How I helped Kevin Kelling more than double his income through success coaching.
(listen to audio interview above, or read the full transcript of the interview below)
Success coach, Tim Scholten, interviews his coaching client, Kevin Kelling on their coaching success journey.
Tim: Just by way of introduction this is Kevin Kelling. Kevin’s been a coaching client of mine since when Kevin?
Kevin: Well we've had a couple times doing this together one of those was when I was overseeing a mortgage lending team at a community bank you were my executive coach and more recently in sales about two and a half years I think.
Tim: Right yeah you started when I think about January of. . . I don't remember exactly when you started your new role.
Kevin: Yeah, I believe it was December and it will be 3 years in December.
Tim: Wow seems like time really flew, hasn't it?
Kevin: It sure has.
Tim: Kevin tell me what you were doing before we started working together.
Kevin: This is the second round of Coaching. before this I had been in the mortgage world for about 17 years and all those were in operational roles, behind the scenes. A couple of the latest opportunities I had were to oversee a mortgage lending team at a small community bank and then after that to oversee the servicing area and the mortgage lending Department, so this was the first sales role that I had before.
Tim: Yeah and making that transition had to be very difficult. How confident were you about making that change?
Kevin: It was a risk No Doubt. I had confidence yet at the same time a lot of fear making that shift mid-career. Being the primary Breadwinner at home was not a small risk yet it seemed like there was a lot of opportunity since I am someone that communicates well that am willing to follow up with clients consistently. I knew I had a real opportunity to be successful in this area.
Tim: That's great so why did you contact me when you decided to make that change?
Kevin: I was 2 or 3 months in and actually went to a seminar and they talked about the importance of having a coach I realized that even as I was getting started it was not easy to pick up the phone and make those difficult phone calls and it wasn't easy to get going and I knew that if I was left to myself I might really struggle without having some accountability in a positive way as well some encouragement. I knew I needed to have that support system. At some companies you might have a manager that can do that for you but that's not typical.
Tim: Right so you made the leap, and in the beginning when you made the leap and we connected, do you recall what our main focus was? What did do to kind of get you started with customers when day one there really weren't any customers?
Kevin: We developed a strategy together and you really helpful me with that. There were several approaches; one was working on referral sources and initially I knew a lot of people at the bank so it was really doing what I could to give them fantastic service. So one example was the call center. They really didn't like working with the mortgage lenders because they didn't answer their calls typically, so I was going to be different than the rest of them and pick up the phone every time they called. That was one I know that we really worked on together and it was quite successful. I got a lot of leads that way just because I picked up the phone.
Tim: Isn't that amazing sales people that actually answer the phone! It's pretty funny but it was a strategy that worked because I knew that having run call centers before, that was exactly what was needed - and the call center hated referring mortgages because no one answered their phone - kind of crazy!
Tim: So how did the focus 5 app help and how did you integrate that into your day and week?
Kevin: Yeah, it's been extremely helpful overtime as I've utilized the tools and different ways that it helped me stay on track with what my main goals were every week. What would happen to me otherwise, was at the beginning of the week I would get really busy and kind of get lost in all the good stuff that I was doing and I would quickly lose track of the larger overarching goals. The focus 5 app was something I could refer back to and say oh yeah that's right I need to make sure that I'm working on this marketing piece or do something that's really critical, the critical thing that will build my business over the long-term, not just busy work. So that's one of the key ways it helped me stay focused on the things that matter most. The focus was really helpful.
Tim: That's great because so many business people get stuck in the day-to-day activities because it feels good. It’s great to feel like you’re making a little bit of progress, but working on those big strategic things would be so much more productive and rewarding, but you don’t get the same instant gratification, from those big strategic things, therefore you tend not to do them.
How did coaching help you at that time?
Kevin: Coaching kept me on track and helped me do those things I might put off and not do. In particular, just like some of the things we were talking about, some things that were not my background, that were not my strength, frankly I don't even love to do them, yet working with you as my coach helped me pay attention, and stay with it to build a marketing system. I needed to do that to build my business for the long run. I tended to just focus on my needs today, things that I needed to do to satisfy my customers. Not the strategic things. The marketing system was really a key strategy that I wouldn't have done without a coach.
Tim: That's great. So as we worked together, how did coaching evolve or change as your business started to develop?
