Monthly Archives: July 2007

Paul Knag says Buy Local and Finance Local…

Why can’t this be a real Internet origination strategy? The research has shown that all of these consumers start their buying process online. There are also indications that many may ultimately buy or finance locally.

Why can’t these be compatible?

We know where the properties are down to the Zip Code. Why isn’t anyone effectively aggregating and giving these local banks and branches the buying power. These niche lead buyers could give consumers a great online and offline experience.

I think there is some semblance of this concept in Net Branches, but they have de-evolved into Wild Wild West operations and seem to offer little back to the branch in terms of marketing or sales services.

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Lead Exchange and Provider Go Transparent

How refreshing is this?

Lead Critic does a nice bit of research and analysis of what to many Lenders may seem a bit of a “black box” and LeadPoint opens up the box and is very clear as to what is inside.

Meanwhile, BigMortgageLeads is sharing real statistical data about lead conversion patterns.

I feel an exciting tipping point of increased transparency and willingness to openly interact about our businesses.

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Why the Resistance to Internet Marketing Channel?

As the mortgage market begins to contract, as it always does, the various components begin the typical adjustments–products change, guidelines tighten, loan officers and processors migrate out or are reduced. All of these adjustments we have seen before, but there is one opportunity in the market that I see constant resistance to accept and incorporate as a sustaining strategy…

This is an open mic question. I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback.

Internet lead generation, as a viable marketing method and revenue model, emerged about the time rates started their record descent and the refinance boom kicked off. This created an interesting dynamic in the market. Almost two completely divergent origination models.

First, and most traditional, was the continued tried and true course of fairly autonomous branch network, dependent on pressing referral networks, and wholesale operations to tap into the 65% or so of the loan production market that are independent brokers.

Then there was the emerging, centrally managed call-center style, origination platforms like Ameriquest, Countrywide, and Quicken Loans. These players created a very consistent and efficient originations methodology that was almost exclusively stoked by Internet leads.

The first model seems to be creaking and groaning in the changing environment and the second seems to be fueling some of fastest ascending originators in the market. Proof? Look at the top 20 loan originators in the market 10 years ago. Quicken Loans is nowhere to be found.

Why does there seem to be such a barrier to adopting this marketing channel to at least be a component of your marketing mix? Even the smallest broker mixes marketing media–mailers, list buying, professional networks, friends and family. Is it that much of a cultural and organizational shift? Have too many people been burned by scam or fly-by-night Internet lead sources? Are referrals really sustaining all of the business you need to be successful? What are your thoughts?

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Leads2007 Only 3 Weeks Away!

Leads2007 is only three weeks away and there is assembling a great mix of some of the smartest individuals in the Internet lead industry; ranging the full spectrum of lead supplier to buyer. If you have not yet registered please do so as soon as possible so we can get an accurate count for the sponsored events and room sizes. It’s only $99, what are you thinking about? Register here!

Leads360 will be kicking things off with a great pre-event mixer! Starting at 7:00 pm on Sunday, August 12th at a great Tampa venue–Big City Tavern in downtown Tampa.

If you have not checked out the current sessions agenda at the Leads2007 Wiki here is a quick rundown:

See you in Tampa!

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Ever Wonder What Happens to Internet Leads?

BigMortgageLeads gives us some great insight into what happens to a consumer after they fill out a mortgage Web form. The data is even more interesting because I think it runs counter to most common lead buyer intuition about this consumer (e.g., they are shoppers, not buyers; they lie about equity; they are not a good referral base)

From BigMortgageLeads new blog:

  • 44% of leads closed a loan or were in the process of closing a loan within 90 days of filling out the form
  • On average, loans funded for $30,000 more than the amount that the lead entered into our form
  • 76% of leads filled out only one form online when shopping for a mortgage
  • 52% of the leads could not remember the name of any of the lenders who contacted them after filling out the form
  • 61% of leads discussed their loan with friends / family to solicit a reference

There are definitely some conclusions to be drawn from this data. The most notable is that lenders and LOs are “turning and burning” on good customers that are talking to friends and family. Where is the trusted, brandable relationship we talk about over and over and over again.

BigMortgageLeads, thanks for sharing!

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Kaleidico extends it Lead Management Platform into Education

As you know, I have long viewed lead management as a platform to connect marketing and sales to increase conversion. The vertical or industry is irrelevant. The challenge is created by the emergence of the Internet and the consumers’ expectations in that environment.

Our new partnership with CollegeRover allows us to demonstrate how quickly our lead management platform can extend into any venue. Combined with that is the interesting innovations that CollegeRover is launching into the lead generation market.

Stay tuned…and welcome career counselors and college advisors to Better Closer!

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Bob Dylan on Sales Excellence

I went to my first Bob Dylan concert last Thursday and like most who have experienced the “Poet Laureate of Rock ‘n Roll”–I was inspired!

