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Posts Tagged ‘central database’

Starting and Building Your Database

In ACT!, CRM, CRM Best Practices, Database Management, Drip Marketing, drip marketing CRM Mortgage Mortgage marekting to clients mortgage markeitng to realtors, Loan Officer, Loan Origination Software, Marketing tools for loan officers, Mortgage, Uncategorized on August 12, 2016 at 5:37 pm

Across the mortgage industry, there is a fundamental truth that you may have heard of on more than one occasion.  This truth is build your business by design, not by accident. This is true for any business and is especially potent in the mortgage industry. This is because providing mortgages for people is almost more relationship driven than it is transactional.

As a mortgage professional you are privy to some of the most private information a person has, their financial status, their financial dreams, and since personal and financial is so closely interwoven you usually end up knowing a lot about their family, personal relationships etc. In order to provide the highest service levels, you must be able to keep track of not only the data on their loan transaction, but also all the related information about their life, their dreams etc., as it pertains to their financial needs. You also need to stay in touch with them between loan transactions. The only way to do this effectively is with a database tool.

If you have any fear about building your database or don’t consider yourself to be “good with systems”, you should stop thinking that way. It can be what stands between you and high sales volume, as well as a quality life/work balance. Most of today’s contact management tools are much easier to use and navigate than ever – and that’s great news. A contact management tool can be something as basic as an Excel spreadsheet or Outlook or something more robust like the ACT! contact relationship management (CRM) tool.

Below are 7 tips for building your database. Go at this task with confidence and get help when you need it!

Top 7 Tips for Building Your Database from Scratch:

  1. Start with the list of names and numbers in your phone and email system. Add them into your database.
  1. If you have any hard files or printed applications transfer those contacts into your database. Sound time consuming? Hire your kid, one of your friends’ kids, post the project on local college job boards, Craigslist, or any of the many job sites on the internet.  Depending on your comfort level, you can give them direct login access, have them enter data, and then change your password for security reasons afterwards.  A tip is that after you show them what you need, check the results after they enter about 10 names with contact information to make sure there is nothing missed or incorrect. You do not want to wait until the project is done to find out they were entering information incorrectly. Not comfortable with someone accessing your database directly? You can still scan and send your hard files over a secure online document center like www.Hightail.com , and have them manually enter the information to an Excel spreadsheet which you could then import into your database. There are many loan officers that have a variety of separate Excel files with contact information. Hire someone to compile them into 1 cohesive Excel worksheet for easier data import.
  1. Gather names, address, email and phone information from your family, friends, work out buddies from the gym, people from your church or place of worship, community groups, and more. Simply let them know what you do and ask for their permission to send them mortgage and financial strategies tips from time to time.
  2. Start with people you know, then network to get to the people they know! Ask your relatives and friends for the contact information for any of their friends, co-workers, and other acquaintances that they feel comfortable sharing with you.
  1. Utilize social media. Before you start, make sure you have social media pages you are happy with. Facebook and LinkedIn pages should be enticing, professional and clear. These sites need to highlight your skills in helping people realize their dreams of property ownership. If you are not a marketing or social media expert, good news! As mentioned in item 2, http://www.Fiverr.com is a great resource for projects. Use search keywords like “Improve” and “Consult” along with the social media site you need help with and see the long list of results that show up. For example “Improve my LinkedIn page”.  Again,most projects are only $5.00!

    Next, search social media sites for anyone you have crossed paths with, even if they do not live in your market area. Ask to be their friend in Facebook and ask to link to them in LinkedIn. Your contact may not be local but may know someone who is. While that contact may not be a great lead or referral source right now, they have the potential to become one.

    You would be surprised how getting the word out about the services you offer,without holding back, will help create new leads.

  1. Branch Out. Perhaps you have heard mixed reviews on getting involved with networking functions and groups. However, do not let the experiences of some people deter you from having your own. One of the most well-known networking groups is http://www.bni.com. Business Networking International (BNI) is one the largest worldwide companies that offers meetings and services to connect professionals and business owners in a particular community. Even better is to join groups that you are passionate about and then take opportunities to offer your services, such as veterans assistance groups, hospital volunteer groups, animal rescue groups, bike clubs, book clubs, the list is endless. Your passion for the cause or group comes first. Getting new business from the group is secondary. This will absolutely expose you to more opportunities to help others with the expertise you offer.

