How many times in a week do you put something on your to-do list related to working “on your business” instead of “in your business,” only to reach the end of the day or week and have the task remain incomplete? Being a loan officer in today’s environment can be a tricky balancing act, especially up until the point that you have established systems and processes for a business model that is making you money and growing at the same time. Getting to the point of being able to say that your daily routines and activities are enough to bring home what you need and also drive growth is a fantasy world for most LOs, and as a producing LO myself, I completely understand why. I mean, let’s think about it: In what other industry are you a salesman, a marketing department, an operations manager (your business operations not processing/underwriting), and a quarterback to the most significant financial decision of most people’s lives all in one?
In 2016 I read a book that changed my life, called The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. The most profound concept that I took away from the book was the concept of taking it upon yourself as an employee to outsource trivial aspects of your role to virtual staff overseas. When I read about online platforms like Fiverr and Upwork, my mind was blown. If you don’t know what either of those is, they are websites where you can hire real people from all over the world to complete any task from simple, mindless list building to programming and building an app for you based on your input and vision. A lot of times you can get simple tasks completed by college-educated staff in countries like the Philippines or India for less than $5 an hour (which in most cases is good money for them).
Virtual staffing, although insanely valuable and arguably necessary at times, can be a huge pain in the ass. Which is why I’ve compiled 5 easy and cheap tasks to help you cut your teeth with. These are all tasks that I personally have used a virtual assistant for at one point or another, so if you have any questions about executing these tasks or others, shoot me an email at [email protected].
1. Building Lists of Real Estate Agents in Your Market
I’ll always remember the first time I used a virtual assistant to help with a list building task. What I had was a program from a local awards banquet that listed a few hundred top-producing agents in our area. What I wanted was good contact information for each one of those agents, input into an excel spreadsheet that was formatted according to my CRM’s requirements, so that I could easily input the list and begin marketing to them instantly. So what did I do? I paid someone in the Philippines 10 bucks to find a good email address, phone number, and website link to input into the spreadsheet for every single one of those agents. The best part? I had it back in 12 hours.
Another great strategy that may cost you a little more as it will require your virtual assistant to be more thoughtful and calculated, is to create a list of interests and attributes that your ideal real estate agent will share with you. There’s a lot to be said about building strong personal relationships with your agent partners, and one way that you can ensure you’re aligning with the right agents and break the ice from the get-go is to do your research ahead of time. The problem is: most LO’s have difficulty finding the time to call new agents as it is. Which is where your VA comes in. You’ll take your list of interests and attributes and give it to your list-building VA telling them to use search engines and social media sites to find agents that seem to be active online and also share some of those, give them a time limit and your minimum expectations and there you have it: a perfect list of agents for you to call on.
2. Finding Good Contact Info for Uncontacted Leads
First off, let me start this out by saying this is probably overkill if you have a good enough lead generation and automated follow-up system in place. But if you’re contacting all of your leads personally, and you’ve got a list of leads over the last 6 months or so that have bad contact information, there’s something that you can do with them to try and squeeze out more value. Websites like Spokeo and Intelius will compile data on everyday people like you and me from all over the internet to one location. You can then search with nothing more than a name to try and find alternative ways of contacting your clients. Keep in mind, at this point you’re going to want to scrub this new list of contact info against the DNC list since it’s not data that was provided to you directly.
In your CRM you should have a specific disposition for uncontacted leads. You can either give the VA credentials to your CRM (DO NOT do this if your CRM is company provided or if you have any sensitive data), or you can export the leads with that specific disposition into a spreadsheet and just have the VA update that spreadsheet. If you do it this way, you can import the spreadsheet back into the CRM and choose to update the current records instead of adding new ones. Regardless of what option you choose, send this to your VA along with credentials for your Spokeo or Intelius account and then drop your updated list back into a follow-up campaign or pick up the phone and start dialing!
Side note: You can also have a VA on retainer to do stuff like this real-time. Just got a new lead but they gave the wrong number and your email bounced? Tag it or flag it somehow within your CRM and have a VA check and send back updates daily.
3. Building Newsletters/Blog Writing
If you’ve been following me then you already know the value that I place on putting out regular content as a loan officer. Daily blog writing I think is potentially one of the most lucrative habits you can form, as long as you know how to leverage the content that you’re putting out. Let’s face it though, blog writing takes time and some people just aren’t very good at writing. This is where a good content writer can come in handy. If you’re going to outsource a blog, you’ve got to keep a couple of things in mind. Number 1, this is a huge extension of your brand if you do this correctly. As such, you probably don’t want to hire someone overseas who’s primary language is not English for this. You’ll pay more for a US-based writer but it will pay off, trust me. Second, you want to make sure you’re determining the direction and themes of your content, as no one knows your brand as you do. Don’t just tell your blog writer “write me blogs on home buying tips.” DON’T regurgitate the normal mortgage blogs you see. Stand out from the crowd by answering real questions from real borrowers with quality content.
