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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   June 2007

Maximize Your Success Through the Internet

Make the most of online leads to build your pipeline

The marketplace has become ultracompetitive, and many brokers and loan officers are struggling to keep pace and stay afloat. With repeat and referral business slowing, it is a good idea to investigate alternative mortgage leads. Increasingly, one of the best sources for mortgage leads is the Internet.

Regardless of the Internet lead-provider with which you work, the following pointers can help you have a good, if not great, experience with Internet leads.

Improve your response time

When considering your success with leads, one of the first things to think about is how often you check your e-mail. If you have leads delivered to your cell phone, also consider how quickly you call borrowers back.

Some brokers don’t understand why they aren’t having much success with Internet leads. When asked, however, they say that when they get a lead, they try to call the borrower back that same day or the following business day. They may check their e-mail a couple of times a day, and many don’t use a cell-phone-notification system, as it would disrupt their daily activities.

Others, however, check their e-mail several times throughout the day. And when they’re out of the office, they receive leads instantly on their cell phones or personal digital assistants (PDAs). They then call the new lead back immediately.

Given that many Internet leads are nonexclusive or semi-exclusive, it is often the first company that gets its foot in the door with borrowers that will earn their business.

Recognize potential competition

Consider my recent experience as an example. Recently, I applied with an online mortgage search and comparison site to refinance my home. Within hours of filling out my application, I received calls from various lenders. Because I was at work, I asked them to e-mail me their contact information so I could e-mail them the details of my scenario and let them respond with ballpark rates, monthly payment options and fee scenarios.

One of the individuals with whom I spoke, however, told me that his company does not correspond via e-mail with prospects and that I would have to come to his office during regular business hours to fill out an application. I told him that with my busy schedule, I would be unable to come in, especially if he couldn’t tell me how his company might assist me. He said his company would not be interested in doing business with me in that case.

This person must not have realized — or maybe he just didn’t care — that I was receiving quotes from other companies, none of which had hoops for me to jump through as a potential client.

Another lender representative with whom I spoke was willing to review my scenario briefly on the phone and quote me a ballpark rate and closing costs. I then told him the specifics of another deal that a competing lender offered me. At that point, it was clear to me that matching or beating this deal would be below his standard. So I asked him to put his best offer in writing to me via e-mail, and he committed to do so. I never heard from him again.

Clearly, to earn their business, it is essential that you put yourself in borrowers’ shoes. Take the time to understand their life scenario, and do everything you can to accommodate them. Keep in mind that even though another mortgage company might offer the borrower a better deal, customer service and handholding can go a long way.

Follow up

Finally, to maximize your success with Internet mortgage leads, don’t ever stop following up. Many brokers constantly check their PDAs for new leads and drop everything to call borrowers back immediately. They have great service skills and are willing to be competitive and do what it takes to earn borrowers’ business. Yet, sometimes these brokers still aren’t successful with Internet leads.

Success with each individual lead is not an overnight process. Few Internet leads yield immediate results.

You must follow up with each lead not only in the first week, but also again after two weeks, three weeks, one month, two months, three months and even six months and beyond. During that time, your bucket will start to overflow with people with whom you have been following up.

It doesn’t take much time or effort. It just takes an organized system and methodology to keep track of your leads and stay on top of them. This includes making routine phone calls that last two or three minutes and sending e-mails that take one or two minutes to type. As you exhibit this level of commitment to each prospect you get from your Internet leads (and other lead sources), you will see that many people will eventually warm up to you.

You will start getting the return phone calls and return e-mails. Other mortgage originators either don’t follow up like this or choose not to because they prefer quick closes. This means that the longer you follow up over time, the less potential competition you will have.

And when someone who inquired about a prequalification a few months ago is ready to actually buy a house, you likely will get that business and close that loan. The longer you hold on to and work with each lead, the more success you will have. The sky truly is the limit.

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Regardless of your experience and what you may have previously heard about or experienced with Internet mortgage leads, if you partner with the right provider and make a strong effort, you will be poised for long-term success that can help you weather any storm in the mortgage industry.


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