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Top 5 Habits of a Database Power User

In ACT!, CRM, CRM Best Practices, Database Management, LinkedIn, Loan Officer, Loan Origination Software, Mortgage, Power User, Synchronization on June 6, 2014 at 6:48 pm

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With all the time and effort required to close a loan, it is more imperative than ever to have a powerful and easy to use contact and marketing management database system with the most evolved and easy strategies in place. Below are the top 5 habits of database power users. A key measurement for determining a ‘database power user’ is an increase in business revenue in synergy with greater efficiencies and time savings.

1. Use a ‘Command Center’ type of database tool.
There are a multitude of systems available now claiming to be a ‘CRM’ aka Contact Relationship Management tool, however, most of them only provide part of an overall database and marketing strategy. Some are good marketing only tools, offering automated marketing as well as the ability to create and send your own marketing, but they do not have all the other components of a day-to-day contact management tracking and marketing tool. Power users use database tools that provide not only the ‘broad’ marketing components, but also modern day-to-day tracking components. Day to day tracking components include, but are not limited to: conversation tracking, central email history tracking, calendar and shared/team calendar capabilities, data mining and/or ‘lookup’ abilities, creating categories or groups, drip and targeted marketing (automated and/or manual) social media connections, mobile device access etc. There are tools available today that provide all your needs in what I like to call a ‘command center’ fashion. Whenever possible, it is the most effective and efficient to centralize your day to day tracking needs, as well as your marketing needs from one system. Not only do you not have duplicate data entry requirements for separate systems, you also have complete information visibility including individual contact information, follow up tools, calendaring, tracking, reporting, marketing etc from one central system.

2. Seek Expertise.
This is something you likely wish your own prospects would do more often. Would you recommend someone looking to refinance their house should get program and rate information from their dentist, a well-intended relative, or anyone who is not a professional mortgage planner ? Picking the right CRM /database tool with the right marketing automation solution is critical to increasing sales. Don’t get distracted with the ‘shiny database and marketing objects’ for mortgage professionals. Getting the right help from an expert is critical in making sure you do not get burdened with inefficient complex processes that can end up being incredibly expensive. These systems can not only be expensive ‘out the door’, but even more so because they do not work and/or are complex to manage, and then you have to start all over again with a different tool.

Two people at computer top 5 habits

Hand in hand with this is the willingness to get some training.   Top producing database power users include some level of training from an expert in their database management strategy. It does not take much, usually just one or two hours of training can provide you with a quantum leap in using your database tool to get new business, as well as effectively keep previous customers. An expert can be a professional consultant such as myself, or if you are lucky enough to have a database power user in your midst, they may be willing to show you the ropes as well.

Training videos and manuals are great as support to your abilities, but nothing replaces hands on training to bring together the mechanics (ie click here to create a template), but much more importantly, the strategies, for how to get the most from your database every single day.

3. Open Your Database and Use It All Day, Every Day.
Believe it or not, this is not stating the obvious. You should be opening and using your database tool every day. Here’s the power users morning regimen: coffee, open email tool, open database tool, open loan origination system. Some database tools, such as ACT!, interface seamlessly with your email system for even more synergy in your daily communications. Your database is your daily command center where ‘everything ‘ goes including new contacts, updates to current contacts, conversation logs, calendaring, marketing, tracking, reporting, follow up strategies etc.

