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What's in this article?

The Sales Pre-game
Developing a Personal Brand
Selecting a Target Market
Reaching Your Target Market
Generating Leads
Converting Leads
Nurturing Leads
Building a Referral Engine
Next Steps and Questions to Consider

If you’re reading this, I assume that you’re a mortgage loan officer. 

And you’re probably looking for a silver bullet to generate more leads, taking more apps, and closing more loans.

Of course, that’s a lot easier said than done, and you’re probably starting to feel that challenge.

Let me first ease your anxiety. Every successful mortgage loan officer hits this wall. Being a successful loan officer requires more than just picking up the phone and coaxing a 1003 application out of a prospective borrower. 

This playbook reveals a more complete sales and marketing framework that will begin to build your brand, generate better leads, and create a referral engine that will sustain and grow your loan production in any market.

This playbook is for building a mortgage loan business, not just a monthly sales quota.

The Sales Pre-game

Before we jump into the larger strategy, we need to do a little block and tackling. We’ll start by tightening up some basic sales processes and systems, closing few extra loans along the way. 

Most of you probably don’t have the luxury of laying out some grand plan for you to implement over the next several months and then hope for positive outcomes in six months to a year. No, we’re going to start filling that sales quota right now and then build a system for long-term success along the way – piece-by-piece. 

Let’s start by evaluating and optimizing your current sales process.

Get Organized

Where do you get your leads? How do you manage your active leads? Where do your dead leads go, and what do you do with them?

These three simple lead journey questions are my first questions on any new mortgage marketing engagement. The processes around each of these questions are the difference between success and failure.

Let’s take each step and map the ideal answer to each question.

Where do you get your leads? 

Maybe the better question is actually, “Where do your closed deals come from?” You would be shocked at how many people don’t know where they get their customers.

Amongst the mishmash of referrals, buying leads, buying data, sporadic direct mail, and a one-off billboard or radio spot, a few mortgage loans get closed. In this pretty typical situation, there’s an opportunity to improve the efficiency of your marketing budget and increase your loan production. Simply take inventory of each channel, track your closed deals back to the best of your ability, and then shift your budget accordingly.

After this initial inventory, begin perfecting your tracking. You (or your CRM) should tag every new lead with its source. 

How do you manage your active leads?

The simple act of managing your leads is going to help pick up several additional closed loans. Most loan officers get mortgage leads from all over the place – phone calls, text messages, Facebook referrals, email, website, and probably a handful more.

The most crucial first step is to get all of those leads in one place. 

You might start with an Excel spreadsheet, Google Sheet, or AirTable. Spreadsheets aren’t the ideal lead management system, but at least you can see all your leads and your sales pipeline in one place – one view.

From this view, start to plan out how you will continue to update this list with new leads. We want to make sure that we don’t lose a single opportunity. 

Once you have all of your leads tracked and aggregating, start making plans to get them flowing into a CRM so that you can adequately manage (and begin to automate) your sales process and pipeline management.

Be Responsive

One of the most important reasons to quickly transition to a CRM system is responsiveness. More specifically, the sales automation you can accomplish with CRM software.

You should immediately automate: 

  • An autoresponder email (and text message if possible) to your prospect immediately upon lead receipt. The goal should be to schedule an appointment.
  • An email or text notification to let you know you have a new email
  • Follow-up email/text message sequences for no-show or unresponsive statuses 

Nothing builds trust and credibility with a customer, like being responsive. 

People shop logically but buy emotionally. Typically, when you get a new lead or referral, that person is entering the emotional zone. The anxious emotion of this moment makes speed to contact is essential. Don’t frustrate a prospect trying to get a rate quote or pre-approval and lose the deal to a lack of organization.  

Wowing your customer with a quick response is a guaranteed personal brand builder. 

Create Checklists and Templates

With control of your leads and a systematic approach to lead management, it’s time to make your sales process more consistent, repeatable, and efficient. 

