Originating: The Importance of Customer Relationship Management

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

Over the past decade, technology has become a critical part of the mortgage business and has worked its way into lead generation, the sales cycle and the entirety of the operations process. While it is still possible to self-source a lead, take a paper application at the kitchen table and process the loan yourself through “traditional” means, companies that want to grow their business and leverage economies of sale have increasingly turned to technology to help them do this.

I could write an entire book on the ways in which customer relationship management (CRM) systems can help you enhance your business, and a quick search on Amazon will show you that indeed, many people already have. Since we don’t have the space to fit all that information here, in this article I will discuss the importance of using a CRM to manage, track and report on your clients. In addition, I will highlight three very important functions of a CRM that are crucial to any salesperson: contacting your clients, continued follow-up and reporting on your business. Finally, I will discuss some of the CRM systems currently available and which ones might best suit your needs.

When it comes to contacting your client, there are two critical components: contact time and your contact percentage. CRM systems have the ability to integrate into your phone system, allowing you to call a lead as soon as you receive it. This is critical as researchers from Harvard University and MIT have shown that your chance of closing a sale diminishes substantially the longer you wait to get a hold of the potential client. In addition to a speedy contact time, any good salesperson will tell you that more at bats means more chances to hit a home run, and to achieve this, you want to make sure that you are able to contact as many of your potential clients as possible. The average salesperson might be able to contact 20 to 25 percent of their leads (purchased online) through regular methods of contact. However, using a CRM system with an integrated phone line, that same salesperson could increase their contact ratio to 35 or even 40 percent, depending on the quality of their leads and the quality of their CRM system. The contact ratio is a perfect example of a scenario where you have the opportunity to double your business by integrating technology into your process.

A second valuable function of a CRM system is its ability to help you manage and increase your follow-up. As smart as we are and as skilled as we may be, no human has the ability to manage a pipeline of 100 or more leads effectively without the assistance of technology. CRM systems allow you to keep track of when and how often you touch each lead, set reminders and appointments to contact leads in the future, and follow the status of a lead as it moves through your sales and operations processes. In addition, the CRM system can help you set up drip email marketing campaigns, generate lists of clients to reach out to based on certain events (e.g., a list of clients who all turn 62 in the same month), and can even remind you to reach out to your clients on the anniversary of their loan closing to ask for referrals.

The third point I want to touch on is the issue of reporting. A single loan officer might be able to manage their data reasonably well, but once you have a team of loan officers, you need the help of a CRM system to manage them effectively. A good system will give users the option to make customized reports that can show you how may leads your LOs are calling and how often, how long it takes them to reach new leads, how long each client takes to move through the various steps of the process, etc. Armed with this information, a skilled team leader can identify bottlenecks in the sales process and put in place the appropriate measures to increase the team’s efficiencies. Reports can also be used as a valuable way to identify underperforming salespeople, maximize your marketing spend and gain additional insights into your business.

Now that you know why you need to use a CRM system, let’s look at some of the software available to you and discuss what you should consider when picking the right one for your business. There are

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literally dozens of systems on the market that can offer you a full range of features with varying options and prices. I am going to touch on four systems that have been used successfully in our industry and mention some pros and cons of each.

The leader in CRM technology is usually considered to be Salesforce (SF). SF is an all-encompassing CRM system that can be customized and tailored to almost any business in any industry. The main downfall with SF is always going to be the price, which isn’t just the cost for using the system (per person/per month), but also the additional cost in setting up and customizing the system to do all the things you need it to. Since it’s so hard to customize on your own, the costs to setting up SF (and maintaining it over time) can really add up.

Two other systems worth mentioning are Insellarate (IS) and Velocify (VF). These systems are very comparable, although they have some key differences. Both offer a range of features and options and cost roughly the same amount of money per month. However, VF is much harder to set up and doesn’t offer you nearly as many customization options as IS. IS also has much better reporting tools and a more intuitive user interface. On the flip side, IS is a newer and smaller company than VF, so their team has less experience working with clients in the reverse mortgage space.

The last CRM system I want to discuss is Leadmailbox (LM). LM is a basic CRM system at a really low price point that will give you a simple set of tools you can use to manage your leads. This system is no-frills and doesn’t give you the option to customize any of its features. However, for an individual who just wants to manage a small pipeline of leads, this could be a good option.

Overall, an easy way to decide what system will best suit your needs is by looking at the size of your business and evaluating your goals. If you’re an individual trying to get a better handle on your lead pool, LM (or a system like this) is probably the right choice. If you’re running a business with a sales team of between 5 to 100 loan officers, a system like IS or VF is probably where you want to focus your attention. Between the two, IS is going to be the better buy based on the feature set, customization and reporting capabilities. Finally, if you’re running a large company with 100-plus salespeople (and you’re ready to write some large checks), SF is probably the right fit for your business. Whatever your situation,

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investing in the right CRM system is going to help you increase your business, maximize the return on your marketing spend, and gain valuable insights into your individual or team’s business.

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