Identifying and Building a Mortgage Sales Funnel
Online sales funnels are not just for online businesses. You can use an online
mortgage sales funnel as a way to generate a consistent stream of inbound leads for
your business. Read on to learn more about how you can use sales funnels in your
mortgage business, and how understanding the mortgage sales funnel is
fundamental to predictably growing your production.
What is a sales
The word "funnel" has become one of the most overused and misunderstood words in the marketing world. A sales or marketing funnel is really just a process that a prospect follows to go from being someone with no awareness of your product to being a paying customer. This process typically follows a clear path with defined checkpoints, which can lead to identifying parts of your sales/marketing processes that can be automated or streamlined. A mortgage sales funnel is just the process that a mortgage borrower takes to go from thinking they might want to buy a home, to signing paperwork on closing day.
Breaking Down the
Mortgage Sales Funnel
Breaking Down the
Mortgage Sales Funnel
In a traditional sales funnel, the first step is always awareness. What exactly does this mean? Well whether your prospect knows it or not yet, they have a need. Awareness is the point at which they recognize you as someone that can fulfill that need. So in a non-internet based example, let's say you're running real estate agent outreach to try and build up your referral business. You make 10 calls a week to new agents to introduce yourself. In this case, the phone call introduction would represent the awareness stage as it is the first point that the agent is meeting you as a lender that can help their clients. Online, this is much simpler. Awareness is the stage in which your client is seeing your ad, but hasn't yet filled out a lead form. They are aware of your brand or your advertisements, although they haven't yet expressed interest in working with you.
(Inquiry Made/Lead Received)
The next stages of the sales funnel are up to interpretation, but the most basic sales funnel illustrations would refer to the next step in the funnel as "interest". Mortgage sales funnels, or LO funnels, are pretty straight forward in this regard. You know your prospect has reached the interest stage if they've given you permission to contact them regarding their mortgage needs. Sometimes this will take place in the form of an in-person conversation or phone-call, but in the context of online marketing this is almost always going to either be a call-in or an online lead form submission.
In LO funnels, the "decision" stage can be represented a few different ways depending on the type of prospect you're working with. If you're working with a personal referral that swears they're an A+ borrower, you're probably not going to be as concerned with getting a complete 1003 as soon as you would be if you were working with internet leads. The point of distinction here is that they've committed to working with you in some way, shape, or form. If you're still having to chase them 3-4x to get them to pick up the phone, they're not sending you the relevant documentation, and you can't get a solid timeline from them, you probably haven't reached the Decision stage of your mortgage sales funnel just yet.
This is everyone's favorite part right? Payday. In the mortgage sales funnel, it's important to define the final step as being a funded loan because depending on your volume of transactions, the fallout between Application and Closing can be very telling of problems in your business. Some LOs will define the final step in the funnel as a rate lock or purchase contract. However, if you do that, it makes it a completely separate process altogether to try and find out why and where you have pipeline fallout.
Creating an Online
Mortgage Sales Funnel
Choose The Right
The first step to a successful online mortgage sales funnel is to identify where you're going to get your traffic from. As discussed earlier on this page, mortgage lead generation or mortgage marketing funnels take on many different forms. Your entire website can be a funnel in and of itself, if you're investing heavily in SEO, or getting the website to rank on Google without paying for ads. However, for most mortgage loan officers, being able to invest in SEO at this level is not a reality. So instead, we have to look at options for driving traffic to whatever we build as the rest of our funnel.
Some examples of different traffic sources to consider are Facebook, Google, mortgage lead vendors, real estate agent IDX leads, cold lists, and others that we likely haven't even heard of! There's a lot to consider when choosing your traffic source but the majority of your attention should be spent comparing the balance of cost/level of intent from each of the sources. Facebook or other media publishers may have cheap traffic, but you're casting far too wide of a net. Zillow leads are some of the most expensive you can find, but they've also been some of the highest converting in the industry at different points in time.
(Inquiry Made/Lead Received)
Optimize Your Offer, Mortgage Landing Page,
and Lead Form
This step is where modeling a successful mortgage marketing campaign really comes in handy. Even better than modeling ONE successful marketing campaign, is to evaluate companies you know to be successful in what you're trying to accomplish and compare what those companies do in common vs what they do differently. There is a lot to look for/at including the offer (why is the lead inquiring?) advertising copy, landing page design/copy, contact info collection (lead form), and the experience after the lead clicks "submit".
Use this process to come up with your own offer, ad copy, landing page design/copy, and lead form. You can mix and match different pieces for your campaign from the ones you studied but be careful! The different pieces of different campaigns might not mesh well together. The landing page design that works for offering a free homebuyer's guide may not have very much in common with the landing page design that works for a pre-qualification estimate. The most important thing is to TEST different ideas and not be discouraged if your first attempts at a mortgage sales funnel don't bear fruit.
Follow Up Like Crazy,
and Push To A Full 1003
Believe it or not, this is actually the hardest part for most loan officers who want to operate their own online mortgage sales funnel. To create a mortgage lead generation system is something new and exciting for most LOs. Working internet leads can be very repetitive and even exhausting at times. More importantly, it requires you to hear "no" an awful lot. However, this is where a loan officer's money is made. Luckily, automation and outsourcing have never been more accessible for a mortgage loan officer and can give you the results of crazy levels of follow up, without actually having to do any of the follow up yourself.
When following up with leads, your goal is to get them to fill out a full 1003 as soon as possible. Obviously, you want to exercise discretion and not ask for applications from leads that have no business applying or no desire to change their current situation to be able to buy. However, once you assess that a lead can fill out a 1003 worth reviewing, you want to try and get them to take that action. Unless your business is still in the pre-recession days and you're charging application fees upfront, a credit pull and the resulting relationship of a pre-approval/refi consultation are the only things that will tie your new borrower to you and keep them from going with their realtor or co-worker's recommended loan officer.
Action/Sale (Closing) Deliver a 5 Star Experience To Maximize the Value of Your Mortgage Database
Running an online mortgage sales funnel should be a commitment. It should be a commitment to the consumer direct mortgage loan officer model. When you begin generating your own mortgage leads, your desire to pander to agents in order to earn their business will go down. That's not to say that you won't want to work with real estate agents, but it'll definitely be easier to not compromise with yourself in order to earn their business. Imagine being able to choose what agents you want to work with based on who makes your/your borrowers' lives the easiest and not based on needing the paycheck from their next referral?
In order to achieve this in your business, you have to be willing to put the borrower first in your transactions again. There are many mortgage professionals and coaches across the country who consider the real estate agent to be their client, not the borrower. The consumer direct or as we call it "Borrower First" business model allows you to attract agents with integrity, that are willing to work hard to help you provide a 5 star experience. Collecting reviews and testimonials from your clients and hosting them on sites like Google My Business or Facebook will allow you to take your online mortgage sales funnel to the next level.