Michael Hammond is an entrepreneur, business leader, and thought leader, he has extensive experience in Financial Services and more specifically financial services technology, and held prior executive positions such as CEO, CMO, VP of Business Strategy, Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of Marketing for a number of leading technology companies in the financial services industry.
Hammond is one of only 60 individuals to earn the prestigious Certified Mortgage Technologist (CMT) designation, which is presented to information technology professionals in recognition of their industry experience, professional education and knowledge of the unique technological needs of the real estate finance industry. In a long-ranging interview, here’s how he sees the state of mortgage lending:
Q: How did you get started in the mortgage industry?
MICHAEL HAMMOND: Just over 20 years ago I saw an ad for a Director of Sales & Marketing with a mortgage technology company in Livonia, Michigan. At the time I knew very little about the mortgage industry, let alone mortgage technology, but I was extremely interested in a position that combined using my law degree with my marketing and sales experience. This opportunity allowed me to utilize multiple skill sets by heading up the sales and marketing departments of a Loan Origination System while being responsible for all contract negotiations.
As many people in the mortgage industry have stated to me along the way, “ Once you are in the mortgage industry you never leave.” That statement has proved to be true. After 20 plus years of being in the mortgage industry I could not be more pleased with my decision to join the ranks.
Q: Michael, for more than 20 years you have dedicated your career to driving growth and helping companies differentiate themselves in the marketplace. What factored into your decision to start NexLevel Advisors over 8 years ago?
MICHAEL HAMMOND: My decision to form NexLevel Advisors was right in the middle of the mortgage meltdown. While many thought I was crazy to start a company at that time, I saw a great need in the industry. Companies needed expert advice on how to navigate the extremely challenging market conditions, how to grow their company and gain market share in a down market, but they didn’t have the resources.
They could not afford to hire full time employees-especially at the executive level, to handle their sales, marketing and public relations initiatives; yet, they knew if they did nothing they would go out of business. Being able to provide executive level insight, combined with the ability to actually create, design and deliver on the plans, was critical to their success and mine.
That’s what NexLevel Advisors was able to deliver. NexLevel Advisors is the premier strategic business advisory firm that assists companies in growing their businesses more quickly and strategically than they could by themselves.
Q: Over the time that you’ve been in the industry, how has your role changed? What is it like going from the person out in front to the man behind the scenes?
MICHAEL HAMMOND: Since the beginning of my career, I have always been responsible for driving growth, hitting and exceeding sales numbers, delivering brand differentiation, implementing marketing programs that generate leads and constantly working to provide thought leadership and brand awareness to the financial services industry. The biggest change has come in the form of the number of companies I/we are able to help.
Before forming NexLevel Advisors, my sole focus was applying my knowledge and expertise to the one company for whom I was working. Now, I can apply all of those lessons learned to the benefit of many companies that are looking to grow. So while I might not be the person in the headlines getting the credit for driving growth for that one company, I receive much greater satisfaction knowing that I/we have added significant value to a host of companies. I truly believe that has a much greater impact on the mortgage industry as a whole.
Q: Tells us about NexLevel Advisors as a company.
MICHAEL HAMMOND: At NexLevel Advisors we say, “It’s where businesses come to grow.” We assist companies with executive level insight, proven strategies, unique differentiation, action plans, and the ability to execute these plans that are specific to growing their business. We are passionate about taking their business and people to the next level by differentiating their company and its unique offerings.
Q: You talk about helping companies grow. What specific types of products and services does NexLevel Advisors provide to help companies grow?
MICHAEL HAMMOND: We provide solutions and services in business development, branding, marketing, digital media, executive coaching, public relations, lead generation and social media.
Today’s ever changing marketplace and economic uncertainty challenges each and every business. These challenging times also present opportunity. Opportunity to capture market share, gain a competitive advantage, and increase revenue through new customer acquisition.
NexLevel Advisors provides an array of customized solutions and services to address these market conditions and a company’s desire to take their business to the next level. The specific products and services include the following:
Executives, when making decisions value the type of knowledge and expertise that NexLevel Advisors delivers. Executive leaders look to make informed decisions based on more than just “internal knowledge”; they seek information from trusted external resources. Fact based research, viability assessment, target market segmentation, and competitive analysis all provide a detailed view of potential opportunities, risks and rewards specifically developed for their organization.
