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Your Brand Matters

What you stand for is important. Relationships in the mortgage industry matter a lot. Often technology decisions, for example, are made based on who else is using that same technology.

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For this reason a lot of mortgage technology vendors are reluctant to tinker with their brand, but I’m here to tell you that’s the wrong approach. In the article entitled “The Importance of Updating your Brand” by Chirag Thumar, he defines a brand as “what your consumers perceive of your company. The idea or feeling that they associate with your company is the brand of your business. If you ask your clients of what comes to their mind when your business is mentioned and they respond consistently with an emotion or perception, which is your brand.”

Your company’s brand plays a vital role in the workings of its business, as it helps create an impression, evokes curiosity about the company and its business, and gives out an essence of quality and professionalism.

Why should you update your brand?

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Brand image is crucial in communicating properly with your target clients the goodwill of your business and to assure certain levels of expectation. Even if your business has an established brand, it needs to evolve as the business itself changes. Re-branding and refreshing your company’s appearance is crucial to keep it relevant to your old clients as well as to attract new ones. There are many reasons why to do so, such as:

>>To reflect internal changes

>>Business growth: As a business expands, the brand needs to extend itself to appeal to the increasing mass of consumers that the company is trying to interact with.

>>Globalization: When a company expands its products and services to the international market, the brand name has to evolve to be represented constantly in all the countries.

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The biggest of the international brands like Google, eBay, Apple, Coca-Cola update their brands frequently to cater to their expanding business strategies.

When is it time to update your brand?

Re-branding your company is a decision that should be made after a systematic analysis of the response pattern of your consumers. There are certain signals that your brand needs an update, which you need to look out for, like-

>>If your brand is being associated with negative feelings

>>If your brand is out of sync with your business identity

>>If your brand is not making your business stand out

How do you get your brand updated?

A refresh comes in many forms and it is important to have an understanding of your clients’ attitudes to opt for the most suitable re-branding for your business. The options include:

>>Getting a logo: If your business doesn’t have a logo, consider getting one developed. Or if your company has had the same logo for a long time, consider getting it changed. A case in point is the company Starbucks, which has become a very easily recognizable brand with its much simplified logo.

>>Changing the company’s name: For a business to appeal to the popular mass, the company needs a name that is easily accepted and recognized by its large variety of consumers. For example, the digital giant Google was once known as “Back Rub”.

>>Releasing a new product that has gained relevance among the consumers.

>>Changing the way of advertising: It is essential to advertise your company the right way and by right way, what is meant is the way your target audience will find your product or service the most appealing. It is equally important for the advertising strategies to be relevant to both your business identify as well as time.

And most companies can’t do this alone, which is where partners like NexLevel Advisors come in. 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 your organization to the next level.

So, don’t be afraid to change your brand to meet today’s mortgage industry needs and don’t be afraid to ask for help in making sure that you do it right.

About The Author

Michael Hammond
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 mhammond@nexleveladvisors.com.

The Future Of Digital Mortgage Technology Innovation

High-powered mortgage executives gathered at the Seventh Annual ENGAGE Event in Denver, Colo., to discuss the future of the mortgage business. The discussions that happened were both lively and informative. Here’s how they see the future of digital mortgage technology innovation:

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“We have to move this industry forward by streamlining the process, and cutting the cost to originate,” said Michael Hammond, Chief Strategy Officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and the Founder and President of NexLevel Advisors. NexLevel provides solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations and social media. “This is far more then just hype. This is something that the industry has to do and it is not just about one technology or one platform, it is about coming together as an industry.”

Neil Fraser, Director of U.S. Operations at Paradatec, believes that this will be an evolutionary process. “You don’t need a revolution to convert the document into data that you can believe. You need technology to read the documents, and convert that to data that can be both read and understood. I see that as an evolutionary step in mortgage technology innovation.”

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Paradatec is a mortgage OCR technology organization that automates the data entry operations of large lenders through intelligent document analysis. Neil was Paradatec’s first U.S. employee and has grown the organization every year since the company incorporated here in 2002.

As the mortgage industry embraces innovation to become more digital, everything starts at the point-of-sale. Realizing this fact, a lot of new POS vendors have emerged claiming to offer the true digital mortgage experience. Curt Tegeler, President of WebMax, warns lenders not to be fooled by vaporware as they march toward more digital processes.

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“There’s a lot of buzz today around the digital POS. Why is that? We’ve found that 90% of homebuyers start the process online,” Tegeler notes. WebMax’s digital lending platforms expedites the borrowing process, helps maintain compliance, delivers dynamic online lending tools, and provides a highly innovative borrower experience. “Make sure that the executives behind your POS have deep mortgage experience. You have to understand the market so you know what you’re fixing.”

