Brokers: Ignore the Doom & Gloom

by Linda P. Kester September/October 2008

Given the turmoil in today’s financial markets, many equipment leasing sales professionals are feeling discouraged. It’s hard not to be when the media is bombarding you with negative information. Now more than ever it’s vital to keep a positive attitude.

If you get sucked into the doom and gloom mentality, then you cannot be in a position to help your vendors and lessees during these tough times. I’m not saying to bury your head in the sand, or to wear a fake smile. Your customers are in a state of heightened awareness and a phony smile will instantly blow your credibility; and assurances that “everything is going to be all right” will sound ridiculous.

Major financial institutions are being bailed out by the government; this is a calamity. However, feeling bad about the current state of the economy helps no one. If the economy goes further into the toilet, you still have the option to feel good. Feeling good isn’t an indication that you are indifferent to current affairs, it’s a choice you make. Dr. Wayne Dyer states, “Many events will transpire in which your conditioned response is to feel bad, ask yourself if feeling bad is going to make the situation any better. You’ll discover that the only thing that feeling bad accomplishes in response to outer situations is to plummet you into anxiety, despair, depression and stress.”

Feeling good, regardless of how low the Dow goes, gives you the power to be tranquil and stress-free. I apply this to my life every morning. When I wake up, before I get out of bed I think about the events that lie ahead and visualize my day the way I want it to go. If I picture my day the way I want it to go, remarkably more or more things start to go my way. The theory behind this thinking is outlined in the book and the film, What The Bleep Do We Know!? I highly encourage that you read it or rent the film.

In the last issue of the Monitor I wrote about social networking and using websites like LinkedIn to generate more business. Having learned about the power of these networking portals, I posited a question to my connections. The question was: “How do you keep your chin up in tough financial times?” Steve Geller from Leasing Solutions LLC says: “I like to use what I call the Joe Torre method of managing. Never get too high when you win and never get too depressed when you lose. It is a long season.”

Geller continues: “We can apply Joe’s method to leasing. When times are great keep in mind that we have to prepare for when times are not too good, like the present. That involves maintaining a strong financial base, which can weather these bad times. That is easy to say if one is not saddled with raising a family, tuitions, mortgages and other essentials. Tough, but not impossible. I have always watched my overhead and expenses, which helps when times are like they are now. It is tough to get deals done. Banks are more selective and the second tier lenders are swamped with the spillover that the banks are not handling. As an intermediary I get calls every day from new brokers and those looking to find homes for their deals that have been shut off from their normal sources.

“I have to listen carefully and know that many deals that got done six months and a year ago are not going to get done today. I have to communicate this to my broker network and advise them to be selective about industry concentrations. The owner-operator business is severely cut down. The restaurant business, especially startups, are not getting done very much, except with strong secondary collateral or backing. Watch for opportunities. One must look with a keen eye and know when to say no earlier than ever before,” he says.

”On the funding side, banks are awash in deals and are getting very restrictive. Securitization is basically off the table with the disruption of the financial markets. Secondary lenders can pick and choose the deals they want to do. This has happened before. Brokers, though, have long memories. Those funders that have tightened up on longtime customers must be cognizant of that since the cycle will eventually turn. Those that see an opportunity to provide funding in these tough economic times will be remembered when we are out of this cycle,” he concludes.

Bruce Smith, president of the EAEL, at the recent Fall Expo, quotes Greg Schiano, the football coach of Rutgers, who maintains a motto of “keep chopping wood” with his players. “They understand and keep persevering through. We, as an industry, must follow the lead of Joe Torre and Greg Schiano and maintain a long view of business.”

Tom Whalen from LEAF Financial writes: “In uncertain economic times you need to come to the realization that there are things that you cannot control. We can control the economy as much as we can control the weather. As a successful salesperson, sometimes getting to that realization is difficult and it is easy to get discouraged and feel down.

“I find the best way to keep your chin up is to remember what made you a successful leasing salesperson the first place: Was it a 100 dials a day? Did you listen to your Zig Ziglar CD every day on your way to work? Could’ve been a new deferral or skip payment promo, etc.”

Whalen continues, “I think it’s more than just getting back to basics — although, that is a big part of it. Remembering what made you successful brings back those feelings of winning and gives you a point of reference, to build on. In times like this when it seems like all of our vendors are saying, ‘Sales are down, we’re just not selling…’ It is very easy to think, ‘My vendors are not selling so, neither can I.’ When in reality this is when we as leasing professionals can bring the most value.

“If we can remember what made our vendors choose us in the first place, build those winning feelings and then get back to basics (i.e., make more dials, visit more vendors, come up with new finance offers, discuss better ways to integrate our program into your vendor’s offer, etc.). Not only will you feel better about yourself, your company and the economy, you will start to generate applications, fundings and success,” he says.

I also heard back from the former president of Marlin Leasing, Gary Shivers. He has formed a new company called Navitas Lease Finance. Shivers says: “Opportunities are always apparent in uncertain times. Carpe diem!” I guess he’s not scared of this economic upheaval, he’s starting a new leasing company right in the midst of it. Fear is something Jack Welsh writes about: “The first thing to do is to not act scared. Yes, these times are uncertain, and you yourself may be wondering if the bottom is here or still months away, and how that will affect everything you have worked and planned for. But, the minute fear shows on your face, you have lost your positive energy which, you need more than ever right now to get to the other side.”

Kevin Spillane from CIT wrote: “Simple, if I don’t keep my chin up, how will I be able to see when things start turning the corner?”

“Know that this won’t last forever and put your nose to the grindstone and work even harder,” states Alison Tincher. Her advice reminds me of what Eckhart Tolle states in his book: A New Earth “This, too, will pass. These words are not telling you that you should not enjoy the good in your life, nor are they merely meant to provide some comfort in times of suffering. They have a deeper purpose: To make you aware of the fleetingness of every situation — good or bad.”

“I try to stay in the solution and not the problem” writes Maria T. Ruggiero of Ruggiero Leasing. “If the problem is not enough clients, I focus on the solution — marketing. If the problem is not enough cash flow, I focus on keeping my budget in line and bringing in new business. If the problem is getting my deals approved in a tightening credit environment, I focus on finding more funding sources that can help me and my customers. Attending the NAELB conference was for that exact reason.”

She continues, “There is real opportunity to be of service to vendors and customers in our current financial situation. People are cautious. Vendors are not sure how to sell equipment to more skittish clients. I try to focus on what I can do to help them.”

Finally, Garrett Daniels of Patriot Mortgage Group states: “It is imperative that you surround yourself with positive people. Eliminate the pity party for yourself; at least try and limit the pity party to a couple of minutes. Celebrate your small successes.”

The bottom line is you can be anxious about world events, or you can see them as an unfolding of something wonderful about to blossom. You could even profit from the current times. But it depends on you and your mindset. You have a choice.

You can listen to the doom and gloom, or you can take control of your life and create a plan to differentiate your company from the competition, and help your customers get what they want, which in turn will help you get what you want.

Linda P. Kester is a bestselling author and professional speaker with 20 years of experience in leasing sales and marketing management. She has helped hundreds of salespeople increase their volume. Her book, 366 Marketing Tips for Equipment Leasing, has produced results for leasing companies in the U.S., United Kingdom and Australia.

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