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Creating a happy union between two technologies that don’t typically get along
At one time or another, many of us have heard of an impending marriage and suspected it may not work out. Of course, love is often blind, and those closest to the matter are unable to see clearly enough to predict their future. The marriage of software technologies can be no different, and in our industry, we’re seeing a lot of compatibility problems right now.
To deal with compliance costs and lagging volumes, a growing number of lenders are turning to lead management software for help. Besides being an investment in new business, lead management systems can provide consistency to a lender’s branding campaigns. The problem is that most lead management solutions don’t work well with most LOS systems. The reasons why are very similar to the reasons why many marriages don’t work. And the problems are so significant that these unions often end poorly.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of these sort of “toxic” relationships up close. But I also see how they can work. From my perspective, I’ve identified the characteristics that a healthy marriage between lead management and LOS software should have.
They talk to each other
It’s extremely common for software providers to market how friendly their products are with other software. Everything is always described as “easily integrated.” However, it’s one thing to be able to export leads into your LOS from your lead management platform, but quite another to have a truly closed loop integration of all data available on a 24/7 basis.
This issue goes deeper than software. Marketing and sales staffs within mortgage organizations traditionally haven’t communicated with each other very well. They need each other, but their roles are naturally different. Technology integration challenges exaggerate this issue.
For a lender’s marketing and sales operations to work in harmony, both the people and the systems must have access to the same data, regardless of which system someone is using. For example, LOS users who are working with a borrower to get them pre-approved for a mortgage, can benefit greatly by having access to the calls, emails, rate information, and marketing campaigns that drove the borrower into the application phase. And lead management system users want to know if the opportunity they drove converts into a funded loan. This two way communication helps both sides work smarter and optimize their efforts for better results.
If one looks closely at how a happily married couple “works,” it usually boils down to prioritization. Individually, we all have our own needs and goals. When two people get married, neither one can be constantly putting their needs ahead of the other. They need to prioritize.
For example, no lender can afford to miss an opportunity to reach out to highly motivated buyers, or get an application started when a borrower is ready to move. A lender’s LOS must be sensitive to these needs. Likewise, a lender’s lead management software must know which loans are important to process immediately due to TRID timelines or other factors. Lastly, both sides should understand that compliance with CFPB mandates or any other critical rule or guideline supersedes all other concerns.
Prioritization is particularly critical for lenders that lack a defined contact strategy for reaching out to borrowers. Until the recent past, lenders have followed up with borrowers by using Outlook reminders and Post-It notes. In fact, many still do. The only surefire method is to use technology that automatically reminds users when to reach out to prospects at the right time, so they never miss an opportunity.
Another example … I talk to many loan officers who don’t have a concrete strategy for staying in contact with borrowers after taking their prequalification information. They tell me that they generally just wait for these pre-qualified borrowers to call them back when they are ready to move forward. When digging in deeper, these loan officers tell me that they would love having a list that shows which pre-qualified borrowers are most important to call. When the marriage between a lender’s LOS and lead management is strong, the loan officer can prioritize the list of borrowers according to things like the current interest level of the borrower, the referral source the lead came from, or the time of the day the lead originally came into the system.
One popular idea is to call pre-qualified borrowers on Friday afternoon, before they go house hunting, and again on Monday morning, to see how their house hunt went. Loan officers can also use a borrower’s pre-qualification status and other status updates—delivered from the LOS—to create specific emails or text messages to borrowers to keep them engaged throughout their home search. But these levels of prioritization only occur if a lender’s LOS and lead management software are closely aligned.
The marriage creates value for others
It's probably obvious that happily married couples communicate and have their priorities balanced. What may not be so obvious is the benefit to others of a happy marriage.
A successful LOS/lead management relationship creates a higher level of value than either system can create by itself. For example, if a lender’s lead management and LOS software are completely in sync, they create real-time transparency into reliable data that benefits more than just the day-to-day users of the systems.
The lender’s management team now has access to reliable data at any time and can make key business decisions on the fly. Even real estate agents can be kept updated with the progress of their customer’s loan status, information that makes them look smarter to their clients and other agents. This also helps the lender earn the agent’s trust and future referral business.
Of course, whether one is talking about human beings or software, it takes considerable forethought to know whether both sides in a relationship have what it takes to make things work. We all have high hopes when a new relationship is getting started, but lenders need to ask honest questions about what their providers can actually do, and whether communication, prioritization, and collaboration are truly possible.
While so many “marriages” between lead management and LOS software are struggling, I believe it is possible to reach marital harmony. A common thread to success to a successful software partnership is technology, and right now, there are enormous innovations happening between marketing and sales software that are likely to increase the odds of marital bliss.
One more thing … most of us seem to accept the statement that half of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. But according to the latest statistics, the divorce rate has actually decreased over the past several decades. There could be many possible reasons for this, but one of them might be that our society is constantly learning and paying more attention to what makes relationships work. When it comes to making software relationships work, maybe lenders can do this too.
Scott Payne joined Velocify in 2014 as an enterprise account manager, collaborating with Velocify clients on the implementation and management of lead management strategies and analytics to help drive a maximum return on investment. Prior to Velocify, Scott spent 10 years at Nationstar Mortgage, including time as a loan officer, sales manager, and vice president of Originations Marketing. Scott can be reached by e-mail at [email protected].
This article originally appeared in the May 2016 print edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.