Consider this episode your one-stop shop for top strategies and tactical methods to help your organization drive deal flow and become a growth engine. In this special three-part feature episode, Total Expert‘s Chief Lending Officer Dan Catinella joins Joe Welu and discusses how to create growth opportunities. Discover how to (1) protect your pipeline and improve conversions, (2) become a customer-for-life company, and (3) elevate the quality of your communications. With the purchase market showing no signs of slowing down, implementing these best practices will enable your organization to thrive in 2023 and beyond. Don’t miss this opportunity to gain valuable insights and take your business to the next level.
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Best Practices For Maximizing Growth With Dan Catinella
It‘s good to be with you all. I’m joined by Dan Catinella, our Chief Lending Officer. How are you doing, Cat?
I’m good, Joe. I’m glad to be here.
It’s good to be with you. Our topic is talking about the best practices for maximizing growth. You and I have been involved in a lot of strategic conversations with executives, top producers, and partners. The conversation all rolls up to what the levers are that we have to unlock deal flow, unlock opportunities, and unlock growth. I thought after our conversation that sharing some of these best practices would be helpful. This is part one of this series on best practices for maximizing growth. I wanted to talk about protecting your pipeline and improving conversions. It’s something that we see a lot about. Maybe start by giving me your perspective on what you see as the gaps for a lot of organizations.
I would start by saying we all know we’re in a heavy purchase market for sure. We know that there are significant affordability challenges. We know that first-time homebuyers are making up a significant portion of that purchase business. We’re seeing the top lenders all lead with education. They’re making sure that they look at their communication from the time they initially obtain that prospect, all the way through that top of the funnel. They’re educating them and advising them with the right content and information to help them get over those barriers of entry, and understand mortgage readiness or homebuyer readiness. Also, make sure they understand the things they should be doing and shouldn’t be doing like, “Don’t go out and buy that $70,000 F-150.”
Those things are $80,000. Every car is $80,000 or more.
The average auto loan now is around $70,000.
You used to be able to buy a house for that. Under a great starting point or under the umbrella of protecting your pipeline and maximizing your conversion, we see slippage and fallout. We have an audit that we have done historically for customers and identifying the gaps where they lose opportunities. At the beginning of the process, when somebody applies and fills out a lead form, a lot of those people end up hitting the trashcan.
What you referenced was that lack of personal consistent communication and a lack of high–quality education about the process. Another way to say that is a lack of providing value. If the consumer is not feeling value early in that funnel, the odds of them walking into an open house, getting called by consumer–direct lenders, and getting peeled off somewhere in your pipeline are extremely high.
We all know this but people want to deal with people that they trust. People that are educating them and feeding them information and educational content are going to naturally gravitate to the trust realm. How do you build trust as quickly as possible at that top of the funnel so that you’re viewed as the expert to do business with? You’re not solely looking at or measured on the interest rate that you can offer to the street on that particular day.
I want to talk about a couple of very specific things that we have seen to be best practices for maximizing the pull–through of your pipeline and conversion, and then ultimately protecting that pipeline. Protecting that pipeline includes using intelligence and data to understand if they’re shopping for you. One of the key things we have seen move the needle for lenders that we partner with is leveraging customer intelligence or data insights around triggers and credit behavior.
If I take an application from a consumer and they’re in a dormant status, meaning they didn’t move through or they didn’t find a house yet, you ideally want to be monitoring those consumers. It’s 4, 5, or 6 months and they walk into an open house or call a listing agent. Maybe there had been enough time and they don’t necessarily have that tight bond, but now another lender is coming at them hard. You want to surface that. You want to know that. We have seen that move the needle 5 to 10 percentage points in some cases. Give me your thoughts on that. You’ve been deeply involved in this.
We’re using data intelligence to understand when to engage the customer at the right time. We know that the prospecting stage and the homebuyer shopping stage can last 6 to 9 months. Some buyers even give up and then reengage after a year. They’re looking at the entire prospect portfolio that you’ve serviced. When they’re re-engaging even potentially another lender, that gives you another at-bat to gain that prospect and convert them into a transaction. Credit inquiry would be number one. Listing alerts is number two. Maybe they got off the market and then listed their home a year later. You may not have transacted it through last time, but you get another at-bat now because you’re monitoring that prospect with intelligence.
