You’ve heard that establishing solid relationships with your clients and referral partners is essential to your success, but have you taken the actions necessary to make it so? Sure, providing an elite level of service is the first step in crafting a business with a strong reputation, but that’s not all there is to it.
We live in the age of technology. The sheer number of tools at our fingertips is unprecedented. And while there are multiple ways to market your business and improve your relationships with customers, there’s a tool specifically designed to do just that – the CRM (Customer Relationship Management system).Oftentimes lenders (and even experienced marketers) make the mistake of using their CRM merely as a contact database. And while housing important information is a major part of any good CRM, unleashing the full capabilities of this powerful tool is only going to make a positive impact on your revenue.
Correct usage of a CRM is made up of two parts. First is crafting and automating a solid email communication plan within the platform itself that will allow you to save time and energy normally spent manually emailing back-and-forth with your clients. By doing so, you can run a more efficient office while keeping in contact with your customers and partners who expect to hear from you.
Second is developing a plan for timely touch points and phone calls. While you’re hopefully doing this already, using your CRM to set reminders and schedule these tasks for you will allow you to free up space in your calendar (and your brain) so you can focus on the big picture items without worrying about forgetting to contact a client.
Another benefit of an optimized CRM is empowering more business opportunities. From purchased leads to past customers (who may be coming due for a refinance), your CRM should be putting in work behind the scenes so that you can spend time doing what you do best – providing personal service, maintaining relationships with referral partners, and closing loans.
In order to truly take advantage of the capabilities within your system, you must first understand the messages being sent to all involved parties. Let’s take a closer look at each stage of the pipeline and what messages the clients in them should receive.
A lead, in this context, is a potential client with whom you have not yet had any direct interaction. Think of purchased contacts here.
Your goal at this stage of the process is to capture the attention of a potential client. To do so, you’ll need to begin putting your name and your business’s name in front of them. Making them aware of the services you provide is an important part of this step, but you’ll also want to be sure to provide enough value they’ll be interested in speaking with you.
Start creating value by introducing yourself and explaining why you are contacting them. This can be done with a combination of calls and emails and can be as simple as stating you’re reaching out regarding their interest in finding a home loan. Offering a free loan consultation, for example, is a great way to begin a fruitful conversation with someone who is showing interest in a mortgage.
After that, your aim is to keep reminding them about you until they are at the point in the decision-making process to choose a lender. Because you've been in front of them during the entire process thus far, and you’re demonstrating your ability to provide personal service of value, you’ll be fresh on their minds and an easy first pick for the lender they work with.
A prospect is a potential borrower who reaches out to you directly for financing, someone a referral partner refers directly to you for financing, or someone who was previously a lead and now wants to proceed with a loan application.
Your goal is to get a completed 1003. This stage is simple – just keep asking. At this point, the prospect should be interested enough to complete the application without much convincing – they just might need some reminding. Your continued persistence (at reasonable intervals), as well as the fact you’re even remembering to contact them, showcases your commitment to your clients and your business.
Set a cadence that will reach out to your prospects every few days until they’ve completed the application. While the exact timing between reminders is up to you, the idea is simply nudging them in the right direction without coming across as overbearing. Both phone calls and emails are valid options for reminders at this stage.
The pre-qualification stage is, ideally, a short one. But there are multiple valuable touch points you can have with your client that will keep them engaged and happy they chose you as a lender.
This is your chance to educate your clients on what’s coming next in the loan process and what to expect as they move forward. You can provide them with tips on maintaining their current credit score, inform them of the documentation they’ll need for the next steps, educate them on the variety of different loan type options to choose from, and more.
You have some wiggle room here, as well as a great opportunity to continue the conversation while they wait to hear about their approval. Set up reminders every few weeks to make a basic touch point phone call and schedule your emails to send about once a week until their loan request is approved or denied. Then sit back and relax as your CRM takes care of the rest.
The application stage is the time when you have the most opportunity to showcase your professionalism and dedication. Maintaining contact with your clients throughout the process after they’ve applied is critical, and having an automated campaign set up within your CRM makes it easy.
Essentially what you’ll need to do here is keep in touch with them as they hit specific loan “milestones,” such as their appraisal being received, documents being sent, when they are clear to close, etc.
Depending on your CRM, the content and timing for these campaigns can be very easy to set up. A mortgage-specific CRM will have milestone campaigns out-of-the-box, allowing you to skip this otherwise labor-intensive step. Many systems will even be able to auto-fill client-specific information into your content templates.
If your CRM of choice doesn’t have these pre-loaded options, setting up your campaigns can be fairly time consuming. Once done, however, you’ll end up saving a tremendous amount of time and energy in the long run.
The funded stage exists for the sole purpose of maintaining a relationship with your past clients so you can increase the number of referrals you receive from them, as well as giving you the opportunity to offer them refinancing.
Begin this part of the conversation by first asking for feedback about your performance. Being open to comments and criticism about your service is an extremely important part of improving and continuing to receive business in the future.
Moving forward, it’s about showing you care. Check in after a month or so to see how everything is going. After a year has gone by, drop a line to request they allow you to update their loan file so you can be ready to assist them in the future with a new purchase, refinance opportunities, a second home, investment properties, etc.
You should also be sure to set up holiday/birthday/important date campaigns to go out to each of your contacts throughout the year. It’s a small gesture that speaks volumes about your personal service and attention to detail. This is an opportunity to show customers you care about them as a person, not just a commission check.
All-in-all, a CRM is a tool that, when used correctly, can improve your customer service and overall business by leaps and bounds. Yes, it can be a lot of effort, at first. But, there are options with pre-written content and pre-scheduled tasks that will allow you to take vast amounts of work off your plate from day one. It’s just about finding the option that works best for you.
Remember, a CRM doesn’t only exist to house all of your contacts’ names and email addresses. It’s a Customer Relationship Management system, so use it with that in mind. You can be the lender that never leaves a customer in the dark. All it takes is a little dedication, a little work, and a great CRM.