PERSON OF THE WEEK: Jim Blatt is the CEO and co-founder of Mortgage Returns, a provider of customer relationship management (CRM) software and automated marketing systems geared for mortgage lenders. The company recently launched Prospect Manager, a Web-based loan applications/website tool that increases operating efficiency and maximizes prospect conversion. MortgageOrb recently interviewed Blatt to learn more about how CRM systems are helping mortgage lenders streamline operations, boost sales and build customer loyalty.
Q: How do CRM systems free up more time for loan officers so they can focus on selling?
Blatt: The leading CRM systems are fully automated and can be readily integrated with the other systems loan officers use. With these systems, when a loan officer chooses to start a new prospects record – whether that be in the CRM system, in the loan origination system (LOS) or online – the marketing automatically takes place after that.
The best-case scenario is when a loan officer inputs a prospect into the LOS and knows that a drip campaign will start the next day. Furthermore, if a company uses a front-end system that loan officers have a lot of confidence in, a consumer can complete their own application and have a secure, easy way to interact with the lender. If a company has a great online application and process, up to 80% of application volume will flow through it, saving originators a ton of time.
Q: How are lenders converting more prospects today versus a decade ago?
Blatt: There are two keys to converting prospects: communication and simplifying the process. In terms of communication, originators should implement a marketing campaign that is customized to the borrower's situation and starts automatically. Then, as the loan moves in process, milestone notifications are sent out. All of this should be automatic. Many lenders invest a lot of time and energy into getting the phones to ring, but don't have prospect-nurturing campaigns to help convert those prospects.
As for making the process easy, companies should give borrowers the option to complete the application online. The application has to be equipped with responsive technology, well organized and on a website that reflects the company's brand, not just a cookie-cutter site that looks like everyone else's. Many consumers are very comfortable with online lending and want to have more control over the process. Sophisticated lenders give them that choice.
Q: What are some ways to effectively market to millennials?
Blatt: Education is critical. Everyone knows that the home buying experience is intimidating, but over the last several years, this group has also seen that homeownership may be equally difficult. They must be educated on what to expect, what they can afford and shown that a lender is truly listening. Many companies simply blast out the same marketing message to all prospects rather than customizing content to each one based on their situation. That is a mistake. The latest technology can correct that – and still be automated.
Millennials are sophisticated consumers of technology. A lender's website has to be modern – and the online application has to be sophisticated. If the application is not user-friendly, asks irrelevant questions or simply doesn't look like the rest of the company's website, a millennial user may abandon and go with a lender that puts a stronger focus on user experience. Technology equals legitimacy to the millennial group.
Q: Is social media worth it for lenders?
Blatt: Lenders that routinely leverage social media have the potential to integrate themselves into the end user's life with relevant posts and useful information. But simply establishing a Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter page is by no means enough. For example, on LinkedIn, a lender should establish a truly complete profile, including recommendations from past clients and industry colleagues. Perusing the Q&A forums and answering questions on topics that a lender is highly knowledgeable of will further help with integration.
Individuals that post questions ultimately rank the answers, and a company can really position itself as a subject-matter expert in a field with a few top answers under its belt. This is just one way of being fully integrated into the social media outlet and, thus, maximizing the benefits of what it can provide.