When giving advice to sales people who are looking to improve (or are trying to blame the leads), I always first make it very clear that it’s not the leads, it’s you. After starting our strategy with an overview of the importance of sales culture and contact time – let’s dig into the ever-important realm of business communication when working leads.
Sell yourself and your company. Start with a warm and enthusiastic greeting, as it is important to get the consumer engaged in the process and build rapport. Be sure to articulate why you are better to work with and why your company is better to work with… How the experience you or your company provides is different than other companies they may be speaking with… Why your process is easier on the borrower. Think about these things, and differentiate yourself. Be the product expert.
The biggest problem most sales people have is that we like to listen to ourselves talk. I know I’m guilty of this sometimes. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason, so ask open-ended questions about the things a borrower would use the funds for, their bucket list, their needs, and their dreams. Your job is to discover the problem(s) they may or may not realize they have, and to demonstrate how a reverse mortgage can not only solve that problem, but benefit their retirement over time by providing a better quality of life. They will tell you how to close them if you pose the right questions. Qualify, qualify qualify!
These are my basic steps to the sale:
- Develop a relationship.
- Sell yourself, sell your company
- Analyze the needs of the client.
- Educate the client on the product, and use real world stories of how the product was used to buy a business, pay expenses, retire early, travel the world, buy a second vacation home and so on, tailored to each client’s goals.
- Identify and provide a solution to solve the borrower’s specific need
- Earn the borrower’s trust and business by being the “expert,” credible, and compassionate.
- Gain commitment.
- Ask for a referral.
Leaving an effective voicemail. This is an often overlooked, but critical part of the follow-up process. Have a plan or script for this as you often won’t reach a borrower on the first call. Think about how you check your own voicemail. I know I quickly check mine without listening to the entire message. We are all busy. If it sounds like a sales call from someone I don’t know… I delete it before I listen to the whole thing. And so do you. So engage the consumer and leave a positive first impression that relays that you are following up on their request. It’s important when leaving an enthusiastic voicemail to say something like this: (more…)
Now that we’ve been reminded that it’s not the leads, it’s you, we can start to form a strategy from the ground up. Let’s dig into sales culture and contact time first – it’s impossible to cut corners in these areas and still achieve the amount of success you should be striving for. In fact, and you might cringe here, we’re going to talk about working weekends, too. Then we’ll move on to the ever-important communication.
Sales Culture. The first thing a company should review before they buy Internet leads is their sales culture. If you historically generate mostly inbound calls to your sales team, getting them to make outbound dials on Internet leads may prove to be a problem, and working them has different challenges as well. With an inbound call sales culture, many sales people would much rather sit around and wait for the phone to ring then make many outbound dials all day. Working Internet leads takes commitment and significant effort, supported by a great sales process. The deals are in there – the question is, can you earn them?
If inbound calls are your current sales culture, the first thing you need to decide is how you hold your sales people accountable for hitting certain metrics working Internet leads. You should track outbound dials per day, contact rate, total talk time, quotes given, applications taken, loans funded, plus whatever other milestones your company utilizes. I like to start new salespeople working Internet leads only, starting with aged leads, and then quickly providing them with real-time leads once they demonstrate command of the material. Over time I allow them to “graduate” to the inbound phone queue as a reward for good performance working the Internet leads, as calls are expensive, yet not necessarily more effective. Provide your sales team with a script and training for both fresh leads and aged leads, as they need to be approached differently at initial contact. I hold all sales people accountable and ensure their conversion metrics on Internet leads meet their objectives before I allow them to receive the “easier” inbound calls.
Contact Time. Contact time on Internet leads is critical. You want to reach out to the consumer ideally while they are still online and on the form they submitted. At that point, they are actively thinking about a Reverse Mortgage (we call it real-time), rather than hours later when they have mentally moved on to something else. The goal should be to make that first call and send the introductory email within 5 minutes of receiving a lead. Work in sequential priority, and a fresh lead tops the list. Remember, the Internet provides people with immediate gratification… so you should, too! If you do so, you will see much better contact rates, and on shared leads, which are typically sold up to 5 times (we only sell exclusive leads), you will have the opportunity to take the borrower “off the market” before your competitor calls.
I’m frankly surprised that so few companies want leads delivered in real-time on weekends. If you have a smart phone that can receive email, you can reach out to a new prospect who is likely home and available to take your call when they submit the lead. Even sending an email to schedule a Monday morning follow-up call is better than letting your leads sit uncontacted until Monday. Why give the time to let the borrower do more shopping while they wait to hear back from you? Think about working leads on weekends, as it’s an untapped opportunity to improve your contact rate and originate more loans.
I’ve run a number of sales teams in my career, and even spent some time in the mid 90’s training automobile dealers on how to create an effective sales process working Internet leads – at the time, it was the antithesis of their traditional sales process. In fact, it was with the very first Internet lead company, autobytel. Managing my own consumer fulfillment sales teams since those times, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that the leads were not good, I’d be a very rich man. My response has always been: “Then why is so-and-so consistently making $20k-$30k a month working the same leads you are?”
Because it’s rarely the leads, that’s why.
As a lead generator, I’ve worked with thousands of forward and reverse mortgage lenders and brokers over the years. I’ve had the opportunity to share processes with these lenders and aggregate best practices. Some of these clients have seen tremendous ROI and consider our leads the best thing since sliced bread, yet a few don’t see success using a subset of the very same leads. Why is that? The leads are effective as you are. Process, positioning, and competitiveness matter. A microcosm of this is why most sales organizations consistently have certain sales people at the top of the board, the middle of the board, and those who should seek other employment. The top producers are not necessarily more talented than anyone else, although that is a small part of it. What top sales people do tend to have in common, however, is a better sales process, a better pitch, the ability to connect with people, and personal drive (defined as work ethic), in which excuses are just not acceptable. They hold themselves accountable and find ways to succeed, not excuses as to why they fail. Again, the leads are as effective as you are; the deals are in there.
When I first started generating and selling Internet leads in 1995, training sales teams to work them had an extra challenge we don’t have now: First we had to explain what the Internet was and then sell them a computer so they could work the leads! These days, our firm generates and delivers more than 10,000 exclusive reverse mortgage leads per month to a lender you may be working for or with.
Since the ’90s, most people have used the Web to research products, review them and ultimately make a buying decision based on what they’ve read and learned. The Web is a double-edged sword in this regard, as there is as much misinformation as good information out there on reverse mortgages.
The most important thing I’ve come to understand as a lead generator is that a reverse mortgage is not a commodity product that everyone understands. There are many misperceptions from consumers caused by the word “reverse.” Few people realize that it’s really just a traditional mortgage, but with more payment options and flexibility, as it can “pay” you (thus the “reverse”). How many other loans allow you to choose when and how you pay it back, or not pay it back at all, during your lifetime? I often hear that it’s expensive, and my response is, “Expensive compared with what other loan you don’t have to effectively pay back during your lifetime?”
I fully believe in reverse mortgages and the incredible financial options they offer retirees, and it excites me to introduce so many consumers to this product. Using the proceeds of a reverse mortgage just to defer Social Security until 70 can increase a borrower’s benefits by 76 percent and prevent a borrower from draining their investments, which are also earning a return. Proceeds can be used to start a second career, buy a dream vacation home, downsize through a HECM for Purchase or simply help pay for the golden years. As a salesperson, it’s important to understand that your prospects may have applied for a quote after reading only a few bullet points highlighting the benefits of a reverse mortgage, so they probably need a lot more education and a greater comfort level to make them ready to buy. Although I will cover “how to work leads” in another article, today I want to focus on why leads work and how to choose a lead company.