How to Fire a Technology Vendor.
Breaking up is hard to do. Several factors keep mortgage lenders in shit vendor relationships that make them feel trapped. It can be easy to build a friendship with an account executive that manages the vendor engagement. You don’t want to let your friends down, hurt their feelings or impact their paycheck. There are also a couple of core technology platforms that significantly impact a mortgage lender’s everyday business. Point of Sale, Loan Origination System, and Customer Relationship Managers are the major technologies that are utilized by almost every person within a mortgage company. Changing these platforms takes careful planning, time, and the right technology professionals. Lastly, it can be easy to get caught by a bad deal. Software companies must construct long-term contracts to make money. Most business-to-business SaaS companies don’t turn a profit in an engagement until about the 6-month mark. Despite legal review, it can be easy to get stuck in an engagement or be forced to pay penalties for terminating the arrangement before the term runs out. Navigating this dynamic can be complicated and there are several reasons that a mortgage lender may need to terminate a technology service. Vendors need to understand these reasons just as much as lenders need to stay aware of them. Here are the main reasons a vendor needs to be shown the door. 1. Budget Cuts. This one is rough, because sometimes solid-performing vendors may get fired simply because they haven’t quite quantified their value to the lender. Budget cuts occur for many reasons: business complications, market shifts, reprioritizing, strategy changes, or new management. 2. Performance. The vendor hasn’t met its obligations or hit its goals. We’ll get into this a little deeper in a bit, but if a lender simply feels that the tech vendor isn’t doing as promised – that is the ball game. 3. Competition. There is a bigger, better, cheaper solution than the current tech vendor. Technology competition is fierce in the mortgage industry. Wanting to change vendors to take advantage of new technology happens when it is believed there is a better solution that will improve the business. Alright – we’ve ironed out why pink slips are handed out to tech vendors. How can you make sure to rid yourself of a vendor that isn’t a fit for your company’s future? You must lock up these 3 things: 1. OPT-OUT CLAUSE – Pay very close attention to both the length of term, the termination reasons acceptable, and the time frame needed to opt-out of a contract. You can have a lengthy-term, but make sure you can opt-out quickly. The reasons are important too. Some companies have a provision where they get to attempt to make you happy 47 times before the contract can be terminated. This very much sucks. If you’re done, you want to fire a vendor as soon as possible. 2. Pay the Implementation Fee – Implementation fees are expensive. They sound expensive, they feel expensive, and they don’t give anyone any satisfaction (not even the vendor). The reason tech vendors have this fee is because it cost them considerable resources to implement their solution into your platform. They are rarely making money on this. They sometimes will waive the fee if you extend your term. You also might find the opt-out clause to be challenging, and other items contentious if you don’t pay an implementation fee. If things don’t go well, you will likely have a vendor that is simply haunting your P&L. 3. Vendor Performance – You must connect the vendor engagement to goals, objectives, key performance indicators, and overall performance. The vendor should work with very clear objectives and regularly report against their work, so you understand the value every month. If these objectives are not met, you may be able to quickly exit the engagement. It is the easiest termination conversation ever; “Hey, we told you we wanted XYZ done, and you didn’t do it, you’re fired, and see ya around!” You can be kind if you want. While business continues to be about relationships, it must also be about business. It is hard to think through all the variables that are involved in these types of engagements, especially when you are dealing with technology. Most of us learn from experience, mistakes, and losing money, so I hope these words are helpful. These are the lessons from plenty of failures, false starts, mistakes, and company losses. Remember, fail fast, and sometimes it’s best to cut your losses before someone cuts you.
