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Know Your BDM: Neil Keenan, SortRefer

  • 08/11/2021
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Know Your BDM: Neil Keenan, SortRefer
This week, Mortgage Solutions is speaking with Neil Keenan, business development manager at SortRefer.


What locations and how many advisers and broker firms do you cover in your role?  

My region is one of the biggest, I cover Newcastle all the way down the beautiful east coast to just North of Peterborough. There’s well over 3,000 registered brokers in my region, so I’m definitely kept busy. 


How have you changed the way you establish and maintain a good relationship with brokers in the pandemic?  

The dreaded Covid obviously made the job very different for getting on for 18 months, I just tried to keep in touch with as many people as possible by phone, email and Zoom. I enjoy the face-to-face part of the job, so discovering Zoom has been great. 


What personal talent/skill is most valuable in doing your job?  

I like to think I’ve got loads of skills and talents of course. I actually think my ability to stay calm and level-headed during busy and stressful times has really helped me stay on top of things and still be effective.  


What personal talent/skill would you most like to improve on? 

Technology. I’m rubbish with computers; I like people, not machines.   


Where would you rather be stuck, in bumper-to-bumper traffic or back-to-back Zoom calls?  

I hate being stuck in traffic, but since I moved away from the North West, it’s nowhere near as bad. There’s nothing worse than being late for a meeting, so definitely back-to-back Zooms for me.  


What’s the best bit of career-related advice you’ve ever been given?  

As a younger man I was always conscious of how I would be perceived by people who’d been in the industry for years. As a consequence, I’d tone my personality down and try to fit in. An old boss of mine told me to always be myself and be true to who I am, ever since I found everything easier, and I have been more successful.  


What was the greatest lesson you learned during lockdown?  

I learned a lot during lockdown. Important stuff like not to take family and friends for granted, but loads of other smaller things too. I realised how much money my missus wastes on Amazon, how noisy my neighbours are, and how demanding two Yorkshire terriers can be. 


What was the first social event you attended once restrictions were eased?  

I met up with the lads in Chester, a day at the races, plenty of beer and laughs.   


What was your motivation for choosing business development as a career? 

Being a BDM just suits who I am as a person. I like meeting new people and I do enjoy the selling aspect, especially to brokers who have initial reservations. I would add though, that being a BDM can be a very different experience depending on who you work for. At SortRefer, I’m allowed to do things my own way without being micromanaged, it makes a huge difference.  


If you could do any other job in the property sector, what would it be and why?  

I’d be one of those high end estate agents, the ones that sell £20m apartments in New York. I could definitely do that, just might have to tone down the accent for the posh people.  


What did you want to be growing up?  

A lighthouse keeper. All the furniture had to be specially made with circular edges to use the space properly so, I wanted to live in a lighthouse.  


What’s your favourite face mask design/pattern to wear?  

A big one. My head is enormous, cantaloupe like, and quite furry. The majority of masks are stretched across my face making my ears stick out. It’s probably been the toughest part of Covid for me.   


And finally, what’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked?  

Professionally I was once asked by a broker to walk their dog, as she was injured. I did it of course, I like dogs, more than people. Outside of work I was once asked for an autograph by an American bloke who thought I was the boxer, Tony Bellew. 

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