Our attitude as a society towards technology and privacy changes very quickly. Remember when Facebook was strictly for friends and family, and investing a ton of time on social media as an LO was more of a time-waster than anything? Now it’s definitely the preferred social media site in the mortgage/real estate worlds and I know a lot of people who make a better living than most LOs, getting 80-90 percent of their business from organic social media outreach.

Do you remember when texting prospects was considered taboo? It honestly wasn’t that long ago. In fact, 3 years ago when I got in the business I had to justify my logic behind texting leads/prospects to multiple LOs who considered it to be some sort of violation of privacy or something.

Now, here we are a couple of years later, and I run a mortgage lead generation company that manages initial follow up for the leads we generate for LOs, and we can see just how much this landscape has changed. We’re leaving voicemails, text messages, and emails for the leads we generate with the option for the lead to respond in any way that is comfortable for them, and between 70-80% of the engagements our clients receive from their leads come from text messages.

We’ve had some clients think that the leads do this strictly out of convenience, not necessarily out of preference, and try everything they can to get the prospect to agree to schedule a phone call, but to no avail. What we see in the leads that our clients are generating is that anymore, the majority of online mortgage shoppers prefer text messaging. Limiting communication strictly to text messaging can make it difficult to build a relationship or establish enough rapport with your lead to get them to take the next step after inquiring (usually a loan application). Here are some tips to help you convert more of your mortgage leads over text message:

1. Treat Every Text Like It’s An Emergency, and Respond Quickly

The headline may be a little exaggerated, but I’m definitely trying to drive a point home here. In a world where EVERYONE is texting, and your prospect is likely going to text their Realtor, or another LO, or any other financial professional, you want to stand out. Some salespeople love the fact that their prospects text them because it gives them the feeling that they can respond at their own leisure. Is this true? 100%, if you want to lose a deal to the loan officer who responded in 5 minutes while you took an hour.

The fact is, text messaging makes it difficult to express your knowledge and professionalism. So if you take an hour to respond to a question that someone else took 5 minutes to respond to, the assumption can be made (consciously or not) that the one who responded quicker knows more and/or is more professional. When in actuality it could be a brand new LO who was referred by a friend of theirs in the business, and they just happened to be sitting right next to their manager’s office while you were finishing whatever task was more important than engaging with a prospect.

Think about this, and the next time you see a text from a lead, don’t assume it can wait. Treat it like it’s an emergency, and respond as soon as you are able. You’ll separate yourself above and beyond any other professional they engage with, and that puts you in a position to be the “quarterback” of the deal moving forward, referring it to your preferred agent and settlement service providers.

2. Mirror Your Tone and Texting Style

This is a big one. I don’t care how long it takes you to send a text message, you need to figure out how to mirror the tone and style of the lead you’re talking to. This can go in many different directions, so I’m going to provide a couple examples:

Example 1: You’re naturally a very short texter. You prefer K to Okay, you don’t use smiley faces, emojis, or any other fufu crap like that, you shoot it straight. Your lead, on the other hand, puts at least 3 emojis in every text, and every time you get a notification from them the message looks like a poorly decorated Christmas tree with all of the colors and smiles and objects all over the place.

What do you do?

You better step up your emoji game! Not saying you need to make your messages look like theirs, and not saying you want to forcefully place emojis that don’t belong, but if you’re communicating something positive, insert a smile emoji. If the lead makes a joke, insert a crying laughing face. If they something that pisses them off, throw in an angry face.

Example 2: Now assume the opposite is true, and you are a bubbly texter but the lead is cold as ice. MIRROR IT. You’re not going to get that person to crack, and if you will it will be on their own terms. Don’t send paragraph responses to their one message text, ask to talk on the phone about their response or email it to them and tell them you did in the text message.  

This isn’t rocket science, you get the point. People naturally gravitate to those that they perceive to be more like them, and if your only way of portraying who you are is through text message, by mirroring their tone and texting style you’ll set yourself up for the best chance to make a good impression.

3. Don’t Close The Door on Your Lead! Always Leave it Wide Open

This is a big mistake I see a lot of LOs making when following up with internet leads. They engage with their prospects as if there is some sort of etiquette requiring them to respond to them, no matter how little value the lead is going to get from the interaction. You CAN’T do this. If you do not intentionally keep the conversation going with your lead, the conversation will die and depending on where you’re at in the process, you may not be able to redeem yourself.

The number one thing to remember with this tip is to ask questions and ask a lot of them. That doesn’t mean you bombard your lead with a list of questions as soon as you start talking to them. No, the questions need to be used strategically to keep a conversation moving forward, create engagement and buy-in from your prospect, and equip yourself with the information you need to solve their problems.

Most LOs conversations go something like this:

LO: Hi this is ____ with ABC Home Loans, just wanted to follow up on your online inquiry. Did you have any specific questions you wanted to be answered, or were you just curious about the process and requirements to buy a home?

Lead: Yes, I was curious as to what I could get approved for based on the form I submitted online.

LO: Great! It looks like you could qualify for what you’re looking for, up to about 250k, but we would need a complete application to be able to verify the information you provided. Would you like me to send you a link to the application?

Lead: No thank you, we’re probably about 6-9 months from really doing anything. Thanks for your time!

LO: Okay, well let me know if you need anything. I’m here to help!

There are 2 problems here. Problem #1 is that they went for the application way too early in the process, and problem #2 is that they didn’t do a good job of leaving the door open. They asked a yes or no question that was easy to turn down, and left no reason for the lead to continue to engage. Consider these 2 alternatives:

  1. Asking for the application but leaving the door open: Great! It looks like you could qualify for what you’re looking for, up to about 250k, but the form you filled out leaves a lot of room for mistake and interpretation. Can you share with me your income breakdown as far as salary, hourly, full-time, overtime, etc for the last year? Alternatively, if it’s easier for you, I can send you a link to my online application where you can fill out the info and upload all the documentation I’ll need to see exactly what you can qualify for?
  2. Not asking for the application: Great! It looks like you could qualify for what you’re looking for, up to about 250k, but the form you filled out leaves a lot of room for mistake and interpretation. Can you share with me your income breakdown as far as salary, hourly, full-time, overtime, etc for the last year?

See what I did there? Leaving the door open is that easy, and you can ask for “the sale” (application) while posing it as a convenience for them as opposed to something YOU need!

As an LO, Remember What Your Role Is

A loan originator’s job is to do exactly that, to originate loans. Sometimes, in order to do that, you’ve got to get back to the basics and SELL. Most LOs have some sort of sales background, and being an LO has spoiled them in that they have been able to get deals just by being friends with realtors. These times are changing, and they’re changing quickly. This approach is all but dead for a new LO trying to make it into the business unless they’re okay with making 30-40k their first year, 50-60k the next and then MAYBE up from there. Get back to your background, and remember that your job does sometimes require selling, which requires tact and a basic knowledge of psychology.

Do these things, and I promise you’ll be converting those internet leads that have been ghosting you in no time.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you at the top!

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