    Procure another mortgage originator’s or real estate agent’s database. Do you know of a mortgage professional or realtor that is about to move or retire? If so, they may be willing to sell you their database, along with a co-branded transition and introduction email to their entire database. This is a powerful way to get qualified leads that are usually immediately open to checking out you and your services.

 

We can help you with any of your contact database management and marketing needs. Contact us today to learn more!

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. Reach Donna at info@proassistmarketing.com, or (760) 434-3431.

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Why a “Drip” Is Hip – 5 Important Factors in Support of the Drip Marketing method

In ACT!, Drip Marketing, Marketing tools for loan officers, Mortgage on April 24, 2015 at 12:37 am

When it comes to marketing and staying in contact with your current or prospect customers and referral partners, there is no magic bullet that will perfectly reach out to each person in your database at exactly the moment they need help with a loan transaction.  Considering the value of your time and money compared to the reward, one of the most effective sales/marketing methods currently available is drip marketing.

Drip marketing began shortly after email technology became prevalent around the world. Drip marketing should not be confused with SPAM! Drip marketing is a system that is designed to send relevant and interactive content that informs your clients and associates based on where they are in the sales process.

Ask yourself this question: Do you have the time to create and provide customized client-specific articles to each and every contact regarding specific lending opportunities or items of interest? Do you have time to create and send out customized Realtor articles to each of your current and prospect Realtors in your database on a one-on-one basis? The fact is no one has time for this type of high-touch sales nurturing, especially considering every single person that visits your website sends you an email, has done business with you in the past, finds you via Google, LinkedIn, ActiveRain, property search, loan program search, or met you at a conference or networking event.

This is where drip marketing takes the crown as the top marketing and sales technique used by mortgage lenders and myriad other business models – because it gives you the ability to stay on the minds of your contacts/customers, and keeps them on your business radar.

These are some of the most important factors that support the decision to implement a drip marketing campaign for your business:

# 1 – It is critical to stay in touch with your prospects, customers, and referral partners.
There is a huge marketplace for just about every service and product in existence. If you do not consistently stay in touch with your contacts, there is an incredibly high probability that you will lose them.  This is true not only because they are likely being constantly contacted by competitors, but also because if you let these contacts fall off your communication radar, it sends a message that they are not important to you and your business.

# 2 – Consistency is key.
Imagine a desert – it is an intensely hot and arid terrain. Rain showers are few and far between, but when they come they flood the landscape, plants begin to grow and life is abundant. This spark of growth is very short lived as the intense sun begins to beat down on the terrain again and the vegetation immediately dries up and dies. Does this scenario sound like your current marketing efforts?  Do you remember you should be ‘doing something’ to market your services, so you get an article or two sent out to hundreds of people, and then over the next weeks or months or years…nothing is sent out?

The contact that is not ready to do business with you today may be ready next month, or in 2 years, or at “XX” time in the future. If they do not hear from you consistently, they will forget about you. The best approach is steady, thoughtful “stay in touch” contact with your customers, not a flood every once in a while in between long periods of drought.

# 3 – It is impossible to stay in touch with your customers by phone or ‘ad hoc’ individual emails and remain competitive.

The time that it takes to make a single thoughtful phone call or write an email to a client seems like no big deal. But multiply that single person by the number of people you have in your entire business database and we begin to see some serious work hours. Hours that no business model can spare when there are so many sales to lock in, active pipeline issues, as well as Realtors and referral partners to develop sales strategies with.

#4  – Availability. Thanks to technology, sophisticated drip email marketing systems are available to everyone with an internet connection.

Not too long ago, only large corporations were able to spend the incredible amounts of money necessary to constantly reach out to customers.  This was mostly done through mailings, radio and TV commercials.  Small businesses and sole proprietors were very limited in their revenue growth potential because without the proper funds to invest in mailings, TV or radio marketing, their reach into the market was confined and restricted – never mind the quality of their product or service.

Boy, have times changed! There are many database and marketing solutions available to take you from a flood/drought marketing method to a sensible, effective and consistent “stay in touch” technique without requiring lots of ongoing time, effort, or expense.