As a trusted business advisor, NexLevel leverages years of experience in business strategy, corporate performance, strategic selling, and marketing to deliver customized solutions that help our clients take advantage of their unique business opportunities. These custom developed solutions allow them to obtain new insight and perspective, optimize sales and marketing effectiveness, and increase customer loyalty quicker and more strategically as they take their company to the next level.
Our consulting services apply the right executive strategy at the right time to elevate and deliver measurable results. Our clients employ the help of NexLevel Advisors to:
>> Provide strategic business and marketing assessments and recommendations
>> Provide competitive analysis
>> Launch new products or services
>> Enter new market segments
>> Sales effectiveness and integration
>> Brand and message positioning
>> Create dynamic value propositions
>> Plan, validate, and strategize new offerings
NexLevel Advisors helps its clients bring strategic focus to the art of selling. We understand the need for their sales organization to deliver results today in a competitive and ever-changing marketplace. Our dynamic and specifically tailored approach, repeatable process and insight into complicated selling propositions elevate their team. Our clients engage NexLevel Advisors to:
>> Provide strategic sales planning
>> Identify ideal prospects
>> Target market segmentation
>> Provide insight into selling to the c-suite
>> Develop strategies when there are multiple decision makers
>> Create predictability in sales forecast
>> Develop dynamic and high impact sales presentations
NexLevel Advisors’ groundbreaking approach and real world experience in lead generation ensures that your pipeline is full of qualified prospects. This includes prospects that are strategically identified and specifically targeted to drive growth. Our clients seek the help of NexLevel Advisors to:
>> Strategically develop and implement lead generation programs
>> Develop business intelligence and database building activities
>> Create razor sharp lead generation messaging
>> Identify market opportunities and client segmentation
In today’s marketplace, it is becoming more difficult to differentiate between competing companies. Products and services are becoming increasingly similar and buzzwords used by many companies are creating noise that can blur the lines of differentiation. Inevitably, this means a company’s unique personality – its identity – will become a significant factor in making the choice between one company and another. NexLevel Advisors helps its clients break through the noise and create true market differentiation. NexLevel Advisors delivers on that promise through:
>> Brand Positioning
>> Brand Personality
>> Corporate Name Creation
>> Product & Services Naming
>> Tagline Creation
>> Logo Design & Development
>> Strategic Messaging
>> Unique Value Propositions
>> Marketing Collateral
NexLevel Advisors’ marketing services helps its clients strategically market products and services whose complicated selling propositions or complex technical offerings require the communication of highly specialized information to elevate results. We offer world-class expertise and marketing insight to deliver dynamic marketing strategies and campaigns that will truly take their organization to the next level. Our clients engage NexLevel Advisors to:
>> Deliver executive level marketing strategy and insight
Deliver brand development and messaging
>> Deliver promotional and campaign development
>> Deliver prospect identification and messaging
>> Deliver website design and development
>> Deliver marketing collateral materials
>> Deliver sales value propositions
NexLevel Advisors’ media and public relations services assist its clients in influencing the influencer to gain maximum exposure and name recognition for their products and services. Our customized solutions allow clients to gain valuable insight and access to industry publications, editors, and analysts while presenting their extraordinary value propositions to the markets they serve. Our media and public relations expertise has secured a number of industry awards and recognition for our clients nationwide. Our clients engage NexLevel Advisors to:
>> Provide strategic media planning and insight
>> Provide compelling messaging to industry publications
>> Provide media opportunities
>> Strategically position intellectual capital
>> Develop thought leadership
>> Monitor industry trends, events, and innovations
>> Executive media counseling
>> Coordinate interviews, roundtables, and opinion pieces
Digital & Social Media
Social media is revolutionizing the manner in which companies are connecting with their prospective clients, including the nature of business-to-business interactions. Millions of individuals and business professionals each day are searching online for answers they need most.
People are looking for information-yes- but they are also looking to connect with other people and companies. From searching for products and services to sharing success stories, decision makers are leveraging the Internet to make informed decision. They are seeking companies that come recommended and ones they can trust. All of this activity has social underpinnings but are they seizing the social media opportunities that are present and continue to grow?