One area that everyone agrees needs fixing is the appraisal process. If the industry is going to move to a more data-driven process and a fully automated point-of-sale, slower processes like the appraisal need to be addressed.

“Appraisals were really left on the side,” noted Arturo Garcia, the Senior Vice President of Account Management at Mercury Network. He leads all customer retention efforts and strategies for the company, responsible for continuous improvements and increased returns for customer investments and overall satisfaction. “Appraisals didn’t get a lot of attention. However, it’s antiquated to send an appraiser out to the field time and time again. I envision a day when you have a system that can automatically flag issues with the appraisal, fix them or send them right back to the appraiser for fixing.”

The big takeaway from this discussion was that the digital lending process is coming and must touch all parts of the mortgage process in order to make a difference in how loans are done.

About The Author

 

Tony Garritano
Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at tony@progressinlending.com.

Back To Basics

As the mortgage industry becomes more advanced, sometimes classic strategies are still worthy of use. For example, in the article entitled “Creating Lead Magnets That Convert” by Clayton Johnson, he says marketing techniques are amazing. No matter how much technology advances online, some techniques never go out of style. One of these classics is a lead magnet.

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Let’s take a look at what lead magnets are and how they can improve your marketing efforts.

How They Work

Traffic is great. But online success is about more than just driving people to your site. You want visitors who are actually interested in the products or services you provide.

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Lead magnets are a marketing technique used to attract leads that are likely to convert. Basically, you offer something for free in exchange for the person’s email address. Then, you send this potential customer additional emails. Each email provides additional free content as well as information on your brand. Slowly but surely, you’re driving the customer toward a sale. This process is called a conversion funnel.

The Right Magnetic Energy

Here’s the thing. Suppose you sell designer furniture: You decide to offer a free product in exchange for email addresses as a way to generate some leads. You can probably get a ton of email addresses if you offer free iPads or big-screen TVs. Of course, that would be incredibly expensive, but you’re almost guaranteed to get a lot of responses.

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The problem (aside from the cost) is that those email addresses aren’t going to be very good leads. Pretty much everybody wants a free iPad. There’s no particular connection between people who want a free iPad and people who want to buy designer furniture.

Offering Free Content

You want to offer content related to your brand. Here are three key ingredients to consider when developing your lead magnet:

>>Is this content something your audience will care about?

>>Does this content have any real-world value?

>>Does this content help solve a problem?

The first step to success is to understand your audience. You’ll want to develop a buyer persona. This is a detailed, fictional person who represents your larger customer base. You’ll also want to understand how your brand is perceived.

Launching A Lead Magnet

The ideal piece of content is something you can create for free but other people are willing to pay more for. This often means creating written content like an e-book. A great way to find out what type of information is popular in your niche is to search the Kindle Marketplace. What e-books are selling well? What type of format does the audience respond to?

When you’ve found some best-selling e-books, take a look at the reviews. Are there any common complaints? You’re looking for shortcomings. The idea is to create a better e-book and then offer it for free. You’ll promote the book by showcasing how your e-book has information the competition lacks.

Creating New Content

Writing an e-book can be a fairly labor-intensive project. Fortunately, you can still generate leads even before the book is finished. Hit up your social media pages and announce the topic of your new e-book. Explain that you’re just starting the writing process. Ask your social media followers for feedback. This accomplishes two things:

>>You’ll learn about the specific topics your potential audience is interested in.

>>You’ll create advanced buzz and excitement for your e-book.

Of course, once you do this you need to actually finish the e-book. If you can’t deliver on your promise, your customer base will have a hard time trusting you when it’s time to make a sale. But as long as you deliver, an announcement is an effective strategy.

Creating free content can pay off big time in terms of brand awareness and conversions. Following the tips above will focus your marketing efforts on people who are most likely to be interested in the products or services you provide.

About The Author

Michael Hammond
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 mhammond@nexleveladvisors.com.

Not Everything Needs To Be Digital

There is a lot of buzz around the digital mortgage, but not everything needs to be digital. What do I mean? Some marketing needs to be direct mail. In the article “How and When to Use Direct Mail as Part of Your Inbound Marketing Strategy” by Mac McAvoy, he writes that direct mail regularly gets a bad rap as an exclusively outbound-focused tactic that doesn’t keep up with the ways buyers want to consume content.

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But in the right situations, direct mail could be a crucial differentiator in a world where 78% of consumers have unsubscribed from a company’s email list because the company was sending too many emails.

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Just as a product that’s similar to a dozen competitors will struggle to take off, marketing that looks like everyone else’s simply won’t be memorable. Classic digital marketing tactics like email have become so overcrowded that approaching inbound creatively is crucial to standing out from your competition.