#5 – Internet and email is pervasive in Western culture: Shouldn’t your business be too?
The internet is everywhere. It’s free at restaurants and coffee shops, and cheap and available to the masses. And with the recent net-neutrality win with the FCC it will only become more so. With these changes coming fast, email (and social media) marketing remains the lowest-cost and highest-yield method for communication and marketing. Since some email marketing tools on the market include an option to automatically post email drip campaign content to your social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, you are able to market your business through two major channels at no extra time or cost.

In any economic climate drip marketing is a proven method for helping to drive in new business, as well as providing ongoing nurturing of your relationship with prospects, current customers, past customers and referral partners.

If you still aren’t quite convinced you should implement drip marketing, all you have to do is ask yourself:  What am I doing to keep in touch with the 85% of my prospects who aren’t ready to move forward with a purchase or refinance today, but will likely be ready at some point in the future?

Want an automated drip campaign system for your Clients and Realtors turned on by tomorrow? ProAssist Marketing is a ready-to-go solution for you that incorporates the unique and relevant monthly Loan Officer Magazine articles into an automated drip system for you.  Please check it out at: http://www.proassistmarketing.com/

Free Stuff. As a special bonus, sign up for a free 60-day E-Marketing trial through the site below, and get one consulting and training session for free, PLUS your first billable month basic subscription fee is covered by Q2 Database Consulting Services.

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.

Data Centralization – Get it Together!

In ACT!, CRM, Database Management, Goldmine, Loan Officer, Loan Origination Software, Mortgage on February 25, 2013 at 11:44 pm

It is not uncommon to have data in multiple locations, this is especially true in the mortgage industry where your company may or not provide you with data/contact management tools beyond Loan Origination software. Regardless of the tools your company provides, if you wish to keep a record of your contacts over your career, and/or want to do all or some of your own data mining and marketing, your own central database is a must.

This article includes both a Concept and Implementation section. I wanted to provide you with both Best Practices guidelines as well instructional tips on how to implement. Sometimes further instruction or assistance is needed; however, I do my best to point you in the right directi I will be referring to ACT! as the database tool, however the same basic strategies apply regardless of the database system you are using.

CONCEPT:

Whether you are new to the mortgage industry, or are a veteran loan officer, it is very important to have a real and manageable strategy and everyday protocol for getting and keeping all your contacts and their information in one database.

You should look at your database as the central nervous system of your business. This means all your contact info in one spot from day 1 in the business until you retire and sell your database. It doesn’t matter where you work, it doesn’t matter how many times you change where you work, and it doesn’t matter where you think you may work in the future, you should always have your own database of contacts and information available. You may have a specific agreement with your company management about obtaining and recording information which may impact this, and I am not suggesting you circumvent this, however, in general, you should have a central database for your contacts and related information.

Everyone in the pool

All of your contacts, regardless of type (yes even personal) should go into 1 central database.

This includes; Borrower prospects,in process, and closed, referral partners both prospect and current ( ie Real Estate Agents, CPAs, Financial Planners etc), your vendors (ieAppraisers, Title Reps, Builders etc) ,as well as your personal contacts. Anyone that you may potentially be in contact with, regardless of their role, should be in your database. In terms of personal contacts , in ACT! you can mark these private so if you are working with a team or have an assistant, you are the only one with visibility to these contacts and their information.

Wait ! What if you have different pivots to your business ? For example, what if you are a Loan Officer but also have a separate business tangent such as being a Financial Planning Advisor ? Same answer, in almost every case, regardless of the different tangents of the business you are running, all contacts and database management should be done from 1 central database.

With everyone in the same database, how do I find what I need ?

Managing all your contacts in one central database is step one. A close second is database organization which I address in my next article for Database Organization.

IMPLEMENTATION:

Getting your Data into your Database – Does it have to feel like herding cats ?

Herding Cats

If you are just starting out in gathering your data, the answer is yes. At least initially, gathering all your data can feel like herding cats. If you have contact information, and any loan information pertinent to those contacts in a variety of places, you usually end up working in a disjointed manner until you get them all into 1 place. You may have information in one or more of these places: Outlook, XLS Spreadsheets, Encompass, Point, or virtually any other loan origination software, Word documents, PDF, or even hard copy (cringe )

As I mentioned earlier, for the purposes of this article I will be referring to the ACT! database solution when outlining specific instructions. If you use another type of database system, I may be able to provide you some specific guidelines, or you can contact your own database tool support staff for assistance. The most common places you may have your contact and any related loan information are listed below.

