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Everything we know about the lead business from everyone at the Leads360 family. From online lead providers like LowerMyBills.com to Mortgage Lead Management best practices. We'll tell you what we know and what we've learned.  

Internet Advertising Boom Continues - Rough Waters for Big Lead Generators?


So internet spending is still going gangbusters, including 26% rise in spending year to date…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. Internet advertising revenue rose 25 percent in the third quarter to about $5.2 billion, a new record, according to data released on Monday.

The report by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP showed online advertising revenue has hit new highs in each of the first three quarters of 2007.

Revenue for the first nine months of 2007 totaled $15.2 billion, up nearly 26 percent from the $12.1 billion recorded during the first nine months of 2006, the report said.

“The continued robust growth of the industry indicates that marketers increasingly understand and appreciate the benefits of interactive advertising,” IAB Chief Executive Randall Rothenberg said in a statement. “Marketers large and small have come to accept digital media as the fulcrum of any marketing strategy.” Click here to read the article.

This article caught our attention as internet advertising is how a lot of our partners do their marketing.  As ad spending on the internet rises, the costs of internet advertising real estate will also rise, although not necessarily in proportion.  As spending and competition for spots on wide-net popular internet sites increases, the cost of doing business for internet lead generation companies is increasing steadily, or at least for those who are dependent on banner ad and CPC expenditure.

Companies that NEED to do internet advertising are running into an ugly predicament:  more and more big companies, with large ad budgets, increasingly WANT to do more advertising.   While the internet maintains some advantages for smaller companies (hyper-targeted ads, low minimum expenditure), the prime mainstream ad spots will be increasingly eaten up by the big boys of the ad world; Toyota, GM, Ford, Nike, Honda, Apple, Microsoft, Fox, and so on.   This movement will push lead generation companies to be increasingly niche or increasingly large, or both.   Either way, it will challenge and push the industry to innovate, or else.

Selling, and living…in a down market.

You sell to live, but you also live to sell. You are the kind of person who plans to stay in the mortgage industry even though things right now are…well…challenging. While your former co-workers have elected to take the easy way out, you have decided to be steadfast and continue doing what you love.

Now before we go any further, let’s take a step back and come to a realization: Your title is Senior Mortgage Consultant, Real Estate Lending Professional, Home Loan Consultant, etc. When you wake up in the morning, you’re a Sales Professional. When you go to sleep at night, you’re a Sales Professional. When someone asks you what you do for a living, you should feel proud, and tell them that you are a Sales Professional. It seems like sales $@%# is a four letter word, and right now, it seems like ‘mortgage anything’ is even worse. Before you can take control over your present and future, you need to be comfortable with the fact that you are a salesman, or saleswoman. There’s nothing wrong with that.

So with that in mind, you need to understand how certain traits of a good salesperson will help you sell, and live in a down market. There are many key traits to a typical Type-A sales professional. If you do not currently possess them, you need to align yourself with a mentor who does, and pick them up. Some of them are as follows:

- Dogged persistence: so you’ve called a good lead or referral three or four times with no response…so what, they have a life too, don’t stop calling them until you have identified that there is no opportunity for business, and this does not mean that you called three times in one day, and never got a hold of the prospect.

- Hunter mentality: you see an opportunity, and you capitalize on that opportunity. You cannot rely on someone else to do all of the gruntwork for you and deliver the picture perfect prospect. Find your business, it is out there, but you need to open your eyes and absorb.

- Cannot be backed into a corner: know your products, and know what kind of questions, comments, and concerns are typical with each kind of borrower. The last thing that your prospect who is preparing to make the largest financial committment in their life wants to hear is “Ummm, hrm…uhhhh….well lemme…..hold on…………ummmm……I don’t know.” One trait of a good salesperson is being able to admit that you do not know the answer, but you will make every effort to get that information to the prospect as expeditiously as possible. So, know your information…and if you don’t know it, don’t pretend you do. Be honest.

- You are refined and organized: these are vital. Disorganization promotes lost opportunity. Of course, the first thing that you want to do is call us and talk to us about a Lead Management System. Cut the fat. Get a process in place and stick to it. Don’t clutter your workspace, make a schedule to check and return emails and phone calls, and only set appointments and meetings that you have to be at. Everything is good in moderation, but don’t overwhelm yourself.

- Understand your value proposition: and communicate it accordingly. Why will Mr. and Mrs. Smith have the best and easiest transaction with you and your organization? What will you do to make their situation better? Make them understand that.