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The key to doing direct mail right is keeping it aligned with your inbound marketing funnel.

Never forget your main objective: you want to lead prospects back online to continue nurturing them there. Any piece of mail you send must direct prospects online to help you track them throughout the process — whether that’s including a link to a landing page or a code they can enter on your website. Plus, the more information you have about what kinds of offers they respond to, the better you can speak to their pain points and specific needs.

Prior to beginning any marketing campaign, your team should be laser-focused on your potential customers’ preferences and needs.

Your number one priority is standing out to those who are most likely to buy your product. This fundamental step shouldn’t change when you’re considering incorporating direct mail into your marketing. Inbound is all about meeting prospective customers where they are.

Given the plethora of other places to spend, it’ll be hard to justify spending on direct mail over, for example, paid content promotion on social media if your target audience is addicted to their smartphones.

However, if your potential customers are old enough to own homes or apartments and are likely to check their mailboxes often, direct mail could prove to be effective. It’s all about understanding what your audience needs.

If you’ve identified that sending a letter or postcard is an effective way to reach your particular prospects, you can begin to think about the moments in the buyer’s cycle when it’s best to reach out with the personalized touch of a physical piece of mail.

For example, a prospect finds a piece of content useful and subscribes to your blog to stay in the know. So what’s your next step?

Keep in mind that all your prospect did was subscribe to an email list. That means they’re probably still a pretty “cold” lead. If they found a blog post through organic search or because they saw a headline that looked interesting on LinkedIn, they’re not going to appreciate receiving any type of content that attempts to make a hard sell, let alone a postcard explaining your pricing.

Think about the number of coupons and offers that you’ve discovered in your mailbox, only to toss them in the recycling bin immediately. Those pieces of mail probably weren’t relevant to needs you’d expressed.

You need to make the content you’re offering via direct mail speak to the individual. That means that if at all possible, you want to segment your mailing list in the same way you’d segment an email list.

Ultimately, striking at the right time with direct mail comes down to maintaining awareness of your prospects’ stage in the buyer’s cycle. Craft the direct mail piece that stands out from the rest by showing that your company understands their leads.

About The Author

Michael Hammond
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 mhammond@nexleveladvisors.com.

Win The Deal

It’s great to close that deal that you’ve been working on, but what happens when you lose the deal? Why does that happen and how can you win the deal more often? In the White Paper entitled “Why Didn’t They Buy?” put together by DiscoverOrg.com, their research concludes “as a data business, we know that solid, accurate, and comprehensive data drives the best decisions, and even seasoned sales professionals can improve their results by diving into the numbers. This objective study explores the multifaceted and complex buyer persona to reveal which sales approaches are effective and which aren’t—all informed by deep insights into human behavior and rationalization.”

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Specifically, this research challenged the reader to put yourself in the position of the experienced buyer who has met with hundreds of salespeople. What percentage of salespeople would you say are excellent, good, average or poor? Overall, study participants rated 12% excellent, 23% good, 38% average, and 27% poor.

Think about those figures: What are the implications of nearly 2/3 of B2B salespeople being considered average or poor? Buyers have been conditioned to be skeptical and not to trust salespeople in general. Therefore many buyers have immense RFPs and laborious spreadsheets that vendors must complete. They require each product feature and operation to be fully documented, and meticulous hands-on evaluation of each product. The goal is risk mitigation: reducing the uncertainty associated with selecting a vendor and making the purchase.

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Buyers go to great lengths to reduce the risk of buying. They may list their needs in documents that are hundreds of pages long; they hire consultants to verify that they are making the right decisions; and they conduct lengthy evaluations to test products, talking to existing users and doing pilot tests—all in an effort to eliminate fear, uncertainty, and risk. The B2B buyer is fixated on risk mitigation—and your reception as a sales professional depends on the department you’re selling to.

Also, whenever a company makes a purchase decision that involves a team of people, self-interest, politics, and group dynamics influence the final decision. Tension, drama, and conflict are normal parts of group dynamics, because purchase decisions are not typically made unanimously.

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One of the most formidable enemies facing salespeople today is no decision. What prevents prospective buyers from making a purchase, even after they have conducted a lengthy evaluation process? Every initiative and its associated expenditure is competing against all the other projects requesting funding.

What is the ability of different departments of a company to push through their purchases and defeat the company’s bureaucratic tendency not to buy? Let’s look at the profiles of the various departments in terms of how they ranked their leadership ability as a predictor of their department’s ability to promote their internal agenda. Here are department responses that strongly agreed with the statement, “I am often a leader in groups.”

Beyond their formal titles and position on organization charts, people take on specific roles when they are part of a selection committee. Some take control of the group and steer the decision toward their preference.