It all started with the fans and the enthusiasm they exuded before the show. They were not coming to hear their favorite song from some album they were there for THEIR show. They were coming to experience Dylan as he never comes through on a CD (not even a live album).

By the second song in Dylan’s set, “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” I knew there were lessons to be learned.

What does this have to do with sales (or business) excellence? Simple. Bob Dylan has shown us how to captivate a fanatical fan base and a create a converting experience for first timers–all in the same show. Here is the formula:

Do it with Passion

Do it with passion. You should enjoy what you sell. You should be fanatical about getting better. You should want to know all of the ways you can help your fans (past clients) or your first timers (prospects).

It was refreshing to watch an artist grimace a little when something isn’t quite tuned, grin a little when he knows he hit it just right, and make it a little unique for each venue and date.

Do it a Little Different (Even a lot Different)

People naturally identify value with different. No one wants to buy generic. They want to feel like they got something special. Something that you can only get from one place.

Dylan doesn’t care what the music industry says. He doesn’t even care what the fans say if they don’t get it. All the while, he delivers his special brand. And those that get it are: fanatical, at every show, and know that there is no where else to get it.

Make Every Experience Unique

People like to feel like you are talking or working only for them. To accomplish that you have to create a system that allows you to improvise, mix and match, and recall as if every conversation is the only one you are having for the day.

Dylan is a master at creating and reinventing new experiences. From the days of quite acoustic folk songs under a single strobe; to masterful electric guitar and keyboard (even the occasional drums) riffs. The result? You had better keep coming back and if you only go to one show you are guaranteed it is like no other–ever!

Looking for a few examples of Mortgage Industry Bob Dylan’s?

  • Lead Critic, stepping into the Internet Lead Market where no one has gone before
  • The Diff, Quicken Loans looking for the difference that makes excellence wherever it may appear
  • LeadPoint and RootExchange, changing the way we look at the lead generation market

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Hot Transfers and Telemarketing for Lead Conversion

It seems that the hot topic for the last couple of months has been increasing conversion and Internet leads ROI with the use of contact or telemarketing teams. This is sure to be a key best practices topic at Leads2007. Here are some samples of the discussion from some of the smart people that have already signed-up:

We are looking forward to having intense discussions fueled by lenders, lead providers, lead management, technology, VCs, and journalist.

Get the cheapest ($99) Internet lead conversion ticket of the year. Register NOW!

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Synergy Between Lead Management and Lead Generation

DMConfidential recently published a great trends article about Kaleidico, lead management, and the lead generation industry. It is certainly clear that DMConfidential believes, like we do, that lead management is going to continue to play a central role in helping lead buyers to be more successful in converting their leads:

“Lead management systems are far more complex than affiliate tracking; yet, the majority of affiliate networks use third-party software. The same holds true in the lead world. They either use no software or they use third-party ones like Kaleidco’s IcoSales. Close one more lead, though, which in many markets means thousands in profit, and you can see how this can mean more money to the lead generators and why lead generators should want their buyers to know how to properly work the leads.”

Leveraging technology to create efficiency and consistency in your lead management process is a cheap way to increase your focus on your marketing, sales, and professional core competencies.

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Don’t Give the Internet a Bad Name

I just read a great series of posts by Rhonda Porter, “Joe Buyer and the Lending Treehouse of Horror: Part 1 and Part 2.”

She also links to a typical (IMHO) “traditional” Loan Officer’s reaction to Internet lead generation and origination. This link was intended to explain why Joe Buyer got the experience he received from his selected Internet originator. However, I am not sure all of the problems are unique to that space.

I think that a single case study may give too broad an impression. Much of the motivation to vilify the Internet seems to come from the increasing lose of past client and current opportunity to the Internet–“80% of home buyers said they used the Internet to search for a home.”

One other point to note. If any of us had as much visibility and as much volume as LendingTree we would certainly have a few anonymous posts and complaints. Did you have any frustrated borrowers this month? Sure you did. Something you didn’t understand about their situation, an assumption that wasn’t accurate, a low appraisal, etc.

However, casting aside any potential weaknesses in generalizing the whole Internet lead market with one case study, these stories are critical to read and understand! I opened by calling Rhonda’s posts great and I was sincere. She did an excellent job of documenting a training scenario that all originators should heed. This scenario could have just as easily played out via a traditional mortgage broker handed a lead from a Realtor or friend.

So, there are a couple of points here:

  • Internet originations are new and therefore viewed with suspicion
  • Internet consumers are no different than any other referral source–they just chose a different route to inquire
  • Treat Internet consumers with the same respect you would a referral from your family
  • Your goal should still be a long-term relationship
  • Create a trusted advisor relationship by delivering on every little promise along the way
  • Read the “bad press” and create processes that will avoid these notable pitfalls

We all need to work a little harder and polish our expertise to make the Internet a convenient and trustworthy place to do business, an experience consumers expect.