- Know your competition: this goes with the previous. But don’t ever trash them. And if you cannot do anything for your prospect, refer them over. I know, this sounds crazy, but your prospects will respect you, and will think of you in the future. Here at Leads360, we do our best to qualify a prospect before we sell them a Lead Management System. If the prospect is qualified, bring it on! If they are not qualified, we will refer them off to our competition if we think that there may be a synergy there. Of course we want everyone’s business, but we are not greedy and find it to be more advantageous to the prospect and ourself if we keep their best interest in mind. On the flipside, our knowledge of the competition allows us to steer fence sitters in our direction more often than not. See where I am going here?

- Network!: www.linkedin.com, www.facebook.com, www.myspace.com, www.wannanetwork.com, these are all great places to network if you do it correctly. Carry your business cards with you when you go to a bar, a restaurant, the mechanic, Disneyland, etc. But don’t be pushy. Be suave, and make friends and acquaintences. The referrals will start coming in. Go on Realtor caravan’s, go to local NAR meetings, bring Realtors cookies, print up flyers for them to use on open houses, offer to sit their open houses for them, etc.

These are just a few traits of an effective salesperson who will see success in this and every market. We’ve all got to live with the fact that it isn’t as easy to close a loan as it was a couple of years back. But we all have to eat, right? The above are some ingredients that need to go into the meal to make it delicious. Sure you may be able to make it without them, but you know what happens when you sway from the recipe…you never know what you’re going to end up with, and when it comes to getting a paycheck…predictability can be a nice thing.

More to come. Stay tuned to the blog and tell your friends.

- Morelli

Bad Lead = Good Lead? Because hidden oportunity is the best kind.


Our own Lead Guru has written a great post about the hidden opportunity in bad leads, over at Lead Critic.

Purchased internet leads have a bad phone number percentage that ranges from 8% to 22%. Do you just return these leads without trying to salvage a deal? NO, NO, NO. Email that borrower assuming they entered in the phone number incorrectly intentionally.

Read the whole post here.


We devote a lot of our time and resources to helping our customers get to leads faster and more efficiently than their competition. In other words, day in and day out, we help our customers do the same thing that everyone else is doing, but we help them do it faster, better, and smarter. Lead Guru brings up a good point. There is often an equal or greater opportunity in knowing what your competition is NOT doing. Leads with bad phone numbers are likely to be ignored or given lower priority than those with valid phone numbers. Thus, for any lead that is sold to multiple brokers, a lead with a bad phone number may result in a higher chance of closing a deal. As Americans increasingly spend more time online, B2C sales must adjust their workflow to reach their customers in the way that they would like to be reached.

Powered by Personality

We like our brands like we like our friends; with a personality.

Andy Sernovitz (word of mouth marketing expert) wrote a quick note about Zappos which has been successful, in large part, because of the personality which it has created for itself.

Here is the juicy part:

Call their customer service number: 800-927-7671

Every day a different employee hosts the phone calls. Today (Halloween) you get singing:

“Trick or treat, smell my feet, Zappos Customer Service can’t be beat. Hi, my name is Amber, and my name is Kimberly, from our product information support team, and we’ll be hosting today’s daily greeting on this spooky October 31st.”

Plus, every call ends with “Press 4 to hear Zappos Joke of the Day.” Two more employees tell you a joke.

Zappos is not afraid to say that they have a personality, and that’s just the kind of company that people want to deal with.

Zappos is a company that is an inspiration for us at Leads360, because it is built on customer service. When Zappos was just starting up they knew that an incredibly high level of customer service would be required to let people buy shoes, without trying them on. They developed a class-leading organization which revolves around making it as painless as possible to buy AND return shoes.

“We’re a service company that just happens to sell shoes.” Read the whole interview at Inc.

When those people with expensive houses sitting on the market get past their denial… boom?

In every expensive housing market in the US there are houses that have sat unsold because sellers are unwilling to drop prices from the stratospheric highs which they had been accustomed to. It’s natural psychology but if your house was valued at $3 million two years ago and is now probably worth 2/3rds what it was worth, you might be a little hesitant to take that deal (even if you are still making a good chunk in appreciation). Yet, because of the affluence of these home owners they have not been under drastic preasure to sell and have thus kept prices high, preferring to hold the property until the market rebounds. But if the downturn lasts long enough, the current market will become psychologically normalized in the minds of sellers and more houses may be listed at market prices.

A second issue is that some affluent buyers may not be able to wait. This SeekingAlpha article about e-trade raises the specter of significant defaults for large loans (expensive houses). If people with expensive homes start defaulting the property values will continue to depreciate. The question remains: will the denial continue?

The fallout continues. How will the government regulate mortgage?

Scott at Double Positive has a good summary of some interesting news items related to possible regulation of the mortgage industry.

This is an issue looming over the industry which may have a major impact on both lead generation and lead funding.

Will advertising be restricted?

Will mortgage products be restricted?