4.  Be a “Grouper”.
Power users always have some type of database segmentation or grouping strategy. This not only provide a way for quick visibility to the various types of contacts, it also helps support smarter marketing efforts based on a customer’s profile. The only time an email blast to your entire database may be effective is if you are sending a major market update announcement, an announcement that you changed companies, etc. Please note that I did not mention newsletters. There is no market data to suggest a monthly mortgage newsletter is a business creating strategy in modern times. Newsletters via email used to be the new cool thing in about 2006 and for a few years afterwards. Statistics show that now they are tossed before reading in most cases, and actually can lead to an increase in opt outs. The information overload syndrome brought on by the Internet Age affects most of us and a newsletter is a more obsolete ‘mass consumption spoon feeding’ communication method. Consumers are much more sophisticated in how they get their information than even 3 years ago. Information sharing used to be all about publishing and pushing, now it is about publishing and delivering pertinent content to different groups, and/or consumers reaching out and seeking information that applies to them in a very specific way. If you feel certain sending newsletters are helping to drive in business, that’s great, but make sure you are monitoring results to see if it is still as effective as it used to be for you. The key is to keep the information flow from you to your contacts a positive experience overall. Consumers are just more apt to read about something you are sending them that is specific to their particular situation than a generic newsletter. With the right tools it is also a lot easier than ever before to segment your database so you can not only have visibility to contacts in your different categories, but also create or copy an email template and quickly send it to people in a particular group that will get the most from that particular content.

Some examples of database groups or categories in the prospect pillar alone includes, but is not limited to: purchase shopping prospects, first time home buyer prospects, debt repair prospects, investor prospects, apartment dweller prospects, etc. You can see how within just the prospect category alone, there are many segments that each would benefit from a different approach with specific and targeted marketing and follow up strategies.   For example, it is much more powerful to send your debt repair prospects tips on how to improve your credit score or tips on creating a budget etc, than it would be to send that same content to your investor prospects.

5. Stay in Touch.
Staying in contact with prospects, current customers, and customers that you have completed transactions for, is a proven path to increased and recurring sales opportunities. The sales and business advisory firm giant, Forrester Research, has quantified this by stating that those who excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales at a 33% lower cost than those who don’t. A lead includes any contact that you have not done business with yet, all of your contacts currently in a transaction, as well as all of your closed transaction contacts. It is faulty to think that once you have completed a satisfactory transaction for a contact, that they are no longer a lead. A lead is a lead before and after a transaction. The attention in courting them should never diminish. A lead that you have completed a transaction for should immediately be one of your advocates. These ‘post close leads’ are now a virtual member of your sales team, not only coming back to you for their future transactions, but also referring other leads to you. It is a mistake to either let a ‘post close lead’ fall off your radar, or to just throw a ‘closed’ contact into a generic marketing campaign like your newsletter list, thinking this is all that is needed to keep you on their radar for the next transaction. The transaction needs to be one they were pleased with of course, however, you also need to begin to re-court them as a new lead as soon as the transaction is over.

So how do you approach this sometimes daunting task of creating, improving, and most importantly implementing your power user database and marketing plan ? As usual, the best approach is bite size pieces. Below are some important building blocks in your overall database and marketing plan. Hopefully these ideas will help you begin or fine tune your database management and marketing processes. Please don’t be a ‘deer in the headlights’, if you are not sure how to start or how to expand your current stay in touch activities, please seriously consider getting help from a marketing and database management expert such as myself. The time and money you save by getting your database and marketing plan actually implemented will far exceed what you thought you were saving by ‘tinkering’ with putting the pieces together on your own, reinventing the wheel, or not doing anything. Just as I seek out a mortgage professional when I need help with a property transaction, it is prudent for you to leverage an expert in this critical part of your business strategy.

Stay in Touch Plan Building Blocks:

  1. Have a central master command center database and marketing tool
  2. Enter all contacts into your tool, and/or have an automated synchronization from your other applications (ie LOS, web sites, email systems, smartphones etc)
  3. Learn Best Practices for your particular tool from an expert and/or peer
  4. Segment your database into specific ID types or groups based on their profile
  5. Obtain, review and modify marketing templates.
  6. Set up a follow up system and/or utilize an automated marketing solution
  7. Be CAN-SPAM compliant. For ‘mass’ emails, make sure your database tool has a professional white label email service component. For example, ACT! has an E-marketing option for sending CAN-SPAM compliant emails directly from your ACT! database.

We can help you with all of these elements, please contact us today for more information !

