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Posts Tagged ‘contact manager’

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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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

Which CRM is The Best ?

In ACT!, CRM, Database Management, Goldmine on May 7, 2010 at 5:06 pm

I am often asked ‘Which Database System / CRM is the Best ?’.

I have been a contact management and marketing database consultant for over 12 years and serve my clients best by being agnostic about database solutions. In other words,although I have certifications and experience with specific CRM solutions,I am always assessing new solutions that are released,as well as re-visiting solutions that were not up to snuff previously but may have improved over time. I consider it a key value to my clients to be able to objectively assess and compare solutions in order to recommend the best fit for a client at any given time. There are so many solutions, and so many important elements within each solution, that it can be extremely intimidating and confusing to navigate the sea of database applications and tools. In addition, any tool of real value must continually evolve to remain relevant from both a business and technology standpoint. Many times, a user or an entire organization will ‘flip’ their existing system for something new because they feel their current application is too hard to use and / or does not have the feature set they require. Approximately 80% of the time, the system in place is completely sufficient to meet and exceed their business needs and a ‘flip’ into another system is unnecessary and usually costly.

The first key is ‘What database solution is currently in place and how much training have you completed for that system ?.’ Proper setup and training requires a short-term but notable time commitment from each user in order to execute a successful database management launch. This element is often overlooked because users want to save money and /or feel they are too busy to spend a lot of time on training. The reality is that no matter what system you use, it will often be an almost complete waste of money if you do not execute a formal training plan. The training plan does not have to be expensive or require a long term commitment; however, it cannot be overlooked or minimized. In many cases, with focused training and sometimes minor customization to an existing system, database management needs are completely resolved.

Outlined below is a high level summary of some of the most popular database management solutions available.
Windows Solutions:

ACT! – ACT! by Sage Software remains one the most popular and widely used database solutions. At this time, there are over 2.8 million ACT! users. ACT!’s reputation for being one of the easiest systems to learn is well earned. It is a highly customizable system with a pleasing user interface aka ‘pleasant curb appeal’. With millions of users worldwide, this is a solution with staying power. Beyond having a full feature set that provides for contact tracking, historical documentation, calendaring, email , marketing and reporting, ACT! has a strong development company behind it that will keep it relevant for the long term. It is critical that the software you use not only meets your needs from a feature set standpoint, but also offers extensive support options. In addition you should have a solution that is developed and supported by a company with enough resources to keep it compatible with major operating systems (ie Microsoft) over the long haul. On-going relevance as well as long-term development and support strength is a critical element when considering solutions. This is why I do not recommend ‘boutique’ solutions developed by smaller companies until perhaps that solution has a very wide and satisfied install base and has proven itself over a significant amount of time.

Goldmine – Goldmine by FrontRange is also a widely used solution. Compared to ACT!, Goldmine tends to have a longer learning curve. This is partially due to the fact that Goldmine offers a bit of a richer feature set than ACT! so there is just more available to learn. However, these additional features are usually not mission-critical to getting the results desired. A distinct difference between these top 2 rivals, ACT! and Goldmine, is the fact that Goldmine comes with an automation feature that allows for the set up of automated marketing (ie auto letter printing, auto email and task scheduling), ACT! does not come with this feature. However, automated marketing can be attained very successfully with ACT! using 3rd party automation or campaign products. There are also some areas in Goldmine that are a bit more cumbersome than ACT!. For example, more navigation routes and mouse clicks are required to manage email and letter templates in Goldmine than in ACT!. In addition, doing lookups or filtering is much more intuitive in ACT! vs Goldmine. The newer pricing and maintenance policies has been difficult for Goldmine users, especially single users and small teams, when compared to ACT!. Goldmine licenses are more expensive that ACT! licenses. This is true both historically and at the time this article was written. In addition, FrontRange has a mandatory annual maintenance payment policy that is considered extreme by many users and consultants alike. If the annual maintenance payment lapses, you have to pay not only for that given year, but for every year you have not paid maintenance, as well as a penalty fee. In other words, maintenance fees are forced on the user even if the user never contacts FrontRange for support.

Microsoft BCM (Business Contact Manager) – Admittedly I have not deployed this myself for any client to date and my knowledge is based on product documentation and/or actual users that provided me direct feedback about their experiences with the product. The compelling reason that I have not recommended this product is that it is just not as feature rich as ACT! or Goldmine…yet. Knowing Microsoft, I have faith that the BCM product will continue to evolve and give ACT! and Goldmine a run for their money, however, it is not in the cards today. A couple of examples is that BCM is installed with your local Outlook on the C drive. This means it does not serve as a collaboration tool for multi-user situations. In other words, an entire team cannot see one master database on a server and have the type of visibility and synergy a team can have with ACT! or Goldmine. Another example is that History details are not as accessible, if you want to see details of a meeting, call etc you must print a separate Journal or report.