Will the banks push or oppose regulation in the industry?

Will states push ahead of the federal government, potentially causing havoc for national lead generators and brokers?

The 10 Commandments of a Successful Internet Lead Strategy



In an ever-changing mortgage environment, the days of printing money are over; buying and converting internet leads is getting harder and harder.  Here are the 10 things you can do to grow your company in a tough business climate using internet mortgage leads:


  1. Understand Leads: Many mortgage brokers and bankers rush into buying leads without thinking their reasoning through.  Simply put, buying mortgage leads is buying the contact information of people who have expressed some interest in getting a loan.  By receiving this information you are not getting done deals delivered to your salespeople.  These potential customers are actively shopping many different loan providers and offers.  Getting the lead should be the beginning of your sales strategy, not the end.


  1. Understand Lead Buying:  The purpose of buying leads should be to increase your sales flow and revenue.  If you want to increase your revenue you should have a robust lead buying program.  If you are not buying leads it should be because you are not equipped to utilize electronic leads or because you distrust the lead sources.  Unfortunately, many brokers and bankers do not buy internet leads for other reasons.  Maybe they are intimidated or have heard horror stories. Perhaps they have been burned by a lead provider in the past. Prudent lead buying isn’t rushing in blind; you must have proper planning, staffing and software to distribute and track leads to conversion.


  1. Analyze the Leads that You Buy: Research shows that mortgage companies which implement standard best practices achieve a very good return on investment (ROI) on the leads that they buy.  That said, not all leads or lead providers are of the same quality or appropriateness for your business.  To be successful in lead buying you must monitor and analyze the performance of leads that you receive.  That means comparing lead providers and monitoring the quality of leads over time.  You must track which lead providers give you the best leads at the best price.  To get that information you need accurate data and reporting.  If you don’t have easy access to data about your sales performance, you need lead management software to measure your ROI.


  1. Measure Lead Quality:  The simplest way to understand lead quality is that it consists of two components: contact information and an indication that this person has an interest in your product.  It is imperative to track the quality of your leads.  What percentage of leads are you contacting?  How many did you take an application on? Which converted into loans?  If you can’t answer these questions quickly for each lead provider and track their performance over time, you don’t have the information that you need to make good lead buying decisions.  These metrics can be easily obtained using lead management software.


  1. Work Leads Faster: Once leads are sent out, you are in a race to contact them. Data suggests that when leads are contacted in the first 15 minutes are 50% more likely to close. That means you need to route leads to the right sales person as quickly as possible after receiving them. This can only be achieved by intelligent lead distribution software. You should consider having two teams as well, one to make initial contact and one to sell loans. This will dramatically improve the speed to contact and keep your efforts more streamlined.


  1. Monitor Loan Officer Performance:  A successful lead program is only as good as the sales people working the leads. Getting good people is the first step, but ensuring that they are working leads quickly and effectively is the key. Manage, monitor and analyze loan officer performance daily. How fast are your people contacting leads?  How frequently do they disposition a lead?  How many calls are they making each day?  Are they nurturing leads? All of these questions can be easily answered if your leads are stored in a lead tracking software.


  1. Nurture Your Prospects: Not all potential customers are ready to get a loan the first time you call them, but research shows that more than 40% eventually close. It is important to develop lead nurturing programs to cultivate leads that are not ready to buy. This means communicating with them regularly with relevant and useful information. Whether it is a few weeks later or twelve months, when you send emails, do follow-up calls and direct mail, prospects think of you when they are ready to buy.  A good lead management system can turn cold leads into customers for life.


  1. Use Lead Management Software: The decision to start buying leads for the first time or after you’ve been burned is a big one. The mental shift required for your organization to be successful is also significant. The processes you implement must be followed by everyone in your organization for the program to be successful. Using lead management software enables you to develop a rigid workflow and track every aspect of sales pipeline. You establish an organization of accountability and make it easy for people to follow the rules that work. Without these controls in place, you cannot scale with an internet lead program.


  1. Uniform & Disciplined Approach: Combining the right leads with effective technology is critical. But, without a consistent and disciplined approach to working those leads, you are setting yourself up for failure. Like most things in business the 80/20 rule typically applies. 80% of your deals are being done by 20% of your workforce. You can increase the effectiveness of your team by implementing a culture of discipline and uniformity. Implement and enforce proven processes and watch your conversion rates increase across the board.


  1. Hire a Program Champion: You may be too busy steering the ship to focus on these nine commandments every day. Implementing a successful internet lead strategy requires corporate buy-in, discipline and hard work. And, if you want to move with velocity, you need a champion to manage it. Having someone in your organization that is accountable for implementing and managing your lead program will payoff in short order.