Lead Conversion

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 18 of Volume I of The Mortgage Professional's Handbook:


Casey Cunningham, CEO & Founder
XINNIX, The Mortgage Academy

You work every day to obtain qualified leads to continue to grow your business.  But how are you doing converting those leads into new customers?  I found that having a conversion strategy is one of the most overlooked growth areas for loan officers.  It is what takes loan officers to the next level when executed properly.

Learning how to improve in this one area will allow you to reduce your hectic pursuit of finding new leads and instead, capture more business from the leads you currently have. After years of being a top loan officer and observing others’ best practices, I have found a critical action to maximize your lead conversion: execute an optimal response strategy. When you execute an optimal response strategy, you will immediately elevate your lead conversion percentage.  The performance increases are staggering and have completely changed top loan officer’s telephone conversations!

There are three components that make up an optimal response strategy:

  •       speed-to-call;     
  •       number of attempted contact; and
  •       time of day. 

Let’s take a closer look at each of these and the numbers behind them.  You might be shocked! For new customer leads, speed-to-call was found to be the single largest driver of lead conversion, if prospect calls were returned within the first two minutes after receiving a lead.  Research from Velocify has determined that returning a call from a new customer within the first 30 minutes was found to produce an average increase of 62 percent in conversion rates, dropping to a 36 percent increase if called within one hour, and to a 17 percent increase if contacted within the first 24 hours.  88 percent of all leads that eventually convert were contacted within the first 24-hours!  You should have one ambition: return every single call as soon as possible!

You probably already know that the client has a sense of loyalty to the person they speak with first.  Establishing yourself as their first contact represents a critical sales advantage.  But I’m sure you’re thinking, “How can I possibly get back to my stack of messages within 24 hours, let alone in just two or even thirty minutes?”  Well, once you understand the power of prioritizing your lead response time, you’ll discover a strategy that optimizes this discipline! 

Salespeople often forget, or underestimate, the power of persistence.  An analysis of over 15 million sales leads found that making two calls instead of one increases chances of contacting a lead by more than 87 percent.  Attempting to contact a lead six times results in nearly the maximum possible contact rate – improving your probability of conversion by over 500 percent!  I always say, “no” is just a derivative of “not yet” – by the seventh contact, most leads will say “yes”! 

Conversion rates can be further increased by properly timing the six attempts.  My optimal call strategy is calling three times on day one, once on day three, again on day four, and the sixth and final time on day eleven or twelve.  My experience has proven that your conversion percentage will skyrocket if you follow this advice: contact new leads immediately and in two subsequent time windows during the first day until contact has been made. 

A common misconception among salespeople is that prospects do not want to be contacted outside normal business hours.  Your response strategy should include responding to leads outside the standard work week.  Research has shown that leads received and responded to outside the classic work week were 11 percent more likely to be converted and, more specifically, those responded to between 7 PM and 11 PM convert 42 percent to 94 percent better, respectively.  Remember, it is all about returning that call as soon as possible and not waiting until the next business day!

I’m sure many of you are thinking that you can’t stay at the office until 11 PM every night; you have a family, outside obligations, or just want to have some work-life balance.  Early in my career, I spoke to a young top producer and asked how he did it.  He said he made a promise with his wife that he would work late every Monday night (as late as he needed with no objections), but be home on time the rest of the week.  That one day a week allowed him to stay on top of everything while keeping the work-life balance he and his family desired.   After hearing that, my husband and I each incorporated that into our schedules and it was amazing how much that one little tweak helped both our work and our family-life. 

After seeing the numbers, I’m sure you are convinced of the importance of executing an optimal response strategy to maximize lead conversion.  But I’m also sure you are still thinking how you are going to make all this happen.  One thing I highly recommend is having someone answer your phone and return and/or schedule calls.  What you pay this person will easily be returned with your substantial increase in lead conversion rate. 

Make your response strategy a priority and master your conversion so you don’t have to spend all your time fishing.  Make sure you respond to new customer leads within the same day.  You don’t have to have a full conversation or a complete loan application; it can be as simple as scheduling a follow-up call to have that more in-depth conversation at a later time.  But, you are now on their schedule and you have become their first contact.

So step off the fast paced treadmill of constantly generating new leads, and focus on putting in place your optimal response strategy.  I promise you will not be disappointed with the results—more conversions and many more loyal customers!  

Read the rest of this chapter in The Mortgage Professional's Handbook!

With three decades of retail mortgage banking experience, Casey Cunningham, founder and CEO of XINNIX, is a recognized powerhouse in the industry. As chief designer and architect of the most proven and highly acclaimed mortgage academy in the country, Casey has positioned XINNIX as the nation's leading provider of scalable performance learning with organizational goals in mind. Veteran as well as “rookie” originators rave about Casey's business development and leadership courses.

Casey has led XINNIX to recognition as one of Atlanta Business Chronicle's top employers, named by The National Association of Business Resources as one of Atlanta’s “Best & Brightest Companies to Work For” from 2012 through 2015, was personally named one of HousingWire Magazine’s Women of Influence in 2015 and a Top Female Entrepreneur by Atlanta Woman Magazine in 2006.

 Casey receives outstanding reviews as a keynote speaker. Her depth of industry knowledge and relationships with executive leaders affords her industry insights, best practices and growth strategies.

Casey studied Marketing at Wofford College and Georgia State University. She is a native of Jacksonville, Florida, a member of North Point Community Church, and enjoys reading, traveling, fly fishing, and spending time with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs.