s don’t consider – is telemarketing.
“What a lot of mortgage brokers and loan officers don’t realize is that at the end of the day, it’s all about talking to people,” said Zach South, president of Best Rate Referrals. “If you don’t have a lot of loan officers who are ‘phone dog’ – they just want to sit back and take referrals and inbound phone calls – then your best route would be to hire someone who can pound the phones, get people interested, pre-qualify them to some degree, and then transfer that phone call to the loan officer.”
Many people have a negative view of telemarketing. The word can bring to mind unsolicited calls attempting to sell vacation cruises or unwanted magazine subscriptions. But outbound calling can be a powerful tool.
“I think a lot of people are scared to go down that route, but it’s all about getting people on the phone, getting them interested,” South said. “If you’re not the type of loan officer or bank that has that system set up, or the type of employee who’s ever going to do that, this is a cheap way to take advantage of that opportunity.”
South stressed that bringing on a telemarketer – even one – can translate into lots of new business.
“Your investment on a telemarketer is pretty low. We pay ours $10 per hour plus commission – so the average telemarketer is costing us maybe $25,000 a year,” he said. “But that telemarketer is also generating anywhere from five to 10 transfers a day, and those transfers – about one in every 10 turns into a loan. So if you have a telemarketer that’s generating five to 10 leads a day and one half to one of those turns into a loan, that’s two to five loans a week that this telemarketer is now generating for you. For the small cost of a few grand a month, it’s a no-brainer.”
Of course, even the best telemarketers can’t do much for your business if they’re not calling the right people. South suggests looking to internet leads for a lot of untapped potential customers.
“Obviously, you want to keep following up with your internal database, but there are also a lot of vendors who will sell you mortgage leads that were generated 60 days ago off the internet. On a good month, only about 5% of internet leads turn into a closed loan,” he said. “So that means that 95% of the leads that were generated went nowhere. Maybe the person who got that lead originally didn’t call the person enough or wasn’t the right fit. If you’re buying a list of aged mortgage leads, you know going into it that 95% of these people didn’t do a loan. There’s a lot of opportunity there.”
And of course, telemarketing isn’t much use if potential customers don’t answer the phone. South recommends two strategies to increase answer rates.
“First, when we’re dialing out to people, our caller ID will be a local area code,” he said. “It’s not going to be an 800 number. It’s not going to be a number in Florida when I’m calling somebody in California. And that’s very beneficial to getting a good answer rate.
“Another thing that really impacts answer rate: A lot of people have cell phones now. I don’t know about every office, but we really restrict our employees from using their cell phones at work unless they’re on break. So if you’re calling people during the day when they’re at work – or you’re calling their house phone and they’re not even home – then the chances of getting them to pick up the phone are very slim. So calling at night – really between the times of 5 and 8 o’clock – generates the greatest number of answers.”
When you’re contacting customers across time zones, that means planning your calls accordingly.
“We’re on the West Coast, so our guys start at 10 a.m.,” South said. “At 10 a.m., they’re calling about reverse mortgage
s, because a lot of seniors are home during the day. At 2 o’clock, we start calling the East Coast, because it’s 5 o’clock over there. So for the rest of the afternoon we just kind of move through the country until 8 o’clock. That way we maximize our answer rates when we’re dialing.”
Attracting new business is a must for any successful mortgage originator. Mortgage professionals should make use of any marketing tool that’s effective at getting customers through the door. And one tool that can be very effective – but that many