The question we always start with when we’re having strategic conversations is this. What do your numbers look like if you improved your conversion by 20%? Do the math. It’s not that difficult to get there. A couple of the things that make a difference are the amount, the quality, the frequency, and the variety of communication. Do you incorporate videos and texts? Are you hitting the other parties? If it’s already in the transactional stage, are you communicating with all of the relevant parties?
Those are some of the key components. The components that we spoke about are the customer intelligence and the data side of things, and making sure that you have a source that is surfacing that in front of your salesperson and your originator. We have worked in the lending space for many years. What’s the classic thing that happens? I‘m super great as a salesperson if somebody is ready to go now, next month, or maybe in 60 days. Where we see the dropoff is 90 days. There’s some variation in the data but the trend is showing overwhelmingly that the average sales cycle is becoming much longer than 90 days.
Beyond those 90 days, you have to do certain things on behalf of your originators and salespeople to make sure that the customer is in the best position possible. That includes sounding the alarm bell if they’re shopping with another lender, putting that in front of the originator with what you need to do, and then also enabling the originator with, “Here’s some high–quality communication, content, and automation framework,” so that they don’t have to think about this stuff every day. Did I miss anything there? Is that generally how we’re thinking about it?
The only thing that I would add is to make sure that you touched on the other parties. A real estate agent is a key component of this purchase market. Those are insights that real estate agents don’t have. Bringing that intelligence and having those conversations with the real estate agent could be super meaningful to build a better relationship and strengthen that relationship with that real estate agent. You can maximize the business you’re getting from them.
It’s protecting your pipeline and maximizing your conversion as a growth lever. We talk about some of these best practices. You and I are passionate about them. We talk to a lot of organizations and help them with strategic planning and those types of things. Everybody is trying to save on costs. They don’t want to spend more on marketing. They want to spend more on other things.
One of the natural things is, “Let’s maximize everything we have in front of us and make fewer mistakes.” It’s shocking the amount of net new business that you can generate by putting some of those best practices in place. That’s a great perspective on some tactical and very prescriptive things that you can do as an organization to maximize that pull–through or conversion, and protect the pipeline. Use data to monitor it, improve communication, and be purposeful and intentional about looking at how you’re incubating those homebuyers over not just 2 to 3 months, but 12 to 18 months. What else are we missing? What other suggestions do you have?
One thing that we haven’t talked about is you have customers that come to you and get pre-qualified. You have customers that go down the vanilla path and get qualified. They can move forward. You’re going to generate a pre-approval with them. You have customers that maybe you can’t qualify for a variety of reasons. The number one reason that customers do not qualify initially is with credit.
It’s making sure that you have established credit improvement journeys and educational content on increasing that score. Also, make sure that you’re using intelligence to monitor that. When that consumer does improve their credit, follows that educational content, and gets their credit up to a certain level, they could come back to you for approval. You’re aware of that. You can reengage the customer at the right time and communicate through automated marketing in the right way.
Those are great things. We’re also looking at maturing some of our DTI. That would be the number two reason. They don’t qualify because of some student loan debt or their income areas. Maybe they get a promotion. We’re making sure that we understand when those consumers that didn’t initially qualify now hit the threshold, that you can reengage them. That’s a large portion of the originators’ prospect pipeline that is hitting the trashcan.
That’s such a great point when you think about it. When you go into conversations that we have worked with historically, many of the organizations talk about maximizing conversions. That is always a blind spot. They don’t necessarily look at that as a conversion lever or as an opportunity to increase conversion. It’s declined. The sales teams or customer–facing teams historically put those over here. Maybe they send it somewhere but they don’t ever think about it again.
What you’re saying is using data, insights, and intelligence to surface that opportunity back, in addition to some good high–quality educational content about homebuyer readiness along the way. When those things are added up, they can move the needle. We talk about one of our goals, “Let’s improve your conversions by 20%.” That includes over the long haul. That’s well said. I appreciate your feedback here. I’m excited to continue talking about these topics and sharing some of these best practices.
