Top of Mind Networks

Customer Contact System HELL-Tips to get you through it

September 18, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

fiery-hell“I should have a system. I’ve got to simplify my system. My system isn’t robust enough. What system will be most effective?” These are all common brain-drainers in the life of a solo entrepreneur.

The persistent challenge of keeping in touch with one’s customers, whether at the wooing stage, the in-process stage or after the close, seems to be a fiery purgatory for many Mortgage Professionals.

For those who have not finally surrendered to or fully implemented a “system,” the scale attempting to balance such competing activities as: keeping in touch with and in front of one’s customers vs. generating new ones, tips dramatically up and down from week to week. This teeter-totter motion affects our pipelines, our reputations and our peace of mind.

So why then do the majority of Mortgage Professionals continue to operate without one?

Some of the same old excuses rear their ugly heads…

I don’t have the money. I don’t have the time. I don’t have the support. I don’t know how. Money-Time-Support-Knowledge. The fears really never change.

But do you really need A LOT of any of the above to create a system that works for YOU? Heck no! So what DO you need?

  1. Email
  2. Phone
  3. Content
  4. Reminders

Don’t wrinkle up your noses at me…it really IS that simple.

Think about the “Why” behind creating systems.  Generally, we create systems to keep in touch with our customers so that…

We consistently fill their brain-slot for “Mortgage Professional” in an attempt to retain their future business and referrals.

-We separate ourselves from the competition in an attempt to keep our newly found customer from being woo’d or won over by someone else.

-We can focus our attentions on other money-generating activities in an attempt to keep our pipelines filled.

Now let’s fill in the “What” part of the equation.

elephantWhat do you want to do? Do you want to create a system for staying in touch with leads, past customers, in-process customers, business referral partners or some other group? I know, I know, all of the above, right? Wrong!

Tip#1-Pick one group and see it through to completion. You may feel like eating that elephant in one enormous gulp because it has been sitting on your plate for years, but BEWARE…the indigestion will keep you crippled for months and you still won’t have a system in place!

Tip #2-Never fix what isn’t broke. If you find yourself whiling away the hours perfecting email templates, videos or scripts…STOP NOW! If what you have includes your photo/logo, is relevant information, is devoid of editing errors and goes out like clock-work-you’re done. Move on to what you haven’t created.

resources-21

Once you have pin-pointed what group you will focus on, it then becomes a matter of what type of materials you will send.

Will it be industry news via your blog? Will it be a hard mail newsletter? Will you send video updates via email? Does the group you are concentrating on warrant a regularly scheduled phone call, text message or LinkedIn update?

Tip #1-Don’t attempt to figure this out in your head. Look at the resources you already have, pull up a blank Word doc or a note pad and start writing down what you do have at your disposal.

Tip #2-If you have absolutely no collateral materials to work with, nor a marketing department, start researching the web. Of course, there’s always the plethora of information you can tap into by being a member of organizations such as, Top of Mind Networks, Loan Toolbox, Mortgage Girlfriends, Mortgage Coach, Mortgage Quest, etc. All of these companies offer ready-made customer service systems and collateral materials that you can plug into and utilize.

After you have identified the pieces, you can then determine the frequency. When will these items be delivered, dispersed, mailed or communicated?

Tip #1-If working on a touch-point system for your past customers, map out a year’s worth of deliverables. For leads, clients in process & referral partners, map out at least three month’s worth of deliverables.

noteNote from experience: If you attempt to determine what to send from one month to the next or one week from the next, the likelihood is that you won’t make contact at all.

Tip #2-There is always the debate as to what is too much and what is not enough when trying to determine the frequency of one’s touch-point systems. Here is my suggestion, which is based on what the majority of my own coaching clients have followed as a rule of thumb:

  • Past customers=1 x per month
  • Leads=every 2 days until they commit to sending in their application and docs.
  • Customers in process= 1 x per week
  • New business referral partnerships=2 x per month
  • Current business referral partnerships=1 x per month

Finally, and most importantly, how, how, how will you implement the system that you ducks-in-a-rowhave created?

Let’s look at what you have thus far:

  1. You have identified the group that you will focus on.
  2. You have identified your deliverables
  3. You have created a visual map of your deliverables, the vehicle (phone, email, blog, text, video, snail mail, etc.) and the frequency.

Your current capacity must dictate the “how.”

Tip #1-If you are a “one man band” it’s imperative that you utilize a reminder system such as your Outlook calendar, an “activity series” within ACT, an Excel spreadsheet, or you finally cough up a bit of dough and use the contact systems developed by the companies before-mentioned.

Tip #2-If you happen to have a personal assistant, transaction coordinator, marketing assistant, receptionist or some other dedicated soul, than for heaven’s sake, share the tasks, meet once a week on progress and needed system changes and delegate, delegate, delegate!

Putting a system together only becomes Hell when you continue to neglect the fact that you NEED one.

So for all you perfectionists out there who are still trying to locate those perfectly valuable, perfectly aesthetic, perfectly timed contact pieces or for you techno geeks who keep waiting for the CRM that will have it all/do it all, including dialing your customers and talking to them for you, STOP THE MADNESS. I’m giving you one, “Get out of Hell FREE” card, right now!

Using Surveys in Your Mortgage CRM Approach

July 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

SurveyCRM in and of itself is not a complicated concept.  We deepen relationships with our clients and sphere of influence over time, identifying selling opportunities in the process.

Ask any sales trainer and they’ll tell you that the key to closing the deal is listening more than you’re talking.  The same tenets hold true in CRM, although they’re somewhat more difficult to implement.  That’s why one of our favorite tools here at Top of Mind is our good old Customer Satisfaction Questionnaire.

