WE'RE HEARING like the rest of America, I watched the football game last week. Note the generic use of the term “football game” since the NFL has not granted me the right to use the actual name of the game in this column. For that, I would have to be considered the official mortgage blogger of the Super Bowl, which I am not. Apparently, it’s OK for football players to kill each other but not OK for the world to use the term “Super Bowl” without permission. So, Roger Goodell, please don’t sue me for trademark infringement.

In any case, I enjoyed what I saw. I thought the banging at the beginning, the amazingly well designed plays, the diversity of the game plan were very impressive. Both teams performed well. It was great. Of course, I am talking about the half-time show, where Bruno Mars channeled every past pop star’s dance moves and the Red Hot Chili Peppers kept most of their clothes on. I will say that I was worried about a possible wardrobe malfunction for the Chili’s as they are known to wear only athletic socks (strategically placed athletic socks) at some of their shows. Maybe they planned that as their costume but could not get approval for offering up the "official sock" of the Super Bowl.

In all seriousness, the Super Bowl was another blowout, perhaps caused by the overly relaxed play of the Denver team. Perhaps the use of medical marijuana inhibited the ability of the Broncos to play, or maybe Seattle was just that good. But certainly, the game is over, the better team won, and Denver is left with a long off season.

Well, maybe not so long. In fact, I am sure they have already started working on next season, and doing all the little things (like remembering how to snap the ball) that are necessary to be successful the next time around. And now, it’s time for me to relate that lesson to the mortgage industry and to tell you how it relates to my current recurring topic, conversion.

You see, too often in mortgage banking we see a lead opportunity as a one-time thing, as the only shot you get at success. Last week, we even talked about how to leverage effective lead management to increase your chances of success when you get that shot at converting the coveted lead opportunity.

Well, this week it’s about taking a dead lead and turning it into a future opportunity. For the Broncos, that is akin to accepting defeat in the big game, but knowing you have another opportunity to play in the future. The contest, as it were, is not really over when the big game ends. We have to learn to think in the same way.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about leveraging advanced data techniques to sort through large databases of old customers and finding the ones that are likely in the market for a new loan. This is a great way for banks to harvest new business without ever leaving their own existing customer database. But what about the majority of borrowers who are not ready for a new loan? And what about all of those that come in off the street to apply but don’t quite make the guidelines? Is the game over for these borrowers?

For every application a good loan officer gets into the pipeline, there are three other prospective borrowers who weren’t quite ready to buy, or at least to buy from the lender. Over the course of a year, this can lead to hundreds of leads, which the lender now owns and doesn’t have to buy from another source.

Too often, lenders only think of consumers ready to make application as a lead, when the truth is that every consumer who wants to buy a first home, refinance a home or move up to a new home is a prospect, whether they are ready to make application or not is a lead.

Prospecting for purchase money leads is hard work. There are laws that may prevent you from calling on qualified prospects. But if you already have a relationship with a prospect, you are free to make contact with them. This is part of what makes these near miss consumers so valuable.

The other advantage is that the borrower will perceive the lender who comes back to them and offers them another shot at their dream as a partner, a benefactor even. When these loans ultimately close, the lender has a much better chance of having a very satisfied customer who will, in turn, bring them more business.

I spoke in a previous column about the value of data mining yesterday’s trash. But to paraphrase Bruno Mars, old leads are not trash, they are “Treasure, that is what they are!” (I got that entire lyric out without having to resort to dancing or doing an onstage split.)

The lender that stays in the game can eventually close that business without paying the high price of purchasing the lead again in the future. The key to finding them may lie in the data mart. These third-party tools match your database with data elements aggregated from public records, credit, demographic and other techniques. What do these data techniques give you? If you have maintained contact with near misses in the past, this will tell you when those consumers are actually ready to qualify for a loan.

In fact, this topic is so important that I plan to moderate a debate at the MBA Tech Show in March about how to use such technology to make your lead conversion work better.

I guess you could argue that if the game had no time limits, Denver could have eventually rallied and made it a real contest. Sadly for Peyton, his game came to a definite end. Don’t let the game end for those prospects you can’t close today because one day soon they will secure a loan…with someone. Meanwhile, I will keep the socks on my feet, and leave the dancing to the professionals.

Garth Graham is a partner with Stratmor Group, and has over 25 years of mortgage experience, from Fortune 500 companies to startups, including management of two of the most successful mortgage e-commerce platforms. He was formerly with Chase Manhattan Mortgage and ABN Amro, where he was a senior executive during the sale of its mortgage group to Citigroup.