First off, let’s just say I have some experience in this space. Not only did I build my own self-sourced mortgage business using consumer direct mortgage lead gen (the Empower LO mortgage lead gen system), but prior to that, I worked for a large bank working lead lists, dialing for dollars. Prior to THAT, I worked as an Internet Car Sales Manager for multiple car dealerships in San Diego, CA. Couple that with the fact that Empower LO builds fully automated lead gen and follow up systems for 125+ Loan Officers across the country, coaching them and teaching them how to work internet leads, and I’d say I know a thing or two about converting leads.
Great, now that we have that out of the way, and you know I’m not completely full of sh*t, let’s talk follow up. As I said, at Empower LO we monitor mortgage lead follow up every day. Trust me, we have seen some good, bad, and ugly follow up strategies, which is what inspired me to write this post. So in all my experience with internet leads, what have I found to be the sauce in the follow-up game? To be honest, there isn’t one specific strategy or activity that will completely flip your world upside down. What there are, however, are basic fundamentals that need to be abided by to ensure you have the best chance of converting them. By no means is this list complete or comprehensive, but not having these things would be as bad as not showing up.
#1 – Follow Up QUICKLY
This should go without saying by now. People have been talking about and referencing the Lead Response Management Study since it came out in 2009. According to the study, your odds of qualifying a customer on the first dial go down by 21 TIMES between 5 minutes and 30 minute response times. Meaning if you call your lead within 5 minutes, you’re 21 times more likely to qualify them than if you wait 30 minutes and follow up then.
We crank out very high lead volumes for our customers so we know that this can’t always be expected out of someone to do. However, if you can’t stay on top of your leads to this degree, then you should have an automated follow-up system implemented. There are a lot of CRMs that support this, so take some time in identifying the one that will work best for you. After all, a CRM is only as good as the time you invest into using it.
#2 – Quit Sounding Like a Damn Robot
Seriously guys, take a look around. Times are changing. Having a high degree of “professionalism” is no longer enough to earn business. In fact, if anything, when it comes to internet leads, it could actually hurt you. Why? Because everyone has been followed up with after submitting information online. Companies have been using the same played out tactics and scripts since the beginning of lead gen, and people are numb to it. It’s not that they dislike it, they’re just immune to it.
Introduce a personal touch to every communication you send! Leaving a voicemail? Don’t you dare use scripts, and if you say something stupid, leave it in there! Sending an email? Keep it informal, introduce some personality by way of using humor, life experiences, or images. There was a time where the theme in follow up was to make sure you had value to add at every contact attempt. Here’s the deal: YOU are the value-add. It’s more important than ever to create an emotional connection with the lead before you even talk to them. If you can do that, you’ll see your results improve dramatically.
#3 – TEXT YOUR LEADS
This one should go without saying in today’s day and age, so I won’t expand on this other than to say text messaging is by far the number one method of communication we see going back and forth between our clients and their prospects.
#4 – Follow Up A Lot, and Follow Up Often
It takes an average of 6-8 contact attempts to qualify a lead. The average salesperson follows up with a lead less than twice. Think there’s room for opportunity there? You got it.
You should be concentrating the majority of your contact efforts up front in the first 10-14 days. The fact is, the closer to the time of their inquiry you can get in touch with them, the more likely you are to qualify and convert them. An example of this may look like:
Day 1: Call x2, Text x2, Email x2
Day 2: Call x2, Text x1, Email x1
Days 3-10: Call x1, Text x1, Email x1
And taper off your number of contact attempts from there…
Don’t just stop at initial contact either.. If you have automated follow up for your initial contact, great. Next, create automated campaigns that are triggered based on the stage or disposition you set the lead to. There are a number of CRMs that support this functionality, and you should be leveraging it.
Even if you don’t have that step automated, what better thing could you be doing with your time than following up with leads that you already know are legit and already know who you are to get an application? Unless you’re just absolutely crushing it and have 0 support, there’s no excuse to drop the ball on follow up before or after initial contact. Agent Legend, which I referenced earlier, will allow you to program your initial contact campaign as far as 2 years out, so all you need to worry about at that point is managing your CRM to ensure you’re continuing to stay in front of every person that’s responded.
#5 – Don’t Try and Seal the Deal on the First Date
Look, if you haven’t figured it out by now, internet leads don’t have the highest success rate… In fact conversion from lead to closed deal for many of the best internet lead sources range from 2-5% over a 120 day period, and if you’re generating leads on Facebook that number will be closer to 1/2-1%.
Why is this? Because people don’t submit their information online so that they can talk to a lender. They do it so they can have their questions answered.
The number one fatal flaw I see for those that are working internet leads is assuming that just because somebody submitted their information online, they want to apply for a home loan. That simply is not the case. Internet leads are almost always responding to some sort of value offering, and it’s usually not extremely clear that what they’re doing is providing their info for a loan officer to reach out to them.
Because of this, you’ve got to wine and dine them a little bit before you try and seal the deal. Find out what the primary reason people are inquiring is, and frame your initial responses around this. Ideally, your lead source will make it transparent to you what their offering is.
For example, an “equity calculator”. If you’re getting refi leads in this market, there’s a good chance the value offering their responding to is one that states they can learn how much equity they have access to in their home. If this is the case, my initial outbound responses would be something like, “Hey this is Michael from ABC Mortgage, just following up on your inquiry regarding your home equity. There are a couple pieces of information that seem to be missing from your inquiry in order for me to provide an accurate estimate, so let me know when you’re available to chat further so I can get this over to you ASAP.”
Then, when they responded by text since that’s what most people do nowadays, instead of saying “Great, is there a time where we can talk on the phone?” or worse, “Great, would you like me to send you a link to the application to get started?” I would instead say, “Great, honestly this process is much easier if I can just get your address and approximate loan balance. Do you know that info off the top of your head?” and go from there.
Get their engagement and keep it. That’s really the secret behind this whole point. The more questions you answer for them and get answered by them, the more likely they are to let you transition that conversation to the phone or better yet, submit an online application for you.
To Wrap This Up
Guys, this stuff isn’t rocket science. You would arrive at all of the same points I’ve made here if you had years of trial and error behind you. What I’ve given you here is a shortcut. Use it, and you can bypass all of the work I and many others have had to put in, and immediately start playing on a different playing field altogether.
If you want to learn more about how we can help you at Empower LO, click here. You’ll have the ability on that page to book a live demonstration of our service where we’ll not only show you what we do and how we can help, but you’ll get the most valuable digital marketing lesson of your career in the meantime.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you at the top!