The interesting part is we continue to see it week over week. There are two camps out there. There are the people that are ducking, covering, and going into, “I‘m going to cut to the bone and play defense,“ which is arguably important in some cases. There are the people that are saying, “I get it. The market has changed. I‘m going to play offense and find ways to unlock growth.”
These best practices that we’re sharing are very much in the camp of, “How do we unlock growth without raising costs?” In software and SaaS, as we call it internally, everybody talks all the time about the lifetime value of the customer. How many times have you heard lenders, banks, or organizations use the word lifetime value of a customer?
The trick is how you execute that. We know the cheapest customer to acquire is the one you already have. How can you make sure that you’re serving them at every opportunity that you have?
In perspective, I agree with you. All of a sudden, it’s one of the most important initiatives. The thing that’s long–term and sustainable in any market is the strong loyalty of your past customers. Once those past customers get large enough, no matter what’s going on, it’s going to be a growth engine for you. From some perspective, why did it take people so long in lending to start thinking about customer lifetime value as a strategy?
We know what happened two years prior with deals falling from the sky. It always takes a bad market for organizations to realize how to succeed over the long haul. When I have conversations with originators, whether they’re struggling or winning in some capacity, one of the questions I ask them is, “Do you view your database as an appreciating asset?”
I love that question.
I believe every originator should view their database as an appreciating asset if they’re trading it correctly with nowadays technology.Every originator should view their database as an appreciating asset if they're trading it correctly with today's technology. Click To Tweet
That’s such a powerful statement. Let’s unpack that a little bit. The opposite of appreciating is depreciating. If I think about it, if you don’t do the things to take care of those past customers to stay engaging, your value diminishes. That’s what you’re saying.
If you look at a first-time homebuyer now, which makes up the majority of the purchase business entering in 2023, and it looks like it’s going to continue through the year, you should be looking at that first-time homebuyer at about ten transactions.
It’s interesting you say that. In so many other industries, if you think about the legal profession like dentists, doctors, and accountants, the value of their businesses over time is the size of their customer book. In lending, it has always been so transactional because the money is fairly significant at that transaction. It has always been the next deal. We’re now in this environment where you’re thinking about customer–for-life. If you’re smart, you’re doing an audit of your database and saying, “How many opportunities did I miss over the last 12 to 24 months because I didn’t communicate and I didn’t have any insights to tell me what’s happening?” Am I thinking about that correctly?
We know our industry as a whole has a pretty abysmal and embarrassing 22% customer retention rate. When they’re looking at some of these highly marketing consumer-direct engines that have been built in this FinTech era, they’re realizing that to compete with those massive marketing engines, they need to play the same game in some capacity.
As a company, if I want to start getting serious, doubling down on my customer database, becoming a customer–for–life organization, and driving growth with loyalty, where do I start? You have so much depth in the execution side of this, having worked at large lenders for twenty years and putting different strategies in place. Here’s how I think about it based on my perspective. Step one is I need to look at my database and ask, “Do I have things in place to help me understand what’s going on in the world of that customer?”
We talk a lot about customer intelligence as a framework or a concept of deeply understanding the needs of each customer, and then being able to anticipate what’s important to them so that I can be there for every financial milestone. Step one, what kind of intelligence do I have to help me understand what’s happening? Is that step one in your mind?
It’s the more data that you can feed into your database to understand the customer at a very deep level. What was it at the last transaction? The most important thing is how you keep your database as you continue to mature, evolve, and use third-party data sources to understand that consumer situation now, not four years ago when I completed the last transaction. Our goal at Total Expert is to continue to build the most comprehensive financial profile in our system for every customer that exists there. I now know how I can best serve them for the next opportunity based on how their life has changed from the last transaction I did.
That’s the bullseye of what we talk about probably almost every single day. I want to draw some contrasts because the opposite of that is how historically the industry has run. The word “CRM,“ as we both agree, is an outdated word and an outdated framework. I have customer data. Maybe it’s in a spreadsheet or a CRM system somewhere. It’s static. Whatever happened at the last transaction is my view. It’s not dynamic. It’s not changing, yet the customer‘s world, which is what this is all about, is changing all the time. Their needs, their family, and their financial situation are what you’re talking about when you’re saying comprehensive profile.