Kevin: Yes in the beginning, it was all about how do I get business and then once I established a good pipeline of business clients, I then needed to transition into how to manage the process efficiently, and then into how do I stay in touch with these clients after helping them through the loan process. So coaching also helped me develop an email marketing system that helped me stay in touch with clients while their loan was in process but also after they closed their loan as well. I also used it to stay in touch with my referral partners.
Tim: I don't want to forget one thing that we did together. It was that we learned to say thank you a lot. That was really a difference-maker in building relationships. It helped you stand out amongst your peers as a guy who said thank you all the time. Others just didn't do it. I think that made you unique in that space, and helped partners want to send business your way. Too often people don't say thank you, but you showed a lot of gratitude to people who referred you business. I think that was a huge milestone or differentiator for you. You did it very well.
What was happening to your confidence and your income during this time? What was going on with you both mentally and in your pocket?
Kevin: You know I'd like to say that it was always a straight line going forward but to be very honest, it's been an up-and-down process. But, what's happened, slowly over time, was that I got better at what I was doing. I hadn't done this before, so as I developed more confidence, I started to develop more and more referral sources. It wasn't just Bank referrals that I was working, all though, they were the key source in the beginning, I begin to Branch out as I developed relationships with realtor partners, investment advisors and other people in the community. Making that change was really critical to my present success.
Tim: And you started making more money than you made before….
Kevin: Yeah that's true. That's really true. It's nice to work in the type of role that you really do get rewarded for the extra work that you do and get rewarded when you do a great job for people.
Tim: So in the beginning your pay - your guaranteed pay was maybe half of what you were making before. And you know it took a few months, but eventually you got to the point where your pay actually exceeded what you were making before. So when you turned that corner it felt great didn't it!
Kevin: It sure did, sure did.
Tim: So when you finally reached that number one sales position in your company, which was about a year in, did we stop working on things, just kind of figured you've arrived?
Kevin: (laughing) No way - you never arrive - it's always a process you’ve got to constantly be looking for additional referral partners because there may come a day that one of your primary referral sources will not be there for whatever reason and so it's always that opportunity to find new clients to work with and new referral Partners as well.
Tim: Remember the “go for a million” day?
Kevin: Yeah, Tim, so if you would remind me which day you're talking about because we've had more than one of those days. . . which one are you referring to?
Tim: I remember back when you called me one day, and you were having a pretty, down month, a pretty slow week. I think it was a Tuesday. We came up with a game plan for the week and I said, “Kevin, you know this week you can do it. Go get ‘em!” You went out and got started. On Wednesday, you called me and you said, “Tim I got just about $600,000 in new applications!” and I said “way to go! Go for a million!” You called me again on Thursday and said, “hey Tim I'm at $907,000. I said “Great, keep going!”. You called me at noon on Friday, and you said, “I don't think I'm going to make it but I'm at $950,000” and I said to you, “Kevin go for a million and don't go home until you get it!” remember that?
(Tim and Kevin are both laughing)
Kevin: Yeah that's amazing that's been a while.
Tim: It was - it was almost 2 years and I remember you called me at 6 and you said, “Tim I got a million 50!” You did it! The reason that I told you do that was just to prove to yourself that you could do it. Breaking through that mental barrier of a million dollars was huge. At that point, a million dollars of new applications in one week was just a phenomenal week - it was a record-setting week for you, but I don't know if you remember that entire month? So the next Tuesday we chatted again and I said, “Kevin what's your goals for the week?” and your goals at the time where $350,000 in applications for the week. Your stated goal was $350,000, and I said, “so you did a million dollars last week. . . why isn't your goal a million dollars this week?”
( both Kevin and Tim laughed)
Tim: And so you did that for 4 weeks in a row I don't know if you remember that?
Kevin: Yeah you have a great memory! What I remember about that Tim is, I would have this tendency to hit all my goals for the week and then I'd kind of quit and go back to what I was more comfortable doing and not really push through to the next sales level. So you really helped me break through and upset the apple cart of how I think about sales goals. Thanks I really appreciate that, that was very helpful!
Tim: Yeah that mindset, when you hit your goal and now you shut down, is absolutely the wrong thing. Great sales people don't do that do they? - if they're having a successful week they ride the wave. You ride the wave because you've got it happening. The right thing to do is to ride that wave and finish by putting all your energy into it instead of “it's Wednesday and I hit my goal so I’ll go play Golf the rest of the week”. When you adopt that thinking, you're always going to be an average salesperson. I think you've learned this critical lesson at that point in time. It was that month that you actually joined the top 5% of people in the country in terms of mortgage originators.