Donna Quisenberry is a Certified Consultant with Q2 Database Consulting Service. Q2 is a full service company providing complete solutions for your database and marketing management needs. Please contact Donna at donnaquisenberry@sbcglobal.net, or (760) 434-3431.

 

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Keeping Your Database Information Current so You Reach Your Customers

In ACT!, CRM, Database Management, Facebook, LinkedIn, Loan Officer, Loan Origination Software, Mortgage, Social Media, Synchronization, Uncategorized on November 20, 2013 at 9:45 pm

There are two main areas to address when putting together your strategy for keeping your contacts information up to date in your database:

1.   Upman mail delivery1dating your ‘old’ or legacy contact information

2.   Managing your new and on-going contact information

There are a number of ways to update your legacy data.  The areas to focus on include: current mailing address, phone numbers, email addresses and specific industry information when available (ie last loan data).

Based on USPS statistics*, about 17% of American move each year, that equates to about every  1 in 6 contacts. For a database of 2000 records that is about 340 people per year.

For mailing address clean up, the most potent approach is to use a service that will run your contacts address information against USPS certified tools such as CASS and NCOA.   CASS is address matching software that will bring back address syntax and ZIP+4 information for an address.   For example,  ‘7895 Lakeview Str    Canton, OH   55412’ will be updated to ‘ 7895 Lakeview Drive    Canton, OH   55412-8945’.

NCOA (National change of address) database will bring back any address updates based on a change of address card being filled out and provided to the post office. For example, ‘Frank Russell at 326 Julian Street  Canton, OH   54311’  will come back as ‘Frank Russell at 111 Partridge Place   Canton, OH   54455-8945’.

For phone numbers, there are services available that will run your contacts name against public phone company records and come back with current home and/or mobile phone numbers. The return rate of these types of services run between 30 and 50%.

Email addresses are a bit trickier due to email service providers policies protecting email addresses. There is not currently any publicly available national database  to run against to check email addresses. I think we would all agree that is a good thing !  There are services that can run your list of emails and report back any syntax updates (ie ‘ted@.gmail.cmm’   is corrected to ‘ted@gmail.com’), as well as any identification of a bad domain. For example for  ‘susan@rainmaker.com’, the report would indicate that the domain ‘rainmaker’ is no longer a valid domain.

The only complete assurance that you have the right email is that the customer responds to an email you send.   For wrong or missing emails, the only way to update your database at this time, is to send a note or letter asking for their email, or making a call to ask for the information.  Most people do not have time to call hundreds of people in their database to get email address information, so you could do a mailing that includes asking for email addresses, or hire a college student or temp to do this for you.  A friendly script that includes something like “What is the best email to use for you to receive my monthly newsletters and market updates ? I would like the opportunity to keep you informed with new information that can help you and your family save money etc”.    You could also ask for an email address verification whenever you make or receive a call from a contact that you have not emailed or spoken to recently.

In terms of managing your new and on-going contacts information, the most obvious is to get the contacts complete address, phone and email information when you initially speak to them. This is also the time you would ask permission to send them communications via email or mail etc.

Another approach is to have your Loan Software automatically synching to your contact database to avoid you having to do duplicate data entry, as well as getting highly valid contact information to your database.  The contact information on a loan application is usually very accurate due to the information validity required in this process.

Hopefully this information is helpful in putting together a strategy for your database ‘clean up’ and day to day management of contact information.  Stay in contact with as many of your contacts as possible over time !   Having accurate contact information is a must for you to effectively work this strategy.

USPS Move Statistics*: http://pe.usps.com/businessmail101/addressing/checkingaccuracy.htm

Donna Quisenberry of Q2 Database Consulting Services.  Donna has been a database and marketing consulting specialist for over 15 years.  Donna/Q2 provides database implementation, training, automated synchronization from separate applications to ACT!, as well as automated marketing solutions. Besides staying technically current for database/CRM solutions, Donna also attends business technology and strategy events every year to stay on top of the specific best winning ideas and concepts in order to bring those same winning strategies to her customers.

Embracing Social Media with ACT!

