Last month, we began looking at the initial stages that every one of your prospects goes through as they strike up a relationship with you, from the tire-kicker stage to the Stage Two “Seekers.” This month, we're exploring what your prospects or clients are looking for in Stages Three through Five, and therefore, what you need to be able to provide to them, in order to keep them moving down the funnel toward closing.
Stage Three: The shoppers
Armed with the information they've obtained from you (or from another mortgage office), now they're ready to shop. They'll compare you to your competitor down the street and to online sources such as bankrate.com, or lowermybills.com.
Again, we have learned recently that many borrowers just don't shop around, but go straight to one company and never look at another. We also learned that price isn't necessarily the primary deciding factor, but often service is. Lesson for all of us: while we may not be able to compete with the lendingtree.coms of the world, we can compete on service and other factors. That's why it's so important to make your customer reviews readily available to shoppers.
In this stage, it's important to know your company's USP (Unique Selling Proposition), which answers the question, "What makes you unique from the other lenders or brokers?" or "Why should I purchase my loan from you?" Your sales materials, even down to the e-mails you send, should answer this question for prospects in the shopper stage.
Stage Four: The application
Your clients are excited. Chances are, they have found their perfect home. Now they're ready to make this thing happen—and tomorrow isn't too soon. And you've got to burst their bubble—gently.
If they're a first-time buyer, they may have no clue how time-consuming and labyrinth-like the loan process can be. Even if they're not a newcomer to homeownership, the rules have changed, and they may be required to submit MANY more docs than they did before.
This is when you want to provide them with concise information, either on your Web site or handouts, as to what to expect during the app process: Tips on credit, appraisals, gathering their docs, and so on. The more professional materials that you can provide that are simple to read, the more your LOs and your company will look like experts.
Finally, you want to continue to sell your company and your LO during this stage, because they may be hearing from other lenders with attractive offers. Be attentive, communicate positively and regularly; show just how good your customer service is. And continue this during Stage Five.
Stage Five: Waiting to close
During this stage, a number of elements are outside your control, such as how long underwriting takes, what additional docs are required, whether closing will happen on time, and so on. Most of the communication that happens here is one-on-one; by that I mean, you won't be handling the client a brochure, but rather communicating personally.
For instance, this is a good time to remember some of the things they told you earlier, such as their desire to upgrade the kitchen. Send them links to kitchen upgrade ideas online and a few contractors that they may want to talk with. If they're moving from outside the area, send them links to events in their new neighborhood. Just keep communicating—positively—with them (to help overcome any negative conversations that you may need to have, such as "Your closing's going to be delayed").
Now is a good time to ask for referrals as well. An e-mail is timely that says, "Most of my clients are referred to me from others who have worked with me in the past. Do you have any friends or family members who may be looking for a home purchase loan or a refinance loan?"
Next month, we will explore the last stage of the funnel … after the close. Too many loan originators stop communicating once they receive their commission check, forgetting that these valuable clients may very well bring you additional income in the future!
Jean LeBlanc is director of marketing for Guaranteed Home Mortgage Company. For more marketing tips, download the eBook, 13 Ways to Juice Up Your Marketing in 2013, by going to joinghmc.com and clicking on the eBook offer midway down the page.
She may be reached by phone at (914) 696-3400.