Do an audit of your emails looking for similarities, think about common customer questions and mistakes, and consider tasks that you repeatedly do. These are all great candidates for templates and checklists.

Organize your processes with checklists, making it easy for you and your clients to move through the mortgage process smoothly. Lists give you consistency and your clients a visible roadmap.

Templates play a similar role in helping with consistency, but at the same time, make the routine parts of your job less demanding. Templates also help you to work error-free and within strict compliance.

Be Authentic

Take a moment to think about why you’re a mortgage loan officer. 

Many of you will whisper, maybe even under your breath, “To make a lot of money.” That’s okay. Embrace this truth. Start designing your work and life to be authentic about that goal. Planning for that goal is a big part of this playbook.

Now, let’s drill a little deeper and talk about your purpose – how to be a successful loan officer. You need to enable your clients’ goals. You need to delight them in that process of buying or refinancing their home.

This purpose needs its authenticity. As you design the rest of your sales and marketing plan, make sure that all of your messages and conversations are simple and clear. Give them the time and space to make the best decision with your expert advice.

Your sales and marketing plan should give you more opportunities than you can handle – let that be your defense against pushy or manipulative sales tactics. 

Be an Expert!

Know your product and pricing. Spend an exceptional amount of time learning and analyzing your products and how to structure and price them.

The more confident you are with your products and pricing, the more deals you will close. That confidence and expertise comforts and assures customers that they are making the right decision – without any coaxing from you.

With a solid foundation, it’s time to start building a killer sales and marketing plan on it. 

Developing a Personal Brand

Your company has a brand, but we all know that being a mortgage loan officer comes with some natural job volatility – markets change, commission plans change, businesses change. A variety of circumstances can change your employer.

Don’t rely on your company’s brand for your success. Instead, develop your brand in your community and the market.

Designing a brand starts with a positioning statement.

What do you do, and how do you different or better than anyone else.

Here is an example from HubSpot:

For [your target market] who [target market need], [your brand name] provides [main benefit that differentiates your offering from competitors] because [reason why target market should believe your differentiation statement.]

Let’s try turning this into an example positioning statement for a loan officer:

For young residents and physicians who hope to buy their first home, I provide access to an exclusive and specialized physician loan program. Despite high student debt and limited cash for a down payment and closing, we recognize your training and sacrifice and look toward your bright future. Considering your significant earning potential, I can help you get your life and family started in the home you deserve. 

Selecting a Target Market

Who do you want to target? What will your niche be?

Your target market is a combination of geography, demographics, particular interest group, or a specialty product. By creating a unique blend of these elements, you can carve out a unique position in an often undifferentiated market. 

Here are a couple of practical examples of creating a unique target market.

  1. You live near a military base, so your focus on active duty and retired service members as the VA loan expert. You build a referral network of veterans that have transitioned to becoming real estate agents and financial advisors or lead the local VFW, AmVets, and other veteran service groups.
  2. You build a financial advisor network and focus on older, affluent customers planning their retirement and legacy. In this context, it might make sense to be the reverse mortgage expert.
  3. Maybe there is a prominent research hospital in your community. Could you become the expert in Physician Loans and help young doctors secure stability for their families and begin the journey to long-term wealth creation through homeownership.

Finding and pursuing your target market just requires a little analysis and creativity. 

Also, keep in mind that finding a unique target market doesn’t preclude you from serving other needs and customers; it just gives you a focus and differentiated specialty.

Reaching Your Target Market

Once you’ve carved out a niche market, you need to find out how to gain their attention at scale. Getting this attention is marketing.

Getting attention online has a few fundamental pillars – SEO, PPC, content marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing. Each of these online marketing techniques allows you to get out into the attention stream of online users searching for mortgages or are the ideal persona to be potentially interested in a mortgage.

Here is a quick breakdown of how each of these might work in an overall marketing strategy.