Based on the research results, you might expect Sales, Information Technology, and Engineering to have more internal clout to push through their projects than Marketing or Human Resources. Therefore, they’re better departments to sell into from the salesperson’s perspective. As a president of a company once told me during a win-loss interview, “At the end of the day, a project will or won’t get approved depending upon who is pushing it.”

In most industries, a single company dominates the market. Compared to their competitors, they have a much larger market share, top-of-the-line products, greater marketing budget and reach, and more company caché. For salespeople who have to compete against these industry giants, life can be very intimidating indeed.

However, the study results provide some good news in this regard. Buyers aren’t necessarily fixated on the market leader and are more than willing to select second-tier competitors than one might expect.

In fact, only 33% of participants indicated they prefer the most prestigious, best-known brand with the highest functionality and cost. Conversely, 63% said they would select a fairly well known brand with 85% of the functionality at 80% of the cost. However, only 5% would select a relatively unknown brand with 75% of the functionality at 60% of the cost of the best-known brand.

In some sales situations, it is necessary to align with the buyer’s thought process in order to win; these buyers are experienced and knowledgeable about their business and technical fields. In other situations, the buyer’s thought process must be transformed and gently shaped over the course of the sales cycle. Finally, just as a doctor must sometimes prescribe a painful treatment to heal a patient, in some sales situations you must control prospective buyers in order to help them.

What selling style do prospective buyers prefer? The survey shows 40% of study participants prefer a salesperson who listens, understands, then matches their solution to solve a specific problem. Another 30% prefer a salesperson who earns their trust by making them feel comfortable, like they will take care of the customer’s long-term needs. Another 30% want a salesperson who challenges their thoughts and perceptions, and then prescribes a solution that they may not have known about.

To better understand the impact of human nature on buyers, study participants were asked to recount the last time they experienced significant buyer’s remorse. Buyer’s remorse occurs after the purchase is made when the buyer feels a sense of regret, guilt, or anger, and they second-guess their decision.

Most people mistakenly associate buyer’s remorse with an impulsive purchase, or assume it was caused by the pressure tactics of a salesperson. When each example was laboriously analyzed, a pattern emerged. The source of buyer’s remorse can be categorized into nine different root causes. However, it is the buyer’s action, which actually caused remorse in over 70% of the examples – not the salesperson or the product that was sold.

Within every company, each department has its own “buyers.” For example, Marketing defines product requirements for Engineering; Engineering builds a prototype for Manufacturing; IT provides the systems Manufacturing needs; and Finance provides funds for IT. For the most part, each department’s buyers are internal to the company, both physically and culturally. The Sales department is unique. Sales is focused solely on external buyers who are geographic and cultural outsiders to the organization.

Within many companies, buyer persona profiles are created by Sales Enablement to provide messaging and information on how the salespeople should interact with the various types of prospects they meet. While most of these buyers personas are predicated on the customer being a rational decision maker, in reality, it is human nature that determines how buyers evaluate and who they ultimately select. There is an entirely intangible, human side to the sales process. And it is the mastery of the intuitive human element of the buyer relationship that separates the winner from losers.

About The Author

Michael Hammond
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 mhammond@nexleveladvisors.com.

Talking To Prospects

According to Jill Konrath, in today’s crazy-busy world, the ONLY way to capture and keep your prospects’ attention is to talk with them about what matters to them. Pure and simple. That’s all they care about.

Your prospects have zero tolerance for salespeople who think their job is to share their unique methodologies, great technology or extraordinary service. All that info is available online. If it’s of interest, they’ll find it—on their own time.

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Jill Konrath is a globally recognized sales strategist. She’s an in-demand speaker at sales kick-off meetings and conferences where she shares fresh strategies to help salespeople deal with emerging challenges.

Forrester Research also found executives state that 86% of the salespeople who called on them were NOT prepared to have an intelligent conversation on their initial meetings. Most didn’t get a second chance.

Yet your prospects are thirsty for ideas that can help them do their job better, faster, or more productively. They crave information on how to increase revenue, reduce costs or expand their market presence. They search for insights on how to deal with changes in the business environment. A salesperson that delivers these ideas, insights and information is pure gold.

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Additionally, Forrester Research shows that the first vendor to create a viable vision of the future has a 74% chance of closing the sale. That’s an amazing statistic, but entirely achievable IF you target the right prospects, research their business and talk with them about what matters most. In short, you need to use catalysts and context to lead an intelligent conversation.

According to Wikipedia, a catalyst “speeds up a reaction by lowering the activation energy required for the reaction to proceed.” In sales, a catalyst does the same thing. Suddenly the organization is receptive to new options. The grip of the status quo has been loosened. Money even appears out of thin air. Here’s how to find and leverage these trigger events for maximum impact at your company.