NexLevel Advisors’ digital and social media marketing helps its clients strategically plan, develop, and execute a dynamic program to allow organizations to tap the power of social media, taking your organization to the next level. Our clients engage NexLevel Advisors to:
>> Deliver executive level social media strategy and insight
>> Deliver social media “Quick Start” programs for Twitter and LinkedIn
>> Drive traffic, awareness, brand development, and generate leads
>> Develop thought leadership
>> Deliver prospect identification and messaging
>> Execute successful social media program
Q: How is NexLevel Advisors Truly Unique?
MICHAEL HAMMOND: Unlike many traditional agencies, we have been on the client’s side of the fence. We have run mortgage technology companies and have successfully executed growth strategies for those organizations. This provides key insights that our clients quite frankly can’t get anywhere else.
We have the ability to both strategize and rapidly execute growth programs for our clients. We are entrepreneurs at heart and highly driven to help our clients both accelerate growth and outperform their competition. We help companies establish aggressive business objectives and achieve them with a high level of intensity.
Whether we provide fully integrated programs or assist with specific initiatives and projects, NexLevel Advisors’ focus is always on driving growth. We understand the complex factors at play in the business environment and how to navigate them, which provides our clients with both a fresh perspective and a partner who understands their unique business challenges.
Q: How Does NexLevel Advisors Add Value?
MICHAEL HAMMOND: We call it the “NexLevel Difference”. Focused on companies that are looking to take their business to the next level, NexLevel Advisors assists them in elevating their results.
We add value through strategic advice specific to each company. Our team has years of experience and has been in their situation and position. These individuals possess in-depth knowledge of their complex product and service offerings, the nuances of their market segment, and the challenges of their product roadmap and lifecycle.
What this means for their business is that they get customized programs from accomplished executives who offer proven results-oriented solutions.
Specialized Financial Services Expertise
NexLevel Advisors offers exceptional, specialized expertise in the financial services and mortgage industries. We work with a broad range of clients ranging from start-ups to mid-size companies to the Fortune 500.
As an active member of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), NexLevel Advisors attends key industry events and participates in the industry. They will see NexLevel Advisors at events such as the MBA Annual Convention, the MBA Technology in Mortgage Banking Show and others. We attend the tradeshows to stay in tune with our clients’ target audiences and industry trends, as well as to support our clients’ public relations and marketing activities.
NexLevel Advisors’ public relations group has established relationships with the editors of the leading financial services and mortgage industry media and we regularly propose and provide thought leadership content to these publications. Our public relations organization is in contact with the industry press every day on behalf of our clients.
Our depth of understanding of the financial services and mortgage industries is unsurpassed.
Q: What’s Next for NexLevel Advisors that companies looking to grow should know?
MICHAEL HAMMOND: NexLevel Advisors is committed to taking companies of all sizes to the next level by harnessing the power within people, prospects, and clients. We will enthusiastically bring strategic expertise to each and every engagement. We are committed to lifelong learning. We will provide our clients with exceptional customer experience.
We accomplish this by employing and investing in talented people, fostering an environment of continuous growth and creativity, and dedicating ourselves to a commitment of excellence while elevating and supporting the business objectives of our clients.
It is this commitment that will allows us to continually bring new and innovative solutions and services to our clients while helping them proactively address market conditions and grow their businesses.
Michael Hammond thinks:
1.) Companies that want to thrive in the midst of constantly changing regulations must also focus efforts on attracting new business.
2.) With all of the noise in the industry, companies must work to differentiate their brands if they want to remain relevant.
3.) Content is king. Companies must deliver relevant content that adds value throughout the buying journey.
Michael Hammond is chief strategy officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and is the founder and president of NexLevel Advisors. They provide solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations and social media. He has close to two decades of leadership, management, marketing, sales and technical product experience. Michael held prior executive positions such as CEO, CMO, VP of Business Strategy, Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of Marketing for a number of leading companies. He is also only one of about 60 individuals to earn the Certified Mortgage Technologist (CMT) designation. Michael can be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.