When you broke through that barrier, you already had a 4 million dollar application month, and you realized you were producing at the same level as the top 5% of mortgage originators. Why did you continue with coaching after you achieved that level of success? Which was about 60 days after becoming the top producer in your bank, why did you continue coaching after you reached that level of success?
Kevin: Well I didn't want to quit there. I mean why stop there? If I'm going to go to the next level then I still need support to get there. And I wouldn't have had that month without the coaching and support and the focus to get there... and if I wanted to go to the next level I still needed a coach.
Tim: Yeah so you weren't satisfied with where you were. You still wanted to make progress.
Kevin: Of course.
Tim: That's great. So why do you still use the Focus5 App today?
Kevin: The Focus5 app (productivity app) has been a critical tool that has kept me on track. You and I don't talk everyday - we touch base once a week and the Focus5 app is the tool in between that reminds me what I'm supposed to be doing. You might be thinking that it's easy, that I can do those five goals, and I can remember those five goals, but it's a crazy week every week, and there's a lot that demands my time and attention. So it's so helpful to be able to pull it out of my phone and go, “oh yeah, that’s what I need to focus on”! When I walk into this day I want to be sure that I focus on these key goals, beyond the stuff that just comes across my desk every day. And so, more recently, I have added additional to-dos and follow-ups - just keeping track of all the different prospects that come in from various places as well as urgent to-dos . . . just having it all in one place has lowered my stress level so I can keep track of what's going on. Not just the big goals but the day-to-day kind of “got to get it done” stuff too.
Tim: That's great and recording your results in Focus5 gives you a perspective you might not otherwise have. I know we've used it to analyze your progress along the way. As you may recall, we've gone into Focus 5 and printed reports on our activities, and we said okay what changed? Results improved, results got worse. What changed in terms of my activities. And started to see some Trends and patterns, remember that?
Kevin: Yeah I it's critical because I can't remember what I did 3 weeks ago and that's the only way to keep it all in one place.
Tim: Yeah, the Focus5 app helps analyze why am I doing better / worse now than 3 weeks ago. I had it happening, now I don't. What's changed. You can see what you're actually doing in terms of activities over time. So it really is a great tool for assessing what’s going on when you fall back into old habits. It is pretty easy to do, isn't it Kevin?
Kevin: Oh yeah.
Tim: We're all creatures of habit so falling back into old patterns can be quite devastating. So where are you today and where do you think you'd be if you decided to do this entirely on your own instead of getting a coach?
Kevin: If I were left to myself I think that I would easily get off track and not stay with my goals. It's just from being with myself long enough I know I will revert to doing that which is more comfortable. . . and probably not push myself in the same way. I've really grown a lot, and a good piece of that has come from having the support - encouragement and coaching. Realistically I don't think I would have done all that on my own and going forward you know I continue to need that as I want to take steps to be better as a person and as a professional and even be more productive in what I'm doing. So coaching is absolutely critical for all of that.
Tim: Where do you think you'd be if you'd never decided to take the leap from a salaried position in operations to a commissioned mortgage originator?
Kevin: Well, I'd be making about half of what I'm making today and probably be miserable too! I really like what I do today!
Tim: It's been fun watching you go from a job that was a job to a career that you love. It's been fun seeing and hearing and chatting with you weekly and watching the transformation. It's just a privilege to be a part of that transformation. Can you share some of the things that have become possible for you and your family that would not have become possible had you not made this decision and hired a coach?
Kevin: Yeah for sure so we were the ones that consistently spent a little bit more than we made. My wife went back to work and we were still having those challenges. My son had some extra needs that we had to spend some money on and it really was not easy to put it all together and what's happened since I made this transition- I've made substantial increases in my income and that’s how we got out of debt.
We were able to be free of everything except for the mortgage. It's giving us some flexibility to do some things to the house that we couldn't do for a long time that we’re finally able to get around to doing. So it's really opened up some options for us there as well. Just saving money, really saving the way we need to, to be set up for success in the later years of life. . . that will come all too soon.
Tim: Well congratulations on that so how's coaching and your success helped you control your ability to have choices - you know we all have choices of time, family, future, recognition, confidence. . . what has it done for you in those places.