Identify The Catalysts

To get started, analyze your existing clients. Ask yourself:

(1)…What internal factors (inside the company) made your clients finally decide to take action?

(2)…What external factors (outside the company) changed their business environment sufficiently so that the status quo was no longer sufficient?

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Often salespeople discover distinct changes or issues that are behind virtually all decisions. Invariably, these are the most common:

New Leadership: Often, within 3-6 months, new executives are implementing fresh initiatives to drive revenue, reduce costs or increase efficiencies.

Financial Announcements: If business is up, expansion projects take priority. If business is stagnant or down, productivity or cost-saving initiatives jump to the forefront.

Mergers/Acquisitions: Any change in this area causes organizations to re-evaluate all their supplier relationships.

New Strategic Initiatives: When new corporate directives are announced, the entire organization shifts to ensure they’re in alignment.

Legal/Compliance: Changes in government regulations (e.g. Affordable Care Act) cause organizations to take immediate action.

These are only some of the many catalyzing events that can create opportunities for savvy sellers. Others include reorganizations, new product/service announcements, relocations, market expansions, new business deals, or new funding.

If you’re new to this type of thinking, review local or national business publications and ask yourself: “If this happens, how does this impact an organization’s need for what I sell?”

Knowing your catalysts frees you to pursue those companies where you have a higher likelihood of closing an accelerated deal. Plus, you’ll know what to talk to these prospects about since you are deeply immersed in their issues and challenges. It’s the fodder you need to have an intelligent conversation.

Get A Jump Start On Competitors

Here’s the good news. Many of these catalytic events are newsworthy announcements, shared publicly by the company. Or they’re part of required financial reporting.

The easiest way to get your hands on this info is to leverage sales intelligence tools – ones that automatically search for your specific catalysts and deliver them to you on a timely basis. If you sell to a small number of companies or track a finite set of catalyzing events, you can get by with Google Alerts.

But things get pretty complicated when you need a steady stream of new prospects. Or when you’re selling to multiple market segments. Or when a variety of these catalysts can signify a loosening of the status quo.

Sales intelligence apps like InsideView, Lead 411 or DiscoverOrg can totally automate this process for you. They sort through all the junk that’s out there, giving you daily alerts about what’s happening in your territory – on just those catalyzing agents that you want to follow.

Intelligent conversations depend on sale intelligence. Today, it’s imperative to be the first one in the door with fresh insights on how to deal with the emerging priorities and issues.

Planning an intelligent conversation involves combining what you know about the catalyst’s impact with your understanding of the context of prospect’s situation.

From this, you develop a game plan to pique your prospect’s curiosity, showcase your depth of knowledge and build trust that you’re an invaluable resource.

You’ll know you’ve succeeded, if, at the end of your conversation, your prospect says, “Very interesting. We clearly need to look at this in greater depth.”

Let’s go back to where we started. According to Forrester Research, the first vendor to create a viable vision of the future has a 74% chance of closing the sale. That means you need to identify a gap between your prospect’s business goals and their current situation.

When companies are disrupted by catalytic events, a gap naturally emerges. Suddenly the status quo is no longer sufficient. Change is needed.

Salespeople who use sales intelligence apps to notify them when these trigger events occur consistently outperform their peers. They get in early, which gives them the ability to shape the discussion.

When these same salespeople leverage context, they integrate their knowledge of the company, individual people and their digital behavior into the conversation. They know more—which enables them to come up with better ways to help their prospects achieve their specific goals.

Combined, catalysts and context yield intelligent conversations – ones that are focused on helping prospects create a viable vision of what’s possible in their organization. In this article, we’ve just talked about the initial conversation. You’ll need more to close the deal. But you’ll get there faster and with minimal competition. It’s definitely the way to sell today.

About The Author

Michael Hammond
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 mhammond@nexleveladvisors.com.

Effective Email Marketing Tips

E-mail may seem a bit old school, but e-mail should be a part of every mortgage technology vendor’s strategy. The big question is: How do you do your e-mail marketing right so you get real results? In the article entitled “3 Ways to Trigger a Sense of Urgency in Your Sales Emails” by Heather R. Morgan, she shares that the average adult has to make about 35,000 decisions each day. Which include things like, what to wear, which route to take to work, where to buy coffee—these are just the start, and usually the easiest.

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How does this relate to e-mail? So, you can imagine the last thing someone wants to face when they open a cold e-mail from you is a complex choice. As a salesperson, your job is to make their decision to respond as easy as possible.