Newsletters will be very similar as far as your hiring goes, in fact, they could be written by the same writer. The difference with these is that you want a repeatable theme to your newsletters so that you can put these on 100% autopilot. Newsletters are a great excuse to perpetually stay in front of your leads and your prospective agents, and you can do this as often as you’d like but the key is you have to be consistent. You can do monthly, weekly, daily, or even multiple daily newsletters if you really wanted to. But each one needs to have a theme with quality content and it needs to come out at regularly scheduled intervals with no deviations. Newsletters can be a great way to position yourself as a resource but they can also highlight a lack of follow through if you are inconsistent with sending them out.
4. Building Drip Campaigns
This goes right along with number 3 but I separated it for a couple of reasons. First, you’re probably going to want to hire someone separate depending on your content writers experience level with sales writing. A drip campaign is targeted at a specific list of people, and typically has a specific goal or call to action in mind. They aren’t perpetual, and you don’t have to put out a ton of information to make them effective. In fact, if you want to include content in your emails your best bet is just to recycle your blog content or link to the blogs within your drip campaign. A sales writer is going to be more effective at getting people to take the action you’re looking to have them take, which makes them a perfect choice for your drip campaigns. This person again should probably be based in the United States.
You should have drip campaigns built for new leads, leads that you’ve contacted but haven’t yet applied, leads that have applied and don’t qualify but haven’t signed up with your credit repair partner, leads that are pre-approved but not actively shopping, refinance prospects, renovation prospects, etc. Don’t get overwhelmed at the number of different drip campaigns you could/should have. A good drip campaign can cost you as much as you’re willing to pay but will pay dividends in the long run, so just start with the one that’s the most important to your business now and slowly add more as you see the payoff moving forward.
5. CRM Management
I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping as many details on your database in a CRM as possible right now. Marketing automation is growing exponentially and we aren’t far off from being able to have AI bots that not only will segment your lists for you based on the notes you keep but will also write unique campaigns for each individual based on those notes, including tone mirroring if you keep email correspondence that you’ve had with the individual in your database. Freaky stuff right? If you wait until marketing tech reaches that level to begin valuing your database on the level you should, you’re going to fall behind and very quickly. When it comes to this task specifically, you definitely want to be conscious of what information you’re allowing access to and who you’re allowing to access it. The book Virtual Freedom by Chris Ducker is a great book that dives deep into all aspects of virtual staffing including information security.
So what do you have this virtual assistant do with your CRM? Well, most people aren’t in the habit of updating their CRM every day, and if they are it’s usually for a short while before they fall off the wagon and stop updating it at all! Personally, I prefer to take notes on paper when I’m talking on the phone, but I hate doing any task twice. If this sounds like you, make a spreadsheet call log template (or have a VA do it) and keep a stack of copies of on your desk. At the end of the day, take a picture of your sheet for the day and send it to a VA who will then enter the information accordingly into your CRM and update the disposition and add people to drip campaigns as needed. A company named Rocketbook has a reusable notebook, Everlast, that has little images that you can mark at the bottom of each page. You tie each image to an action when you first get the notebook, and those actions can be anything from uploading to Evernote or Google Drive, to emailing a copy of the note to an email address of your choice. If you take your lead notes in here, this can eliminate the extra step of having to send it to a VA yourself.
Don’t Get Paralyzed by Information Overload
Look, believe it or not, this blog article is 100% all you need to take action on this today. However, if you take this blog article and start brainstorming all the ways you can outsource, and buy 4 Hour Work Week and Virtual Freedom so you can learn everything there is to know about outsourcing BEFORE you hire for your first project, you’re never going to do anything with the information you gained from reading this. This goes the same with almost all of the content that I put out because I always have it top of mind to only give you content you can do something with RIGHT NOW.
Don’t just be a fly on the wall… Take action! The easiest thing to do in my opinion would be to start with the task that you understand the most based on your needs. Virtual staffing is all about being able to clearly understand what you need so you can align with the right partner, and then being able to communicate clearly and effectively what you’re looking to have done.
If none of the above tasks seem like something you can execute on right now, or if you start down one of them and run into trouble, start with something simpler. A perfect place to start for someone who’s scared to jump in would be the lead contact template I talked about earlier. If you’re not taking notes on every call you take with a lead or prospect, you’re messing up. Most likely you’re doing it on a legal pad or scratch paper now, so why not organize that a little better with a template sheet? Take 5 minutes and draw a sketch of what your perfect lead contact log would look like, and then go to Fiverr.com and sign up for an account before searching for “basic excel” or “basic spreadsheet” in the search bar. You shouldn’t pay more than $5-10 for this task and it should take you a total of 30 min including signing up for Fiverr. Next time a task this simple will take you 15 minutes, then 10, then 5. Pretty cool right? Just do something about it!
Anyways, I hope you find this helpful. If you do, share it and it will not only help me and show support, but it will begin to show people around you that you take the idea of automation and the 80/20 rule seriously. As the people around you see you take it seriously, they’ll take it more seriously and you’ll begin to build a network that can hold you accountable, along with being more likely to get support from your management and company as they’ll recognize that it isn’t just a fad for you or something to keep you away from production.
As always, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you at the top!