Without question, this correspondence elicits the highest response rate of any of our 24-touches.  Further, the data we’re able to collect in the process provides invaluable insight into the client experience:

1)  When surveying your client – ask for permission to use as a testimonial. It’s one thing for you to tell a prospect or referral source how great you are.  It’s completely another for an actual client to provide this message.  Make this a standard practice and you’ll have 50 or more testimonials before you know it.  Some of our clients save these surveys in a binder and leave them on the coffee table in their office.  Others scan and post them to their websites.

2)  Keep your survey short and simple. Like anything else, put yourself in the shoes of the respondent before executing on any campaign.  If you’re unlikely to answer a 4-page, 50-question survey, chances are excellent your client will react the same way.  We prefer to keep our surveys to one page.

3)  Ask a few open-ended questions. Check boxes certainly make surveys easier to complete, but they don’t get you the type of “sound bites” you’re really looking for.  If your question can be answered with a “yes” or “no”, try to also include a follow-up question asking “If so, why…” or “If not, what could we do to …”.

4)  Pay for return postage and enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope for easy return. This alone will dramatically improve your response rates.  Quite frankly, your client is doing you a favor so I think it’s schlocky to ask them to pay for postage.  Hey, that’s what you pay us for, right?

If you’re interested in integrating surveys into your CRM approach, there are several excellent tools out there to help make it easier:

1)  Survey Monkey:  This is a website where you can craft surveys online.  They have a free service that will get the job done.  For more complex functionality, their monthly charge is $19.95/month.  There are a few other online providers, one of them being Zoomerang.

2)  Top of Mind is also here to help you.  Case in point, one of our clients asked us to craft a new survey over the weekend that’s going to help them generate more referrals to give to their referral sources.  If you have a vision, or a marketing challenge you’d like to implement, try giving us a call to see if we can help.  After all, that’s what we’re here for.

Make it a fantastic week everyone.

Stop Wasting Money On Your Closing Gifts

May 14, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

On the surface, big expensive closing gifts seem like a great idea.  After all, what an exciting time it is to be closing on a client’s dream home.  Certainly, you’ve knocked ’em out with impeccable service.  All that’s left is the cherry on top.

So you show up with a big basket of fine cheeses, wines, snacky-cakes… Well it’s a bad idea.  And here’s why:

1)  Have you ever considered that you might be “showing up” the referring and/or listing agent? 

What if they didn’t bring a gift to closing?  I showed up without a gift to a birthday party once and I ended up hiding most of the night out of complete embarrassment.  (By the way, this is Top of Mind Blog Author Bob Rutledge‘s well-made observation, not mine.  That’s why I asked him to blog here – this man sees all the angles.)

2)  You just spent $50+ on a closing gift that will be consumed and immediately forgotten about. 

Money Down ToiletLet’s be honest with each other here.  We don’t give closing gifts because we want to say “Thank You”, do we?  If you said “Yes” you’re foolin’ yourself!  We give closing gifts because we want our clients to remember who delivered the goods.  Our true M.O. is clear:  referrals and repeat business.

 Well what good did that $50+ just do ya? 

 

The Solution:

address-stamper-raleyObviously, we have a better idea… and it’s been working consistently for our clients over the past six years.  For only $10, Top of Mind Networks will manufacture and ship a closing gift we call “The Business Card That Never Gets Thrown Away”.

Why do I love this idea?  For one, you can’t beat the price.  But here’s the killer part of the idea:  the address stamper has a long shelf life (unlike the gift basket).  And every time your borrower picks it up off their desk, they’re looking at a photo of your pearly whites (or your logo).  This, friends, is called “Top of Mind Awareness“.

Great idea Mark, right?  Well this blog is all about one thing – implementation.  I’ll put my money where my mouth is.  Why not let us send you a free address stamper?  I want you hold it, carress it, become one with it.  If you like it and would like to start sending them to your clients, great, we’d love the business.  If not, it’s yours to keep, no big whoop.

Your Borrowers Have a Need for Speed

March 23, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

I wanted to share a strategy that has worked to minimize prospects from shopping me all over the place.   Although I work mainly off referrals, I find that by the time they are usually referred to me, they have already been out talking with others first.

I don’t know about all of you other brokers, but I am finding that often the rates offered by the “retail banks” are much better than the wholesale rates we are being offered.  That is a conversation for a different day… don’t get me started!

So how do you combat it?

I start by explaining that our goal should be to get their loan done with the least amount of hassle.  With all of the national lenders taking 60-90 days to close a loan, preparation is the key.  We start by determining the best loan structure and then work on estimates.  We go through the conversation about the difference between paying points or not paying points and that most of the low rates they hear about involve paying points.  I tell them that they can have any interest rate their little heart desires, it just a question of how much money they have to pay to get it.  And then we determine what a good combination of rate and points would be as a “target”.   I then explain that the best way to position yourself to get that target rate is to start the loan process including paying for an appraisal.  Once we get everything back and have a complete package, we submit the loan to the investor that will get it done the quickest and that is a good fit from a rate perspective.   The goal is to get within 15 days so that we can lock on the most aggressive pricing when the time comes.  We are fortunate to have delegated underwriting with one investor and have a couple others that are underwriting in 10 days or less.  That is key.

This collaborative process ensures that you’re “on the same team” as your customer… working toward an end result that saves them the hassle of dealing with the big banks.

Can you imagine having to do a loan with one of the big guys right now?  Save your customers from this nightmare!