The simplest and most effective way to do this is to appeal to your potential customer’s most basic human instincts: desire, curiosity, and fear. Of all the emotional triggers out there, these three can create a strong sense of urgency and increase the chances of someone responding to your e-mail.

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Of course, this is easier said than done. In the span of a single cold e-mail, you have to trigger those instincts and, at the same time, communicate that you understand the customer’s wants, needs, and worries, and can deliver the solution: you.

Here are three tips to help you do the same:

DESIRE

Every business wants to grow and succeed. Your e-mail can appeal to this by offering the promise of serious and direct business value. Your messaging should address, quickly and believably, exactly how your prospective customer will benefit from your product or service, and it should do so in a manner that inspires them to respond. There are two approaches you can take:

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The first is to demonstrate value by providing clear and tangible examples, or social proof, of how your service or product delivers results. This is especially effective if you can use actual numbers to demonstrate success with a competitor.

Alternatively, you can reframe your product features as customer benefits. This is a good approach if you are new to the scene or unable to reference your clients by name.

CURIOSITY

Intrigue is a powerful tool that can also be a lot of fun to use. If your e-mail hints at a solution to a potential customer’s pain point or particular need, their desire to know the full story should override any hesitation to respond to your e-mail.

For example, you might inform the buyer you have an idea or strategy that will make a significant difference to an aspect of their business. Remember, you are trying to keep their curiosity peaked, so this should just be a teaser, something that will induce them to follow up.

FEAR

Fear is probably the most powerful way to introduce urgency and inspire a potential customer to action. However, it’s important to apply subtlety over aggression. You don’t want to terrify your potential clients; you just want to address their concerns. Research specific issues at play within their industry, introduce anxiety, and then end on a positive note by offering a solution.

Instead of writing, “Data hacking will destroy your business if you don’t do something now,” try an approach with less fire and brimstone: “Data hacks have increased tenfold in the past two years, making it more important than ever to protect your data.”

Hopefully these tips will help you enhance your e-mail marketing strategy.

About The Author

Michael Hammond
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 mhammond@nexleveladvisors.com.

Get Your Ideas Across

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For mortgage technology vendors, oftentimes they are selling ideas. They are trying to convince mortgage lenders to automate a process that is traditionally paper. That can be a hard sell because it requires the lender to embrace change. So, it’s a balancing act for vendors in that they have to both honor the existing mortgage process and make the case about how it can be improved. If you’re going to be successful, you have to be a good presenter.

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In the article entitled “How The Most Successful Presenters Pitch Their Ideas” by Ian Altman, he points out that it’s not enough to simply deliver a message. I’m flattered when I get glowing feedback from the audience after a talk. When I deliver a keynote address, I know I need to inspire, entertain, educate and also to engage the audience. My keynote address is only successful if the audience gets new ideas, can internalize those ideas, and then apply them to their world while having fun in the process.

My fellow speaker and brilliant master of ceremonies, Mark Jeffries has a great formula he shared with me during a recent discussion

After more than a decade of speaking and hosting conferences and events that include top celebrities like Serena Williams, Richard Branson and Will Smith, he’s developed a simple four-part framework that is guaranteed to wow an audience. Make no mistake, as a guy who spent years as a television personality, Mark Jeffries is a world-class master of ceremonies.

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But first, he starts by asking clients an intriguing question:

“When you’re at home in the evening, and you slump onto your couch with a nice, big martini – that’s my MO, at least – and you turn the TV on and you’re flipping through the channels and suddenly you find a channel featuring a man in a grey suit standing very still talking in a monotonous fashion with a slide deck full of words behind him, do you stay on that channel?”

Of course not, Mark gasps. “That’s the last thing we want to watch, and yet this is what we give people at conferences and events all over the world.”

Instead, he asks, why not give people what they want? Why not give them an experience they can walk away from feeling inspired and educated and entertained?

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When he works with executives on how best to present their ideas on stage, he reminds them of the word TIME.

What is TIME?

I have the good fortune to speak on many stages. I also get to experience the good, the bad, and the ugly of other speakers. Some might be brilliant, just not the style content that appeals to me. Some, however, really stand out as fan favorites for almost every audience. After years of speaking at and hosting events, Mark noticed that all the best presenters shared similar qualities. Aside from being well versed on their topics, he saw that they had what seemed like a natural charisma and command of the audience. Was that something these speakers were born with, he wondered? Or did they develop their skills?

Turns out, anyone can develop the skills needed to be a better presenter. The pros, it appeared, had TIME on their side. TIME is the acronym Mark developed to describe the key ingredients of a good presentation.

What Does It Mean?

T stands for Teach.

“We all love to be informed of something we’ve not heard before or something that perhaps changes the way we think,” Mark says. “If you can get somebody’s mind activated with a new idea, they are much more likely to listen to you. Tell them something interesting.”