In ACT!, ActiveRain, Database Management, Facebook, LinkedIn, Social Media on June 24, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Have you embraced Social Media yet ?  Have you had new business come to you through sites like LinkedIn, FaceBook, ActiveRain ?   

It is great to see that Sage Software sees the value of including Social Media connections as an important element of running your business. ACT! version 2010 and after,has a Web Info tab that allows you to connect to and view a contact in a variety of Social Media sites such as LinkedIn, FaceBook, ActiveRain, Google, Google Maps etc. You can also add your own links in order to have a quick connect to virtually any site you wish.

 That’s nice, but what really is the big deal with Social Media ?

For those that have been resisting the Social Media Revolution, first let me say I understand because as humans we tend to resist change, and second I must say sorry, it is time to stop avoiding the inevitable.

Social Media is here to stay and the most popular cyber connection sites will continue to swell with the tide of humanity getting on board at an astounding rate.

Fact:  96% of people in the United States between the ages of 24 to 54 belong to at least one Social Media site.  There is a great video on YouTube outlining the impact of Social Media on business.  Check it out at :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHLMGXaR0Io&kw=social+media&ad=10383246475&feature=pyv

 It is basically the fusion of Sociology and Technology.  It connects people and provides an interactive format to build relationships in many arenas including personal, political, and business.  It transforms monologues into dialogs.  Everyone is a writer, a critic, your best ally or worst enemy and it can all be played out real time via Social Media.  The world has turned into a giant community of publishers. 

One major shift in the way Social Media affects each one of us is the way information is delivered.  We have gone from phone and email which is sending information back and forth in fairly one-on-one fashion, to the Internet where you go to search for information, to the new way to connect via Social Media where the information finds you.  If you are signed up on anyone’s blog or follow anyone on Twitter you know what I mean by this. Information is pushed at you in a way never seen before.

There are 4 major reasons you should get as involved as possible in Social Media from a business standpoint:

1. New Lead Acquisition
2. Dossier and Reconnaissance
3. Electronic Intimacy – Something to Talk About
4. Hey, Look at Me !

New Lead Acquisition:  Facebook as an example. You could see a friend of a friend of a friend mention that they really would love to Refi their home loan but are not sure who to go to.  You could see a friend of a friend of another friend mention that they just found out they are having twins and need a bigger place. The list goes on.  The cool thing is that if you respond in the thread, you just took the opportunity to expose your services to not only that one person, but everyone else who is connected to that friend. You have to be present and tuned in to grab these opportunities!

Dossier and Reconnaissance:  LinkedIn as an example.  You can get all kinds of information about a person’s professional life, company contact information, comments from people who have referred this person, which of your competitors are already linked to this person etc.   You can better position yourself when selling if you know what competitors the contact is also connected to.

Electronic Intimacy – Something to Talk About.  Twitter as an example.  Say you get a new prospect. Before you call them, look them up on LinkedIn to get a quick glimpse into their professional life, and then if they have info on their Twitter account available, view their last Tweets to see what is important in their world ‘right now’. When you call you can create an instant bond. “Hi John, I see that you went to the Eagles concert last night. I love that group! How was it?” 

Hey ! Look at Me !  Many of the most popular sites are perfect for self promotion.  You can post quick articles, links to your blog(s), links to timely information URLs etc on these sites. I have seen items like the following on sites like Facebook and Twitter : “Felt great to help get a young family of 4 into their first house today ! They are delighted and relieved at how low their payments are. These are the kind of days that I just love being a Mortgage Professional!”. Keep in mind that shameless self-promotion is generally OK on these sites depending on how you approach it.

I hope you found this article helpful and would be happy to assist you with any of your database management or marketing needs!

Check out the ACT! 2010 Web Info tab below.  Connect on the fly to a multitude of Social Media sites right from within ACT!.

Donna Quisenberry
Q2 Database Consulting Services
Donnaquisenberry@sbcglobal.net
(760) 434-3431

Bringing database and marketing expertise and solutions to Business Professionals since 2001