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Market Changes Driving Smarter Customer Conversations

This piece originally appeared in the November 2023 edition of MortgagePoint magazine, online now.

Jason Perkins serves as President and Co-Founder of Bonzo, a relationship management automation provider that makes selling fun for mortgage and real estate professionals, so they can focus on what matters most. Jason has more than 15 years of marketing experience, with the last 12 years spent working in the housing industry. His previous roles include serving as Regional Director of Engagement for Union Home Mortgage, and Director of Marketing for NOIC, an independent mortgage bank. Jason can be reached by email at [email protected].

Q: How has the market changed in the past year?
Indeed, the shift in the mortgage market has been dramatic. A couple of years ago, business was being handed to loan originators. Today, they must work for their business, put creativity in the forefront, and determine how to best position themselves for success. As a result, we are seeing LOs throw themselves into technology to get their message out.

Q: What have you observed during this shift?
Most companies are in cost-cutting mode, focusing on measures to navigate narrower margins. However, a growing number are seizing the opportunity to invest in technology and human capital. They’re getting more aggressive with their recruiting efforts, widening their portfolio of products, and leveraging technology to increase the volume of texts they deliver to prospects. In a difficult market, these efforts might seem like a gamble, but it’s a calculated one. By leaning into technology, for example, mortgage companies can scale their outreach without scaling their workload, which enables them to focus on other growth areas, like recruiting top talent or exploring new revenue streams. Basically, they are playing the long game.

Q: How is that working out for them?
From my point of view, the mortgage businesses that are going on the offense are doing far better than their competitors. However, it’s not as simple as just throwing more resources at the problem—especially when those resources are limited. The ones that are most successful are those that are smart about leveraging technology to take the heavy lifting of engaging and educating borrowers off the loan officer’s plate.

By leaning on automation to handle repetitive tasks like initial outreach and follow-up communications, loan officers can concentrate on higher-level tasks that truly demand their expertise. There’s a nuanced balance between using available resources wisely and still going on the offensive. The companies that get that balance right are the ones that are thriving.

Q: What is the key to creating new business?
Creating business is really about increasing the number of conversations you’re having with prospective clients. More conversations naturally lead to more relationships, and these relationships inevitably create more opportunities. But it’s not just a numbers game—it’s about making those interactions with prospects meaningful and worthwhile.

Keep in mind that today’s borrowers expect a seamless experience throughout the mortgage lifecycle. They value consistent, personalized communications almost as much as they value getting a great rate.

If you are an originator that’s shackled to an archaic CRM, you’re unlikely to meet the level of service today’s consumers expect. The key is blending user-friendly technology and the human touch to create a more seamless mortgage experience—which eventually leads to more business.

Q: So, sending communications that all have the same script is effective?
Absolutely not. Sending out cookie-cutter messages does not cut it anymore.

People do business with people, which means originators need to engage with consumers in a way that feels genuine and meaningful, and all communications should be in the voice of the loan officer.

But it is possible for originators to leverage CRM technology to create tailored messages in their own voice that speaks to individual customers based on their specific needs and circumstances.

Even more important is to escalate and scale the originator’s voice so that the message gets out to more prospects. This enables them to convert truly motivated buyers, while still keeping lines of communication open with consumers who are not ready to purchase, but eventually will be.

Modern CRM technology can do this as well, serving as a force multiplier for your personal brand without sacrificing your authentic voice, a voice that resonated with them in the first place.

Q: How do ongoing communications help create a transaction?
Based on my experience, nearly 80% of all borrowers would use their loan officer again if they heard from them on a regular basis, but they usually don’t. This is why ongoing communication is so important.

First, they keep you top of mind, so when someone needs financing, you become the obvious choice.

Second, they have the potential to deliver continuous value. By updating clients and prospects on the latest market trends, new products, or simply providing financial tips, you can build credibility and trust with your customers.

Third, continued communication enables you to detect subtle signals that someone might be ready to get financing.

Maybe they click on a link about a new loan product, or ask a question about current interest rates. These small interactions can be indicators that it’s time to have a more in-depth conversation. Ongoing communication lays the groundwork for future business. Being there at the right time with the right message will always tip the scales in your favor.

Q: How does CRM help build a relationship between a Loan Officer and a Realtor?
When I was a Loan Officer, I would always make follow up calls and texts to my Realtor partners. While I spent as much time as I could on outreach, there was no way that I could keep up with all my partners, let alone the hundreds of prospects and contacts I had. Ultimately, I was leaving business on the table.

However, modern CRM technologies are solving this problem for Loan Officers.

The broadcast feature on a well-configured CRM enables originators to schedule certain messages to all contacts at strategic times. More importantly, it uses the Loan Officer’s own voice—not a template used by thousands of other salespeople—to communicate at scale.

From the Realtor’s perspective, receiving messages from a local line or a familiar name gives the message more credibility than some random number or email address. They are much more likely to engage with the LO in a meaningful way.

Q: Why did New American Funding’s Chairman and CEO give Bonzo such a glowing endorsement?
I do not want to speak for Rick Arvielo, but when we first showed him the platform, he immediately got it. Traditional CRMs are often just glorified databases that track interactions. Rick recognized that Bonzo places an emphasis squarely on conversations, which are where real business relationships begin and flourish.

Rick was also excited to give New American Loan Officers a tool he knew they would actually utilize. Bonzo puts Loan Officers in a position to succeed by making the technology work for them, not the other way around. By simplifying the technical aspects of staying in touch and nurturing leads, Bonzo lets Loan Officers focus on what they do best—building relationships and sharing their expertise. Every Loan Originator should be so lucky, but we are working on that.

About Author: David Wharton

David Wharton, Editor-in-Chief at the Five Star Institute, is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington, where he received his B.A. in English and minored in Journalism. Wharton has nearly 20 years' experience in journalism and previously worked at Thomson Reuters, a multinational mass media and information firm, as Associate Content Editor, focusing on producing media content related to tax and accounting principles and government rules and regulations for accounting professionals. Wharton has an extensive and diversified portfolio of freelance material, with published contributions in both online and print media publications. He can be reached at [email protected].

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