I means to Inspire.

“When you inspire people, you’re not boring them with the whole process. You’re actually saying: Hold on. At the end of this, this is how different your life, your world, your customers, and your business processes are going to be. That is an inspiring picture and people respond well to that when you’re presenting,” Mark says.

M stands for Motivate.

“What you really want to do in any presentation is motivate (the audience) to some form of action,” Mark advises. “So in any presentation, whether you’re across the table (from someone) at a Starbucks or you’re standing on a stage in front of 5,000 people, you have to at least know that you’re giving them one thing they’re going to go away with.”

E means to Entertain.

As speaking coach extraordinaire, Michael Port, notes, “You want the audience to agree with your points — not with you. It’s the difference between ‘That’s right’ and ‘You’re right.”

Mark suggests, “Be real, be a real person. People buy people right? And if you don’t have that personality that is charismatic and warm and very likeable, no one is going to buy your ideas. No is going to buy what it is you’re selling.” He adds, “You have to be the likeable person. And I so often see somebody who is in front of me who is just not likeable and they must as well just give everyone a handout and sit down.

“If you develop that connection (with an audience) in your short pitch, you’ve got them. You can basically have them come around to your way of thinking in a far easier fashion than if you were brusque and arrogant.”

It’s Not About You

It’s tempting to think a presentation is all about the speaker when all eyes are on him. But the truth is, the greatest presenters know that it’s not about them. It about the audience — and their needs, desires, challenges and problems.

A pitch should never revolve around you.

“When I’m hosting events, I get to introduce business leaders and business thinkers and they get up there and they pitch, and half the time it is just not appropriate for that audience,” Mark says. “They haven’t even bothered to think about their audience or to understand the world in which their audience lives. And it fails. It falls down.”

“When you’re pitching your idea you have to be smart enough to stop and say wait a minute: what is this person actually looking to buy before I even try and sell them anything?”

About The Author

Michael Hammond
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 mhammond@nexleveladvisors.com.

You Can Do Better

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What’s in a brand? A brand is the idea or image of a specific product or service that consumers connect with, by identifying the name, logo, slogan, or design of the company who owns the idea or image. Branding is when that idea or image is marketed so that it is recognizable by more and more people, and identified with a certain service or product when there are many other companies offering the same service or product.

Marketing professionals work on branding not only to build brand recognition, but also to build good reputations and a set of standards to which the company should strive to maintain or surpass. Branding is an important part of Internet commerce, as branding allows companies to build their reputations as well as expand beyond the original product and service, and adds to the revenue generated by the original brand.

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When working on branding, or building a brand, companies that are using web pages and search engine optimization have a few details to work out before being able to build a successful brand. Coordinating domain names and brand names are an important part of finding and keeping visitors and clients, as well as branding a new company. Coordination of a domain name and brand names lends identification to the idea or image of a specific product or service, which in turn lets visitors easily discovery the new brand.

Branding is also a way to build an important company asset, which is a good reputation. Whether a company has no reputation, or a less than stellar reputation, branding can help change that. Branding can build an expectation about the company services or products, and can encourage the company to maintain that expectation, or exceed them, bringing better products and services to the market place.

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Thanks to the Internet, your potential customers are being flooded with dozens — if not hundreds — of different buying opportunities every hour.

For your company’s branding to really work, it will need to be more than just a name.

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In the article entitled “6 Tips to Building a Stronger Brand Using New Media,” written by Margaret Garvin, she emphasizes that branding has always been important, but it’s never been as essential as it is now. Thanks to the Internet, your potential customers are being flooded with dozens — if not hundreds — of different buying opportunities every hour.

While quality, cost and execution will all play a role in a customer’s decision, trust remains the key way to win the sale. Branding is one of the most important things you can do to win trust, so it’s important you do it right.

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Here are simple tips for marketing your brand with new media.

Spend Moments On Execution, But Months In Prep.

For your company’s branding to really work, it will need to be more than just a name. A logo, tag line, tone of approach and color scheme can be important.

Consistency in these choices is just as important as the choices themselves. A decision to change any element of your business brand can undermine a lot of hard work, so be willing to take your time — months, if needed — to decide exactly how you want to present your brand.

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If you’re not consistent from site to site, customers won’t recognize your brand, won’t build trust, and your efforts will end up fairly impotent.

Branding is a constant effort that gets reinforced with every move you make, and doing so carefully is just one more aspect of “smart business.”

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Actionable tip: Consider creating a comprehensive brand uniformity guide where your branding elements will be standardized.

Monitor Your Brand-Related Queries.

