Category Archives: realtor

New Zillow Product Targeting Mortgage Professionals

The mortgage lead generation market is a notoriously crowded and certainly not as strong as in past years. This is punctuated in recent Experian reports:

The share of U.S. subprime mortgages entering default in the first quarter was the highest in almost five years, according to the U.S. Mortgage Bankers Association, as the country had its biggest house-price decline since the 1930s.

“The hit from the subprime mortgage market in the U.S. is quite worrying,” Seymour Pierce’s Lapwood said.

And IAC/InterActive reports:

LendingTree revenue fell 41 percent to $63 million because of the deteriorating mortgage market and a decline in real- estate values, IAC said. The unit posted an operating loss of $5.6 million and will have a loss in the fourth quarter, the company said.

“It will be a very steep mountain to climb to get back to any growth” at LendingTree, IAC Chief Financial Officer Tom McInerney said on a conference call with analysts and investors.

However, despite the gloom in the market Zillow appears to be headed headlong into this choppy water according to its brief teaser, "A New Opportunity for Mortgage Professionals," on the Zillow Blog.

Zillow’s announcement also seems to have a job opportunity attached to it. This has brought out a couple of bloggers that have put forward their best proposal (or rather a quest for good ideas) and opened discussion on what the "new opportunity" should be to interest mortgage professionals.

I won’t go into my thoughts on the topic here since you can read what I think is important to Zillow’s success in my comment to Morgan Brown’s excellent analysis. However, it sounds like you certainly should if you have ideas or are interested in the job since Drew Meyers and Zillow are paying attention and taking notes!

Seems like the right way to build a company, loyal and fanatical clients, and great products–IMHO.

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Tips to Help You Close More Loans

Here are a few things from around the Web that will help you close more mortgages this month:

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10 Ways to Improve the Performance of your Sales Pipeline

In sales we are constantly driven by performance and making our numbers. Unfortunately, this can lead to hoarding leads and over packing our pipeline with potential opportunities–disadvantaging our real opportunities and overall sales pipeline performance.

Here are a few of the techniques I use to pack a tight and productive pipeline:

  1. Keep it clean
  2. To me, a clean pipeline means one that is well attended and accurately documented. Develop a methodology for annotating key actions or tagging each lead as you work it. These annotations function as milestones and statuses that segment your prospects. This segmentation becomes key to observing and acting on leading indicators to convert more prospects into sales.

  3. Keep it tight
  4. Kill the temptation to hoard stubborn prospects. Cut 10% of your leads each day from your pipeline. I suggest withdrawing them from the active pipeline and feeding them back in systematically in about 30 days for a courteous follow-up. Which do you cut? Analyzing your actions or tag data should over time tell you at what point a lead begins to become unproductive, but here are a couple of starter suggestions for Internet leads: leads over 15 days from inquiry, leads attempted and not contacted more than 5 times, leads contacted and not applied more than 5 times.

  5. Give every note/lead a next step
  6. Most of us are managing a pipeline of 100-150 prospects. Unless you are superhuman, or already have a good action/status methodology, it is impossible to know were you are and more importantly where you are going on any one lead. Quick fix: add it to every note. Where am I going on the next call? This becomes your mini-tactical sales plan. Place the answer to the question on every action, even if you don’t make contact.

  7. Put a memorable reference in every note
  8. This little trick will turn high volume sales into high volume relationships. Did Susan say she needed to hop of the call because she need to run Bobby to his baseball game? Note it. And on the next call ask Susan how Bobby’s game was. These are the little touches that make customers.

  9. Give every call an objective
  10. Before you dial know what you want the result to be. And don’t make it so broad as close the deal. Maybe, it should be something like when does their ARM reset? Do they have a steady, documentable income stream? Get to a credit pull.

  11. Look for leading indicators
  12. This is where your action/status methodology becomes critical to seeing patterns that indicate pending conversion. Use time, frequency, and status to triangulate successful sales patterns. Turn those patterns into best practices and leading indicators for projections and sales techniques.

  13. Optimize your call back periods
  14. Call back periods are another key link to your action methods and leading indicators. Set your call backs to trigger off of your leading indicators to ensure each call is advancing the prospect forward into a sale.

