Remember the sales funnel? It marks each step that your prospective customer takes, from initial inquiries to signing on the dotted line. Why is the sales funnel so important in mortgage sales? Because your client needs different information and different responses from you at each stage, and if you provide the wrong responses, you may just lose that customer. It's critically important—and you as a branch manager or broker/owner need to provide your sales team with various marketing tools that are based on each funnel stage.
So let's take a deeper look at that funnel. This month, we'll explore the first two stages, and in subsequent months, we'll move further down that funnel, just as your prospects do.
Entering the funnel: The tire-kickers
These people making initial inquiries can be called looky-loos or tire-kickers. They're just beginning to explore the idea of buying a home, and wondering if they can afford it. Or they're beginning to consider whether they could save money every month if they refinanced.
You know this group well. At this stage, you spend more time answering their questions and educating them; most likely, any attempts your LO may make at closing them—even using a trial close—will be rebuffed, because they're just not at that stage in the funnel yet. Your role at this point is to become their trusted authority figure. Gain their confidence. Begin building bridges. Find out their goals, their needs. Most importantly, prequalify them.
Now, many will fall out at this stage, because they don't qualify, or they get cold feet and decide to wait awhile. Coach your staff not to automatically write them off; instead put them into a lead nurturing cycle with emails.
Stage 2: The seekers
The next stage down the funnel is what we'd call a seeker. They've made the decision to move forward, and now they're seeking their best options:
►What kind of loan do I need?
►What's the best downpayment option for me?
►What mortgage companies do I want to contact?
If this is a person who started with you at the top of the funnel, then they want you to guide them along. But what if they started with you as a seeker? You quickly have to ascertain where they are in your first conversation—do they seem to have the basic knowledge that they'll need? Have they been prequalified somewhere? Has their credit been pulled? Has someone walked them through various scenarios yet?
At this stage, your LOs are selling their prospective client on themselves, the company, and your ability to match them with the best loan option for their situation. They want to know about the solidity of your company. They want to know how qualified your LO is. Testimonials on your Web site and referrals on your social media pages and local directories are a huge help both in this stage and the next, because they want to see your success stories.
They also want your LO to hold their hand and walk them through various scenarios, explaining the different types of loans and their pros and cons. Again, any pages on your website that you can refer them to, that explain, for instance, the difference between a fixed rate loan and a 10/1, 7/1 or 5/1 ARM will be very helpful. If they're meeting face-to-face, it's good to have short hand-outs for them. Your hand-outs should explain as concisely as possible (no three-page explanations, please!) and use NO industry jargon.
Recent studies have shown that many people, particularly first-time homebuyers and those buying less expensive homes, may skip both the seeker stage and part of the shopper stage, which is next. They simply find a company that they want to work with, perhaps from a referral from a trusted family member, friend or their real estate agent.
Next month we will explore stages three through five of the sales funnel, and how you can help move your prospects further through the funnel right up to loan closing.
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.