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – SEO works hand-in-hand with content marketing. It’s the art and science of getting your content to rank for keyword searches that your customers are doing to find mortgage lenders, rates, calculators, or hundreds of other questions related to getting a mortgage. An effective SEO program will help more of your content appear in prospective (target) customers’ searches.
  • Content marketing – Crafting original and engaging content is at the heart of a content marketing program. When successful, people will share, and other websites will link to our content because it’s unique and valuable – putting it in front of more eyeballs looking for mortgage-related information. 
  • PPC – Search engines and social media platforms have created a shortcut to your perfect audience – pay-per-click (PPC). PPC campaigns allow us to pay to position our ads and content directly into relevant keyword searches (in search engines) and in the stream of our target personas (in social media). 
  • Social media marketing – People seem to spend most of their free time scrolling through the endless stream of social content – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, Snapchat, and an infinite number of new and evolving social platforms. The trick to accessing this public attention is to create content analogous to other content in the stream but gets your ideal customer to pause or stop long enough to engage with you.
  • Email marketing – Despite all of the other distracting content and information on the web and in social media, email is still one of the most effective ways to capture and guide your target audience into engaging with you regarding a mortgage. The most challenging part is getting them on your list. However, by using the techniques above to get them to your website (generating traffic), you can quickly grow your list by encouraging them to provide an email by applying, asking a question, or requesting additional information on a particular type of loan program buying/refinancing situation. 

How you blend these into a marketing strategy is where your creativity comes in. 

Generating Leads

In the previous section, I gave you a list of ways to get in front of people interested in buying or refinancing a home. The next step is to get them to ask questions about or begin the application process for the mortgage they need.

Getting this inquiry isn’t as hard as you might think. Like most things in life, it simply requires you to ask (in a clear and obvious way) and make it easy to say, “yes!”

Let’s break that statement down into a simple two-step process to generate leads:

  1. On your loan officer profile page and inside of any content you might produce on your website, create a simple and obvious button. Yes, it has to be a button – that’s critical to the “clear and obvious” requirement for success. Label your button with one of the following calls to action (CTAs): Get Started, Apply Now, Request a Rate Quote, or something similar. Feel free to test these CTAs
  2. Once they click that button, start asking simple questions. I advocate using a progressive form like this one to survey your customers about their mortgage needs quickly. At the end of the survey, ask for contact information, and you have a detailed, high-quality mortgage lead.

Here is an example of an ideal loan officer profile (lead generation) landing page.

Converting Leads

Once you begin capturing leads, it’s time to turn them into loan applications and closed loans. To accomplish this, we need to step forward into your sales process.

Starting with the moment that you receive a new mortgage lead, you need to be responsive and drive toward an initial call or appointment. I recommend the following initial outreach system:

  1. Send a quick text message to the new lead: “I just got your request from my website. I’m finishing up with a call right now. When is the best time to call you?”
  2. As soon as possible, make an initial call attempt. If the customer answers, you’re off to the races. If you get a voicemail, leave this message: “This is {name} from {mortgage lender name}. I got your request from my website. Give me a call at your earliest convenience. I’ll also send you a quick text message and email with all my contact details and a scheduling link if that is more convenient. Look forward to talking soon and getting you started.”
  3. Send an introductory email with all your direct contact information. Including your cell phone number! I suggest including a scheduling link to your calendar (i.e., Calendly or similar).
  4. Send another text message with your scheduling link.

This simple four-step process should quickly get you into the double digits for initial contact rates and set a strong foundation for closing a high percentage of your online mortgage leads.

But, don’t stop here. 

Continue to automate a long-term contact and outreach strategy against every lead you generate. Never let a lead die by dispositioning it “Dead” simply because it’s unresponsive. Only kill leads when customers opt-out of your campaigns or the contact data is or becomes inaccurate.

Nurturing Leads

I often say, “Leads never die. We just stop talking to them.”

Customers become unresponsive at a variety of spots in the process and for a myriad of reasons – anxiety around the process or their knowledge, priorities change, they’re curious but not ready, and on-and-on. 

Acknowledge and respect that desire for a bit of space in their decision-making process, but don’t kill the lead. Instead, place them into your lead nurturing program.