Outlook. You can import contacts and your calendar from Outlook to ACT!. There is a wizard that assists you in doing this one time. In newer ACT! versions, you can also set this up to auto synch. I strongly recommend only synching one way (ie from Outlook to ACT!), as with a 2 way synch, you will likely end up with duplicate records. The instructional article(s) that address these can be found at:

Synch Outlook contacts to ACT!:
http://kb.sagesoftwareonline.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/13907

Synch Outlook contacts and calendar to ACT!: http://kb.sagesoftwareonline.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/27076/kw/outlook%20synchronization/related/1

These links are subject to change. If a link does not work, try Googling something like “How to Import Outlook contacts and calendar into Sage ACT!”

Looking ahead. Best practices for keeping the link between your Phone,Outlook, and ACT! smooth is to have a direct auto synch between ACT! and your phone so adding contacts and working with the calendar is consistently synergized in a clean manner between the two. You would still use Outlook for email management since your emails can be auto linked to your ACT! database from Outlook,and then use your phone and ACT! only for your contact management and calendar.

ACT Import Wizard New
ACT! Import Wizard Figure. Find in ACT! by going to File – Import and then select Next

Loan Origination Software. Unless your LOS is proprietary, and/or your management team will not authorize exports, you can usually create a report or export from your LOS that includes borrower info for import into your database. You would need the file in CSV format, or with newer versions of ACT!, you can import directly from Excel. It is important to format the information before importing to get the results you want. For example, in ACT!, contact name is one field which contains both first and last name. If your export file has first and last name in two separate fields, they would need to be combined before importing. Also, turn off duplicate checking in ACT! as it would potentially merge contacts with the same first and last name.

Automatic LOS to ACT! synch. We offer a service to set up an auto synch from your LOS to your ACT! database. This provides an auto synch of your loan file to ACT! as the file is updated through the loan process. The auto synch provides the most consistency and is a significant time saver. It is also a very flexible solution which means that if your company changes LOS, and/or you move to a different company that uses a different LOS, your synch can usually just be updated and the auto synch continued.

Excel or CSV. The import wizard in ACT! , mentioned in the Outlook section above, will allow you to import data from these file types into ACT!.As noted in the Loan Origination Software section,you will need to format the data first to make sure it matches the field types etc in ACT! before importing. You would also want to turn off duplicate checking in ACT! before the import.

The instructional article(s) that address this can be found at :
http://kb.sagesoftwareonline.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/26828/kw/IMPORT%20EXCEL%20ACT!%202013
These links are subject to change. If a link does not work, try Googling something like “How to Import Contact Data from an Excel®, Comma Delimited (CSV), or Text Delimited (TXT) File into Sage ACT!”

Hard Copy. Gulp…right, no fun really. There are two basic approaches here:
One is manual data entry. Some LOs will do this in the evenings while in front of the T.V. Others will hire a temp to get it done. A college job board is a great way to find a resource to help you with this type of project. If you have someone other than yourself do it, I recommend checking their work frequently, at least at first. I have had LO’s hand over the reins to a temp or assistant without much guidance or quality control and find themselves having to not only re-enter information, but also unravel updates and mistakes the person did to other areas of their database.

The other is to try and take advantage of some technologies that will convert scanned documents to Excel or CSV. You would scan your hard copy files and then use a convertor to get the data into an importable format. I recommend you Google something like “Convert scanned document to excel” to find one of these products. Make sure you just try to scan one or two documents and then converting to see how it comes out before importing to your database.

Rock Your Database!

Q2 Database Consulting Services can assist you with veritably every need you have around your Contact Management and Marketing needs. Please call or email today, we would be honored to assist you !

Author: Donna Quisenberry
Q2 Database Consulting Services
donnaquisenberry@sbcglobal.net
http://www.q2dbconsulting.com/
760 434 3431

Donna has been providing expert database consulting services, specializing in solutions and implementation for mortgage professionals, since 2001. She serves teams ranging in size from 1 Loan Officer to teams with over 1000 Loan Officers. Q2 Database Consulting provides ACT! Hosting as well as ACT! Strategies, Licensing, Implementation, Customization, Automated Data Synchronization, Data Imports, Upgrades, ,Marketing Strategies, Turn Key Automated Marketing, Training, Troubleshooting and Support