It’s not a bad time to be a loan officer. It’s true that origination volume isn’t exactly on fire right now. But low rates, rising home values and a healthy economy are providing enough juice to keep most mortgage sales professionals busy.
In fact, the number of employed loan officers is projected to grow slightly higher than most professions, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor. Between 2014 and 2024, the industry is expected to add more than 24,000 loan officers. For most of these mortgage sales rookies, the biggest challenge will be getting business and learning how to communicate with borrowers. And they have an endless number of questions about how to do just that.
For example, how do you get someone to trust you with the biggest financial decision of her life? How do you take the first step in developing that relationship? What is the best way to follow up on a request for help – and when? Should you really call back somebody at 9 p.m. on a Friday night?
It doesn’t help that many experienced loan officers don’t agree on the answers to these questions. However, there are three important ways new loan officers get fast traction on a successful mortgage career. Here’s the first rookie loan officer need:
Lead insights. In the “old days,” new loan officers or brokers generated business by simply going through the Rolodex or contacting everyone they knew one by one. This “shotgun” approach may seem like the most efficient way to get started, even if the loan officer didn’t know how motivated the person behind each lead was to buy a home.
Those days are over. The very first thing loan officers need is a way to identify, measure and prioritize prospects based on their motivation level and readiness to move forward. Just as importantly, they need to know who’s not ready to get a mortgage today – but could be six months from now, with a little nurturing. If you’re a lender, you’ll want to support your loan officers with tools that score leads for quality and distribute them to those who are in the best position to help someone right away.
This brings us to our second rookie loan officer need:
Speed. It’s not just a competitive advantage: It’s a consumer demand. People seriously considering homeownership do not want to wait around for someone to tell them what they can afford, especially when they can get the answer online or through another loan officer in a matter of minutes. That means the faster loan officers can respond to a prospective borrower, the more likely they are to close the deal. Our own surveys of sales professionals found that contacting a lead by phone within three minutes from the time someone submitted a contact form nearly doubled the chances of converting that lead.
At the same time, most lenders fail to respond to borrower leads within 24 hours, even today. That means if you give a loan officer the tools to respond to prospects quickly, you’ve instantly made them better than half of the competition.
The final rookie loan officer need:
Contact tools. Today’s loan officers need flexibility in how they communicate with borrowers, whether it’s phone, text, email, online chat or some other means. The problem is that every borrower has different preferences. This means that loan officers need the tools to correctly determine what each customer prefers and then make sure they communicate with the borrower in that fashion. And that’s not all – loan officers need reminders to follow up on leads so no opportunity is missed.
This applies even if the borrower has expressed a desire for a do-it-yourself mortgage experience. While such borrowers may not want hand-holding, loan officers still need the ability to follow their customers’ online experiences and be prepared to jump in when the borrower wants help.
The bottom line is technology has changed not only how people buy, but also how loan officers sell. New loan officers need more than a computer desktop and a telephone. They need software and strategies that help them develop lasting relationships with borrowers. Give them these things, and the extra confidence alone will improve their chances of a successful mortgage career.
Chris Backe is the director of financial services at Velocify, a sales automation firm with more than 20 years of experience offering technology solutions to multiple industries. Chris has spent the last 10 years in the financial services industry, holding various positions at companies including Ellie Mae and Salesforce. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.