their production numbers will ultimately work themselves out.

While 2020-21 provided very little room for introspection – LOs were literally too busy for anything besides closing loans – the shrunken pipelines of late are giving originators time and space to ponder their go forward sales strategies. We’re seeing LOs fall into three basic camps:

  1. Purchase-Focused: Those who planned ahead, built referral relationships even at the expense of doing extra refi deals, and are now insulated with a steady stream of referral purchase business.
  2. Paralyzed: Those who are either panicking or praying for external factors (like a renewed rate drop) to bail them out.
  3. Planners: Those who are not just weathering the down market, but using every minute to build, improve and do the “right” things that will ultimately spell their long-term success.

You’ve heard of the 80/20 rule? As it applies here, roughly 80 percent of the loans are currently being done by the 20 percent of originators in category “1.” Most of the remaining 80 percent originators are in category “2.” If you can move even a portion of them to category “3,” it will mean “long game” success both for them individually and for you as a lender.


How did Aaron Judge pull off such an astonishing feat? Well, for starters, he’s a massive 6’7” and 282 pounds, but here are a few other contributing “secrets” to his success.

He Developed in Multiple Areas of His Game

In 2016, Judge batted just .179, striking out in half of his 84 at-bats (that’s a LOT). One article assessed, “Judge appears as if he may be an all-or-nothing guy.” Fast-forward to 2022, where Judge nearly won the prized Triple Crown, marked by first-place finishes in batting average, home runs and runs batted in (RBIs). You can’t do that as an all-or-nothing player. Just as Judge became a much more imposing threat by developing multiple areas of his game, mortgage originators should be using some of their down time right now to up their game in one or more of the following ways:

Increasing visibility with friends, family and beyond through:

  • Informative posts (Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, etc.)
  • Celebratory posts
  • Podcasts
  • Blogs
  • Video livestreaming

Adding value to referral partners through:

  • Co-branded marketing
  • Co-branded celebratory posts (Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, etc.)
  • Personal visits
  • Open-house appearances
  • Co-hosted events

He Hits Whatever is Thrown at Him 

If you look at a chart of the types of pitches that Judge hit over the fence, from fastballs to curveballs to sliders to cutters, you’ll see that he can hit just about anything. This is particularly important for a guy like him since bigtime sluggers don’t typically see too many fastballs down the middle. An originator’s “fastball” over the last couple of years was the refinance, but with fewer and fewer of them coming across the plate these days, LOs must learn how to source new deals from anywhere and everywhere.

Here are a few places they should look:

  • Their own client base: Email marketing campaigns to their existing client base can help increase an LO’s trusted advisor status and help them to stay on their client’s radar. Note that automated services that ping customers on birthdays, anniversaries and other holidays are great for staying top of mind but miss out on building up the LO as a trusted advisor.
  • Financial planners: Encourage LOs to find out who the borrower’s financial planner is and ask the client if they like and would recommend them. Then reach out directly. The LO will already have credibility with the financial planner since they helped a mutual client.
  • Realtors (both sides): Find a reason, any reason, to reach out to both realtors individually during the loan process. Drop a few market insights and a few compliments along the way. Send a hand-written thank you note on the day of closing congratulating them and saying you hope your paths will cross again. That’s it…then consider following up with a partnership pitch a few weeks later.

He is Always Seeking to Learn from Others’ Success

When asked to opine on Judge’s rise over the past five years, his teammates noted that Judge was always refining his routine after watching how regimented players like Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira were in their workouts and game prep. In the mortgage world, there are certain originators that seem to have that “Midas touch” that is giving them success at every turn. There is nothing wrong with copying everything they do as closely as you can. They don’t have a copyright on their process and most likely, they’d be happy to share their “secret sauce” with you if you just asked. If you can push pride aside and take a learning posture, you’re likely to see some of that success rub off onto you.


Here are three ways originators can start playing the long game today:

  1. Try something OLD. Go through back issues of these Customer Experience (CX) Tips and use them to increase awareness of what makes customer tick, and ultimately what creates loyalty and advocacy. Remember this key concept: just because someone likes their LO doesn’t make them a raving fan. The loan process, not the LO, is the main determinant of whether a customer will ultimately refer business.
  2. Try something NEW.  Again, using these CX Tips as a starting point, try posting on a medium you’ve never tried before. Maybe it’s TikTok, maybe it’s Twitter, maybe it’s something new and cool that no one else has heard of yet. Just make an effort to expand your horizons and get out of your comfort zone. You’ll never see the success you’re after if you don’t push your limits.
  3. Become an industry expert. Start reading Rob Chrisman’s daily commentary. It’s a bit of industry news, a bit of humor, and always a hearty chunk of capital markets insights. Make it a habit to read every morning and you’ll soon be well-versed in market shifts and the economic factors that affect rates. A little bit of Rob goes a long way to positioning yourself as an industry expert and trusted advisor.

How can you learn more about creating a better customer experience and about how the customer experience impacts your company?

Find out more about STRATMOR Group’s MortgageCX program and how transparency into the loan process can help your company. Contact Mike Seminari at

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