There are so many things that occur in somebody’s life. Maybe they had a massive increase in high-interest debt but they got a ton of equity in their home. Maybe they turned 62 and you should be educating them about a reverse mortgage. Maybe they got an ARM loan when interest rates skyrocketed. In three years, you’re going to need to reengage them at the right time.
There are so many different aspects of understanding that consumer. As their life, events, and their financial profile change, you make sure that you’re constantly engaging them with the most relevant content. You’re surfacing those opportunities to the originators to reengage face-to-face with meaningful conversations at the right time with the right message, and in the right channel that they choose, whether that’s email, SMS, face-to-face, or phone calls.
Based on what you’re saying, if you have that comprehensive profile and if you want to go big on loyalty as an organization, you have to figure out a way to continue to enhance and enrich those profiles so that you can unlock all that opportunities. That rolls up into your channels of engagement, which is what you’re talking about. That’s a part of that profile too.
I was with the product team. You are involved in a lot of these conversations with the product and engineering team. We‘re talking about all of the work that’s happening. One of the things that are consistently coming up as a priority is how we capture at a macro level or an enterprise level the preferences for each customer, the consent, and the communication channels that I want. We do this now but a lot of our customers are trying to take these things to the next level. Some people are like me. I don’t like getting a lot of phone calls. I prefer to text and then set up a phone call. It’s those types of preferences. Is that part of it?
I’ll use another example and layer it on top of that. It could even be language as well. We have a Hispanic community that’s growing at an astronomical rate. With some of the limited English proficiency and regulations coming out, we need to make sure that we’re prepared to communicate with consumers in the language that they choose as well. Spanish is leading that charge.
We have seen such an impact. We started working with some of our customers to get content in other languages. I didn’t think about how important the difference is. Another topic that we’re both passionate about is believing in expanding the homeownership gap or decreasing the homeownership gap and expanding the amount of Americans that can get homes. That component feeds into that as well and goes into their preference.
Everybody should have access to high-quality educational content to become mortgage-ready. That needs to be consumed no matter what language you speak within America.
It’s shocking when you look at how terrible as an industry we have done collectively. There are some organizations that execute this well but collectively as an industry, we have done poorly in educating consumers. In some cases, it’s educating them on the next transaction as well or helping them understand how a second home or an investment property can build wealth. It’s so transactional. That customer–for–life strategy of maximizing loyalty encompasses all of those things that we talked about. When we think about communication, what can go wrong and why communication can lead to a lack of business versus a business growth driver? Let’s talk about the transaction. What do you see? Unpack it for us.
To me, it always comes down to how personalized you can get that content and that messaging, using data and intelligence to help you segment and deliver the right message to the right consumer in the channel that they choose. There are going to be some consumers that want to be communicated to solely through email. There are going to be ones that want SMS. There are going to be ones that want both. It’s making sure that you can deliver the content through the channels that they choose or that they prefer. Also, make sure that you’re using data and information that you have built on the customer profile to deliver the right content at the right time in a very hyper-personalized way.
That sounds great and amazing. I want to go slightly simpler for a moment. Let’s talk about the transaction process. Where are lenders doing it wrong? Give me an example of what’s not high–quality and where people fail.
Let’s start at the top of the funnel in the prospecting stage. I still see a lot of lenders that are leveraging traditional drip campaigns. It’s very generic content, “We took your application. I’m going to give you this series of five emails that are going to give you some generic information about the transaction.” What I’m seeing the best lenders do is segment those prospective customers.The best lenders segment their prospect customers. Click To Tweet
Maybe there’s a specific first-time homebuyer series of content that is geared towards a high-touch experience for those first-time homebuyers that we know need a lot more education than repeat buyers. Maybe it’s somebody at the top of the funnel that didn’t credit qualify. You’re going to segment those customers into a credit improvement journey to educate them along the way.