December 13, 2021 10 minutes
Quality Lead Gen Boosts Company Morale
Lead generation is a significant method that helps mortgage companies expand into new markets and supplement their referral flow from real estate agent relationships. In mortgage call centers, lead gen is the heartbeat of the sales team. Sales is a challenging vocation in every business sector. Some would argue that it isn’t consistent, or reliable. There have even been comparisons to gambling from the salary steady peanut gallery. A career sales professional likely wouldn’t compare it to gambling but there are some parallels. If a sales professional is reliant on leads for sales to make their living the need for them to be of high quality is imperative. This can be quite the roller coaster ride of conversation, pitches, wins, and losses. There have been quite a few studies focused on gambling that indicate that even near misses, close calls, or near wins create the same euphoric sensation as a win. A week in the life of a salesperson is an emotional rollercoaster, but the upside is enormous. So they grind it out. How does lead generation impact the emotional well-being of your mortgage loan officers? Let’s break down a couple of ways to help navigate the ups and downs of being a mortgage loan officer living on the online lead. Intent – There are several markers to tell if a lead that is generated has a high intent to purchase. Keywords, form fill length, funnel sequence, and time spend reading reviews. High intent should also correlate to high conversion rates to a closed loan. The fewer calls a loan officer makes to have a quality conversation and connect with a person that is interested in applying for the mortgage the better. There is only so much dog shit one can shuffle through before all hope is lost. This is applicable when buying leads – ask about the lead intent. You can do this by asking - “what is the average conversion to closed loan average?”. Nurture – If leads are not ready to buy or not qualified to buy there are several retention services, lead scrubbing companies, and email/text service providers that will help you make sure you stay top of mind. A strategy to continue to reach out to your leads is a great investment and will bring down your cost per funded loan. To increase morale, these leads as they mature throughout nurture must go to the same mortgage loan officer that placed them in nurture. This not only allows for a level of reconnection, but this personal touch will also increase your conversed to closed loan average. Training – Whether call center or distributed retail mortgage loan officer – both need training. All leads are not created equal. There are tactics to approach different lead gen sources, levels of intention, circumstances, and lifestyles, and geographical locations, culture, and loan products. Evaluate all these variables and pay close attention to which leads your loan officers to close at the highest average. In certain cases, they may need training, or maybe shouldn’t receive certain types of leads at all. Either way, this should be an ongoing investigation, and work of optimization to make sure that both borrower and mortgage loan officer is enjoying the experience. If your salespeople are staring at their shoes while walking around the office, it’s time to make some changes. Sales morale can completely be boosted by improving your lead gen flow, providing proper insights, curating meaningful relationships, and buying some leads that don’t suck. Leads work. Online leads work. It’s big business. Do it right and you’ll kill the game. If you don’t, your loan officers will find someone that does.
November 15, 2021 10 minutes
It is Shopping Season for Mortgage Lenders
Maybe waiting until Christmas to send your clients that special thank you gift is not the best idea. October is the shopping season in the mortgage industry. Mortgage Advisor Tools traffic is spiking. This is not an accident. Check your analytics and it’s likely you are also seeing a spike in web traffic. Why? Very simple. You are being shopped. This is both good and bad. You are likely on the cusp of picking up a couple of new customers. However, you are also on the cusp of losing a couple as well. I’m sure your retention rate is awesome and you are doing everything right for each client. Let’s break down the 3 reasons why mortgage lenders are shopping for new mortgage technology in October. 1. The current vendor F&*%ing blows. If you haven’t had a chance to check out our CRM commercial . . . you totally should. The lender has likely provided you with some signs that they aren’t going to renew. If you haven’t provided adequate reporting on how you are effectively solving their problems – this is another sign that the lender might not understand your impact on their organization. Lastly – Loan officer complaints – if you are causing more work for anyone that has the power to make the decision – see ya later. 2. Budget. Does this technology vendor make us money? Do they save us time, which saves us money? Is there a cheaper solution that does the same thing? So, if you haven’t managed your client relationship properly, they will at some point (even years) start to develop buyer’s remorse. Older cases of buyer’s remorse will break down in our last point. The mortgage business has a 30-day brain and a severe case of amnesia. If you aren’t constantly explaining your value proposition and how it equates to profit regularly you are susceptible to being replaced. 3. Innovation. How has your service/product offering advanced? Have you worked to innovate your technology? Have you taken the input of your clients and built the features and solutions they requested? Mortgage technology will continue to get more competitive and if you aren’t innovating at a pace that is making a substantial difference in your engagements – someone will. Entire new technology companies are built by former employees who listened to the market. Make sure your roadmap includes your client’s input to some degree, and that what you are working to implement will improve their overall engagement. It is shopping season! Send your edible arrangements, gift cards, and weird seasonal gifts before everyone else. If you do blow – find out why right now. Fix it. Commit to change. Innovate. Justify your value. Figure out a way to be more valuable. Play nice with others. Remember, the mortgage industry is huge but very small all at the same time.
