As record-low interest rates drive a refinance boom and spikes in loan volumes, many businesses are adjusting to the present market.
“We’re really starting to see a shift from the idea of growing at all costs, to the idea of focusing on how to scale that growth upward,” said Katy Lyman, director of product management at Total Expert.
In a HousingWire webinar, Lyman and Kelly Gill, VP of marketing and advertising for Motto Franchising, emphasized that lending operations need to shift their focus for the rest of 2020 from growth to profitability.
One of the drivers for a pivot to profit is that loans are expensive. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, it costs an average of $7,535 to produce a loan. That’s “a significant eat into your profit margins and doesn’t necessarily account for all the time and effort to acquire those leads in the first place,” Lyman said.
Increased volume is great for business, but the excitement of an influx of customers can make it easy to forget about the challenges of taking on that much volume. As Lyman put it: your workforce has limitations.
“If you assume that you keep a steady stream of business, it’s important to remember that there’s always a human element that’s involved in serving those customers,” Lyman said. “As a result, you can only add so much to your pipeline at any given time.”
If your loan officers don’t have the resources to handle the inbound volume, they may not be able to follow up with every lead, which can lead to lost revenue.
Helping LOs and marketers work more efficiently can help drive profits for your business.
“Uncovering sales efficiencies is the key to not only closing more loans but also helping to close them faster,” Lyman said.
“If you’ve got a flood of customers who are coming in looking for that cash-out refi based on where the market’s at, you’ve got to give your salespeople the tools they need to get out of their offline documents and start putting that data into a place where the rest of the organization, especially marketing, can actually help them close and work those deals more effectively,” she added.
The personal connections made by sales and marketing are key to building trust with customers. Combining the human element of your workforce with technology to help them work more efficiently makes it that much easier for them to build those customer relationships.
Lyman and Gill discussed a few ways to enable your team to let tech help them work more efficiently and drive profitability.
1. Look for automation opportunities
Automation can ease some of an LO’s workload. Are there routine tasks that a LO has to remember to do every day? There may be a way to leverage technology to perform those manual tasks for them, freeing up more time in their workflow.
“If you can focus on the things that only a salesperson can do and identify the blockers keeping them from doing those things as quickly and accurately as possible, that’s where automation comes in – to support those routine manual tasks,” Lyman said.
2. Operationalize lead data
Capturing lead data is important, but what you do with it is what makes a difference. There are tech solutions that can help match a customer’s data and needs to the sales and marketing messaging sent to them, to ensure that every experience with your business is relevant to them. Total Expert has seen that increasing customer retention by even 5% could increase a company’s overall profitability by 75%.
In addition, some solutions can take existing lead data and identify opportunities to reach those customers and past prospects so that salespeople spend less time and effort simply trying to find new business.
Once lead data is captured, LOs and marketers must be able to collaborate in order to effectively use it. If sales is working in one system – or even on their own offline documents or physical notes – and marketing is working in another, it’s difficult for marketing to help move communication forward with customers or prospects. If everyone can work together in one system, it makes it that much easier to understand how best to serve the customer.
3. Drive internal technology adoption
In addition to implementing technology for efficiency, it’s important to train your workforce on how best to apply it, Gill said. “Showing the story of what you can do in a system — from beginning to end and how it all works together — can help it click a lot better with a user.”
Once users better understand how to leverage their technology, it’s easier to see what’s successful for your business and create a set of best practices to help LOs and marketers throughout your organization thrive with the resources they have.
“It’s not enough just to have the tools and the best practices. You’ve also got to be able to put those in action,” Lyman said. “Ultimately, when you do, you’ve helped them to be more than productive – you’ve empowered them, because that’s freeing up their time to be able to do the things that only they do well.”
Empower workflow focus
In observing LOs who don’t incorporate technology in their workflows, Total Expert noticed that a lack of consistent and centralized systems for inputting data made it difficult for them to know where to focus their efforts, Lyman said. Total Expert’s Focused View feature helps sales prioritize their leads and prospects to work more efficiently.
With Focused View, the salesperson has one tool that provides a prioritized list of sales opportunities organized by segments of their database. Instead of scanning a variety of systems to try and find what they’re looking for, they can work through a centralized list, saving time and closing more loans.
“We saw that this approach actually led to an almost 10% incremental lift in lead-to-application rate, which ultimately means they were actually spending time with qualified prospects rather than chasing down leads,” Lyman said.
Uncover marketing efficiencies
With high volumes, LOs often lack the time to properly nurture every relationship. Technology powered by intelligent automation, like Total Expert’s Journey Creator, can help LOs stay connected with customers through personalized communications specific to their customers’ financial journey.
With the right technology in place, marketing can be a “revenue-generating machine,” Lyman said. “The problem is that it’s difficult for consumers to feel engaged if the experience they’re having with your brand doesn’t feel like it’s continuous or personalized to them.”
LOs may submit requests to marketing for support on customized messaging or branding, but workflow delays and urgency can lead to inefficiencies on both sides, as sales waits for marketing to create materials and marketing has to drop other projects to handle an urgent request.
By gathering corporate-approved content and messaging in one place for sales and marketing to use as self-serve tools and campaigns, it allows them to be more efficient and agile. It’s easier and more efficient for them to communicate across channels and coordinate their efforts to target consumers where they’re more likely to respond. It also helps position LOs to better educate and advise customers on the right loan products for their needs.
To learn more about scalable best practices for implementing the right technology and sales and marketing strategies that, when combined with human connection, deliver maximum profitability and customer-for-life relationships, listen to the entire webinar