  15. Build a rhythm
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    Create a sales day or habits that have rhythm. Good runners have rhythm and can generally set their watch by their pace. It is not full of surges, but rather a steady cadence. Set your sales day like that: start early, review the market, review your product matrices, envision the top 5 borrower scenarios you will encounter today, build those presentations, get your scenarios and calculator at the ready, clear your desk, start dialing, keep a separate running sheet of objectives, pause at lunch time for adjustments to your scenarios and strategies based on the objections you heard, close the day strong.

  17. Throw out your dialer
  18. Dialers are for robotic, cold calling, fishing expeditions or surveys. Dialers frustrate prospects and your sales numbers. Enough said.

  19. Pick up the phone
  20. This is number 10 because it is the most important. Get started! You have to pick-up the phone and make the call. Overcome the fear to engage.

If you set a rhythm, tighten, action, and call your pipeline–it will produce more for you!

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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.

Real Estate Valuation Going to the Consumer

This realtor/real estate broker/property valuation slug-out will increasingly tip the leverage to the mortgage banker as the first trusted advisor in any real estate purchase–if you are capturing consumers off the Internet.

Is your mortgage operation prepared to:

Mortgage Market Meets the Internet | Wake-Up!

Morinsight is doing an interesting series on how the mortgage market, combined with technology is going to need to evolve to meet a changing Internet Consumer:

You know I am a big relationships person, but the mortgage business is going to have to learn to manage relationships with an Internet conversation, email, txt msg, Blackberries, and phones–It is the new consumer.

It saddens me every time I have a conversation with a mortgage broker and they say, “I don’t fool around with Internet leads, I get referrals.” Meanwhile, as that broker or banker is waiting for his phone to ring or a Realtor to toss them a bone there past clients are going to the Internet to see if they are in the right mortgage for the current market.

Harvesting Internet customer inquiries and managing those leads is critical to growing in a changing market. I have mortgage companies that are currently growing and taking market share by simply using proven lead generation or lead buying techniques combined with effective call center sales and lead management.

Help us wake up Morinsight!

Top 3 Reasons 70% of Internet Consumer Inquiries Do Not Get a Response

Ever wonder why 70% of consumer’s inquiries made via the Internet never get a call or email from a sales person? I did. My curiosity got even greater when I did my own market study and found that fact to be absolutely true. What makes it even more absurd is that many of these leads are purchased. So, I asked the network on LinkedIn–here are the straw poll results (you need to register with LinkedIN, which I recommend for your own network building, also feel free to send me an invite, to wmrice [@] gmail [.] com if you are not already in my network).

Here are a few of the top hits:

  • laziness
  • too many leads
  • never get to sales (stuck in spam filters, have to be manually distributed, lost in email inbox clutter)
  • frustrated with trying to make contact
  • frustrated with low interest from consumers
  • disconnects between marketing and sales

Get a Consistent Contact Strategy

If you are looking to consistently close more of your Internet leads Jason cites as close to a silver bullet solution as there is in this growing sales environment–creating a telemarketing front-end.

This ability to quickly receive, contact, and pre-qualify fresh inquiries is critical. It gives a more responsive and trust-building customer experience and allows for the prompt triage of high volumes of inquiries. Having made initial contact and assessing the consumer’s true need that telemarketing group can effectively hot transfer (provided your lead management system has that feature) that lead data and phone conversation to a more skill or appropriately licensed mortgage loan officer, realtor, education enrollment counselor, or insurance agent or statusing the lead into a lead nurturing or cultivation process if the consumer is not ready or not immediately qualified.

If you are not working you Internet leads like this you are definitely affecting your conversion rate and frustrating you skilled sales people.

Know Your Market, Know Your Products

I don’t think anyone disputes that we are now in a different mortgage market. So, what is the plan?

In the re-finance heyday markets and products were moot. Everyone was in the wrong product for a rate tumbling market and any product that had adjustable in the name left the borrower better than they were before. The consequence was that everyone with a telephone became a mortgage “professional” and the true professionals got lazy. So, stop crying in your Cheerios and get back to being a professional–do the hard work for your clients and yourself.

Get local and start educating yourself:

You will be surprised when you do this research and what mortgage products may work for your market. You might also decide to conquer a particular niche mortgage customer and be the expert provider of that mortgage niche.

Google Docs and Lead Management

I just started trying Google Docs tonight and as I was testing the collaboration and publishing (with unique URL) feature it occurred to me–could Google Docs be used to post/publish mortgage loan document? Is it an instant way to push Web offers or applications? Will Google open an API to allow the e-signing or acceptance of documents?

This could accelerate e-Docs for the real-estate and mortgage industry.