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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   August 2007

How to Complete Your Clients’ Stories

For the best results with inbound calls, take three steps to understanding your prospects’ needs

Direct-response advertising continues to be a viable and effective lead source for mortgage companies. Companies must therefore prepare their loan officers to handle inbound calls effectively with adequate training and preparation, which makes every call count and controls the company’s cost-per-call.

Clearly, if prospects call in from a direct-response ad, they are interested and have a need that must be identified. Loan originators must then help prospects take action and make a decision on selecting a loan product for their needs. They also must maintain a consistent professional standard of conduct that is proactive and positive.

One way to prepare for inbound calls is to have a systematic process, similar to the structure of a book, with an introduction, body and conclusion. Applying this method to a direct-response campaign can help loan originators complete their prospects’ stories and close the deals effectively.

The introduction

First impressions are lasting impressions. Loan originators and managers must be aware of what product their company is advertising. If they are not informed of changes and direct-mail drops, for example, it will affect their overall cost-per-call and their ability to handle calls confidently.

Moreover, how loan originators greet prospects is critical. They must speak with the same confidence and enthusiasm at all hours.

Effective greetings yield “yes” or “no” responses. For instance, consider a greeting like, “Welcome to XYZ Mortgage Co. Would you like to apply for a home loan today?” If the answer is yes, then loan originators can start taking the application. If the answer is “no,” originators must work toward taking the application by listening to callers’ needs and making them feel comfortable.

The body

A common mistake loan originators make with inbound calls is not controlling the conversation. They often lose control of it almost immediately by answering such questions as “What is your rate today?” with an actual rate in the first 15 seconds of the call.

Instead, weave the conversation into an application that will tell  a story. When going through the application, focus on the prospects’ past, present and future.

First, analyze the prospect’s past. This includes credit history, previous job history, housing history and credit usage. Prospects who have consistent credit history, a long housing history and minimal credit usage likely will be better candidates for conservative lending products. Prospects with short housing history, inconsistent job history and high revolving debt may be better candidates for more-aggressive lending products such as ARMs.

Second, review a prospect’s present situation. This includes the prospect’s income situation, financial status, quality of life and savings. Finally, look into how a loan product fits into the prospect’s future. Will it place clients into a better equity position, improve their quality of life and provide long-term savings?

Loan originators should identify their clients’ needs and place them into the appropriate product. Remember, prospects want mortgage originators to have an answer to their specific situation, but originators first must discern the details of the story by fact-finding, listening and gathering information.

The conclusion

In the end, not only give prospects what they want, but also show them what they need. Clients might want to refinance their first mortgage with a 30-year fixed loan, but a hybrid ARM or a second mortgage could be more beneficial.

In the final stage of the call, once they have a prospect’s story, loan originators must create a sense of urgency by mentioning items necessary to close on the second call. Moreover, in the current market, have prospects get an appraisal immediately. The longer clients shop, the more equity they could be losing in a soft real estate market.

Always review and identify the features and benefits of the loan program selected with prospects. Then immediately answer and confront any objections. Confirm that you have addressed the objections sufficiently. Finally, explain your company’s process and set a follow-up appointment to review the documentation, appraisal status, etc.

If clients know what to expect, have a timeline feel you helped them understand the process, they likely will feel more comfortable completing the transaction. If you show you can be specific to their situation, your credibility will sell itself.



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