SageCRM/SalesLogix – A beautiful solution, very feature rich with everything ACT! or Goldmine offers and more. The workflow /automation feature is state of the art. Proven interface with accounting and other business unit type software allows for a true end-to-end solution. The issue is cost. You will spend approximately 4 times as much just to get out of the gate with this product vs. ACT! or Goldmine. Notwithstanding the interface capabilities with other types of software (ie accounting etc), you can get database management results very close to SalesLogix with an ACT! or Goldmine solution.

Web Based Solutions:

ACT! for Web – This solution is a winner for users who need anytime/anywhere access to their contact management system. This is also a very efficient deployment scenario for larger teams since the setup time and deployment per user is very fast and efficient. This is because the CRM software does not need to be installed on the users local machine. There are 2 electronically provided connectors that are very easy for any user to download in order to interface with MS Outlook and Word. One difference to be aware of when using this, or any other Web based solution, is that fact that due to pages needing to load when you navigate etc, you will not get the same speed as you would with a Windows based product. This is normally not something that is a roadblock, we are talking seconds and 1/2 seconds here, but it is important to note from a user expectation. In addition,because it is a web user interface, some tasks may take more clicks than in the Windows version. One example is that you cannot drag calendar items around to reschedule. You must click the edit button and then make the change. One other consideration with any Web based product is whether or not you want to invest in any new hardware or hardware upgrades to host,backup, and maintain the database yourself,or if you would prefer to have the database and all the daily maintenance tasks taken care of by a hosting company. I have a partnership with a Class IV server facility that allows me to provide this hosted database service. Class IV is currently the highest rating for a hosting facility in terms of security. More and more users and teams are going this route because it removes all the responsibilities of managing hardware and the database off of the user and /or the IT organization.

SalesForce.com – Salesforce does look very attractive in the beginning with its seemingly low, upfront cost. But over the lifetime of the solution, the add on charges for additional subscriptions, access, and basic services really start to add up. This is one of the most significant and frustrating downfalls based on customer feedback. Salesforce charges you heavily as your requirements grow. For example, Group Edition does not accommodate more than 5 users, and if you want to add a 6th, you are forced to jump subscription levels and go from $8.25 per user per month for Group Edition to the $65.00 per user per month for Professional Edition—that’s over a 750% increase. Offline access is not available for Salesforce Group Edition and is an extra cost option for Professional Edition, increasing the cost to $90 per user per month. Data storage is limited to only 20MB for each user. After that, you will have to pay $1,500 per year for 500MB. Salesforce limits you to only one access method to your critical customer data—on-demand over the Internet. Imagine your team at a complete stand-still while Salesforce is down due to service disruptions, upgrades, and Internet outages.

Some single user and small team companies have gotten around the issue of database access anytime/anywhere by using a remote access service such as gotomypc.com or logmein.com

Automated Synchronization Solutions – Linking Disparate Systems – Automated Synchronization with other systems including but not limited to Loan Origination Software, Accounting software etc.

In a ‘perfect’ world, everyone would all be able to work from one system on a daily basis to run an entire business. There are some ‘mega system’ solutions that are Oracle based for example that can do the true end to end management,however, the price points are so high that these solutions are only realistic for mega sized companies. At this point there is nothing available,at least at a price point that is reasonable for small to large businesses, that will handle every single business aspect under the umbrella of one system.
For example, many mortgage teams need an automated synchronization between their Loan Software (ie Point, Encompass etc) and their contact management database. This is a significant solution from not only a time-savings and ROI standpoint, but also from a data integrity perspective. The marketing (automated or manual) and reporting strategies that reap significant ROI impact for your business are reliant on data integrity in your contact management system. Duplicate data entry either just does not happen at all, or opens the door to inconsistent or erroneous data. We have solutions for these automated synchronization and marketing needs. By the way, whether you have a locally installed database or a hosted Web solution (ACT! or iGoldmine)there is a way to set up an automated synchronization bridge with your Loan Software and/or set up automated marketing.

The Best Database Management Solution is the one with a proven track record that you will use to complete key contact management strategies (ie contact tracking, historical documentation, calendaring, email , marketing, reporting, etc). The key is that whatever system you chose,you must take the time and effort to be properly trained with Best Practice standard to get the most benefit from the system. I have had hundreds of users over the years lament that they have had their database around for while but they know they are not using it to its full tracking and marketing potential. In fact many were just using it to print labels for their holiday cards in December and maybe some light history tracking. The key is to take your database seriously enough to get some expert help if you are not using it to its full potential. Being proficient with your database in terms of tracking information and using it as a marketing tool is no longer a ‘nice to have’, it is a ‘need to have’.

If you are at a crossroads, either you have no database management system, or you are unhappy with your current system or your lack of knowledge with your system, you should leverage the expertise of an experienced database consultant expert. This should be someone who has long term experience in more than one solution to help analyze your needs and arm you with accurate ‘real world’ information so you can make the best decision.

Note: The observations provided herein are the opinions of Donna Quisenberry and are not to be construed otherwise. These observations are subject to change as the solutions noted herein change. This article is confidential to Donna Quisenberry and is not to be copied or distributed without express written consent..

Donna Quisenberry
Q2 Database Consulting Services
donnaquisenberry@sbcglobal.net
P  760 434 3431