October 13, 2021 10 minutes
How Mortgage Advisor Tools is impacting the mortgage Industry
Mortgage Advisor Tools has been live for over 6 months now. We have been feverishly working on ways to provide value to both website visitors and our mortgage software customers. To be transparent – helping software companies understand they are being searched online has been interesting. We have continued to signup new companies every week, but we have a long way to go to really make the impact we desire. Here are some of the things we have done to bring attention to our customers and let the mortgage industry know what we aren’t F*&$ing around: All our media postings in the last 6 months Dave Savage LinkedIn Post – Steven Cooley is a Guru (too kind) Dave Savage - How to Search and Select the Right Technology Lykken on Lending – Marketing Business Intelligence Startup Conviction – Helping Mortgage Advisors find the Right Technology Fintech Fridays Lykken on Lending - Mortgage Technology Disruption Shred Media - Tools of the Trade for Mortgage Brokers Rob Chrisman - Mortgage Advisor Tools Launch Mortflix Have you seen our commercials? Over 50,000 views between both of them. Special thanks for Cameron Sprinkle! Mortgage Advisor Tools - Branch Manager CRM Category Website Metrics over 6 months: Unique Visitors: 19,200 Average time Spent on Site: 32 seconds Page Visits per session: 4 Top Categories: CRM and Lead Gen (over 1000 visits per category) Top Company Profiles: Podium, Homebinder, MBS Highway Blog Visits: 1221 (thank you for reading) I need to get permission from Clayton, Molly, and Kevin to share their kind words about how Mortgage Advisor Tools is kinda awesome. Hopefully they oblige… We have very exciting announcements coming up in this last quarter and a couple dope ass videos to push out. I really appreciate the overall support and look forward to building a resource that helps mortgage advisors, mortgage lenders, and technology companies find each other. Special thanks to Capterra as well – they love our videos….
September 28, 2021 10 minutes
How can Mortgage Advisors Accelerate their Sales?
There are loan officers that can be dropped in the middle of nowhere and they would figure out how to sell mortgages. They don’t need assistants or technology or whatever. They are ultimate sales professionals. They are usually the loan officers that we all look up to and aspire to be. However, the truth is that most loan officers need and can only arrive at their full potential with considerable assistance. This shouldn’t be viewed as negative. There are levels. Trying to get to the next level might involve some new skills, relationships, and technological resources. We developed the Sales Accelerator category. This category encompasses technology and service companies that don’t traditionally fit into an existing category. These are important resources. They offer a wide variety of services that can help you reach your business objectives. Increase your sales. Save you tons of time and improve your overall life. Let’s break down three different ways a technology company may fall into the Sales Accelerator category. It is important to understand that most software companies feel like they fit into more than one category. While that may be true – people tend to search to solve one problem. Rarely do you write a paragraph search inquiry to get solutions to the challenges you are facing. Understanding how people search and identifying with a primary category allows both tech company and buyers to find each other. Here are a couple ways technology companies may fall into the Sales Accelerator category: Information and data – This may vary – Rate data, scenario data, housing data, inventory, etc. The information that you have at your fingertips allows for a level of professionalism with both referral partners and borrowers. There are several amazing companies that provide these resources at a high level to help you look like a pro. What one may lack in experience, can be supplemented with the right data resource. Automation – In every loan transaction there are a collection of processes that are redundant. These redundancies span from the front end of the mortgage to the backend – all the way to securitization. Not every mortgage lender has a tech stack that covers every part of the process, therefore forcing loan officers to continue to manually engage in tedious processes. These may overlap with other categories or provide filler where other technology companies fall short. Borrower Engagement – We aren’t talking about marketing, or advertising or lead gen – we’re talking about truly optimizing borrower engagement. In some cases, this may be before the transaction or through borrower journey insights, but sometimes it is about adequately communicating with current borrowers while in process. Avoiding fallout. Increasing borrower confidence – therefore increasing review scores. Providing new understanding of what borrowers need in the moment to make their mortgage transaction successful. We want to help mortgage advisors, loan officers, and mortgage lenders solve problems with technology. There will be an evolution of mortgage technology categories that will change the way we do things. Sales Accelerator category is here to help mortgage professionals improve their process, and add valuable resources to their tech stack. How can we enhance the experience for our borrowers? By enhancing our resources – and aligning them with our objectives. Information, automation, and engagement is how to scale, and accelerate!
September 09, 2021 10 minutes