How did this happen? Early in my career, when I was given a lead−that is a lead-in to a new prospect−I jumped at the chance. Call, call and make more calls. No cellphones, no answering machines, no (gasp) email!
Somewhere along the way the idea of a lead has become downright offensive to some, totally infuriating to others and is often associated with poor quality contacts, tire kickers, generally not those a sophisticated, professional originator, with whom an experienced type (such as yourself) should associate.
But then, there are professional originators who do work these leads, work hard at developing trusting relationships and close a bunch of them. How do they do it? Why do they do it?
I think the source of the bias, as is true for most biases, is misinformation. “The Internet is filled with people who are just wanting to compare my rates (services, products) and get the best deal!” Duh, that is the American way. Find a competitive arena, find the best deal (not always price) and use competition to one's advantage.
Leads, what are they, really? I suggest they come from many sources. Certainly Internet leads are hugely popular, but what about other leads? You have telephone leads; walk-in leads; organic leads, that is, leads developed through your own website; and internal efforts such as referral leads. You want the short answer? Leads are people who might want to do business with you or your company.
How do you turn a lead into a prospect? It’s a little harder than maybe we are used to, but certainly well within our abilities if we work at them smartly and use the tools that are available to us smartly.
What things are key? First thing is make contact quickly, efficiently and effectively. Quickly−I know, there are several different auto-dialer technologies and various pieces of software that will electronically reach out and make that initial contact. Any contact is great. Better yet, call yourself and actually have a real conversation!
Develop a relationship. Verify not only your quote, but also get some basic information about the borrower. Income, job history, a feel for their credit, property range they are investigating, are they tire kickers?
This initial contact is key and it doesn’t make any difference if the lead came from the Internet or your favorite bank teller. The reality of the mortgage business is that it is very difficult to make a consistent, high level income through just the people you know. If you are in a large community, there are just too many distractions. If you are in a small community, there is just not a large enough pool of prospects to work.
Broaden your horizons and make each and every lead count. Turn them into prospects and then turn them into closed loans. You are going to need to get organized and get some tools to help you.
You should have an auto-quoting piece. This will allow you to make contact even if you are busy, it is the middle of the night or you are reading a favorite bedtime story to your children. Make sure it’s a tool that will not only quote but also notify you of the quote, provide you with contact information and some other basic loan information. Even if it comes to you in the middle of the night, as soon as you can, make that call and establish that rapport.
You will need a drip marketing mechanism. This will assure the prospect (no longer a lead) that you are there and are working with them. Don’t pester them with worthless information, provide them with information they are sure to need. Do they have a title company selected? Do they have a real estate agent or do they need one? What about homeowner’s insurance?
Help them find and select the services they will need and you will only strengthen your bond with them. Schedule your marketing to address their needs as they will need them. Don’t give them a list of 20 items and expect them to remember. You are the expert, provide expert support.
When they are ready, do you have a way to send them a 1003, efficiently or effectively? Electronically is best. Nearly everyone has access to the Internet, either at home, work or a library. A lot of people will enjoy completing the application (to the best of their ability). Be ready to help them if they get stuck or bored or confused. Again, you are the expert. Just because it is easy for you, doesn’t mean it is for them.
When you get the application back into your hands, verify some information to make sure they are on the right track. Did they put net income instead of gross income? A lot of people are confused on that and many other questions that come up during the course of the application process.
Above all, establish the personal relationship. Most people in our line of work love that part of the business. Customers will appreciate it and they will be more forthcoming with accurate information that will help you do your job better and make you look even more like the total professional you are, both to your soon to be clients and your bosses.
Odds are, you will even make a little more money with a little less stress. It will be a big win for you...all around.