Here is a simple lead nurturing framework:

  1. Run your initial outreach process and sales automation using a system or follow-up text messages, emails, and calls.
  2. Create two segments with your mortgage leads that enter the lead nurturing program – purchase and refinance. Later in this article, I will touch on how to nurture closed loan customers further.
  3. After about ten days, start introducing more evergreen (evergreen, meaning that they are always relevant in any market) emails. These emails should begin with specific guidance and tips on preparing to purchase a new home or refinance your mortgage. In each of these emails, make sure that you have all your contact information in your signature block and remind them you are always available for questions.
  4. At first, your sequence cadence should be weekly. After 30-45 days, begin to taper the tempo back to every two weeks. As you start tampering, this cadence also starts to broaden your content to include things beyond just mortgage. Talk about personal finance in general – improving credit, saving, paying down debt, using credit cards, insurance, even ways to improve income and get a better job. By broadening the topics and your value, you will decrease the likelihood of them unsubscribing and potentially help them work through an issue preventing them from applying for a mortgage.
  5. Finally, at least once every couple of months, schedule a direct and personal email (it can still be automated) to see if they have any questions about buying a home or refinancing their mortgage.

You’ll be shocked at how many mortgage leads and referrals you’ll generate from this simple email lead nurturing program.

Building a Referral Engine

Assuming that you followed through on most of the recommendations I’ve made in this article, you’re going to be adding lots of new mortgage leads to your CRM database. You should also be adding a handful of referral partners every month.

Your CRM will quickly be full of hundreds of contacts. So, let’s turn it into a referral engine.

All you have to do to produce a steady flow of referrals from your CRM is once again – ask for them!

Add a referral email, text message, call reminder, or better yet, a mix of all three to your sales automation system. Once every couple of months, make this simple request.

Do you know anyone like yourself that needs help with or has questions about {purchasing a new home | refinancing their mortgage}?

You don’t need to get more complicated or pushy than that. It reminds them that you’re in the business and leaves them feeling in control of the process.

Next Steps and Questions to Consider

This playbook is a straightforward path to creating a personal brand and generating mortgage leads regardless of the banner under which you originate loans. But, there are a lot of nuances and skills to build along the way. 

If you’re a loan officer and want Kaleidico’s help or just a little consulting in building out your system, schedule a discovery call.

If you’re a mortgage lender and want us to develop and coach your loan officers to become more effective in generating their own leads, schedule a discovery call.

If you’re wondering where to start, work through some of these questions.

  • Do you have a simple web page with a contact form that you can point prospective customers to with a simple link? If not, get one. Use WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, or even Typeform to make it easy for customers to click on a link and answer a few quick questions to get the conversation started.
  • Do you know how to run Google or Facebook Ads? Probably not. You can waste a lot of time and money on figuring this out. Schedule a discovery call with Kaleidico. My team can start generating mortgage leads for as little as $500/month + a Google Ads budget of $1,500-2,000 a month. That’s less than one or two loans a month to break even.
  • Do you have a smartphone? Probably. Use it to create quick videos about rate trends, updates on the mortgage and real estate market, how to improve your credit, saving for a down payment, and on-and-on. Post these videos on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube.

Here is a quick, raw video to show you how simple making video for mortgage lead generation can be…

Are you looking for more mortgage marketing ideas? Here are my 50+ Mortgage Marketing Ideas. Are you more of a planner-type? Get my 90-day Mortgage Marketing Planning Guide.

If you need help, learn more about Kaleidico, my mortgage marketing agency, and schedule a discovery session. Our team does strategy and marketing execution for some of the biggest names in the mortgage market.

About Bill Rice
Bill Rice is the Founder & CEO of Kaleidico. Bill is an expert in designing online lead generation strategies and programs. Kaleidico blends web design, development, SEO, PPC, content marketing, and email marketing to generate leads for mortgage lenders, law firms, fintech, and other businesses looking to grow a consumer-direct online strategy.

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