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Massachusetts industry appointments update - 1/3/2007

National Mortgage Professional
Jan 02, 2007

Technology provides a brand new approach to managing leadsBill RiceMortgage lead management Not so long ago, during the refinance boom, mortgage professionals were seemingly overwhelmed by the sheer number of leads pouring in from the Internet. In more recent times, however, the market has shifted with many in the mortgage business finding themselves struggling to find clients. For the average mortgage professional, this means that he must keep the clients he does have and turn leads into closed business. Unfortunately, though, too many mortgage companies hinder their own chances for success by relying on customer relationship management (CRM) software as a system for gathering leads and transforming them into customers. CRM applications only present mortgage professionals with an organized list; they do nothing to drive those leads toward conversion. CRM is designed to handle existing customer relationships, not to create customers from leads. To be successful in the fast, competitive and often fickle online-centered customer marketplace, mortgage companies must adopt new technology that collects leads, assigns them appropriately and, most importantly, keeps them in front of mortgage professionals until they are qualified and closed. The best new technology literally drives leads to the mortgage professional's screen so that he spends more time selling and less time organizing information. In the typical shop, the individuals who are best at converting leads consume the fewest number of them, while those who are least successful burn up far more prospects and dollars. In one firm, for example, I found the top mortgage professional took only 35 new leads a month and converted a remarkable 17 percent of them. The poorest performing one, meanwhile, gobbled up nearly 300 new leads a month while converting less than one percent. Management was paying $65 a lead, wasting thousands of dollars on miserable performance. The latest available technology, which we call "customer acquisition management" (CAM), uses intelligent systems to evaluate which mortgage professionals are most likely to convert a specific lead and then pushes that lead forward. Customer acquisition technology manages the entire lifecycle of a lead, from initial contact to lead retention to commitment, and it does so with a level of speed and responsiveness that previously had not been available. CAM software gives mortgage professionals the ability to effectively manage 100 to 150 active leads at any point in time. After one lead is contacted and given a status, contact information for the next one appears on the screen so that the mortgage professional calls the right person at the right time. Mortgage professionals no longer need to waste time trying to figure out what to do next during their days; the software diligently takes them through their individual pipelines in a fashion that ensures the best people are contacting the best leads on a regular basis. The impact of this technology is staggering. A mortgage professional at a typical mortgage company makes 15 to 20 calls per day. When a CAM system is implemented, the number of calls often soars to 80 almost immediately. Recent marketing studies have demonstrated that 80 percent of sales close only after at least five contacts and 40 to 68 percent of unqualified leads become qualified within 12 months. A CRM system or general calendar does nothing to encourage the persistence and continuity of contact necessary to make the five, six or seven calls required to close a lead, nor does it push the sales force to re-contact previously disqualified leads many months later—leads that might simply be thrown away or ignored. Conventional technologies may issue a reminder or alert, but in planning his day, a mortgage professional must choose to act on what is perceived as an old lead that comes up in a reminder or fresh leads that he may (erroneously) feel have more potential. CAM technology requires the mortgage professional to contact the lead that the system places in front of him, before he can move on to the next lead. That person cannot just pull any name from the stack. Thus, the system drives mortgage professionals in an intelligent, methodical way that ensures the necessary repeated contact. In essence, it forces a behavioral shift toward efficiency and productivity. This methodology is a win-win opportunity for both decision makers at mortgage companies, and their sales staff. The company lays out fewer dollars to acquire leads, because its conversion rate soars and it no longer needs to spin off hundreds of leads to gain a single customer. Mortgage professionals win because their commissions immediately rise as more leads are converted more quickly and steadily. Furthermore, management can much more readily identify its best mortgage professionals and those who may need assistance. With CRM, mortgage professionals may be flooded with leads, and management has no idea what its people are doing with them. With CAM, management can see in real time the leads that are being distributed and the results each salesperson achieves. The system distributes leads, therefore, based on performance, and management can react quickly to the performance of its staff. CAM offers other benefits as well. Some Internet visitors enter fake information simply to determine current rates or may not provide complete or authentic contact information. Newer technologies will find and append the necessary contact information to each lead. For example, a homebuilder who owns a mortgage company may have previous addresses for thousands of homebuyers but no current contact information to solicit them for mortgage business. CAM is equipped to append the current phone numbers of each of those homebuyers, transforming them into worthwhile leads. New technology is driving mortgage professionals to a new level of success by introducing a behavioral change that enables them to deliver better performance. With the massive volume of leads that must be evaluated and contacted in our wired world, spreadsheets and makeshift methods are no longer fast enough nor smart enough to take full advantage of the potential these leads offer. Employing the latest technology, lead-gathering organizations suddenly become true sales organizations as conversions rise sharply. Those firms that understand the need for technology focused on transforming leads to customers, rather than technology tasked to manage current clientele, are the success stories of the immediate future and the emerging industry leaders in their markets. Bill Rice is the CEO of Kaleidico, an Internet technology company that provides lead acquisition, allocation and management solutions to mortgage companies. He may be reached at (866) 667-5253 or e-mail [email protected]
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