To clarify, when you say drip campaign, you’re talking one-directional, “I‘m pushing a message out in a series of timed milestones.” On the opposite of that, we talk a lot about intelligent automation and the power of a perfect customer journey. You’re using intelligence the entire way to look at how the customer engaged with you. Did they open? Did they read it? Did they respond? What did they do? You’re able to change the action, the message, and the channel based on whatever they did or didn’t do. That’s intelligent. That’s the opposite of a drip. A lot of people think that a drip campaign is a customer journey and it’s not.
I would add one more layer deep. Maybe they not only engage in a certain way or set their preferences in a certain way. Maybe their transaction went on to the next stage. It’s making sure that’s feeding into the platform and altering that journey to the next stage in the process to educate them on the next stage of the transaction.
Here’s one of the things that we have talked a lot about in some of the strategic planning sessions that I’ve been a part of. We go deep on this topic. I‘m interested in your feedback. If I think about a normal transaction process, you’ve got a point of sale system and I apply, what we see is not high quality. In that POS process, there’s a basic outbound reminder. The reminder is super generic. They have a reminder for maybe 60 days, 30 days, 90 days, or whatever it is. It doesn’t have any depth. It doesn’t combine text and video. Am I unpacking that? That’s my perspective. Is that what you’re seeing as well?
Absolutely. The days when you get a flat text via email or SMS with no value-driven content are not what consumers expect these days.
I want to look at it from the consumer’s perspective for a moment. We talked in the last episode about building a customer–for–life company, which is something we’re both passionate about. Your leading indicator of how well you’re going to do with the next transaction or if you’re going to get an at-bat is the experience the customer has with you during the transaction. Much of that experience and how they feel at the end of the process is how your organization and you communicated with them.
We see points of failure where it doesn’t feel personalized. It doesn’t feel empathetic. It doesn’t feel like you have context. It’s like, “You’re a number. You’re a transaction. You’re in my engine. See you later.” We have seen some of the better organizations automate communication that does feel authentic and personal. Do you want to talk a little bit about that and some of the things you’ve seen?
Video is a big component of where we’re putting a lot of focus. How do you deliver a very personalized experience? People want to deal with people. They want to work with people. They trust people. You’re going to trust the company brand as well but first and foremost, people work with people and trust people.
Be data–driven but be human-centric.
A lot of the top organizations that we’re seeing that have the best success in building that trust in those lifelong relationships are injecting personalized videos into their customer journeys. For example, instead of giving that flat text general content out to that early-stage funnel, Bob the originator is on video describing the exact point in the process where the consumer is face-to-face through a video. It doesn’t necessarily have to be high-quality but it’s a video experience so that a consumer now sees that Bob is delivering that message to him.
I know the set of customers you’re referring to. It was brilliant. What they did is they have some functionality added to journeys that allowed this to happen. They had the sales teams record a series of basic videos. They’re not mentioning the person’s name but they’re done in a way that feels very authentic. It comes from a point of view of being education–first, “I want to keep you informed. Here’s what’s going to happen,” and explaining the process and the consumer feedback as well because we do different research on the consumer end and see what comes back. That face-to-face makes an impact.
The engagement is magnified greatly, and also the conversion rate, most importantly and significantly.
Improving the quality of that communication and how it sets you up to be a customer-for-life company and leveling up communication across the business can lead to growth. We talked about one of the ways. The next piece I want to talk about is referral partners. We’re in a purchase market for a likely fair bit of time for the most part. A lot of people, first–time homebuyers, and those types of things have agent relationships. Working with and improving your agent relationships is important. Talk to me about the referral partners and where you see people going wrong with setting the stage. Realtor partners, referral partners, and builders can be in there as well.
First and foremost, it comes down to understanding your existing relationships. Which ones are giving you the business? Which ones are converting? You’re making sure that you’re spending your time where it’s most valuable. The best originators that I’ve spoken to have a data-driven approach to understanding which partners are getting their business and which ones are converting into transactions and deals. Hone in on understanding those existing relationships that I do get business from. What does the total wallet share look like so that I can make sure I’m maximizing that existing relationship and getting the most out of that real estate agent’s business or other referral partners?
What you’re saying is, “Do I have the intelligence that tells me what the white space and the opportunity are?“
Also, using that same data lens to understand, “Where do I want to grow my business? What real estate agents are worth my time talking to? How many buy-side transactions are they generating over a certain period? Which ones should I target that most match my business model that I believe I can successfully obtain their business?”
