Originating: Maximizing Web Lead Conversion

Written by Christopher Russow, as originally published in The Reverse Review.

Marketing in the reverse mortgage business is constantly changing and the Internet has emerged as one of the biggest growth opportunities for lenders of all sizes to generate or purchase reverse mortgage leads. While this seems like a great opportunity on the surface, there are some must-know facts about the Web lead business that affect companies purchasing these leads, as well as originators hoping to close these loans. In this article, I will touch on the three most important points that originators need to know to maximize their closing ratio when dealing with Internet-generated leads.

There’s no such thing as an “exclusive” Web lead. When you think about reverse mortgage clients, it’s generally a good rule to place them in two different categories: reactive clients and proactive clients. The TV advertising campaigns that have been so popular over that past decade generally attract reactive clients. A senior is sitting on the couch and watching TV when a reverse mortgage commercial comes on and they decide to pick up the phone and call. He may not know much about the program, its benefits or what it can do for him, but he is interested in learning more. Essentially, he is “reacting” to the ad he just saw and following up for more information.

On the Internet, seniors have typically indicated that they have a need (financial or otherwise) and have taken it upon themselves to go online and get educated about the reverse mortgage program. In doing so, they click on an advertisement offering reverse mortgage information and are asked to fill out a form to get that information. This is where the psychology of the Internet client comes into play. After filling out their first form, the vast majority of Web clients go on to fill out other forms as part of their education process. If they only fill out one form from one lender, then they’ll probably only get contacted by that company. However, most seniors fill out two to four forms and oftentimes one or more of those forms may belong to a lead generation company that plans to sell that lead to several different people. This is where things get difficult, because the “exclusive Web lead” the originator has now received may be in the hands of five or more loan officers in a matter of minutes. This leads directly to point No. 2…

Contact is key! The most important metric when dealing with Web leads is how long it took between receiving that lead and making contact with your client. The shorter this time is, the more likely you are to close that client’s loan, period. Most originators who are still in the reverse mortgage business understand the products, can offer competitive pricing and will generally be able to meet the needs of their clients. Time-to-contact is one of the few differentiators left that can truly give you an edge when you come up against five other lenders that all want to earn the same client’s business.

You also need to consistently follow up with that client if you are unable to reach them. This usually means you’re calling that person once or twice a day for several days until you finally get them on the phone. In the meantime, everyone else who purchased that lead is calling this client as well, so they’re likely to get an onslaught of calls from several lenders in a very short amount of time. This leads directly to point No. 3…

Differentiate yourself! Now that you’ve received your Web lead and finally made contact, don’t forget how important it is for you to differentiate yourself from all the other people who are calling the client. Pricing, loan products and other factors that influence the client’s choice in a lender are pretty similar across the various companies in our industry. You need to impress upon the client specifics as to why they should work with you and not everyone else who will inevitably be calling them. In addition, you need to build the trust necessary for them to stick with you through the entire loan process.

The first thing you need to do is make sure they know who you are and who you work for. Once you’ve established an identity with the client, spend time really understanding why they are looking into the reverse mortgage program. When they say, “I want to get rid of my monthly mortgage payment,” don’t let the conversation stop there. It is important to understand why they want to get rid of that payment. You should follow up with something like, “Great! If you were able to eliminate your monthly payment, how would that change your life?” Spend as much time with them as needed to really understand why they want or need the loan. Later on in the process when their appraisal comes in lower than expected, or you realize that they have a higher mortgage payoff than originally quoted, those fundamental needs that drove them to look into the loan will help keep them focused on the task at hand and make them more committed to completing the process and closing the loan.

Mastering these three principles is a great way to start increasing your success with converting reverse mortgage Web leads. In addition to these points, I will offer one final suggestion to help you have better success: Always remember that when dealing with a new lead source, your client is going to be different than those you have worked with in the past. Try as hard as you can to not make assumptions about their willingness and ability to communicate and complete tasks in nontraditional ways. Your Web client might be able (and may in fact prefer) to communicate via email, to print documents out at home, sign paperwork and scan/email/fax that paperwork back to you or your operations staff. A higher degree of comfort with the Internet suggests that they might also have a high degree of comfort with other parts of the process. Use these differences to your advantage and make your loan process as efficient as possible. In the end, it will be better for your client and may also be better for your bottom line.

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