Kevin: Yes so coaching has set me up to be successful in each of those areas and to be, how do I say it, to be the master of my own life instead of feeling out of control and at the mercy of everybody else for my work or my job my boss. It really has set me up to be in control and to be able to do the things that I want to do. I can now set aside my time to focus properly and structure properly the things I want to do. So there's a good balance between work and family because if this is all work, then that's not the goal either. It's really to have the kind of life that we all want where we all really enjoy what we do and who we do it with.
Tim: That's terrific so you're finally getting to experience a more balanced life. That's great. So do you have any new dreams or goals for your wife and your son? Things that you can see yourself doing in the future, you know ways that you can impact their lives that weren't even imaginable with your old job?
Kevin: Yeah for sure. One of the things we're actually making plans to do it now is in the middle of winter, when business is slower and there's not much going on - to take that opportunity to go on a vacation where it's a little bit warmer. I live in the northern part of the country, so that's something we've never really done before - it wasn't part of the opportunities available. I wasn't at an income where that was possible. That's a small example, but it's something that we're really looking forward to - something we've never done before.
Tim: That is so cool. . . . actually it's so warm so warm (and they both laugh).
So you recently had a great month in a single day. You had one of your best days ever. It was your biggest production day since you started. Tell us about that and what led up to making that day possible?
Kevin: So yeah as I work and I do my job well, that stands out to clients, and so certain opportunities happen as a result. It doesn't show up overnight. It takes time to build confidence and clients. I work with a couple different people at this particular investment firm. I also work with one of our commercial lenders that has a great relationship with them and so there were a couple mortgage opportunities that came up and they needed to talk to somebody right away. So they know me a little bit but the commercial lender also knew me and had confidence because I got a difficult transaction done for him and the clients were very pleased - As a result I got a couple of the larger loan opportunities on this particular day, they came through those channels. But it came from doing things well over time. It didn't just show up the first day I arrived at the bank you know. It's been over a year of doing the right things before this kind of opportunity came up. So it's consistency over time that really wins the day.
Tim: So building your relationships, building your expertise, building people's confidence, and skills over time resulted in one huge day! Tell us how big your day - your production day was.
Kevin: Yeah this particular day it was 2.6 million dollars in loans. There were a couple of opportunities there. There was also another client, that same day, so three loans for 2 .6 million. . . not a bad day at all!
Tim: Not a bad month even, right?
Kevin: Yeah that's right! A month's worth of production in one day . . . that's fantastic!
Tim: So October’s looking real good right now.
Kevin: You bet for sure!
Tim: So how do you feel about your potential now given this experience of the biggest day ever?
Kevin: It really opened my eyes - just like before when I had $1,000,000 week and that seems unbelievable and it's hard to get my mind around you know the limits. . . are there limits? You know - what else is possible? And that really opens up the door. You know - wow where could this go? That kind of thing is really encouraging. It's exciting and you just want to stay open to the possibilities and don't put that dollar figure or whatever that might be a limiting factor. . . you always stay open to the possibilities!
Tim: So given the $2.6 million dollar day a $10 million dollar month is not out of the realm of possibilities right?
Kevin: Right although if you talked to me a few weeks ago, I would have said no way but now I’d say, “why not? Why limit myself with something less than that if it's possible?”
Tim: I really like what you’ve shared - that it comes as a result - your business has grown as a result of your skills, your disciplines, your habits, your confidence, your attitude and it takes all of them to really make that happen. Is that a pretty accurate statement?
Kevin: Oh yes for sure. And I'll say that coaching and the Focus5 App has kept me on that track.
Tim: How does coaching fit in your future?
Kevin: Well it's been an integral part of my success getting here, and it's going to be an integral part of my success going to the next level of where I want to go.
Tim: So do you think you'll ever be done with coaching?
Kevin: (laughing) said no!
Tim: I love to hear that because I have so much fun with you. We’ve had such a great time together and it's been a terrific journey. Watching you learn and grow, seeing you achieve your level of success, and transform into a successful professional has been a blast. That your life and the life of your family has been transformed - I just want to say it's been an absolute pleasure being on this journey with you. Thanks for taking me along!
Kevin: And thank you for being there for me! I really appreciate it to Tim. You're great to work with. You really have a great combination of being an encouraging voice but also a consistent voice- a persistent voice to keep pushing me forward too - and at the same time you really do a great job of balancing these two.
Tim: Well, thank you Kevin. I expect we haven't heard the end of your story. I suspect there's going to be more breakthroughs and I look forward to sharing as we continue to make progress. I wish you all the best of success in the future! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today!
Kevin: It's been great thanks!