That’s so great. One of the things that I index on when I’m doing sessions and conversations with some of the leadership groups is talking about, “I want to grow my referral partner network.” In my experience in my other life before Total Expert as a real estate agent, I always remember that the lenders that impressed the hell out of me were the ones that had crisp and succinct communication throughout the entire process. For example, if you’re going through the transaction, are you communicating with the seller‘s agent or the agent on the other side, not the agent representing your buyer but the other agent?
If it’s the first time you’re doing a deal with this buyer’s agent, are you communicating in a way that is going to set a standard of excellence with them? They feel, “That was exceptional. You kept me informed. You kept both of my borrowers informed. You kept anybody else involved in the transaction informed. The communication was flawless.” When you have that, it’s a lot easier to go into that conversation after the transaction. When you’ve made them look good in a noticeable way and communicated in a better and more effective way than anybody else has in the last month, that gives you a lead to then ask for that next opportunity. Do you agree? Do you see this?
Every transaction is an opportunity to strengthen the existing relationship with your current real estate agent partner, but also should be looked at as an opportunity to grow and nurture that seller-agent and that listing so that you can try to get their business as well. The best lenders have even post-funding strategies on how you target that listing agent through a series of communications, touchpoints, and engagement activities after the transaction to try to get their business as well as grow their referral partner network.
I always say that it starts with making sure that every originator can define their X factor. What makes them different from every other originator out there? Is that the products you offer? Is that the educational content? Are you helping your agents build business plans as they come into the new year? Are you creating creative strategies for solving affordability issues that are out there? Do you have the right co-branding capabilities to offer agents to help them sell their listings? What are you doing through the lifetime of that transaction to co-brand with the real estate agent to try to bring that consumer back to them when the next opportunity arises?
What’s hitting me as you’re saying all of those things is if you want to be able to do a lot of those things, which can take the relationship to the next level, you better have high–quality communication if you expect the opportunity to then level up with some of the things you spoke about. We see that in the transactional process. We were on the phone working through a strategy session. It was shocking to me that one of the organizations that we were talking with only communicated intermittently with the buyer’s agent. That’s it.
They didn’t have any automation on behalf of their originators out to all the loan participants, which is basic blocking and tackling for high–quality communication. If you think about how that feels to the consumer and the realtor partner if you have good communication through that whole process versus static and not consistent, it’s apples and oranges. It’s game–changing.
You have to include the listing agent in all those communications so that they could see how you’re helping the buyer’s agent that you have a relationship with.
As a leader on the phone, a quick win for your organization is going and looking at your transactional automation that’s going out. A) Is it personalized on behalf of the originator? B) Are you communicating with all transactional parties? If you’re not, there are some fast ways that you can get that done. It’s a game–changer. We’re talking about communication as a growth driver and how it can lead to opportunities. This is one in that people drop the ball a lot and underestimate the importance of it. That is communicating internally with my sales organization and keeping them engaged.
I‘ll give you an example, and I want your feedback on this. I talk with one of the leaders on a regular basis. We were talking about what are they doing that’s working. They’re running a very intentional sales marketing engagement process through their salespeople. They’ve got a calendar of things, topics, and bite-sized content from leadership, marketing, and other parts of the organization.
They’re keeping those salespeople engaged and reminding them of the value the company brings and the tools that are available. That hit me because I’m like, “We probably do a terrible job at some of that.” We do some but that’s an area where a lot of people don’t think about automating and setting up an enterprise–level cadence around communicating with your sales team. Talk to me about that.
I would say a couple of things. One is making sure you’re set up to share success stories within your organization. It’s like table stakes. The market changes rapidly. Using some of your top performers and your mid-performers to elevate what’s working within your organization is key. Communication within your sales organization is super important.
The other thing is making sure that you’re using things that are working and establishing best practices in a systematic approach throughout your organization. Maybe every time I take an application or disclose a transaction, it’s setting a task to follow up on a personalized level within the system. Start to establish those sales best practices systematically and embed them into platforms like Total Expert to make sure you’re doing that across your organization.