Whatever people are searching about your brand on Google indicates what they think about it and, importantly, what problems they have. Moreover, if too many people are searching [your-brand-name scam], this phrase will show up in Google Auto-suggest results as others.

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Monitoring what people are searching and where your own site ranks for different search phrases is crucial. You can use various keyword research tools in combination with keyword position monitoring software.

Kiss Still Applies.

The famous battle cry of “keep it simple stupid” is thoroughly embedded in the jargon of every salesman. This lesson doesn’t start and end on the sales call, though. Simplicity has been shown to be more effective in branding efforts as well, especially since it makes your company more memorable.

Get Into Social Media and Interactive Content.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Ello . . . I could go on for hours. There are tons of social media sites, and people age 18 to 34 actually spend more time on these sites than they do watching TV.

Obviously, you need to get your company onto these sites; however, your work won’t end there. You need to post regularly, add valuable content and use as much interactivity as you can by putting out videos, interactive presentations, editable infographics, and so forth. Rich interactive designs have been the hottest trend for a few years now.

For instance, Target successfully reached out to college students with their “Made for U College Styler” and ServiceNow captured the attention of their target audience with an interactive quiz.

Interactivity doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Smartketer claims that something as simple as animating your banners can significantly improve your campaign performance.

Be Consistent With Your Branding.

Whatever the details of your company, you need to repeat yourself for your brand to stick. Did you catch that? You need to repeat yourself for your brand to stick.

If you’re not consistent from site to site, customers won’t recognize your brand, won’t build trust, and your efforts will end up fairly impotent. So, keep in mind: You need to repeat yourself for your brand to stick.

Brand consistency requires scalable team collaboration. Make sure you have tools in place for your whole company to be aware of your branding efforts.

When In Doubt, Hire Out.

How much is a good-looking logo worth to your company? What about the creation of the right tag line or company motto?

If you’re not sure you can come up with something really solid on your own, then employing a copywriter, graphic designer and brand strategist is a very wise move.

Branding is a constant effort that gets reinforced with every move you make, and doing so carefully is just one more aspect of “smart business.”

By being consistent, memorable, and just a little bit omnipresent, you can build a brand that separates you from your many, many competitors.

About The Author

Michael Hammond
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 mhammond@nexleveladvisors.com.

Getting The Deal

Have you ever thought: Why did I lose that deal? What did I do wrong? What could I have done better? We all have these thoughts. In the article titled “The 3 Sales Questions I Should Have Asked” by Jill Konrath, she reflects on her experiences.

She remembers: “In retrospect, I mistakenly let my own eagerness to do business with this marquis customer outweigh my common sense. I should have known better, but I was seduced by the opportunity.

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“Over and over again, I see other sellers make similar mistakes when they have a ready-to-buy-now prospect on the line. Like me, they expound on their capabilities and benefits. They willingly provide detailed information and do tons of extra work to create proposals or presentations—anything the prospects want.”

While this strategy puts you into the “nice” seller category, it doesn’t help your prospects make the best decision for their organization. Nor does it enable you to separate yourself from your competitors. You just come across as an overeager beaver. And usually you don’t get the business.

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That’s why, when these prospects contact you, it’s imperative to not let your common sense fly out the window. Here’s what you can do instead: ask questions

It’s good for both you and your prospect to dig in and ask the hard questions. At first, they often feel inappropriate; especially when you feel like you should be “selling.” But in reality, they are exactly what you should be doing—helping potential clients make the best possible decision for their business.

Here are three questions you must ask about—even if they’re uncomfortable:

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1.) Are they 100% sure they’re going to change—or are they trying to determine if it makes sense?

This is crucial in determining your next step. If they’re still trying to decide, your focus needs to be on the business case. If they’re committed to taking action, then the focus becomes differentiation.

2.) What other options are they considering—and have they ever done business with any of these companies before?

If your prospect has an existing business relationship, make sure to explore why they’d consider changing. It’s a lot more work than staying with the status quo and if they don’t have a good reason, they’re likely not going with you.

3.) What are their decision criteria – and why is each factor important?

When you find out what criteria they plan to base their decision on, it ultimately helps you:

>> Figure out which aspects of your own product/service you should stress;

>> Determine how you stand against your competitors; and

>> Uncover any possible misconceptions about the best solution for them.

Plan these questions now. Do it before you talk to a real, live, ready-to-buy-now prospect. You’ll also want to practice asking these questions aloud too. Ultimately, asking the tough questions will make you more likely to identify the opportunities with potential and thus close more deals.

NexLevel Advisors helps its clients bring strategic focus to the art of selling. We understand the need for your 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 your team to the next level.

About The Author

Michael Hammond
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 mhammond@nexleveladvisors.com.