We love it if they use us, but whatever your platforms are, you can do some of those things as well.
It’s systematically generating those best practices in a way that you can scale that through your organization and measure those results.
I want to drill in a little bit on one of the points you made here. That was highlighting success stories and what’s working. A big part of your job as a leader is infusing positivity and positive energy into your organization, especially in environments where there are headwinds. What you’re talking about is the energy and the positivity, what winning looks like, and that people are having success. Infusing that into the stream of consciousness in your company is important.
The sales force always wants to hear about what’s working and how people are winning. The more you can distribute that out, it changes the salesforce mindset. It makes it optimistic and makes them go out there and want to win.The sales force always wants to hear about what's working and how people are winning. The more you can distribute it out, it changes the Salesforce mindset. It makes them go out there and want to win. Click To Tweet
Mindset is so critical. We have talked a lot about the two camps. There are two distinct camps, the people that are in fear mode, duck and cover, and the people that are like, “Now is our time for opportunities.” The ones that are embracing the opportunity are being intentional about driving that narrative internally, infusing that energy, and winning. You can only do that with communication. Those are great points. I appreciate the context.
The next segment of communication that I want to talk about and is also important, and I want your perspective on it, is a lot of people confuse marketing, communication, engagement, what’s what, and how it feels. You and I agree that traditional marketing for the purposes of marketing is less effective than it has ever been. People tune you out. When you think about the lenders in the adjacencies, financial planners, accountants, and divorce attorneys, how you communicate with those groups, how you educate them about what’s going on, how you can be helpful, and how you communicate that is going to lead to either opportunity there or not. Unpack that topic for me.
I always frame it as the best salespeople that I’ve ever spoken to always lead with serving over selling. A lot of that is education-driven. How do you position yourselves as the expert in the industry or the mortgage advisor, not the transactional loan officer? That goes beyond real estate agents. How do you expand that network of influence to builders, financial planners, and divorce attorneys? Even some of the best salespeople that I’ve talked to do a fantastic job with affinity relationships. How do I get in with these organizations that I’ve successfully closed deals with? How do I get into their organization and give them unique offerings that they can offer to all their employees?
I had a great talk track. One of our customers that I was talking to was citing an example of a strategy they used. They went into a local business and said, “Would you mind if we communicate to your people some educational content about the power of home ownership, how it impacts their life, and the difference between owning and renting?” I didn’t think about this but the company looked at that as valuable. They want their people investing, staying, putting down roots, and those types of things. I love that example.
A lot of originators that I’ve worked with in the past have periodically wanted to look at their database and say, “Are there any trends by the employers that I’m doing transactions with?” It’s very interesting to look at when you’re in these different local markets. There are typically always some trends. You get some employers and you realized, “I’ve done 50 transactions for this employer.” They bring some of that data. They walk in and say, “I’ve done 50 transactions for your organization. I’m pretty successful. Can I communicate with your broader audience and make sure that I’m serving them and educating them on why home ownership is the right long-term financial approach?” It has worked well.
I love thinking about the power of home ownership on household wealth. We looked at it earlier. The average wealth of a homeowner is 40 times higher but so many people don’t know that.
I love that stat.
It’s huge. Financial health or financial fitness impacts the quality of people’s lives. Communicating that to those groups can be a powerful strategy. We covered a lot of topics on how high–quality communication can be a growth driver. We impacted the transaction, referral partners, and internal sales teams. It’s how you impact and communicate with those organizations, and then also some of these other fringe affinity relationships that you might not be thinking about. Communication is at the center of all of it. Thanks, my friend. This is a great conversation.
Thank you, Joe.
- Dan Catinella – LinkedIn
About Dan Catinella
With 20 years of experience in mortgage technology, Dan Catinella is a seasoned technology executive focused on driving digital transformation through all channels of lending. In an ever-changing digital landscape, Dan keeps a constant pulse on the next innovation that could change the way business is conducted. As Chief Lending Officer for Total Expert, Catinella identifies and develops high-impact innovation strategies that align with the company’s business goals and growth priorities. He works with Total Expert’s customers to dig into the problems they’re looking to solve and aligns Total Expert’s innovation strategy with their business goals.